March 31, 2006

Portsmouth

Follow-up to BUKC2006 Preview – Rounds 7&8 from Semi-Perfectionism

Sorry if this gives any of you a sense of deja vu, but I've had to repost this article as part of solving the technical problems that I mentioned in an earlier post. The article remains the same, so if you're already read it, you're not missing out on any new content or stuff like that.

Portsmouth is a city that I publically despise, yet at the same time I still have a soft spot for it. As the capital city of east Hampshire (and maybe all of Hampshire, but I'm sure some Southampton people will refute that ;)), the Portsmouth people are a people who were proud of their rough, run-down and generally under-developed corner of the south coast. I use the past tense because, in the last few years, Portsmouth has seen some fairly dramatic changes that compensate for its other unpleasantries. The most notable of these changes is the construction of the centrepiece of the Gunwharf Quays shopping/entertainment complex.

Spinnaker

Completed in late 2005, the Spinnaker Tower was origanally intended to be the focal point of the city's millennium celebrations. However, high-level bureaucratic incompentance ensured that the Spinnaker was delivered many years later than promised, and massively overbudget. But it was well worth waiting for; it's fantastic. It has the same appeal as the London Eye; it's an attractive structure that offers some brilliant views, although in this case you get to see the sea instead of the Houses of Parliment. It's interesting to note that you can't really see that much of Portmouth itself from the Tower, which was probably a concious design decision ;). However you do get views like this.

View from the Spinnaker

No post-processing here, kids, apart from a resize.

Back to ground level, Gunwharf Quays would still be a lovely development without the Spinnaker. Using land next reclaimed from the sea, Gunwharf really adds value to city (and therefore the south coast). It's a highly commercialised area with the usual mix of shops, a variety of restaurants, a cinema, bowling alley and some high-value flats to boot. It's even got the largest submerged underground car park in Europe as well, would you believe! Unsuprisingly they don't really harp on about that in their tourist promotion material :-p

Moving away from the coast, the centre of Portsmouth recently saw the well-documented demolition of the horrific, unused Tricorn Centre. This sizeable 60s shopping centre, lovely crafted out of the finest concrete, towered over the central shopping centre district. For as long as I can remember, the structure has been abandoned, and it's destruction was welcomed by all but a nominal, awkward few. Although the site of the Tricorn has only been replaced with a large car-park, the city feels much fresher without this symbol of economic failure on prominant display.

The next major development under way in Portsmouth is as a result of the work of this man.

Milan Mandaric

Milan Mandaric (centre, blue jacket) is a hero amongst the citizens of Portsmouth, although his stock may have fallen a touch in recent times. When he bought the city's ailing football club, he injected a hefty amount of capital; and perhaps more importantly, a large amount of hope. Pompey (I'll refer to Portsmouth F.C as 'Pompey'; locals refer to the city itself as 'Pompey' as well) is a club that has spent many, many years barely escaping relegation from Division 1; only for the local press to confidently predict a certain promotion to the Premiership the next season 8-). I guess the local press for every non-Premiership club does the same, though.

Mandaric's efforts paid off. Pompey were able to secure some players who were way too good for Division 1, such as Paul Merson and Robert Prosinecki. They started to play some excellent football as well; they were a pleasure to watch. Combined with the brilliant atmosphere at Fratton Park and Division 1-price tickets, match tickets in those days were well worth the money. Pompey walked Division 1, and as you may well be aware have remained in the Premiership ever since (although that may not be the case for much longer).

However, the club's promotion to the Premiership gave the city another boost. You can't underestimate the pride that comes with seeing your team on Match of the Day every weekend, and this is what the people of Portsmouth feel. Pompey had the fans, the players, and the support of the city in place; all that they lacked was a worthy stadium for Premier League football.

Fratton Park

This is soon to change. Fratton Park was pretty small even for a Division 1 ground, and it's nice to see that it's lasted for this long in the Premiership without too many complaints. However, Pompey could easily get 25,000 people in for each match, maybe as much as 35,000; so Fratton Park's ~20,000 capacity is hurting club revenues. Mandaric always knew this, and year or so ago began developing the land around the stadium, which used to be an old rail yard. First thing was the contruction of an industrial estate, which is something that the Fratton area of the city will greatly benefit from. There is now a long-winded plan to eventually construct a new stadium, which will be much more suitable for a Premiership club. Whether Pompey will still be in the Premiership by the time the stadium is built, who knows. I doubt it, given that they have an appalling squad at the moment, but at least it means Division 1 ticket prices again :-D

So in light of all these developments, why do I still despise the city? Good question, and to be honest I don't really know. I guess it stems from the fact that for so long, the city had only a handful of plus points, surrounded by some properly rough, oppressive areas. However, Portsmouth will never be the finest place in the world, even if the very-welcome developments continue, but as the city of my birth I guess I should really just love it for what it is :-p.


- 5 comments by 2 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Stuart Coles

    As the capital city of east Hampshire (and maybe all of Hampshire, but I'm sure some Southampton people will refute that ;)),

    I'm sure we would. The county city of Hampshire is Winchester (which was at one time capital of England) ;) Gunwharf makes Pompey a much more attractive place to visit from an outsider's point of view, very nice development indeed.

    My thoughts about the shambles that plays in blue are well known!

    16 Mar 2006, 22:29

  2. Yeah, you're quite right about Winchester, but I misworded myself and should have referred to the 'main cultural/economic city'. Technicality.

    I guess your thoughts about the blue shambles are the same as all Southampton people, which isn't suprising. The scum vs skates rivalry must be one of the most intense in football, and I've never really understood it….it's not like the two clubs have major political/religious differences, or play in the same city, as is the case with most decent rivalries. It just seems to be fuelled by sheer hatred, which is nice :s. I believe it arouse out of some sort of naval dispute many many years ago, but I could be wrong. I'm a neutral this particular rivalry (my footballing allegences lie in the white corner of Yorkshire), but the location of my home town means that I know Southampton fans and Pompey fans, who live side-by-side in peaceful harmony. I'm always amused when my Pompey friends are reluctant to even visit Southampton, simply because the thought of eveni going there scares them, and visa versa for the Southampton fans :-D

    18 Mar 2006, 17:21

  3. Stuart Coles

    Yeah – the word 'Scum' supposedly started as an acronym for Southampton Community Union Members, who broke the picket line in a Portsmouth dock strike. I'm not so sure I believe it myself, but it's a good story nonetheless.

    There's another one that talks about naval sailors (Portsmouth being a naval port) referring to merchant sailors (Southampton is primarily a merchant port) as the scum that float on top of the water.

    It's proper hatred, I don't think people understand quite how deep it runs in both cities, and it's more than just football. I think football is just a useful, (mostly) non-violent outlet for the rivalry.

    I'm not a Southampton fan either, although the rest of my family are. Our next door neighbour is a Pompey fan. Indeed they can live together.

    21 Mar 2006, 12:43

  4. Here's a random: Did you make that panormaic of the footy ground?
    I've been playing with some panoramic software and it's mostly annoying… got anything decent up your sleeve you want to share?

    02 Apr 2006, 13:58

  5. I indeed did make it myself, using Arcsoft Panorama Maker 3. It works really well, much better than the useless panorama maker that comes with Photoshop. This panorama of Fratton Park is one of the best that I've made, but that's more through the brilliance of the software than any skill on my part. It's easy to use, and relatively straightforward to make minor adjustments if it doesn't quite come out right first time. It came bundled with my camera, so I've no idea how much it costs or where you can get it from, but I'm sure Google will save the day.

    02 Apr 2006, 16:41


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