Football Daily | Portsmouth party like there’s no tomorrow after going through wringer

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Where was the most happening place on Tuesday night? With Mbappé’s boys in Barcelona? Among a stream of yellow flags in Westphalia? No, as much as we love Big Cup, the game does exist outside of it. The most exuberant celebrations were on the south coast at Fratton Park, where Portsmouth, after 12 years of lower-league shenanigans, sealed their return to the big-time (Championship). Theatricality marked the occasion, too. A point was required for promotion; three to win League One. After 82 minutes they were heading towards none, trailing 2-1 to visitors Barnsley. A Colby Bishop penalty and Conor Shaughnessy header later, they were champions. Cue the final whistle, your bog-standard pitch invasion, and a party like no tomorrow for a fanbase that has been put through the wringer; for a while there, tomorrow didn’t seem to be on the cards.

The bit about penalty arguments in yesterday’s Football Daily reminded me of Steve Nicol’s miss in the 1984 European Cup final shootout. With senior squad members arguing over the order the penalties were going to be taken (after the 1-1 draw against Roma in their own stadium) they turn round to see Nicol, then 22 and on as a sub, has taken matters into his own hands and is striding towards the penalty spot with the ball under his arm. As Nicol tells it: ‘For the only time in my career, I don’t feel in full control. I start my run-up. Then, midway through, I lift my head and look where I want to put the ball. A classic mistake. The ball soars over the bar.’ While some of the members of the team sympathised with the youngster, the ever-forgiving Mark Lawrenson walked up and said: ‘Unlucky Nico, you d1ckhead!’ Fortunately, the Italians’ own penalty blunders and Bruce Grobbelaar’s spaghetti legs got the lad out of trouble” – Martin McGrath.

Tony Adams revealed he was due to take the penalty that made Gareth Southgate infamous, against Germany in the Euro 96 semi-final, but the current England manager stepped up instead as he felt confident that ‘he had this’. Oh Gareth!” – Alex Metcalfe.

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