In extra time, Wilson lofts the ball into the box towards Boateng but it is Bassong who heads it down towards goal. Frederic Piquinonne hovering between Michael Dawson and Tom Huddlestone, pounces on the ball as Dawson loses his footing and Tom Huddlestone remains frozen. As Dawson tumbles to the ground, Gomes stops his forward progress and Piquionne puts the ball into the net.
Aruna Dindane goes down to ground after being fairly tackled by Wilson Palacios in the box. Alan Wiley blows for a penalty. Kevin Prince Boateng steps forward and makes no mistake.
No matter. Never has a wrong decision felt so right. In fact, Wiley made a number of them.
Pompey 2 Tottenham 0. Wembley turns into a sea of blue as fans erupt in celebration. A match for the ages. A match that Pompey fans will be telling their children in the years to come. Surely, a film script is already being written up by an ardent Portsmouth fan that will immortalize this season.
“From administration, to relegation, to cup jubilation.”
Remember their names. David James, Ricardo Rocha, Michael Brown, Steve Finnan, Frederic Piquionne, Kevin Prince Boateng, Marc Wilson, Hayden Mullins, Aaron Mokoena, Hassan Yebda, John Utaka, Papa Bouba Diop.
Remember Jamie O’ Hara who could not play because he was on loan from Spurs and is to return there at the end of the season. He made it clear where his heart lay.
“I want Spurs fans to know how much I feel for the club but I’ve got to be professional. I’m playing for Portsmouth and I want Portsmouth to win and get to the final because that’s the club I’m at.”
He has been the motor that keeps the midfield going. And on May 15th he will face Chelsea in the FA Cup final.
Remember veteran defender Hermann Hreidarsson, whose career could be over with an Achilles tendon tear suffered against Tottenham on March 29th. A fierce competitor who played hard and tackled harder. A player who Harry Redknapp knows well. He would have loved to have been there.
Remember Nwankwo Kanu. As an Arsenal supporter, I remember how he burst on the scene in 1999 making a number of memorable goals. His Pompey career has been remarkable for his selflessness. And he has provided them with some big moments, the goal that kept them up in the Premiership in the 2008-2009 season and the winning goal in their 2008 FA Cup victory.
Remember Harry Redknapp. Two years before, he led Pompey to the 2008 FA Cup final. A few months later he was gone spurning the fans for the headier climes of London and Spurs and with him came Jermain Defoe and Peter Crouch. Yesterday, they never looked like they wanted to win.
Remember Avram Grant. Derided at Chelsea but finding a new home at Pompey.
“This achievement belongs to the fans and the players. The players didn’t give up. The fans showed how fans need to behave. They were behind the club despite everything. They are so great they deserve it. This club, this year, I will not forget it all my life.”
Yes, remember the fans. Simply the best. Pompey’s fans never stopped believing in the club, even as crook after crook, brought it inexorably towards financial ruin. We shall see them again in the final and if there is any chance that a ball can be willed across the goal line by sheer dint of belief, they will find it.
Here is a longer look at the celebrations that break out after Boateng’s goal >>