Fond memories for Uncle Avram of his demolition derby

Avram Grant salutes the Pompey fans after the derby victory in 2010. Picture: Steve Reid
Avram Grant salutes the Pompey fans after the derby victory in 2010. Picture: Steve Reid

There’s a poster hanging in Avram Grant’s office.

Photos of joy and snapshots in time he still treasures and smiles at every day.

The day was February 13, 2010. It was an FA Cup fifth round tie and the score was Southampton 1 Pompey 4.

The man who became known as Uncle Avram around these parts still remembers it fondly.

He said: ‘In my office I still have a photo the supporters gave me after that game.

‘It’s a big photo with lots of pictures of the goals and the date of the game.

‘It was a day to remember for me. I look at it every day and it still makes me smile.

‘I remember the draw being made and people told me it was a war.

‘I will never forget that a few minutes after the draw, I got 100 text messages and another 100 emails.

‘I knew it was a big game but I didn’t know it was quite so big between the clubs. It surprised me how strong the feeling was. It’s a big, big derby.

‘I will never forget how the Pompey supporters were.

‘My son came to visit a few days before and we were near the Spinnaker Tower for the day.

‘Supporters kept coming up to us all day and and saying: “Please win this game, Avram. It’s the most important game for us”.

‘My son told me: “You have to win this game now.” And I replied: “Thanks. I already knew this!”

‘This game was special in so many ways.’

Pompey’s Premier League future was already looking doomed as the extent of their financial demise was revealed.

But Grant felt the trip to St Mary’s represented the perfect chance for his players to forget the troubles and give something back to the club’s supporters.

He said: ‘I was very impressed by how the supporters reacted at a very difficult time and we knew how important this game was for them.

‘We all wanted to give something to our supporters.

‘We knew how good it would be if we could win for them.

‘We knew the situation with the club and the points deduction meant it was almost impossible for us to stay in the league.

‘But we had the FA Cup to concentrate on.

‘Then we had this game against Southampton and it gave me a target to put in front of the players.’

After a tight first half, the game opened up after the break with all five goals coming in the final 24 minutes.

Quincy opened the scoring for Pompey before Rickie Lambert replied for the home side.

But with Pompey rampaging on the counter-attack, Aruna Dindane, Nadir Belhadj and Jamie O’Hara sent the travelling fans wild.

And Grant revealed a half-time message to his players – after a frantic first half in which David James had excelled – had paid dividends.

He recalled: ‘We knew at half-time we would have the chance for a lot of counter-attacks in the second half because there would be more space.

‘We thought they would get tired, we had pace and good players to exploit that.

‘So we wanted them to come at us and leave space behind and we used it very well. It worked perfectly.

‘I think maybe they underestimated us.

‘They were in good shape at the time and saw it as a good opportunity to play against us.

‘But we all felt we could win the game. We were right.

‘It was a fantastic day.’