PORTSMOUTH FC HISTORY
Portsmouth Football Club was founded on April 5th 1898 when six business and sportsmen met at 12 High Street
in Old Portsmouth.
This group consisted of John Brickwood of Brickwoods Brewery, AH Bone and architect, John Peters a wine importer, William Wiggington a government contractor, George Oliver (founder of Mile End school) and John Pink a solicitor.
The group purchased 5 acres of grazing land close to Goldsmith Avenue for £4,950 this was was redeveloped into a football ground with a seven row south stand and a 240 foot long north terrace.
1900's | 1910's | 1920's | 1930's | 1940's | 1950's | 1960's
1900'S - FROM ROYAL ARTILLERY TO FRATTON PARK
Frank Brettell was recruited as the first manager of Portsmouth Football Club, he was well regarded in the football world, helping to create the club which became Everton, was involved in the development of Liverpool Football Club, became secretary of Bolton Wanderers and before moving to Portsmouth was manager of Tottenham Hotspur. Brettell formed a team consisting of several former local Royal Artillery players, he used his past experience to bring in other players from several northern clubs including Preston North End, Everton and Liverpool.
Portsmouth joined the Southern League Division 1 in 1899 and finished the 1899-1900 season in 2nd place behind Tottenham Hotspur. In their first season Pompey won 20 of their 28 games finishing only 3 points behind Spurs.
In 1901 Brettell left Fratton Park to join naval rivals Plymouth Argyle, he was replaced as manager by Bob Blyth. The new manager signed England international centre half Arthur Chadwick from Southampton along with Steve Smith from Aston Villa. The reshaped side won the Southern League championship and also the western league for the third time.
Fratton Park was certainly a fortress during the early years, Pompey were unbeaten at Fratton until October 18
1902. Northampton were the first visiting team to win at Pompey, the score 0-1. The following few years
were successful financially but success in the league and cup competitions was hard to come by.
Bob Blyth was replaced as manager by Richard Bonney for the 1904 - 1905 season, he was previously a member of the board of the club, but now became team manager.
In the summer of 1905 some redevelopment work was carried out at Fratton Park the stands were terraced and a pavilion was built at the Frogmore Road entrance and this included a clock tower funded by John Brickwood.
Bonney spent the next couple of seasons strengthening his playing squad signing goalkeeper Fred Cook from West Bromwich Albion, George Molyneux from Southampton and John Hunter from Liverpool. Although finishing in reasonable positions in the Southern League financial and playing results continued to be mediocre.
Pompey changed their playing strip in 1909 from the original Salmon Pink strip to one of white shirts and dark blue shorts.
1910'S - PORTSMOUTH WIN THE SOUTHERN LEAGUE
During the 1909 - 1910 financial year the club lost £1,557 and the match results were little better. Pompey only managed only eight wins and were relegated. Bonney resigned as manager and was replaced by Robert Brown previously at Sheffield Wednesday. But the clubs losses continued to increase and in May a public appeal for funds was started and raised £247 7s 6d within a week. The club spent the season in the Second Division of the Southern League which was populated by at least 8 welsh teams.
Brown signed centre forward Harry Taylor which proved a shrewd move. He made his debut in February and scored in every game from then until the end of the season, scoring 6 times against Chesham. Pompey finished 2nd behind Merthyr Tydfil. However financial losses continued to grow and in May the losses had grown to £10,000.
At a shareholders meeting on May 8th 1912 George Oliver, one of the original founders, suggested that the company should be reconstituted in a more business oriented direction and on July 27th Portsmouth Football Company Limited was formed.
For the 1912 - 1913 season, Pompey introduced a new playing strip, royal blue shirts and white shorts and had new signings in centre half Jack Harwood and wing half Jimmy Walls, they finished in 11th place in the league and were beaten in the first round of the FA Cup by Brighton.
Although war was declared in August 1914, there was still a full league programme, Pompey finished in 7th place. The football league was then suspended until the end of the war, although friendly games were still played.
On June 6th 1918 the USA played Canada in a baseball match at Fratton Park, with the gate money donated to the British Red Cross.
Football resumed in 1919 with Portsmouth playing in the First Division of the Southern League. They won the league on goal average, both Watford and Pompey finished on 58 points, the Pompey stats were 73 goals for - 27 against and Watford scored 69 for - 42 against. Unfortunately behind the scenes Mr Oliver and manager Brown fell out, arguing about the future direction of the club, Brown resigned, being replaced by John McCartney from Scotland.
1920'S - FOOTBALL LEAGUE, PROMOTION AND AN FA CUP FINAL
In 1920 Pompey joined the newly formed Third Division of the Football League, Crystal Palace finished the season as winners, with Pompey finishing in 12th place.
McCartney began re shaping his Pompey team using his Scottish and local contacts to sign new players. Results began to improve and the team finished in 3rd position in the league. This was also the final season for legendary amateur player Arthur Knight after ten years of playing for Pompey.
In their fourth season in the Third Division Portsmouth won the title by 4 points, helped by the power of 'Windy' Haines, he missed 11 matches at the end of the season, but had already scored 28 league goals by then. The following season 'Windy' Haines scored a further 17 league goals, helping Pompey to finish in 4th place.
In December 1924 the New Zealand Rugby Union team, took on Hampshire at Fratton Park, the All Blacks won 22-0.
During the summer of 1925 Fratton Park saw further improvement work, the South Stand was demolished and a replacement stand, seating 4,000 in the upper section and terraces for 8,000 below, was built.
The 1926 - 1927 season saw Portsmouth gaining promotion to the First Division in the last game of the season. In their final match Pompey played Preston and their nearest rivals for promotion were Manchester City. City won their match 8-0 and Pompey who had kicked off 15 minutes later were winning 4-1 when the result came through. Pompey needed another goal and Haines obliged, gaining promotion by the smallest of margins.
John McCartney resigned as manager at the end of the season due to health issues and was replaced by John Tinn from South shields. Tinn trialled John Weddle a miner from Sunderland and Sep Rutherford, both were signed up and joined the already successful squad. Following a poor start to the season Tinn signed Jimmy Nicholl from Gillingham and Jack Smith from South Shields to bolster the team, Smith scoring twice in his debut game. Tinn also added John McIlwaine and Bobby Irvine to the squad, Pompey survived, just, finishing 3rd from bottom.
More building work took place at Fratton Park in 1928 with the Milton End being rebuilt and terraced, taking the Fratton Park crowd capacity up to 40,000.
Although still performing poorly in the league, Pompey reached the FA Cup Final in April 1929, by beating Aston Villa 1-0 at Highbury. Pompey lost 2-0 to Bolton Wanderers at Wembley in front of a crowd of 92,570!
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1930'S - PORTSMOUTH FA CUP RUNNERS UP AND CHAMPIONS
The 1929 - 1930 season saw a poor start by Pompey, going two months without a win, a 1-0 win against West Ham. The Portsmouth Football Supporters Club was formed this season by Mr Percy Mabb and Color Sgt Brimer. Late in the season a fire in the drying room at Fratton Park destroyed the team kit, as a result Pompey turned out in their old salmon pink kit for a friendly against
In the summer of 1930 the pitch at Fratton Park was re-turfed and John McIlwaine, Pompey's most expensive signing £5,000, moved to Southampton. During the 1930 - 1931 season Pompey had two players, Weddle and Easson, both pushing for the title of top scorer. These two strikers helped to make Portsmouth a force to be reckoned with. Pompey beat Newcastle 7-4, were unbeaten at home for three months and by the end of November were second in the league. Tragically this season Pompey centre half Bob Kearney died of pneumonia after a short illness, he was only 27. A combined Pompey-Southampton side played a London representative team to help raise funds for his widow and child, including other fund raising events £1,700 was raised. Pompey finished the season in fourth position, their best position so far. Easson finished as top scorer with 29 goals, this helped him to be selected to play for Scotland.
At the start of the 1931 - 1932 season the newly redeveloped North Stand was opened. Pompey's Jack Smith was now regularly appearing in the England team and scored twice for the national team when they beat Spain 7-1. Pompey's season started poorly, losing five of the seven opening games. By November they were bottom of the league. On December 5th Pompey and Newcastle set a League record, completing the game at St James's Park without a single corner being awarded. To improve the team manager Tinn brought in Freddie Worrall from Oldham. Results improved slowly and Pompey finished the season in eighth place.
Pompey made a strong start to the 1932 - 1933 season remaining unbeaten until the end of September, however they could not maintain their form finishing ninth in the league. Weddle was top scorer with 20 goals.
The 1933 - 1934 season was dominated by action in the FA Cup. In the third round of the cup Pompey played Manchester United at Old Trafford, Bagley put Pompey ahead, Worral missed a penalty for Pompey and then United equalised with five minutes to play. The replay was won in style by Portsmouth winning 4-1, Pompey scorers Weddle (2), McCarthy and Jack Smith. In the next round Pompey beat Grimsby 2-0 at Fratton Park, earning an away draw against Swansea. During the match, with Pompey leading 1-0, the referee upset the Swansea crowd by denying them a penalty, the crowd reacted by pelting him with oranges and extra police had to be used to control the crowd. Some of the barriers in the ground collapsed with several people being injured. The score remained 0-1 to Pompey.
The next round drew Pompey against Bolton who had beaten them in the 1929 final. This time around Pompey won 3-0, two from Sep Rutherford and one from Weddle and proceeded to the semi finals. Their opponents in the semis were Leicester City who had already beaten them in the league 5-3. Pompey were triumphant at this meeting winning 4-1 at St Andrews in front of a crowd of 55,000, Weddle scored a hat trick and Rutherford scored a single.
In the final Pompey met Manchester City who had reached the final with an emphatic 6-1 thumping of Aston Villa. Pompey took the lead with a goal from Rutherford, but then Pompey's centre half Allen suffered a serious head injury and City snatched the advantage, winning with two goals from Tilson, another FA Cup Final defeat. Portsmouth finished the league programme in 10th position on 42 points.
The 1934 - 1935 season was an uninspiring one, finishing in 14th place with 40 points.
At the start of the 1935 - 1936 season the new North Stand was opened by the Football League President John McKenna, increasing the ground capacity to more than 58,000, with 30,000 of those spaces under cover. Pompey finished the season in 10th position on 42 points. The reserve team however were proving more successful, two players Anderson and Parker were scoring prolifically. Anderson took his total to 24 and scored all 5 in a 5-2 win over Millwall. The reserve team won the Combination League competition beating Southend in May 2-1.
Pompey finished in ninth position in 1935 - 1936, they had started the season strongly, they were top of the table in September, but results slipped away over the season.
At the start of the 1936 - 1937 season Pompey signed Jimmy Guthrie from Dundee United for a fee of £4,000. However results didn't go well and by mid September Pompey were bottom of the table. In November Guy Wharton and Eric Jones were signed from Wolves and Reg Flewin was signed as a professional, having played previously in the A team. By the end of the year results were still poor and Pompey were tipped for relegation. In the new year Pompey hit a winning run and survived relegation in their final home game, a 4-0 win against Leeds United, 30,000 saw the game at Fratton Park.
The 1937 - 1938 season was another if indifference with Pompey finishing in 19th position with 38 points from 42 league matches.
Pompey struggled at the start of the 1938 - 1939 season. Jimmy McAlinden was bought from Belfast Celtic for a club record fee of £6,000. In February 1939 the team went six league games without scoring. In the FA Cup though things were looking brighter. In the third round Pompey beat Lincoln City, West Brom were next in the fourth round, Pompey won 2-0 at Fratton Park. The fifth round saw another home game against West Ham, 47,614 people packed Fratton Park to see the 2-0 win with goals courtesy of Parker and Worrall. Manager Tinn signed Bert Barlow from Wolves to strengthen the squad. In the sixth round Pompey were again drawn at home and played Preston North End, Anderson scored in a 1-0 win. The semi final match against Huddersfield, was played at Highbury with 55,000 in attendance. Pompey eventually won 2-1 after trailing 0-1 for most of the game, Barlow and Anderson scoring in the last 12 minutes. The Cup Final opponents were Wolverhampton Wanderers who were having a great season in the First Division, Pompey were certainly seen as the underdogs. In the final at Wembley on April 29th, Pompey took the lead, Barlow, who had been signed from Wolves, scoring after 31 minutes, just before half time Worrall scored a second, then in the first minute of the second half Parker scored a third. Wolves responded with a goal from Dorsett, but Parker scored his second, to secure a 4-1 Pompey victory.
Due to the outbreak of World War Two, Pompey would retain the FA Cup until 1945. The cup was moved around during the war to keep it safe from German bombing and spent some time under the landlord's bed and sometimes behind the bar at The Bird in Hand pub at Lovedean.
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1940's - POMPEY LEAGUE CHAMPIONS
During the war years the League programme was cancelled, although two regional competitions were still played. The football programme was obviously
severely disrupted for the duration of the war, with players coming and going depending on their other duties. In 1942 Portsmouth won through to
the final of the War Cup but were beaten by Brentford 2-1. It was also in 1942 when James Dickinson joined the playing staff at Fratton Park, signing
as a professional in 1943.
In March 1944 General Montgomery was elected as the Pompey President. Other players who started to break through in this period included Jimmy Scoular,
Len Phillips and Peter Harris.
In 1945 Fratton Park staged a major boxing championship tournament between Jock McAvoy and Johnny Clements who was knocked out in the sixth round,
the attendance was 10,000.
In 1946 the FA Cup was resumed and for the only time in the competition was played over two legs, home and away, this was done to provide additional financial income for the teams involved as the league programme had not yet resumed.
Pompey drew Birmingham City in the third round drawing 0-0 at Fratton Park but losing 0-1 in the away leg, an own goal by Flewin. So after 7 years of safe keeping Portsmouth had to return the FA Cup.
The league programme restarted in time for the 1946 - 1947 season with Pompey still playing in the First Division. Jimmy Dickinson started his first
League game for Pompey, but results were not going well and by Christmas Pompey were sitting at the bottom of the table. As in previous seasons, form improved into
the new year and a run of good results followed, eventually finishing in 12th place with 41 points. At the last match of the season Jack Tinn
announced that he was retiring after 20 years as Pompey manager.
Tinn was replaced as manager by former chief scout Bob Jackson for the 1947 -1948 season and signed Ike Clarke from West Bromwich Albion, a steady season saw Pompey finish in 8th position in the league.
Pompey started the 1948 - 1949 season, their 50th since formation, by winning six of their first seven games, remaining unbeaten until October. On October 10th Pompey were hosts to Newcastle at Fratton Park, where a crowd of 46,327 saw them win 1-0, goal scored by Len Phillips, to go three point clear at the top of the table. The success continued and Pompey won the championship away from home at Bolton, winning 1-2 with goals from Peter Harris and Ike Clarke. The team narrowly missed out on doing the League and Cup double, losing to Leicester City in the semi final of the FA Cup, played at Highbury. During the summer of 1949 the Milton End was re-terraced.
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1950's PORTSMOUTH LEAGUE CHAMPIONS AGAIN
Pompey started the 1949 - 1950 season with three losses in the first six games. The team lost Flewin for three months when he suffered from
appendicitis, manager Jackson brought in Jimmy Stephen from Bradford and Danish international centre forward Dan Ekner, but Ekner's Pompey
career was short lived, playing only four times without scoring before returning home. The form improved and a good run of results followed,
notably a 7-0 defeat of Everton at Fratton Park and a 4-0 win against Chelsea also at home. Both Portsmouth and Wolves were in the running
for the league championship and it all came down to the last two games of the season, Arsenal away and finally Aston Villa at Fratton Park.
Arsenal won 2-0 at Highbury so everything now depended on the last day results. Pompey had to win well to prevent Wolves from snatching
the title away. Pompey scored in the first minute with a goal from Bill Thompson, but almost straight away Wolves also scored in their match
against Birmingham. At half time Pompey were 2-0 up, but Wolves went into the half time break 5-0 up! Pompey scored three more in the second
half winning 5-1, Wolves finished winning 6-1 which left both teams on the same 53 points. Portsmouth won their second consecutive League
Championship on goal average, Pompey's average being 1.947 and Wolves 1.551.
Unfortunately in the 1950 - 1951 season, Pompey were not able to repeat the consistent performances of the previous year, so were not able to gain a third consecutive league title. Goalkeeper Ernie Butler was ruled out by injury at the start of the season, so was replaced by Ron Humpton. Pompey had played four matches before they recorded their first win, against Sheffield Wednesday. The results did improve with a good run towards the end of the season, losing only once in the final fourteen games, finishing in seventh position.
As the 1951 - 1952 season started the Pompey squad was plagued by injuries, forcing manger Jackson to select 18 year old Johnny Gordon into the side, Gordon was still doing his National Service, but was conveniently stationed at Hilsea barracks. It was a solid start to the season five wins and a draw in the first seven games. However indifferent mid season and a very poor end of season run, winning only three of the last eleven matches, meant that they finished fourth in the league. In the summer Bob Jackson resigned moving to manage at Hull City and was replaced by Eddie Lever.
Jimmy Dickinson played his 250 league match for the club just into the 1952 - 1953 season, a new club record. Lever moved to reinforce the goalkeeping options by signing Norman Uprichard from Swindon Town. This proved to be a timely move as Ernie Butler fractured his wrist playing in a reserve match, which didn't heal correctly, sadly ending his career, leaving the club in the summer of 1953. During the season Pompey's form was inconsistent and they finished in fifteenth place, only four points ahead of Stoke City who were relegated.
Tedd Platt joined Pompey in the 1953 - 1954 season as a replacement for the injured Uprichard. A string of poor results and indifferent form resulted in the team finishing in fourteenth position in the league.
During the 1954 - 1955 Jimmy Dickinson missed the first six games through injury, then in November he broke his ankle in the game at Cardiff and was out of action for another four months. Pompey's form was still unpredictable and saw them finish in third place with 48 points, narrowly missing out on a third title, Chelsea finished top on 52 points. Further development work at Fratton Park was being planned, it was announced that the the Fratton End would get a roof for the first time additionally a gym would be built.
Pat Neil broke into the first team at the beginning of the 1955- 1956 season, scoring in his home debut in a 3-3 draw against Blackpool. Although the team showed promise with a six match unbeaten run in November and December, they only managed a mid table finish. Dougie Reid retired this season after 309 appearances for Pompey and 128 goals scored. On February 22nd 1956 Portsmouth played Newcastle at Fratton Park in the first ever League game played under floodlights, unfortunately losing 0-2.
The new £40,000 Fratton End covered stadium was opened for business at the start of the 1956 - 1957 season. Pompey started the season badly, winning one of the first ten games, but they regained some momentum and managed to narrowly avoid relegation. In the summer platers Pickett, Rees Penk, McDonald and Griffiths left to join new clubs. Derek Dougan was signed from Distillery in Northern Ireland at the start of the 1957 - 1958 season and when Crawford was injured, Dougan got his break into the first team scoring his first Portsmouth goal against Wolverhampton Wanderers. Team performances were poor and at the seasons end Pompey only gained one point in their last six games, only escaping relegation on goal average.
Following two seasons where Pompey were perilously close to being relegated, manager Eddie Lever left the club in May of 1958, he was replaced by Freddie Cox who had been building a good reputation at Bournemouth. Three players joined the club during the summer break, Tommy Casey, Harry Harris and Basil Hayward. Pompey had a poor start to the 1958 - 1959 season notching up three defeats in a row. Manager Cox reinforced his squad, bringing in centre forward Ron Saunders and Reg Cutler from his previous team Bournemouth. But then players started moving out of the club with, Crawford, Govan, Gordon, Rutter, Weddle, Chapman, Stenhouse and Barret leaving and Gunter and Dougan asked for transfers. The poor form continued with just six wins in the first eighteen games. This continued with a disastrous run of twenty losses in twenty four matches. This was relegation form, Pompey finished the season with just 21 points, bottom of the table and relegated to the Second Division after 32 years in the top flight. The only positive this season was that Jimmy Dickinson passed his 500th club appearance, an away draw at Spurs.
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1960's RELEGATION, PROMOTION AND FLOODLIGHTS
The 1959 - 1960 season, in the second division, saw Pompey get a draw and a win in their first two games, but this was followed by a run
of nine losses in a row. In an attempt to reinforce the defence, manager Cox brought in Brian Snowden, centre half at Blackpool, making him
team captain. In November Peter Harris was hospitalised with a serious chest problem, playing his last game on 21st November. To add to the
problems Snowden needed surgery for a recurring shoulder dislocation problem. The team finished in 20th position in the league, narrowly avoiding
a second consecutive relegation by just 2 points.
The financial position at Portsmouth was getting worse with a loss of £30,000 for the season, the squad for the 1960 - 1961 season contained only 16 senior professional players and manager Cox was not able to strengthen the squad due to the limited budget available. The season didn't start well with successive away defeats and then newly promoted Southampton beat Pompey 5-1 at The Dell. The home form was better, five wins out of five, but then formed dipped at home as well and top that attendance figures were also dropping. George Smith became manager in April and was able to provide some small improvements, but the inevitable happened and Portsmouth were relegated to the Third Division.
In the summer prior to the 1961 - 1962 season John Milkins signed as a professional moving up from the Pompey youth team, keeper Peter Shearing joined the club from West Ham and forward Harry Middleton joined from Scunthorpe. Portsmouth made a great start to the season, the best since winning the Championship and Jimmy Dickinson made his 600th league appearance for the club on September 9th. By Christmas Pompey were top of the league, having been unbeaten for three months. However during March they gained only one point in five games, they managed to get the campaign back on the tracks though and won the championship on April 23rd by beating Watford 2-1 at Fratton Park, Jimmy Dickinson didn't miss a single game all season!
There were no great changes to the playing staff for the 1962 - 1963 season, however during the summer break the four floodlight towers were built at Fratton Park, they are 120ft high and cost £14,000 to build. The season started well, losing only four matches by Christmas, 1963 was the worst and coldest winter ever recorded in Britain and as a result only one game was played between Boxing Day and February 23rd. When the football programme resumed Pompey seemed to have lost their form, losing nine games out of ten and slipped down the table. In the end they finished in 16th position, losing in the last game of the season to Chelsea 7-0 at Stamford Bridge. Yet again Jimmy Dickinson did not miss a single game.
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