The Early Years
Pompey were founded in April 1898 by a syndicate of five sportsmen and businessmen who proposed that land close to Goldsmith Avenue be purchased for the football club. The land was purchased for under £5,000. This same five became the first directors of Portsmouth Football and Athletic Company Limited. The club was formed in part by the remains of the local Royal Artillery team who had been forced to disband after a breach of amateur rules. They had gained promotion to the premier Division of the Southern League and their success had whetted the appetites of the local fans for first-class football.
Pompeys first manager was Frank Brettell and the club were successful in gaining immediate entry to the Southern League. The clubs first league match was played at Chatham on 2nd September 1899 (a 1-0 away win) and the home debut at Fratton Park came three days later with a friendly against none other than Southampton. In the summer of 1900, Fratton Park was completed at a cost of £6,538. 20 out of 28 league matches were won in the first season, which brought a runners-up position. The Southern League championship was secured for the first time in 1901/02. By the end of this season Frank Brettell had been succeeded as manager by Bob Blyth.
During the 1906/07 season a draw with Manchester United in the English Cup heralded a record gate of 24,329 at Fratton Park. A 2-2 draw meant a replay at Manchester and a 2-1 giant killing by Pompey followed. Two seasons later another record attendance of 27,825 was set when Sheffield Wednesday visited Fratton Park for the second round of the newly established FA Cup.
During these early years the teams colours changed from Pink & Salmon to White and Black and finally to Blue shirts and White shorts. Although relegated following the 1910/11 season, the following season brought immediate promotion back to the top flight. Portsmouth Football Club Limited was formed in 1911, following the wind up of the original company due to massive debts.
During this period Pompey had the famous amateur international full-back A E Knight as their captain and he was partnered by Jack Warner who gave long and sterling service as trainer on his retirement. Pompey were even aided occasionally by the legendary all-round athlete and cricketer C B Fry. In 1915 the South Stand roof is torn off by a whirlwind. Pompey won the Southern League title for the second time following the suspension of play during World War 1 and were looking for a place in the national Football League. A third Division had been formed and the Fratton Park club were duly elected in 1920/21.
Following the appointment of John McCartney as Manager, Pompey finished 12th in their first season in the southern section of the new Third Division. McCartney proved true to his word after predicting that Pompey would be promoted within three seasons when they finished top of the league in the 1923/1924 season. The new South Stand is opened by the President of the Football league in the 1925/1926 season at a cost of £20,000. Promotion to the First Division was acheived in the 1926/1927 season on the last day of the season. The 1928/1929 season included a record 10-0 defeat against Leicester and a struggle against relegation, but on the bright side an FA Cup run that ended with a narrow 2-0 defeat to Bolton in the Final gave the fans something positive.
Pompey were settled into the top flight during the thirties and finished fourth in the 1930/31 Season and in the top ten in seven out of the ten seasons that decade. 1933/1934 brought another tremendous Cup run with wins over Man Utd, Leicester, Bolton and birmingam before, again, narrowly losing in the final - this time 2-1 to Man City. The North Stand was built during the mid thirties and in the 1938/1939 season, at the third attempt, Pompey lifted the FA Cup with a magnificent 4-1 win against a highly rated Wolves.
War broke out soon after the FA Cup win which resulted in Pompey having the dubious record of holding the F A Cup for the longest period. 1942 and Pompey beat Clapham Orient 16-1 to create a club record victory. In 1946, Duggie Reid joins the club. The 1946/1947 season was the first season of really competitive football for seven years and Pompey were building towards an historic league title in the 1948/1949 season, a season that also featured another good cup run including a record attendance of 51,385 against Derby that still stands today. The title was again won on the final day with a 5-1 win over Aston Villa. The 1949/1950 season brought another league title - Pompey were flying high.
1952 saw an FA Cup quarter final against Newcastle that many people regard as one of the greatest football matches of all time. It ended 4-2 to Newcastle. in the 1954/1955 season, Pompey finish third behind Chelsea and Wolves. 1956 and the first ever floodlit Football League match is held at Fratton Park. The promise of consolidation in the first couple of years of the fifties soon vanished and a slow and painful slide culminated with relegation in the 1958/1959 season, a season that included 20 defeats in the last 24 games and a total of only 21 points all season.
Things went from bad to worse and the 1960/1961 season saw Pompey relegated back to Division Three, a division they had not played in for over thirty years. Things soon got better though, under the management of George Smith and the captaincy of the enduring Jimmy Dickinson (who was awarded the MBE in 1964), Pompey gained promotion back to Division Two at the first attempt in the 1961/1962 season. Jimmy Dickinson retires in 1965 after 764 league appearances. Despite another good cup run in the 1966/1967 season and topping the table at Christmas of the 1967/1968 season, Pompey fans had to settle for a mid-table place in the Second Divis on throughout the 1960's
The seventies saw Pompey in financial turmoil. A record low gate of less than 5,000 in the 1972/1973 season didn't stop the manager Ron Tindall spending and in the 1975/1976 season Pompey were relegated after finishing bottom of the Second Division. Jimmy Dickinson is appointed Manager in 1977, but with lith little money they managed only 20th position in the first season back in Division Three and then in the 1977/1978 season finished bottom of Division Three to be relegated to Division Four for the first time in the clubs history. The 1979/1980 season saw Pompey promoted back to Division Three after two seasons of improving results and gates.
Back in Divison Three and Portsmouth become a private limited company. By the 1982/1983 season Pompey win the Divison and promotion. Sadly the same year Jimmy Dickinson dies. In 1984 Alan Ball becomes Manager and for the next two seasons Pompey narrowly miss promotion back to Division One. The 1986/1987 season sees pompey finish second and gain promotion back to the top flight. Division One is short lived though and 1987/1988 see Pompey relegated back to Division Two. In 1988 John Gregory buys the company from John Deacon and in 1989 Alan Ball leaves.
The 1991/1992 season saw Jim Smith appointed as Manager and Pompey almost topple Liverpool in an FA Cup semi-final, only to be knocked out on penalties. The 1992/1993 season holds more dissapointment as Pompey miss out on Premiership status after losing out in the play-off semi-finals to Leicester City. The 1993/1994 season saw Jim Smith replaced by Terry Fenwick. Both the 1995/1996 and the 1998/1999 saw Pompey avoid relegation by winning important last day matches. In 1999 the club goes into administration and Milan Mandaric steps in to save the club. We'll gloss over the Terry Venables years. The end of the decade brings Alan Ball back into the Managers role.
Return to the Top Flight: 2000 - 2008
The 1999/2000 season and Alan Ball is sacked. Steve Claridge takes over and the 2000/2001 season ends with Pompey once again fighting off relegation on the last day of the season. Graham Rix takes over and makes some important signings. In 2002 Harry Redknap takes over from Graham Rix and the 2002/2003 season ends with Pompey winning the Division in style and gaining promotion to the Premiership for the first time.
The following season Pompey were favourites for relegation from the top-flight, but following some inspired signings such as veteran Teddy Sheringham, the club embarked on an impressive run, finally finishing in 13th place in their debut Premiership season. Throughout the season Portsmouth's home form, at Fortress Fratton , was on a par with the top 3 teams, but their poor away form, winning only twice all season, was responsible for their mid-table finish.
The form following into the 2004/2005 season, however, Mandaric and Redknapp clashed several times during their time together. At the start of the season, it was rumoured that Mandaric was considering replacing some of the club's coaching staff, including Redknapp's assistant Jim Smith. Although no changes took place, the two clashed again more seriously when Mandaric proposed appointing another director in November, with responsibility for the youth set-up at the club. Redknapp made comments to the media showing his disapproval of the proposal, but Mandaric pressed ahead and appointed Velimir Zajec. Redknapp, along with his assistant Jim Smith, subsequently resigned with immediate effect. Zajec took over as manager, initially as caretaker, then on 20th December he was appointed manager for the remainder of the season. Redknapp went to Pompey's rivals Southampton.
The summer of 2005 saw big changes at Fratton Park. A number of players came in and out as Perrin began to stamp his authority on the club, and finally, after many years of waiting, work began on the redevelopment of Fratton Park itself. Off the field changes also occurred with departure of Director of Football Zajec for personal reasons following a heart problem. After a series of poor results in the 2005/2006 season that set a record low number of points for a Portsmouth manager, Alain Perrin was sacked and in December 2005, former manager Harry Redknapp took charge again. In January 2006, Milan Mandaric confirmed he was to sell a stake in the club to French businessman Alexandre Gaydamak, and a cash injection of a reported GBP 15 million enabled Portsmouth to purchase Sean Davis, Pedro Mendes and Noé Pamarot from Tottenham as well as Argentine playmaker Andrés D'Alessandro on loan from VfL Wolfsburg in Germany.
A last minute winning goal by Pedro Mendes at home to Manchester City sparked a change in form and fortunes in March and April. After gaining 17 points from 8 games, Portsmouth avoided relegation on 29 April 2006 with a win in the penultimate game of the season at Wigan.
During the summer transfer window, England internationals Glen Johnson (on a one-season loan from Chelsea), David James and Sol Campbell were signed as well as former under 21 midfielder David Thompson. Veteran strikers Nwankwo Kanu and Andrew Cole were brought in on short term contracts, with midfielders Manuel Fernandes and Roudolphe Douala joining on loan. Serbian midfielder Ognjen Koroman's loan from Terek Grozny was extended for a further season. Pompey's most expensive signing was that of Croatia international Niko Kranjcar, who cost £3.5 million from Hajduk Split.
Portsmouth made a strong start to the 2006-07 Premiership campaign without conceding any goals in their first five games and were briefly top of the Premiership. Christmas 2006 saw them still in fourth place. They eventually ended the 2006/2007 season in 9th place, their highest finish for more than 50 years and just missing out on a UEFA Cup place.
The 2007-08 season saw Pompey get off to winning ways by beating Liverpool to claim the Asia Cup. Pompey finished 8th in the Premier League, their
highest finish yet. On 17th May 2008 Pompey beat Cardiff 1-0 to lift the FA Cup, which also gained them a place in the EUFA cup, the clubs first
time in Europe. Jermain Defoe was a key signing in 2008 and he, David James and Glen Johnson all featured in the England squad.
Another win of note was the 7-4 win against Reading, the highest aggregate score since the Premier League's inception.
Administration and Relegation: 2008 - 2010
On 25 October 2008, Redknapp left Portsmouth for a second time, this time to join Tottenham Hotspur. Following his departure, Redknapp's assistant Tony Adams was promoted to the managerial role.
Jermain Defoe and Lassana Diarra departed in the 2009 January transfer window making things more difficult for Adams. Rumours of Adams' dismissal began circulating in February 2009 and this was
confirmed by the club on 9 February 2009. Youth team coach Paul Hart took over as manager until the end of the season, with Brian Kidd assisting him, and oversaw an upturn in form that resulted in
Portsmouth being guaranteed Premier League safety.
On 26 May 2009, Portsmouth accepted a bid from United Arab Emirates businessman Sulaiman Al Fahim to buy the club. Because of the financial problems suffered by the club, Portsmouth were forced to
sell several of their top players and earners including Peter Crouch, Sylvain Distin, Niko Kranjcar and Glen Johnson. Ali Al-Faraj completed a takeover on 26 August and former Technical Director
Avram Grant returned as Director of football.
Paul Hart was sacked by the board on 24 November 2009, based on the poor results that left Portsmouth at the bottom of the league. On 26 November 2009, it was announced on the official website
that Avram Grant had been appointed as manager.
On 4 February 2010, Portsmouth was taken over by its fourth owner in one season: Balram Chainrai. A Nepalese businessman based in Hong Kong and on 26 February UHY Hacker Young were appointed as
administrators. A formal announcement was made that the club would be docked 9 points once the Premier League board met to agree when the points should formally be taken. On 24 March 2010,
Administrator Andrew Andronikou revealed that the club would be looking to start the next season with a whole new squad. Players with expiring contracts would be allowed to leave and Portsmouth FC
was looking to sell between 8 - 10 players. Overall, up to 20 players might leave the team after the 2009 - 10 Premier League season.
On 10 April Portsmouth were relegated to the Championship after West Ham United beat Sunderland. The following day, Portsmouth won their FA Cup Semi-Final match against Tottenham. They won 2 - 0
after extra time with goals from Piquonne and Boateng, and played Chelsea in the final at Wembley on 15 May, losing 0 - 1. In May 2010 Avram Grant left Portsmouth and later joined West Ham United.
In June 2010 Steve Cotteril was appointed manager.
Rebuilding: 2010 onwards
During the 2010 Summer transfer window, forward Tommy Smith left the club.
Marc Wilson, who had only recently been named captain, then signed for Stoke City on transfer deadline day, with Stoke
players Dave Kitson and Liam Lawrence moving to Fratton Park as part of the deal.Earlier in the summer, defenders
Ibrahima Sonko and Carl Dickinson had also been drafted in from Stoke on loan. The squad was further strengthened by
free-agents Ricardo Rocha, Hermann Hreiđarsson and Nwankwo Kanu signing new deals and defender Greg Halford joining on
loan from Wolverhampton Wanderers. After a poor start had left Portsmouth rooted to the bottom of the league in September,
they went on a seven-match unbeaten run, which helped lift them to mid-table by the end of October.After achieving 19
points from seven matches in October, Cotterill was nominated for the October Manager of the Month award. Lawrence, with
six goals under his belt and a number of impressive performances, also received a nomination for Player of the Month.
Unfortunately the run of form started to
falter and Portsmouth were in 18th place by January 2011. During this time the size of the squad depleted further by
contract complications. Another seven-match unbeaten run was
recorded, picking up 17 points from a possible 21. In March, Portsmouth recorded a 1–0 win over a strong Leicester City
with a first-half David Nugent strike splitting the teams apart. Portsmouth finished the season with an eight-game winless
run and ended up 16th with 58 points.
On 1 June, the Convers Sports Initiative completed its takeover of the club. On 15
June the club announced their first summer signing, David Norris from Ipswich on a free transfer, this was followed
by the signings of Jason Pearce,
Luke Varney, Stephen Henderson, Greg Halford, Benjani and Erik Huseklepp.
- Record Attendance: 51,385 v Derby County, FA Cup, 26 February 1949
- Record Victory: 9 -1 v Notts County, Division 2, 9 April 1927
- Record Defeat: 0 - 10 v Leicester City, Division 1, 20 October 1928
- Highest scoring game: 7 - 4 v Reading, Premier League, 29 September 2007 (also a league record)
- Most Appearances for club: 834 Jimmy Dickinson
- Most League Goals for club: 194 Peter Harris, 1946-60
- Most League Goals in a season: 42 Guy Whittingham, 1992/93
- Most Goals for club: 208 Peter Harris, 1946-60
- Most International Caps whilst at club: 48 Jimmy Dickinson
- Transfer Record (Received): £20 m from Real Madrid for Lassana Diarra, December 2008
- Transfer record (paid): £11 m to Liverpool for Peter Crouch, July 2008
- Biggest League Victory : 9-1 v Notts. County, Division 2, 9th April 1927
- Biggest League Defeat : 0-10 v Leicester City, First Division, 20th October 1928
- Biggest Attendance : 51,385 v Derby County. FA Cup 6th rd. 26th Feb 1949
- Longest Cup Retention : Despite having won the FA Cup only once, Pompey held the trophy for seven years. They won it in 1939, beating the favourites Wolves 4-1. They finally gave up the trophy in 1946.
- First Floodlit League Game : February 1956, held at Fratton Park against Newcastle, who won 2-0
- Pompey are the only team to have been knocked out of an F.A. Cup semi-final in a penalty shoot-out. It happened at Villa Park against Liverpool in 1992.
- Bob Lyth was a Player, Manager, Director and Chairman of Pompey.
- One of Pompey's earliest incarnations was as the 'Portsmouth Football Association Club' one of whose members was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle of 'Sherlock Holmes' fame.
- Jimmy Dickinson made 764 League appearances for Pompey and 48 appearances for England. He was never booked or sent off in over 800 Pompey and England matches.
- Pompey got rid of their supporters club during the 1936/1937 season, membership had dropped from 1,700 to 143
Origins of the name 'Pompey'
Why Pompey? That is possibly the greatest mystery in the story of Portsmouth Football Club. The origins of the club itself are firmly documented; more obscure though are the origins of a nickname which is perhaps the most instantly recognised in the English game. What is not disputed is that Pompey is Naval in origin - but about the origins of that nickname are numerous theories.
Some claim it lies in an 80-gun French warship Le Pompee captured in 1793 which later fought with distinction in the battle of Algeciras in 1801 and then became guardship of Portsmouth Harbour. Others maintain it was the product of a far from sober sailor's interruption of a talk by AgnesWeston, the naval temperance worker. He surfaced from a beery slumber during her lecture on the Roman Empire to hear that the general Pompey had been killed. 'Poor old Pompey' he is said to have shouted . . . . such are the roots of legend.
But there is another more authenticated potential root in Naval folk-lore. In 1781 some Portsmouth-based English sailors scaled Pompey's Pillar near Alexandria and 98 feet up above Egypt, toasted their ascent in punch. Their feat earned them the Fleet's tribute as 'The Pompey Boys'.
Taken from the book 'POMPEY - The History of Portsmouth Football Club' by Mike Neasom, Mick Cooper & Doug Robinson.
Origins of the 'Pompey Chimes'
Surprisingly enough, 'The Chimes' origin lies not with the Navy but with the Army - the Royal Artillery to be precise.
The RA were the forerunners of PFC and played many of their home games at the United Services ground in Burnaby Road; well within earshot of the town hall clock. The clock would strike the quarter hours and in those days the referee would rely on the clock to let them know when the match should finish (4 o'clock). At two or three minutes to four the crowd would lilt in unison the chimes of the hour to remind the referee to blow his whistle.
The original words to The Chimes, as printed in the 1900/01 official handbook of Portsmouth FC, were: 'Play up Pompey. Just one more goal! Make tracks! What ho! Hallo! Hallo!'
The tune of The Chimes then was slightly different to what it is now. If you ever listen to the hour being struck in Guildhall Square you will notice the difference between the tune we sing now and what was probably sung then.