This weeks Toast looks at all things to do with Leap Years – no not our French players but games on Leap Day – February 29th.
First it is happy birthday to the following:-
24th Phil Roberts will be 58; Lloyd McGrath 56;
25th Jeff Hemmerman 56; John McLaughlin 53;
26th Alan Biley 51; Fitzroy Simpson 38; Ceri Hughes 37; Pedro Mendes 29;
And thanks to Chix’s remarkable database I find the only Pompey player born on February 29th was Jimmy Burnett in 1880.
My records show that Jimmy was a centre forward with an eye for a goal from 1902 to 1904 he played 29 games scoring 22 times. He moved on to Dundee, which might suggest he was a Scot, but Pompey had a number of transfer deals with Scottish clubs in those early years.
Lovers of Pompey Legends or Hall of Fame may be surprised to find that Alan Biley and Pedro Mendes have the same birthday. I know they would both be in most fans lists and have many similarities.
Former Luton Town apprentice Alan Biley made his name at Cambridge United in their rise up the Football League as he scored an amazing 75 goals in 165 appearances. He first came to the notice of Pompey fans at Christmas 1977 when as a shaggy haired 20 year old he burst onto the Fratton stage with two goals in the first twenty-five minutes. Cambridge came to the Park as Division Three leaders and the season high crowd of over 13,000 were dumbstruck by the speed and nerve of the young man.
Pompey were heading for Division Four but to the team’s credit they came back to share the points with goals from Dave Kemp and a John Ruggiero penalty. That memory of Biley would stick with Pompey fans for the next five years. Meanwhile big money moves would take Alan to both Derby County and Everton before in the summer of 1982, he was Fratton bound.
Bobby Campbell spent big that summer and on season opening day newly promoted Sheffield United were thrashed 4-1 with goals from three debutants, Neil Webb, Ernie Howe and Biley – for this week’s competition who scored the fourth goal?
Biley soon struck up a fruitful partnership with Billy Rafferty and the goals flowed. Between them they netted forty times that season as Pompey were crowned Division Three champions on the final day at Plymouth thanks to another Biley goal. The next season, to show there is no sentiment in football Rafferty was offered and rejected a new contract; he did not play again, eventually leaving for Bournemouth and Campbell found Biley a new partner, Mark Hateley!
That season, 1983/84, was one to savour on the field the football was flowing but ten home defeats put paid to any hope of another promotion. After thrashing Brighton 5-1 in March Pompey went seven games picking up only two points and on the coach back from the season’s penultimate game at Derby, Campbell is sacked. Alan Ball takes temporary charge and in the final game a Biley hat trick and Hateley’s final Pompey goal see Swansea demolished 5-0. Ball is appointed manager and the rest as they say is history.
The next season was to be Alan’s last at Pompey as after the famous Oxford ‘Santa’ match he was to play only four more games before on deadline day he was sold to promotion rivals Brighton for ₤65,000. In 105 games for Pompey, Biley netted 51 times a rate of almost a goal every other game. He will always be remembered for his style of running shirt cuffs in hand, a manner pioneered by the great Denis Law – but to us it will always be the great Alan Biley!
After a brief spell back at Cambridge he tried his luck in America. Since then Alan had a spell as assistant manager/player of Irish club Waterford in 1989 and then coached in America, Holland and Greece followed by managing several non league clubs in the East Midlands and Home Counties.
As a birthday bonus, and a treat for UKTony, let’s have a quick look at the career of another favourite striker Jeff Hemmerman. Jeff was born in Hull and started his career with his home town club and in 59 games managed just 10 goals. Port Vale was the next stop for Jeff and he played only 15 times (5 goals) before joining Pompey in 1978 on a free transfer.
Pompey had just arrived in the Fourth Division and needed new blood badly. A regular wearer of the number seven shirt Jeff was instantly recognisable with his mop of dark, curl hair. He soon struck up a more than effective partnership with Colin Garwood. In 1978/79 they scored 29 goals between them and the following season with the additional firepower of Terry Brisley and Joe Laidlaw their combined 30 goals helped Pompey achieve the promotion they so desperately wanted. Garwood was in fact sold to neighbours Aldershot before the deadline.
One of Jeff’s most famous moments was when he had a goal disallowed against Middlesbrough. It was in the FA Cup Third Round tie at Fratton. Division Four Pompey were up against First Division Boro and over 30,000 had made the pilgrimage. Terry Brisley had equalised an early Boro goal when a cross came into the Fratton End box. Hemmerman got on the end of it to ‘put’ Pompey in front and amidst mass celebrations the linesman’s flag was spotted and the goal chalked off.
After 123 games in blue, netting 40 goals Jeff fell out of favour with boss Bobby Campbell who was building a side to push for promotion. Ironically Jeff netted his only Pompey hat trick in his penultimate home game against Swindon. Jeff moved on a free transfer to Cardiff who coincidentally went on to win promotion as runners up to Pompey at the end of the 1982/83 and more coincidence is added by the fact that his place in the Pompey team went to.. Alan Biley.
Not long after gaining promotion Jeff suffered a serious knee injury in an away game at Bristol Rovers’ old Eastville Stadium and never played again. He was awarded a testimonial by the Bluebirds in 1984/85 and is still remembered by the Ninian Park faithful for his 22 goals in 55 games. Hemmerman then trained as a physiotherapist and worked for Cardiff City for a while before setting up his own business the Jeff Hemmerman rehabilitation clinic, which is based in Newport Gwent.
Leap Day Games
Pompey have only played twice on February 29th twice since the war.
The first time was in 1964 when a single goal from pacy winger John McClelland was enough to secure a win over Charlton at the Valley. This was a very welcome win as the last three visits had ended in 6-1, 7-4 and 2-0 defeats.
Twenty eight years later in 1992 Tranmere Rovers came to Fratton Park and were despatched by two early goals form Chris Burns and Alan McLaughlin without reply. I was at that game but can remember nothing of it for one very simple reason. The next week was the Quarter Final game with Nottingham Forest, which was filled with enough excitement to drown any memories of what happened the previous week.
February 29th next falls on a Saturday in 2020 but will we still be playing on Saturdays then? If the Premier League has there way no doubt games will be played during the week with night-time kick offs to ensure that their one billion Chinese and Japanese subscribers can watch the games over their breakfast.
United ‘ere we come
For those going to Old Trafford for the Quarter Final on 8th March lets have a look back at previous encounters in the various cup competitions.
The first meeting was in 1901 when Pompey were a non league side. United prevailed 3-0. Since then there have been 5 FA Cup and 4 League Cup meetings. Pompey have won twice both in the FA Cup in 1907 and 1934 both after replays. In 1934 of course we went to the Final losing 2-1 to Manchester City; an omen? Maybe, just maybe.
And Pompey have never lost a cup game to United in March.
Written by eastneydave.
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