You voted for: Biley, Butler, Blake, Barlow and Berger – The Pompey A to Z continues here?
You may have thought it was dead and buried. You may have thought we`d forgotten about it. You may not even know what we are talking about, but after a thoughtful review a ‘lick of paint` and a great deal of TLC, the Pompey A to Z is back with a fresh new look.
Each month we will set-up a poll containing a shortlist of players for a particular letter and ask you, ‘the readers of Vital Pompey` to vote on who should be included in the Pompey A to Z.
Once voting has ceased our team of writers will then research the top three or four placings and produce a front page article highlighting the careers of your chosen players.
There is of course a chance that the A to Z team might not agree with the result of the poll so we have reserved the right to include ‘The Writers Choice` – A chance for us to feature another worthy candidate – After all, it is us that do the research! This month PFCGino makes a great selection.
The poll for ‘B` closed last week, so without further ado let’s look at which B`s from Pompey`s past, you voted the most popular.
The Voters Choice:
Alan Biley 1982-1984 (36% of the vote)
Alan Biley joined Luton Town as an apprentice but it was a move to Cambridge United that saw his career take off scoring 75 goals in 160 matches and helping them secure promotion. His form earned him further moves to Derby and Everton but the later was not that successful and after a loan period at Stoke, he secured his £125,000 move to Pompey in 1982 Where he was to become an instance success.
Many fans will not only remember his goals, but also his flowing Rod Stewart ‘look-a-like` locks, and his shirt-cuffs-in-hand running style. Alan Biley turned into one of the clubs most prolific scorers as well as one of the most popular.
When Bobby Campbell signed the blond bombshell from Everton for he announced that his jigsaw was complete and Pompey would finish top of the league. Biley did not disappoint.
Scoring within 20 minutes on his debut in Pompey`s 4-1 demolition of Sheffield United at Fratton Park, Biley, ably assisted by Billy Rafferty went on to score 26 league & cup goals and prove, as Pompey finished top of the old Division Three, that Campbell`s confidence was well founded. His second season saw him link up with Mark Hateley and form another successful partnership, this time netting 43 goals between them during the season.
Despite his scoring prowess however Alan Ball did not consider him a long term proposition and to the great annoyance of the Fratton Faithful sold to Brighton for £65,000 at the end of the 1984/85 season.
Biley finished his playing career at New York Cosmos, and afterwards held numerous non-league managerial posts, at clubs including Spalding United and Kettering Town. More recently, Biley spent November 2006 – May 2007 as manager of Rothwell Town, transforming them from a sub-standard league side to promotion contenders. He is currently managing Spalding.
PFCGino`s Interesting Fact: Alan Biley had a strange penchant for Santa Claus. Many of you will remember the game against Oxford United in December 1984. Pompey are one nil down, and Biley has just come on as a substitute. The sight of a pitch invader dressed as Santa inspired Biley in a way only he will ever know, as he scored two goals in injury time in front of the Fratton End to get Pompey the win!
Noel Blake 1984-1987 (11%)
Noel Blake joined Portsmouth from Birmingham in 1984 for a fee of £150,000, making a total of 173 appearance for the Blues, scoring 14 goals. Blake was one of the most solid defenders ever to wear a Pompey shirt, and was a joy to watch for most Pompey fans. Having had a successful spell as Stoke Youth Manager, and a not so successful spell as Exeter Manager, Blake is currently part of the FA Coaching set up, holding the post of FA National Coach, working the with the England Youth teams.
PFCGino`s Interesting Fact: In the 1984/1985 season, Blake scored three own goals – exactly the same amount he scored at the other end!
Ernie Butler 1938 – 1953 (11%)
Ernie Butler is probably before all of our times, but he’ll go down in history as arguably one of Pompey’s best ever keepers. He conceded just 80 league goals in two seasons – less than one per game – which in 1949 and 1950 helped Pompey become one of the only seven clubs in football to win back to back titles. He played every single game for Portsmouth in those two seasons, and having played around 240 games for Portsmouth he kept an incredible 86 clean sheets. A broken wrist forced him to retire. Butler sadly died in 2002,
PFCGino`s Interesting Fact: Butler used to cherish his Championship medal so much, that it went everywhere with him. He made local headlines when he lost this medal, but luckily it was found in North End and returned to him. A true great, who I really wish I had the pleasure of seeing play.
Bert Barlow 1938 – 1949 (11%)
Again, a bit before most of our times, but Bert Barlow was part of the FA Cup Winning team of 1939, opening the scoring against his former club Wolves after 26 minutes. Barlow is unique in Pompey`s history as he is the only player to win a FA Cup and (old) First Division winners medal and together with his 35 league goals for Pompey in just over 100 appearances justifies his place in any list of true Pompey greats.
PFCGino`s Interesting Fact: Bert Barlow took the FA Cup to a function on South Parade Pier where he had a few too many drinks. He dropped it when he left, and it bounced down the steps and was heavily damaged. The cup was dented, and it cost Barlow £70 to repair – ten times his weekly wage!
Joint Runner-up & The Writers Choice:
Patrik Berger 2003 -2005 (11%)
Being only 22 years old, most of the nominees are way before my time, and as such I can only write what I have researched or been told. However, one Pompey great I have seen play in the flesh was Patrik Berger. The Czech international made his move to Pompey in 2003, having won many honours including the Bundesliga and German Cup with Dortmund, and the FA, League and UEFA Cups with Liverpool. He marked his Pompey debut with a goal in our opening game against Aston Villa. In 2004 however, a knee injury forced him out for the season, and his career never really got back on track at Portsmouth, despite some impressive performances. Berger currently plies his trade at Sparta Prague, where you can keep up to date on his progress in my Old School Tie: Foreign Exchange column. (Sorry about the shameless plug!)
PFCGino`s Interesting Fact: Not many ‘hilarious’ things have happened to Berger, however he was disciplined after encouraging Villa team-mate Gareth Barry to go to Liverpool! Whether this was so that he could get a regular starting spot we shall never know….
To complete the picture of the B`s the other players in the short list were: 6% – Robert Blyth, 4% – Lee Bradbury, 2% – Kevin Ball, Deon Burton & Guy Butters, 1% – William Beedie, Henry Barnard, John Beresford
That completes the B`s of Pompey A to Z. Did you agree with the poll? Do you have any memories of the players featured? Who would have been your Writers Choice – Leave your comments below.
Likewise if you like to offer your suggestions on which players should be short listed for the letter C – ‘click here’
Pompey A to Z – The letter ‘A’ – ‘click here’
Previous Issue of PFCGino’s Foreign Exchange – ‘click here’