Date: 17th January 2009 at 8:27pm
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Well the cake is made and there is just one candle on it but today in Sunday Toast`s first birthday.

To commemorate this momentous occasion we have a special edition with the first of Pat Neil`s birthday specials. Pat who played for Pompey in the fifties and sixties is Secretary of the ex players association. He has a unique insight into the history and the whereabouts of ex-players, many of who he would call his friends.

Toast has an aim of putting the potted biography of as many ex Pompey players on the Internet to allow those around the world searching for information to find it and also introduce them to Vital Pompey. If you put in the name of an ex player into Google the chance are with the exception of the real star you will stumble across very little other than those on Vital.

I have tried over the last twelve months to enhance the quantity of such records; Pat will ensure that we now have quality as well. We are looking at the whole of January and Pat starts right at the beginning.

Brian Snowdon Born – 1 January 1935

Bought by Freddie Cox for £10,000 from Blackpool in 1959 when Pompey was playing their first season in the old second division, following relegation from the top flight. He was soon appointed captain, relieving the ageless Jimmy Dickinson. When I rejoined the club in 1962, Brian was the first choice centre half for George Smith`s newly promoted team, which was back in the second division after the drop to the third. Brian had great problems with his shoulder, which often dislocated during matches, and which eventually needed surgery. He missed many games because of this.

Pompey had a tradition of producing their own centre halves, and Brian, a northerner born in Bishop Auckland, was the first to be bought to fill the position since John McIlwaine joined the club from Falkirk in 1928. Known as Snowy by his colleagues, Brian left for Millwall in Oct 1963. Later played for Detroit Cougars, Margate and Crystal Palace. Made 129 appearances for Pompey.

Albert John Milkins – 3rd January 1944

Known as John or Milky – never Albert! His goalkeeping record appearances for the club of 389 over a period of 14 years was beaten by Alan Knight – who nearly doubled it! England youth international. Selected to tour with the England under 23 squad in 1967 but broke his arm against Wolves before the tour and was never selected subsequently. Club`s Player of the Year in 1969. Always kept his smart sleek hairstyle, rather than submit to the current style for long hair! Finally left to join Oxford for £10,000 where he made a further 53 league appearances. Ran several snooker clubs after playing days were over. Still lives locally and regularly attends ex-pros reunions.

Reg Pickett – 6th January 1927

One of only three surviving members of the championship years. (Others are Len Phillips, who is resident at St James` Hospital, and Jimmy Stephen, who played only one game in 1950 before going on to make the full back position his own in following season.)

Reg was in the team when I played my first game in the first team. Reg was born in India, where his father was in the army. In the Championship season, Reg played in five different positions! Transferred to Ipswich in 1957 where the manager, Alf Ramsey, appointed him captain of the team which went on to win the second and the first divisions in successive seasons. Post playing days he worked in the dockyard, before retiring to the IOW. Is currently in a care home in Rowland`s Castle. Best position was wing half, and I enjoyed playing in front of him. When at Ipswich Ray Crawford and Dai Rees were team mates.

Phil Gunter – 6th January 1932

One of the comparatively few Pompey schoolboys to play for the club at the highest level. Hit the headlines for declining to play on Christmas Day and Good Friday when he made the first team. He was eventually persuaded to do so later in his career in which he gained Under-23 and England B honours. Over 350 appearances for the club. Bit of a maverick in his time, probably on account of his highly publicised faith! On away matches in the 50`s I was always “roomed” with Phil – I think that Mr Lever the manager thought he was best placed to protect me from bad influences!

When I rejoined the club after graduation (at Cambridge) in 1962 I renewed friendship with Phil, who introduced me to my future wife when we members of Buckland Tennis Club. He should have been my best man in 1963 but the season had to be extended due to the bad winter fixture pile up, and could not join us on the big day! Phil was sports master at Bedales School for several years after retirement, and would organise matches between the school first eleven and the ex-pros veteran`s side, for whom he would play. (He also taught me at Southern Grammar Boys in the 60`s – Ed) He emigrated to Canberra in Australia where he died in 2007. Tall and athletic, Phil was able to perform in all defensive positions, but his best position was probably right full back. A very good tennis player and coach.

Colin Keir – 14th January 1938

Bournemouth Grammar School boy, I played with in Hampshire Schools representative team. Colin had schoolboy international trials but was not selected. Joined Pompey as 16 year old, but did not make the first team. Played for Workington later. Was very good inside forward – we played often as a wing pair in the youth team. Had bad luck with injuries. Now lives in Bournemouth and regularly attends ex-pros reunions.

Ron Newman – 19th January 1934

One of the most famous names in American football who has been inducted into the American Hall of Soccer Fame. Known universally as “Nobby”, Ron was an energetic and bustling forward whose best position was on the wing. Popular for his never-say-die style of play. Freddie Cox sold him to Leyton Orient in Jan 1961. Played over 100 games for Pompey.

Emigrated to USA in 1967 to play for Atlanta Chiefs in the National Professional League, later managed Dallas Tornados, Fort Lauderdale, Diego Sockers and Kansas City Wizards, becoming a naturalised US citizen in 1992. Managed some of the most famous footballers in the world – including the late George Best – as the ageing stars sought to extend their careers in what was at the time the “new world” of football. A former pupil of St. John`s College Southsea, Ron returns to England regularly to attend the ex-pros reunion and was at Wembley with his entire family to see Pompey lift the FA Cup.

Now back to the usual insights and today`s birthday boy is a real favourite from the 60` and early 70`s.

Nicky Jennings – 18th January 1946

Left winger with an eye for goal Nicky signed for Pompey in January 1967 from Plymouth Argyle for £25,000. He scored on his debut in a 3-2 Fratton win over Rotherham United.

Nippy Nick was a regular for almost five seasons and you could not imagine anyone else wearing the number eleven shirt. All in all he managed 206 games with 45 goals. A hat-trick in a 3-1 win at Norwich in September 1967 sticks in my memory. They were all good goals and a winger scoring a hat trick away from home is a definite collector`s item

Dennis Edwards – 19th January 1937

Dennis was never the most popular player at Fratton Park after signing from Charlton Athletic in 1964. A talented player who managed 14 goals in 71 games over four years will remembered more for the goals he didn`t score!! Legend tell me that one shot from six yards out was so far over the bar it knocked one of the hands off of the clock on top of the Fratton end stand!!

Derek Dougan – 20th January 1938 – died June 2007

This is where Toast started with a special on the Doog. Read it


The Swans fly in

Next Saturday Swansea City come to Fratton Park for an FA Cup fourth round tie. It will be the first time the clubs have met in almost twenty five years dating back to May 1984. On that occasions Pompey romped to a 5-0 with an Alan Biley hat-trick and a goal from Mark Hateley on his last appearance for the club. More importantly it was the first game under stewardship of Alan Ball.

In the FA Cup the club have met four times with the Swans winning just once in a second round replay in December 1977. The first game had been 2-2 draw at Fratton with David Kemp scoring twice. At the Vetch a Peter Denyer own goal gave the home team the advantage but Steve Foster equalised with twenty minutes to go only for Gary Moore to score a late winner.

Five years before that in the Centenary FA Cup Pompey were battering Swansea but the Welshmen were holding firm. After an hour without goals the Fratton crowd decided to take control. A blood curdling rendition of the Pompey chimes boomed around the famous stadium and the inexperienced visitors cracked. A young midfield player Williams turned 35 yards out and some inexplicable reason lobbed the ball over his own goalkeeper!! Mike Trebilcock sealed a 2-0 victory.

The first meeting of the sides in the FA Cup was back in 1934 when Pompey won the fifth round tie 1-0 in Wales. They went on to reach the final that year!!

Birthday poll

Following Cristiano Ronaldo`s recent fatal accident (well it was for the car!!) there are two stories circulating about the immediate aftermath but which one is true?

1. When questioned by police Ronaldo exclaimed ‘The wall wasn’t back ten yards!` or

2. Edwin Van Der Sar who was driving the car behind told police ‘He never could take corners`.

Well Toasters which is true?

The candle on the cake is now well alight so one, two, three blow?


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