Date: 11th April 2009 at 8:25pm
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Someone at Fratton Park needs to learn that when you play a team below you in the league at home you must make them worry about your strengths rather than unduly care about theirs. By all means play 4-5-1 at home but only if you have the players who can support the loan striker in midfield. Two great goals, two horrendous goals to concede and two valuable points lost! At least we now have two more teams below us.

Well Happy Easter and thanks for all the eggs. We have a lot to get through this week and I apologise to readers for the length of the article which has well overrun the 1,500 words I generally target. But these biographies have to be written and I attempt two this week.

Super Matt

Super Matthew Taylor makes his first return to Fratton Park next Saturday since his transfer to Bolton last season. When he ‘Trotts’ onto the pitch I expect he will get a wonderful reception.


Remember the link to Pompeyrama stats – just click on the player`s name. Oh and please register with the site and log your games as I am extremely embarrassed with the current ‘league table’ of games watched.

12th AprilStuart Croft 55 – Stuart Dunbar Croft was born in Ashington, Northumberland (famous for the Charlton brothers) on 12 April 1954. He joined Hull City as a youngster but then moved to York before moving back to Boothferry Park in 1972.

Croft then played 190 times for the Tigers scoring just four goals but during the period formed a solid partnership with England U21 cap Paul Haigh. Stuart was popular player on Humberside and even manged to make the all time poll of Top Tigers when a poll was held among fans to mark the club’s centenary in 2004 – he was number 100!

Hull were not pulling up any trees though and in 1981 Frank Burrows signed Croft on a short term contract to cover a defensive crisis. Stuart played just six times for Pompey and even got himself on the score sheet at Charlton, heading home a corner in a 2-1 win. He was released though and moved back to York City one of his former clubs but played just fourteen more league games before joining Bridlington Trinity of the Northern Counties East League.

John Lathan 57 – John George Lathan was born in Sunderland on 12th April 1952 and ways to join his local club on leaving school. He made his league debut aged just seventeen as a substitute at Leeds United on 19 November 1969 in a 2-0 defeat.

Three days later he was to score the first of his forty one league goals it came at Roker Park against Southampton – the game finished in a 2-2 draw. That season 1969/70 was to see Sunderland relegated from Division 1 after six seasons. John had made six appearance that season but was to play just once the following campaign in a 3-1 win at Bolton. The curious thing was that Lathan scored twice but did not play again until the next season.

1971/72 was to be a better season for John as he made twelve starts and had a further seven appearances as a substitute. The 1st March 1972 was to see one of the personal highlights of his career his only hat-trick. It came at Roker Park and the opposition were Portsmouth a club he was to join some years later. The next season was to be memorable for Sunderland but perhaps not quite so for John Lathan.

That was the season that the Black Cats would beat mighty Leeds United at Wembley with an Ian Porterfield goal sparking some unforgettable scenes beneath the twin towers. Lathan was to play no part in the final despite having appeared in some of the earlier rounds. In fact he was one of five players placed on the transfer list by manager Bob Stokoe following the third round draw with Notts County at Meadow Lane as the boss could see the season ending in disappointment.

The next season was to be John`s final at his home town club but the few games he did play included a chance to play European football as Sporting Lisbon dumped Sunderland from the Cup Winner’s Cup. He then moved to Mansfield Town and eventually achieved some success.

The Stags were on the rise and in 1974/75 they were to win the Division Four title. The title was clinched in style with a 7-0 win over Scunthorpe at Field Mill with Lathan scoring twice. Later that year John was on the move again this time to the northern outpost of Carlisle.

After 61 league games at Carlisle and a short spell on loan at Barnsley John was to be used as a makeweight in a transfer that would upset most Pompey fans. Pompey were heading towards Division Four and even the goals of idol Dave Kemp were not going to save them. However it came as a major surprise when boss Jimmy Dickinson accepted a bid from fellow Division Three side Carlisle of £75,000 for Kemp with Lathan included as part exchange.

That was a cross that John always had to bear during his stay at Pompey and despite some fine performances in the middle of the park the goals would not come and a few simple missed chances were to be his curse. John managed just four goals in fifty eight league games but at least when he scored Pompey won and it fact always kept a clean sheet. His first goal came at Rochdale and not many Pompey fans witnessed it. There were only 1,479 inside Spotland that afternoon the smallest crowd ever to watch a Pompey game – the record has been broken since!

After one whole season, when he was made club captain, in the side missing just one game (at Barnsley – the night of Jimmy Dickinson’s first heart attack) John was on his way back to Mansfield where after another season he decided to try his luck overseas. And that is where John has remained first Australia and then South Africa and finally the USA. John is currently coaching in Manhattan and has obtained his full UEFA Coaching badge.

Charlie Mortimore 81

Charlie was an amateur centre forward from Woking who played just one game for Pompey in 1953/54. The number ten shirt was handed down from player to player that season with Duggie Reid, Len Phillips, Albert Mundy, Johnny Gordon, Jackie Henderson, Ralph Hunt and Matthew Gemmell all pulling on the jersey. But come Christmas Day manager Eddie Lever turned to Charlie to make his debut and miss out on the turkey and trimmings. The game was at Tottenham and finished in a 1-1 draw – Peter Harris scored the goal. Harris loved Christmas and scored in Pompey’s last three Yuletide fixtures.

After Mortimore’s one appearance the number ten shirt was worn by Gordon Dale but Mike Barnard grabbed it for the final twelve games.

Brian Yeo 65

Brian a winger played just two games for Pompey both in the FA Cup against Coventry in 1963. Both games finished as draws and Brian lost his place in the second replay to Pat Neil!! Must ask Pat about that.

13th April Mervyn Gill 78 – Mervyn was another amateur player from the mid 1950’s. Gill was a goalkeeper who came from Bideford Town and in 1953/54 was one of four keepers at the club. He got his chance at home to Blackpool, Stanley Matthews and all in September 1953 and game finished 4-4!! Mervyn then played in eight more high scoring games in February and March 1954 before disappearing from the scene. We know he then moved on to Woking the next summer.

Leonardo Biagini 32 played just six games on loan from Real Mallorca in 2002. A player with great pedigree – winning the World Youth Cup with Argentina in 1996 – but never really made the grade. Played most of his football in Spain winning La Liga and the Copa del Ray in 1996 with Atletico Madrid and the Copa again with Mallorca in 2003.

Specialised in early goals with Pompey – well he only score two but they both came in the first five minutes!! Now back in his native Argentina and after winning the Copa Sudamericana with Arsenal!! Confusing but Arsenal de Sarandi are a relatively new club in Argentina and have been rising quickly recently culminating in their winning the equivalent of the UEFA Cup in South America. At present we believe Biagini has no club.

14th April Noe Pamarot 30 the only current Pompey player to play for the club in the last century.

Phil Ashworth 56 – the Pompey player with the best goals per game ratio since the war!!

15th April Andres D`Alessandro 28 – two Argentines for the price of one slice of Toast!!

Craig Foster 40 another of El Tel`s Aussies.

16th April Arjan De Zeeuw 39

Doctor Arjan De Zeeuw is now back hope in Holland refreshing his skills with the stethoscope and popped into Fratton Park to join Sky`s coverage of the Everton game – great player, great character and great man!

17th April Jimmy McIlwraith 55 – another Scot who played for Motherwell before joining Pompey from Bury. Was a team mate of John Lathan but the blond striker could not find the net and soon drifted back to Bury.

635 staff

So Pompey employ 635 staff which roughly the same number as there are Members of Parliament. Well we have carried out extensive research and have come up with a long list of where all these heads come from.

There are course the players at all levels which could number 60-70. then we have the coaching and training ground staff including security shall be say 20 more. At Fratton Park we have the office staff including the ticket office perhaps 30 more. Then there are Pompey`s three shops which probably include mostly part-time staff could number another 30. On match-days that number is swelled by 240 stewards and 40 gate staff. Then we security, hospitality, catering, bar staff, car parks and announcers.

Going wider we have the clubs website and online shopping as well as the Community Office and all the projects they support. Then we have the news that Pompey have purchased South Coast Investments a company we know little about other than the fact that they own the Animal and Quiksilver shops dotted around the country. Now whether these staff count in the 635 we do not know but we have found that eight staff were laid off last week. Sorry I think we forgot the tea lady

I know that does not answer the question on a lot of people lips but I hope it gives some insight into how it might be calculated.

Euro memories

The Times this week ran an article arguing for a new format to the Europa cup involving more clubs. They want to scrap the group stages and replace it with a simple knock out competition.

They claim this will take football to the masses and use as evidence for their argument Pompey AC Milan game back in November. The point is simple – look, at the occasion and try and replicate that all over Europe. I too would like to experience it all again.

If you are looking for the next question in the ‘In it to win it No 2` you are looking in the wrong place.

See you next week.


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