Date: 29th November 2008 at 2:05pm
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The re-union story

Well after all the hullabaloo Pat Neil and old school friend John met up on Wednesday over lunch. They had not seen each other for fifty five years having been inseparable at school.

It took place in Eastney (where else?) and was a quiet affair with no reporters, cameramen etc. The two had so much to catch up on that in an hour and a half they drank only one pint. Pat had details of a number of old school friends for John to get in touch with and in return John has put Pat in touch will an old friend now living in Auckland, New Zealand who I understand is a regular reader of this column.

More good news Toasters, is that Pat has agreed to help the Toast team and put in snippets of information on players from the past. In his role with the Pompey ex professionals, Pat has valuable information which will help in the accuracy of some of our birthday features and other articles. Gandor will be pleased that I intend to ask Pat to help us finish the biography Chix and I am putting together on Gordon Dale to be given to his widow.

Birthdays

30th November George Graham is 64 – A Scot born on St Andrews Day well that is something to celebrate. Stroller as he was known in his early days at Chelsea and Arsenal certainly was a joy to watch and came our way in exchange for Ron Davies in a surprise deal with Manchester United in December 1974. Only just 30 when he arrived, manager St John wanted Graham`s skills and old head to settle the young team he was building.

The plan failed but George had a few memorable games in the 61 he played and he scored five goals. After relegation to the Third Division George played just three games before losing his place to Clive Green and he moved on to Crystal Palace.

Jamie Ashdown 28 – ever loyal number two keeper who when required never lets the side down. Started his career at his home town club, Reading but failed to win a regular place from Marcus Hannemann. Has never really managed to hold down a regular first team place and tried his luck on loan at Norwich two years ago. That went very well – he was sent off in his first game and in the second the Canaries were thrashed 5-0 by Stoke – he was soon back home.

1st December Malcolm Manley 59 – we wrote about Malcolm at some length recently when we featured Paul Went`s birthday and certainly these two are remembered as a far too short but very promising partnership.

Manley was a Scottish player who was plucked from Leicester City in 1973 by manager John Mortimore to play alongside Went in the middle of the Pompey defence. John Deacon found £45,000 for the deal and it seemed a marriage made in heaven. With Went`s aerial dominance and Manley`s skill to read the game and tidy up around his centre half the results began to improve. One game that sticks in the memory was the FA Cup Third round replay at Swindon, a game played in ankle deep mud. Manley simply walked on water as all around him foundered in the quagmire putting in a magnificent performance helping Pompey win by a solitary Bobby Kellard goal.

Sadly at Notts County after just fifteen league and cup games Manley severed a cartilage in his knee and never played professional football again. Went and Manley had turned the season round but it was soon to return to mediocre. Many fans at the time felt that Manley`s injury was the beginning of the end for the club which continued on a downward spiral for the next five years.

Malcolm made an appearance for Leicester City as a substitute for Len Glover in the 1969 FA Cup Final.

3rd December Gordon Bartlett – 53 Gordon a forward was one of the many youngster thrown into the firing line by manager Ian St John in an attempt to stop the mid seventies rot. Made just two appearances as substitute in December, scoring against Bolton at Fratton Park. George Graham played in both of those games. Bartlett then played for Denver in the NASL.

5th DecemberGuy Wharton was born this day in 1916. Guy was a wing half and was a member of the Pompey team that beat Wolves in the 1939 FA Cup Final.

Wharton began his career with Chester in 1934 having being spotted by the manager’s wife playing local football!! Wharton moved to First Division side Wolves in May 1936. A year later he moved to Pompey , where he was to enjoy his FA Cup glory against his old club. Guy continued playing after the Second World War and was appointed captain for a while before losing it to Reg Flewin in 1947 and moving to Wellington Town the following year. He finished his league career with 39 appearances for Darlington. Guy died in 1990.

Lee Chapman 49 – short Pompey career lasted five minutes and nobody missed him!! Signed from Leeds United in the summer of 1993 and played the first five games of the season, scoring twice on his debut at Oxford before upping sticks and moving to West Ham. Pompey reportedly made £250,000 profit on the deal!

Ian Hendon 37 – England Under 21 defender came on loan for Spurs in 1992 and made four appearances. Ian is still playing as Player/Coach for Barnet.

My wife and Vital widow Dawn who will be of an unknown age. She describes last Thursday as the best game she has ever seen and woke in the morning with a bruised hand after hitting someone in the ground while she was having a disco!! Dawn`s favourite player is Peter Crouch. Happy birthday darling!!

6th December Clive Green 49 – now where have I heard that name before? Came into the first team following relegation in 1976 Clive was a gangly forward who played only forty games in two seasons scoring four goals. Clive then moved on to Yeovil Town.

Kevin Russell 42 – Rooster Russell was released by Brighton and came home to Pompey but managed only a handful of games. Made his debut as a substitute in the final game of the 1985/86 season and than played four times in the following promotion campaign. Kevin then played for another eight clubs in 15 years but by far the greatest success and almost legendary status was earned at Wrexham. At the Racecourse Ground in two spells he played 280 games and scored 60 goals.

Shaun Derry 31- kicking heels along with other midfield players at Crystal Palace. Shaun came from Sheffield United for £300,000 in 2000 and played 49 times scoring only once, in his second game against West Brom. Was a casualty of the Redknapp clearout and ended up at Palace for the first time.

Nottingham born Derry has the distinction – probably not unique – of playing for both of his home city clubs.

Aaron Cook 29 – Welsh defender Cook is now playing Blue Square league football for Salisbury City. Aaron played just once for Pompey in February 1998 when he appeared at Left Back against Stockport County. Now Toasters what was famous about that game?

Stephen Lovell 28 – striker who came from Bournemouth in 1999 but never really settled. Played 32 times and scored three goals. Was an occasional strike partner for one Peter Crouch. Tried his luck on loan at Exeter, Sheffield United and QPR before moving north of the border. Has had a prolonged Scottish Premier League career at Dundee, Aberdeen and now Falkirk.

Cup Draw

Well we start the defence of OUR FA Cup soon and the draw is made this afternoon on ITV at 2.15 after the Histon game with Leeds United. Watch out for Histon by the way they are top of the Conference (Blue Square League) and could cause a major upset.

Just for the record Pompey are number 29 in the draw.

The Final Word

A lot has been written and said about last Thursday`s game with AC Milan. One thing is for certain those who were there will never forget it.

There is no doubt that 2008 has been the best year in living memory to be a supporter of Portsmouth Football Club. We have had the signing of great players such as Jermain Defoe, Peter Crouch and Lassana Diarra, the win at Manchester United in the FA Cup quarter final, the three Wembley appearances including winning the FA Cup, the first European campaign and four players in the England squad.

However through all of that the bidding memory for most of us will of about 9:40pm on 27th November when Pompey were leading the great AC Milan by 2-0. Of all that has happened this year that was surely the most incredulous not that many of us could have really dreamt about the others. Alright we failed, due to two bad refereeing decisions, to hang on to the win but we did have the moment when we could sing to probably the greatest club side in history ‘can we play you every week?` Priceless!

The other matter on that game is the role of the manager. With the squad at his disposal HR would definitely have played 4-5-1 but not our Tony. He wanted to attack at as much as possible and the partnership of Crouch and Kanu worked a treat. Kanu showed his huge experience of such occasions with his ability to make time for himself and bring other into the game; he is without doubt the King!

Reading the AC Milan website the players say they struggled to cope with the pace and the passing of the Pompey team and that is due to the manager who is trying to get his side playing the Arsenal way. Now that we would all love.

Favourite moment for most fans I have talked to was when Glen Little turned 2007 World footballer of the year Kaka inside out and left the Brazilian superstar with no other course of action but to haul him down. Priceless!

See you next week.

PUP