Toast Special - Reg Flewin - Captain Fantastic
When we ran the story of the passing of Reg Flewin earlier in the year a number of you felt that the club's obituary did not pay proper respect to one of the key men in the history of Portsmouth Football Club. So the Toast team have decided to try and put that right. There were some good obituaries written in the press and we have used those in the Independent and the Times for reference as well as many other sources to produce this article.
Born in Portsmouth on 28th November 1920 - Reg Flewin was a schoolboy who enjoyed boxing as well as playing football. As a boxer he showed great potential and was coached by a local professional fighter Stoker Reynolds, during the war; Reg would go on to become Royal Marines Heavyweight champion. When he was at St.Lukes` School, Reg captained Pompey Schoolboys and they also won the famous Pickford Cup.
He was working as a junior clerk for the Danish Bacon company in Goldsmith Avenue when he signed for Pompey on his seventeenth birthday from Ryde Sports. Pompey were struggling in the First Division at the time and Reg was seen as the long term replacement for veteran centre half Tom Rowe but he had to wait until April 1939 to play his first game in a 2-1 win over Grimsby. In that debut he was the first Portsmouth born player to appear in Pompey`s league side since they became members of the league in 1920. It was also to be his only league outing before war broke out. He was to be one of only seven players to play both sides of the war for Pompey.
The others for the record were Bert Barlow, Jim McAlinden, Cliff Parker, Phil Rookes, Harry Walker and Guy Wharton.
Two weeks later Pompey were at Wembley winning the FA Cup final but Reg was not there he was playing a reserve match at White Hart Lane against Spurs - Pompey won 3-0!!
War and Peace
When war broke out Reg`s career was thrown into turmoil. He joined the Royal Marines but was lucky to be locally based and could continue to play for his beloved Pompey. He played 202 times for Pompey during the war years and played twice for England, both against Wales at Liverpool and Cardiff, in war-time internationals. As mentioned earlier he was also the Royal Marines Heavyweight boxing champion.
When peace was restored Pompey had to get back playing but things were tight but such was the passion around Pompey the 500 clothing coupons needed to buy new kit were soon collected. Reg was now 26 and soon secured his place in the Pompey first team and eventually took over the captaincy from Guy Wharton in the 1946/47 season. Reg now showed his fine organisational and leadership skills and the 'team with no stars' were ready for greatness. Twelfth in that season was followed by eighth in 1947/48 as the pieces began to drop into place for new manager Bob Jackson.
The season 1948/49 was Pompey`s Golden Jubilee season and the board expected great things. The November match with the mighty Arsenal was designated the Jubilee match and a 43,000 crowd were present to see a great 4-1 victory. That win put Pompey second in the table. Reg was told by club president Lord Montgomery in a hand written note at Christmas 1948 that an army depends on their captain and that he should look to knock their next opponents for six.. Knowing that Monty had armies numbering into millions, Reg led his team out and put five past Chelsea as they went top of the table, a position they did not relinquish as they coasted away from Matt Busby's Manchester United to become League champions by five points. Remember in those days there was only two points for a win.
The team had its big names, the England wingers in Peter Harris and Jack Froggatt, Thunderboots striker Duggie Reid and Ernie Butler the huge goalkeeper. But many think that the half back line of Jimmy Scoular, Flewin and Jimmy Dickinson was the greatest of all time and with their record together few could disagree. Rugby fans (particularly the Welsh) will often talk of the Pontypool front row of Windsor, Price and Faulkner but the Pompey Half Back line of Scoular, Flewin and Dickinson was certainly something to behold.
Outside of Portsmouth the winning of the championship was treated with scorn, hinting that it had been a fluke and the press stated quite clearly that a return to the old days of big dominance would return immediately. They were wrong; however, as Bob Jackson's very well organised side won the title again, this time on goal average from Wolves. Reg missed eighteen league games that season most due to an appendix operation and a eye injury but Bill Spence who had joined from QPR was a fitting replacement. Reg was back to lead his side out for the final games against Aston Villa which had to be won and it was by five goals to one. The famous trophy was their's again!
That was the pinnacle of Reg's career and he was to play only twenty four more league games for Pompey over the next four seasons and during that time he had gained his FA coaching badge. The Centre half berth first went to Duggie Reid and then Jack Froggatt during that period. Reg was selected to tour with the FA team to both of Canada and Australia in 1951 but never won a full international cap for England probably because of the form of Neil Franklin of Stoke City.
He finally hung up his boots after 173 games in 1954 to become assistant manager. At the time he also rejected an invitation from Southampton to become their manager. Flewin remained Pompey's number two until October 1960 and after a fallout with Freddie Cox, he took the job as manager of Fourth Division Stockport County. Reg had been associated with Pompey for twenty three years. There followed three tough years at Edgeley Park, before he returned south to take over at Third Division Bournemouth in September 1963.
At Dean Court, Reg had success however with a fourth place finish but after two years he moved into non league football with Hastings United. In 1965 he retired from the game and settled with his wife on the Isle of Wight. He there managed a Holiday Camp until his final retirement. After the death of his wife Reg spent his final days in a Shanklin residential home where after watching Pompey win the cup for the second time he died on 24th May 2008.
Reg Flewin was without doubt an all time Pompey great who has never really received the recognition he deserved. As we have heard he was the first Portsmouth born player to play league football for Pompey. He then led his club to winning back to back championships. This is the only time the league title has come south of the Thames.
Showing his loyalty during the championship years Reg rejected a big money move to Sunderland believed to be worth £15,000. He also turned down an offer to manage Southampton and remained at the club as assistant manager until he could bear Freddie Cox`s weird decisions no more.
As a player Reg was a huge man with a long neck and with great heading ability. He could also be recognised by his receding hairline but basically reg was an unassuming man.
Reg was a man who led his beloved Pompey by example and received few accolades. We have a Dickinson Way, and yes there is no doubt Jim deserved that but what about a Flewin Road perhaps leading to the new stadium? Come on Portsmouth City Council we have streets in our City named after famous locals it is now time for Reg Flewin.