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Pompey under floodlights

We all know there is nothing better than watching a game under floodlights. The occasion and the atmosphere seem unique. But it has not always been that way back in the days of terraces and cloth caps mid week games had to be played in the afternoons which did a lot for local absenteeism.

The first ever league game under floodlights took place at Fratton Park in 1956 between Pompey and Newcastle United. The floodlights were fixed to the roofs of the North and South stands and the patches to the roofs could be seen up until Jim Gregory reclad both stands in the late 1980's.

The first experiments with playing football games with artificial lighting began in October 1878 at Bramall Lane, Sheffield. The lamps were mounted on timber gantries and powered by dynamo machines powered by batteries or steam engines. The ball had to be whitewashed at regular intervals to aid the players and spectators. Over the next few years several floodlit friendly games took place but the technology was very unreliable and sometimes the match had to be abandoned.

The first Football League competition took place in 1888-89. As it was considered important that all league games should be completed successfully, it was decided to ban the playing of floodlit games.

During the 1930s, Herbert Chapman, the manager of Arsenal, tried to persuade the Football Association and the Football League to sanction floodlit football. The FA refused and it was not until after the Second World War that the issue was raised again. In the early 1950s clubs like Wolves played friendlies under lights against some of Europe's leading teams. These games attracted large crowds and the authorities eventually withdrew their objections allowing Pompey to claim another slice of history.

The current floodlights were opened in October 1963 with a friendly against Burnley, which I believe ended 1-1. I was not there but I do remember two great floodlit nights in the 60's, both coming in FA Cup replays.

The first came in January 1967 Pompey were drawn away to Hull City in the third round hardly a very attractive draw but the game ended 1-1 and a replay at Fratton on the Tuesday. Monday lunchtime arrived and gathered round the transistor radios at school we heard that the winners would be away the mighty Spurs. That stirred the imagination of the city and over 20,000 were expected for the replay. As it was a crowd of 33,107 packed into the Park to see a classic. With the game approaching the final minute Pompey were leading 1-0 when the Tigers equalised taking the game into extra time. Hull kicked off towards the Fratton end and scored almost straight from the kick off and the crowd began to believe that the glamour trip to White Hart Lane was slipping away. Pompey piled forward in an attempt to earn a second replay but also seemed lost until with a minute left full back Roy Pack broke down the right and it a cross into a packed penalty area everyone missed the ball and it ended up in the net - probably sucked in by the Fratton end crowd. Pandemonium all round the ground the roar I remember the News reported could be heard in the Guildhall Square.

Pompey won the second replay at Coventry's Highfield Road 3-1 and we all went to White Hart Lane - about 25,000 in total - but the mighty Spurs, Greaves and Gilzean, won 3-1 and went on to win the Cup at Wembley.

The next Pompey were flying high in the Second Division when after a third round win at Peterborough, Fulham away was the next task. A huge following travelled up the A3 to see a drab 0-0 draw. The replay on the Tuesday was something else. The famous old ground was besieged by fans with thousands locked out and 44,010 inside as an early Mike Trebilcock goal settled the game. Many fans complained about the clubs organisation as they were unable to see and demanded their money back - nothing changes eh!

The fifth round game at home to West Brom was better organised with crowd packers employed and the packed crowd of 43,867 saw a thriller which West Brom edged to 2-1 and went on to win the Cup at Wembley.

Two of my early memories of great nights under the lights at FP. What is you favourite night at the bottom of Frogmore Road?

Written by eastneydave.

The views within this article are the views of the individual who wrote and submitted this piece, sometimes solely theirs. They are not necessarily shared by the Vital Pompey Site Journalists.

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The Journalist

Writer: pompeyrug Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Sunday September 9 2007

Time: 8:37AM

Your Comments

another fine article dave - thanks for sharing it with us.
tbh as i moved away from pompey as a kid - still living away from the area, having not seen them before my move, this distance has not really give me much chance to watch anywhere near as many matches at fratton as i would have liked, even tho i have been a season ticket holder in the past, so i have not really seen many midweek games at fratton... one that stands out in my mind was a testimonial game against west ham for our old kitman, this saw the late les sealey play in goal for west ham and his antics were brilliant. without more thought the only other midweek game at fratton that i can think off of the top of my head was seeing us lose to birmingham 1-0 having drew with sunderland 1-1 - taking the lead though sammy igoe - the saturday before...
Not a problem. Still waiting for those challenges from the lads and lassies.
well you heard it people, get those 'challenge dave' requests into me via email and we will see if the master can answer you questions etc on pompey years gone by - i will warn you his knowledge is pretty damn good!
i love floodlight matches, we seem to play better as well, in recent times 4-0 bolton, 6-1 leeds, man u1-1
As a lad, mid-late 70s, saw quite a few. Wimbledon on xmas eve, I think, Div 3 game. Drew 3-3. Stretching my memory here. The FA cup 3rd with Mboro. Drew 1-1. They said 36,000 max but it was closer to 40,000.
Matt remember those two very well the long walk home after the Xmas eve game (7 miles) and the late Jeff Hemmerman disallowed goal against top flight Boro that was never offside!!
My first game back in '79 was under floodlights, chucking it down, I was sat on the redgra running track and headed a ball back as my hands were frozen in my pockets, I'll never forget the chants of "sign him on"
drawing with boro at home last season under floodlights (i think) - that was a big dissopointment, although looking at the form of s and them, it was probably a good result...
your claim to fame paultsmouth :) my old mans claim to fame is heading a cross from george best! this was not during my old mans playing days, but from being in the crowd when besty put a ball into the crowd...
October 74 - Man Utd - Dave and I have chatted about this game before and although a 0-0 draw (I think) There was a lot of talent on show that night from Man U - The season before saw the 'not so mighty reds' get relegated and although their return was pretty swift (they won the league at first attempt) It did mean, for once that I sae some of the players from my 'sticker book' play at Fratton Park. I remember (as much as I can being 10 at the time) that the atmoshere was brilliant, crowd of 25,000 which was at that stage in my life I biigest I had witnessed I think. Both sets of supporters sang all the way through the game .... strange can imagine Man U fans like that now
Also didn't we get our first win on the returm to the (old) first division under floodlights... Beat West Ham I think (Dillion twice... Pens ???) the week sfter we had played scum and drawn 2-2 ??
Cant rmember what my first game was, but i've said on here before my Dad used to take me and we sttod on the 'boiler makers hump' in the milton end. Can remember a game, sure it was a cup game against Oxford, Pompey something like 2-0 down with 10 mins to go, then, refresh my memory eastneyd, I think Alan Biley scored a hatrick, after the first my Dad dragged us away stating it was a consolation goal, then i heard two more massive cheers before making it back to the car parked by the prison. A bit sketchy, Eastneyd, do you know the game i mean?? Can you fill me in with the correct facts and dates please? Would be a nice memory for me. Is this pompeys greatest come back of all time?
Dont know if it was under floodlights tho.
....... Just mentioning Scummers has made me think of another occassion, but this one I think Id rather forget ...didn't we lose 7-0 to them in a testimonial under floodlights... was it Alan Knights ?
Lets take those questions in order - Chix Spot on - 15 October 74 Man U 0-0 25,608. Shows the draw of United we had 12,000 on the previous Saturday for the visit of Fulham and 9,000 for the next home game!! I did check those facts.
Chix 2 You are right we did get our first win back in Div One with a 2-1 win over West Ham on August Bank Holiday - it was an evening kick off started in daylight and finished under lights. Dillon scored both one a penalty after the Hammers took and early lead. We had of course famously lost 6-0 at Arsenal on the Saturday.
Chix 3 - Yes we did lose a testimonial 7-0 at home to the Scum in May 1972 - wrong goalkeeper though it was John 'Brylcream Boy' Milkins. We got revenge at the Skip a couple of years later winning 4-2 in a testimonial game I was there but can find no record of it the record books!!
Pompey4me - I think the game you mention is the famous Santa Claus game. December 22 1984 - Oxford United at home. Both teams in the running for promotion. Crowd over 22,000 afternoon kick off finished under light. Oxford were leading 1-0 in the last 5 minutes when a fan dressed as Santa ran onto the pitch from the North Terrace. He was chased by police and eventually caught. Referee Martin Bodenham was forced to add on an extra two minutes to allow for the interruption and during that time Alan Biley buried two headers into the Fratton End net . Delirium broke out - you must have heard it. That was the season on comebacks only 10 days later Fulham we infamously trailing 4-0 at half time and came back to draw 4-4. The points dropped that day cost us promotion!!
Remember playing Lincoln and fog was coming in and Alan Biley had scored a hat trick, when he and Billy Rafferty terrorised back fours in the old division 3. However the fog held off and we won 4-1, great memories, and also when Steve Davey tackled Howard Goddard of Newport and Broke his leg, and the Police Officer allegedly stated he could have charged him with assault for it. Great memories, but i hope we never go back to the bad old days of being in the lower leagues.
Ouch don't mention that Fulham game.
Owens the Lincoln game was November 1982, our Thrid Division championship season, the ref claimed he was always happy to finish the game but stood on the Fratton End I could not see the half way line for the last 30 minutes. Rafferty and Biley yes they were a great combination Raff did all the work and Biley scored the goals far too good for the third division.
The Newport County game (where are they now?) was in the Fourth Division. We lost the top of the table clash 2-0 in fronyt of over 20,000. Interestingly cult hero Phil Ashworth who had scored two goals in the 4-1 win over Bradford City on the Saturday was dropped for the returning Jeff Hemmerman and Pompey drew a blank. Ashworth only started 3 league games for Pompey, they scored 4 goals in each and Phil contributed 4 of those!!
Matt sorry to mention the Fulham game but it shows how football can kick you in the teeth.
Chix going back to the United game in 1974 research shows that their team was Stepney, Forsyth, Albiston, Greenhoff, Holton, Buchan, Morgan, McIlroy, Macari, McCalliog and Daly sub - McCreery. Some team for a second division team!!
Amongst other places.
And there too.
Oh my god eastneyd, what a memory you have, i cant remember what happened last week, let alone all these facts. Thanks for the input on the Oxford game, will have to take me old fella out for a pint and chastize him for taking me home early!!!
It is not all from memory - mostly but I check most of my facts before sending. Yes I think a few left early that afternoon last Saturday before Xmas etc. but it was a very important game. Oxford wen up as champions and Pompey fourth just missing out. I am planning an article on comebacks in the next few weeks trying to highlight games that the news and other sites do not have in their great games archives.
dave is a legend pompey4me - i think we should rename him 'the all knowing oracle'...
We had a decent team then didnt we, it was at this point it became a pleasure to be a Pompey fan after the bleak days of the old fourth division. The arrival of Mick Tait, Neil Webb, Alan Biley and Ernie Howe made a big difference to the team and Frank Burrows, Bobby Campbell and then Bally made us proud of the team and what they went on to achieve. I loved Bobby Doyle and Nicky Morgan and never really took to Dave Thomes who i think used to share the wing spot with Alan Rogers.
Rug - Legend is a bit much. I am just Pompey through and through, been to probably well over a thousand games on about 50 different grounds, have a good memory and I love reminiscing. I will also admit that I do check some of my facts especially if they are important to the writer Young fans and others not interested in facts would find me extremely boring - sad old git is a phrase that comes to mind!!
Owens you are right those players helped turn Pompey in the upward direction. Who will ever forget the roasting Alan Rogers gave England full back Phil Neal at Liverpool in 1980!! or Alan Biley's trade mark blond hair and shirt sleeves stretched over his hands, Neil Webb was pure class and Yoser Tait a legend!! And I am old enough to remember seeing Bobby Campbell play for Pompey!!!
In 1970 the first two Pompey matches I ever attended were forgettable 0-0 draws against Aston Villa and Bristol City. It was my first match under floodlights that got me hooked however. This was a 5-3 win against a team called Dallas Tornado if my memory serves me correctly. I can still remember the thrill of being out by myselt at night as I was only ten at the time. Other memories of that night was hearing 'Sugar Sugar'by the Archies over the tannoy and Albert McCann breaking the net at the Milton End with a thunderbolt penalty! It was only a friendly but I didn't care. We beat Swindon 3-1 in the next home league match and I was convinced that Pompey were a great team and that Ray Hiron was god! Well I was only ten!
Pompey Half Pint
Half pint - great memory - you tend to forget 0-0 draws and we did indeed have back to back against Villa and Bristol City followed up by a 3-1 win over Swindon back in the Autumn of 1969. That was a totally forgettable season at the end of which Pompey increased prices to 30p!!
I can find no mention of the Dallas Tornado game in the record books but I was there. I think they were coached by Ron Newman a former player which made the link.
eastneyd, yosser tait, now that brings back memories of my childhood!! Was the nickname given to him due to his willingness to do a job anywhere, or because he looked like boys from the black stuff (was that what it was called? Really stretching my poor memory there!)
Yosser came from the no nonsense, head butting attitude of Yosser Hughes (played by Bernard Hill) in Alan Bleasdale's "Boys from the Black stuff". Classic TV - great and loyal player, bought as striker from Oxford but has trouble scoring goals - played every position for Pompey except in Goal - would probably have given a go if asked!!
Dave - Im gonna make it my personal goal to stump you ;) You are truly world class - I have been giving the 'challenge dave' thing some thought and I was going to suggest 'the history of admission prices' thiking that would really test you .... Then you come out with Pompey increased prices in 1970 .. priceless - I will keep thinking and get you yet
Ah-ha (jumps for joy, punches the air) I've just realised you are in fact wrong on the 30p increase
in 1969/70 it would have been an increase to...
30'new' pence.......... technicality I know but a small victory ;)
Actually Chix I was going to say a rise to 6 Shillings as it was before decimilisation - the equaliser!!
Don't make the challenges too hard. Unless the admission prices for example were printed in the programmes there is probably no trail except trailing through back issues of the News looking for the articles slamming the latest increase. I do remember during the mid sixties it was 3/6 or 1/9 for us kids.
Sorry 3/6 is 3 shiilings and 6 pence or 18p. That was adult terraces.
Bloody hell lads it is like the money programme with the baggy Adrian Chiles, what is all this old money, i remember my dad telling me all about it. I remember going to Bradford pre the awful fire and them doubling the entrance fee to 4 and having to walk through the away fans to get to our end.
Yes prices have shot up. In those days as a kid you could go to match, buy a programme and still have enough for a couple of pints out of your pocket or paper round money!! That is why clubs need to sell cheap tickets (5 quid) to kids for lesser games to attract the new generation of fans.
I agree that we need to encourage as many youngsters as we can to the games, once thay have been they are usually biiten by the live football bug and we need them to come to Fratton Park and spread the word at school. I always feel that kids in Pompey and the surrounding area should follow Pompey, i live in Liverpool and 99% of the kids wear Liverpool or Everton shirts, no Chelsea or Arsenal or United etc.
The percentage of kids wearing other shirts is falling all the time in Pompey though which is a good sign.
That's great to here Dave - I only make it down for match days now so all the kids I see are all wearing Pompey shirts (obviously), but if it's changing on a day to day basis that's great news.
Owenspompey - Completely agree about reducing the prices for lesser games - Purely from a economical point of view (apologies for sounding like the money programme again) but if every empty seat for the Leeds game was sold off on the night to under 16's for a fiver, that would increase the gate reciepts for Pompey and introduce more kids to live football..... and to come full circle the memories we have shared on this thread about games under floodlights could continue for years to come.
Eastneydave, i remember playing an American team at Fratton although it was not Dallas, it was the Tulsa Roughnecks and it was on the 9th October 1978, we lost 2-0, could this be the game the guy was thinking of?
Owens - picked this up in the office will research when home. Good memory with the date or have you got the programme? Fourth Division days eh!!
Found an old programme mate, as i was sure we had played a game against an American Team. Look forward to hearing from you
Owens - as promised dug through books and memory and found the game. Of course as you have the programme the details are and yes we lost 2-0 in front of only 2,791. We played a lot of home friedlies later that season because of the bad winter the midlands and north were frozen in. In January and February 1979 we hosted Birmingham, Cambridge Utd, West Brom and Middlesboro winning two and losing two.
I have one more friendly with a Yankee team and that was Ford Lauderdale on 13 February 1978 when 6,027 watched a 2-2 draw. Pompey's goals scored by the 'twins' Norman and Steve Piper. Still no sign of Dallas.

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