Fratton Park

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Fratton Park
The Old Girl
Fratton Park, Sep 2006.jpg
The ground as viewed from the Milton End in September 2006
Address Frogmore Road, Milton, Portsmouth, Hampshire. PO4 8RA
Coordinates 50°47′47″N 1°3′50″W / 50.79639°N 1.06389°W / 50.79639; -1.06389Coordinates: 50°47′47″N 1°3′50″W / 50.79639°N 1.06389°W / 50.79639; -1.06389
Owner Portsmouth F.C.
Capacity 20,620 (currently reduced to 19,669 for health & safety reasons)[1]
Record attendance 51,385 on 26 February 1949
Field size 105 x 66 m (115 x 73 yards)
Surface Soil-based natural turf[2]
Construction
Built 1899
Opened August 15, 1899; 119 years ago (1899-08-15)
(first match: 6 September 1899)
Architect Arthur Cogswell (1899)[3] Archibald Leitch (1925)

Fratton Park is a football stadium in the English city of Portsmouth in the United Kingdom. Fratton Park remains as the original home of Portsmouth F.C. since the founding of the football club in 1898.

Uniquely, Fratton Park is currently the only stadium in English professional football that is not on the mainland island of Great Britain,[4] as it is built on Portsea Island, where the city of Portsmouth is located.

Fratton Park was built in 1899 on the site of a potato field in the former farming village of Milton, which later became a residential district of Portsmouth as the city expanded across Portsea Island during the twentieth century. Fratton Park's name was influenced by its convenient closeness to Fratton railway station, one mile to the west of the stadium.

The stadium is affectionately known as "The Old Girl" by Portsmouth supporters.[5]

Fratton Park was publicly and officially opened on Tuesday 15 August 1899. The first ever football match at Fratton Park, on Wednesday 6 September 1899[6] was a 2-0 friendly win against Southampton FC, and was attended by 4,141 supporters.[6]

Description[edit]

Fratton Park is built in a traditional English style with four separate stands arranged closely around the four sides of the football pitch. The pitch measures 115 x 73 yards, and is aligned from east to west, which is considered unusual in English football, as most other pitches are orientated north to south.

The four stands are named The Fratton End (west), The North Stand (north), The Milton End (east) and The South Stand (south). Before the reconstruction of the 4,500 seat Fratton End in 1997, the previous terraced stands of the old Fratton End, Lower North Terrace and Milton End were all connected, forming a broken C-shaped terraced bowl for much of Fratton Park's earlier history.

Fratton Park today has a current (reduced) capacity for 19,669 supporters,[7] although the stadium has had a much larger maximum capacity for 58,000 supporters after the construction of the North Stand in 1935. Fratton Park's record attendance is 51,385, reached in an FA Cup quarter-final match vs Derby County, on 26 February 1949, in which Portsmouth won 2-1.

At the western end of Fratton Park is the single tier 4,500 seat Fratton End, which first opened on 31 October 1997 and is the newest and tallest stand in Fratton Park. The Fratton End also had an official opening ceremony on 4 April 1998, timed to coincide with a home match that was one day before the centennial anniversary of Portsmouth F.C. on 5 April 1998. The current Fratton End replaced an earlier two-tier Fratton End built in 1956, which had its upper tier demolished in 1986 for structural reasons. The remaining lower tier of the Fratton End was demolished eleven seasons later in 1997 to clear the land for the building of the current Fratton End stand in 1997.

Along the northern side of the pitch is the two-tier North Stand, the largest stand in Fratton Park. The North Stand (and Lower North Terrace) was rebuilt and reopened on 7 September 1935 and replaced an earlier smaller structure. A new roof extension was added to the North Stand upper tier roof in 1997 and extends over the lower tier - previously uncovered - to the pitch touchline.

At the eastern end of Fratton Park is the Milton End, the smallest stand. In 1928, it was rebuilt to its current size. Infamously, the Milton End was the only roofless stand in the Premier League, before a roof was added before the 2007-08 season. The Milton End is used by visiting 'away' supporters and is accessed from a narrow back alleyway named Specks Lane.

The South Stand has two tiers and was opened on 29 August 1925 and is currently the oldest stand in Fratton Park. It replaced an earlier and smaller South Stand (known as The Grand Stand) that existed on the site between 1899-1925. The current 1925 South Stand was designed by the famed Scottish architect Archibald Leitch. The entrance to the South Stand is in Frogmore Road and is notable for its mock Tudor façade, which is a remnant of a grand mock Tudor pavilion structure - with a clock tower - that previously occupied the site from 1905 before the current South Stand was built in 1925.

The football ground is served by Fratton railway station one mile to the west (about 10 minutes' walk away), which is located on the Portsmouth Direct Line. Fratton Park's naming was influenced by the close walking distance to Fratton railway station which offered good transport links, which were key to attracting new supporter interest in its early history.

Despite its name, Fratton Park is not located in the Fratton area of Portsmouth - as it was built on a former nineteenth century Milton Farm potato field within the Milton district of present-day Portsmouth. Fratton Park also retains a PO4 8RA Milton postcode and not the PO1 area postcode of the neighbouring Fratton area and Portsmouth city centre.

History[edit]

On 5 April 1898, Portsmouth Football Club was founded by a group of six local businessmen and sports enthusiasts at the office of Alderman John Edward Pink (a law solicitor) at number 12 High Street, Old Portsmouth. The men formed a syndicate to share their resources to form a professional football club and to buy a plot of land near Goldsmith Avenue, Milton to build a football ground. "The Portsmouth Football and Athletic Company" as it was originally known, had a capital of £8,000 amongst its chairman and five directors.:

  • John Brickwood - the owner of Portsmouth-based 'Brickwoods Brewery' and first chairman of Portsmouth F.C. (John Brickwood was knighted in 1904, became First Baronet Brickwood of Portsmouth in 1927)
  • Major Alfred H. Bone - a surveyor and architect.
  • John Peters - a wine importer.
  • William Wiggington - a government contractor and former Royal Engineers Warrant Officer.
  • George Lewin Oliver - founder and headmaster of 'Mile End School', 384-388 (Old) Commercial Road, Mile End, Portsmouth, where 'Oliver's Academy' became known as 'Mile End School'.
  • Alderman John Edward Pink - a solicitor, based at 12 High Street, Old Portsmouth, employed by John Brickwood.

A blue plaque on the wall of 12 High Street, Old Portsmouth (Alderman John E. Pink's office building) commemorates the founding on 5 April 1898.

Their prospectus, dated 14 May 1898, revealed that they proposed to "acquire a piece of land in Goldsmith Avenue up to £1100 an acre" in Milton, to be used primarily for football and "for such outdoor games and exercises that were approved by the directors." These were to include cycling, athletics and cricket matches. It was noted that the ground was to be built within convenient reach of Fratton railway station, and that it "was intended to drain and turf the land and erect the necessary buildings" for a further £2,000, which would leave working capital of about £1,000. It was hoped that football in Portsmouth would become as popular as it had become in northern England towns, where attendances were between 20,000 and 30,000. The existing team at Southampton was mentioned as well as an embryonic club at Brighton and it was hoped that "a healthy rivalry would spring up that would increase the popularity and income of the company".

Portsmouth v Ryde match at Fratton Park, 1899

With the successful acquisition of four-and-a-half acres of land, bought from the Goldsmith family who owned Milton Farm (and from whom which 'Goldsmith Avenue' is named after), a general meeting of shareholders was then held on 2 September 1898 at the Sussex Hotel in Landport, Portsmouth. The Sussex Hotel was actually a large Brickwoods Brewery hostelry which stood directly opposite the Portsmouth Town Hall (it was demolished in 1972 when the present Guildhall Square was built).

Weeks later, prominent Football Association representative William Pickford met with Portsmouth director George Lewin Oliver and inspected the land which would soon become a new football ground. The site was shortly to be turfed and fenced and it was hoped that football matches could be played there after Christmas of 1898. However, the land was still covered with a crop of potatoes which the directors were "anxious to sell", which they eventually did, which contributed to the funds of the newly formed company.

On 19 December 1898, the "Hampshire Telegraph" newspaper ran an advertisement inviting tenders "for the building of two stands: the first, 100 feet long with seven rows of seats on the south side and the second, terracing which stretched for 240 feet on the opposite, north side". The south side "Grand Stand" would be built in 1899 by local architect Arthur Cogswell.[8]

Eight months later, on 15 August 1899, more than 1,000 people, including some of the first Pompey players, attended the official opening to see how a former Milton Farm potato field had been transformed into a modest football ground. The name of the new football stadium was revealed to be "Fratton Park", and was named after Fratton railway station with its convenient trains and trams, a tactic by the club to persuade new supporters that the new football ground was within easy reach of the Fratton railway station, which was actually a mile to the west in Fratton.

Frank Brettell was the club's first team manager.[9] The club joined the Southern League in 1899, with their first league match being played at Chatham Town on 2 September 1899 (a 1–0 victory),[10] followed three days later by the first match at Fratton Park.

The first ever match at Fratton Park was a "friendly" against Southampton FC, and was played on the late afternoon of Wednesday 6 September 1899,[6] with goals from Dan Cunliffe (formerly with Liverpool) and Harold Clarke (formerly with Everton).[11] The game was won by Portsmouth 2-0 and the first Fratton Park attendance was 4,141 with gate receipts of 141 pounds, 14 shillings and 9 pence[6] (approximately £17,000 when adjusted to 2018 inflation).

Today, Fratton Park is still in Milton, not Fratton, as Fratton Park still retains its Milton "PO4 8RA" postal code address today (Fratton and Portsmouth city centre has a "PO1" postal code), and is also located in the Milton Ward electoral district for Portsmouth City Council and national level parliamentary elections. A political map of Portsmouth clearly defines the border line between the Fratton and Milton districts as the railway line, with Fratton to the north of the line and Milton to the south. Fratton Park is south of the railway line, and thus is in Milton.


The South Stand[edit]

Archibald Leitch's 1925 South Stand in February 2008

Fratton Park's first South Stand, called The Grand Stand, was built in 1899 by Arthur Cogswell[12] measuring "100 feet long with seven rows of seats on the south side" and was built on the southern side of the pitch. The Fratton Park pitch was surrounded by hooped metal fence railings.

A strong wind blew off the roof of the South Stand in 1901. The roof was rebuilt for a then £120 (approx £14,000 in 2018), but the new roof would only last until March 1916 - when it was blown off again!

On the early evening of 16 March 1916, the entire roof of the South Stand was blown off again by "a great hurricane". Houses surrounding Fratton Park in Carisbrooke Road and Ruskin Avenue were hit by the South Stand roof and suffered extensive damage.[13]

In 1925, because of overcrowding of the original "one-thousand" seat Grand Stand and revenue lost to "better class supporters unable to obtain a seat", work on a new and larger South Stand began on 17 June 1925 and was completed just ten weeks later at a cost of £20,000 (approximately £1.1 million in 2018). The new South Stand was designed by renowned football architect Archibald Leitch. and was opened by the then Football League President, John McKenna on 29 August 1925, just before the kickoff before a home match against Middlesbrough.[14] Leitch's South Stand was built with an all wooden upper section with flip-turn seats in the central section, with wooden benches at the west and eastern ends. A lower terrace 'paddock' standing section below pitch level was also built. The South Stand also featured new players dressing rooms previously located in the Fratton Park pavilion. A "tunnel" built directly from within the South Stand dressing rooms lead to the pitch at the halfway line point. As the new South Stand was much larger than the original, the Fratton Park pitch was reduced in width from 77 yards to 73 yards.

Because of the new South Stand, sadly most of the eastern side of Arthur Cogwell's original mock Tudor pavilion, including its clock tower and spectator gallery were removed or absorbed into the new South Stand's footprint. The now famous mock Tudor "Main Entrance" to Fratton Park in Frogmore Road is now all that remains of the original pavilion today.

During 1983, when pitch invasions by supporters were commonplace, perimeter fences were built around the entire Fratton Park pitch.

In the summer of 1988, new Portsmouth F.C. chairman Jim Gregory injected money into the club, the South and North stands were both refurbished with new white exterior walls and blue sheet metal roofs. The condemned upper tier of the Fratton End was also demolished.[15]

Following the 15 April 1989 Hillsborough Disaster, Portsmouth F.C. removed the perimeter fences from Fratton Park for the 1989–90 season, except at the Milton End to separate away supporters,[15] although these too were removed for the following 1990-91 season after the Taylor Report was published in January 1990.

During the summer of 1996, the South Stand (and all other stands) became all seated, with new plastic seats replacing older wooden ones in the upper section. The South Stand's lower paddock terraces were reprofiled and seats were installed.

In 2006, under the new ownership of Russian-French-Israeli businessman Alexandre Gaydamak, the South Stand was controversially retrofitted with additional rows of seats built immediately in front of the upper section of the stand, building over - and concealing - the original and distinctive Archibald Leitch 'X' trusses that were an eye-catching feature of the South Stand's original design. The additional seats also narrowed the field of vision for supporters who sat beneath them in the lower South Stand.

Gaydamak also completely 'modernised' the Portsmouth FC boardroom within the South Stand. A set of fourteen antique oak chairs and a five-leaf table were literally thrown out into a rubbish skip during the renovations. The chairs have the design of a ship’s wheel on their backs and had dark navy-blue velvet upholstery. The chairs had originally been made for a wardroom on the Royal Navy's first iron-clad warship H.M.S. Warrior, which was built in the 1860s. They had been gifted by the Royal Navy to Portsmouth FC for more than 70 years. During the Second World War, the chairs were moved to a Solent fort, where Winston Churchill and Field Marshal Montgomery are said to have sat on them to plot the downfall of the Germans. An anonymous builder who had been working at Fratton Park for the 2006 renovations decided to 'rescue' them and stored them for safe keeping. The builder says he plans to give the chairs and table back to Portsmouth FC when the current owners had 'changed their taste'.

The South Stand also contains the player's dressing rooms which are accessed via a pitchside 'tunnel' midway along the South Stand at the 'halfway line' point of the pitch. At pitch level, the South Stand also has dedicated seating areas for both 'Home' and 'Away' football teams and their associated staff. Directly above in the upper South Stand is a 'directors box' area of seating specifically for Portsmouth FC officials and visiting guests.

At the rear of the upper South Stand seating area, behind the directors box, is an area reserved for journalists. Above, perched on top of the South Stand roof, is a small television camera gantry, only accessible via an 'exciting' sheer vertical ladder climb from within the upper South Stand seating area.

The North Stand[edit]

Fratton Park north stand as seen in a match v Chelsea, February 2008

Originally opening to the south of Milton Lane on 15 August 1899, the North Terrace (as it was then called) had 'terracing which stretched for 240 feet' on the northern side of Fratton Park. At the start of the 1931-32 season, a small roofed North Stand was built at the halfway line point, flanked on either side by uncovered terraces.[16]

Using money from the June 1934 sale of defender Jimmy Allen and money from the 1934 FA Cup Final, Portsmouth F.C. announced at Christmas 1934 that the North Stand was to be demolished and rebuilt with a much larger stand, increasing the ground capacity to more than 58,000, with 30,000 under roof.[17]

On 7 September 1935 the new North Stand was opened by John McKenna, who had also opened Fratton Park's new South Stand ten years earlier. The official opening ceremony took place over loudspeakers from the directors box of the South Stand just before kickoff of the game against visitors Aston Villa, ironically captained by former Portsmouth defender Jimmy Allen![17] The new "Jimmy Allen Stand" as it was unofficially nicknamed, contained a new upper tier standing terrace under its roof. The whole stand then became known as 'The North Stand'.[17]

The North Stand is an irregular shaped stand at its western end because the North Stand, if built "straight" would have overlapped Milton Lane (nicknamed "Dogshit Alley"), a public footpath which linked the village of Milton, to the neighbouring districts of Fratton and Kingston. Instead of purchasing additional land to 'straighten' Milton Lane and to build a uniformly straight North Stand, Portsmouth FC instead chose to build the new North Stand within the existing Fratton Park footprint. This has resulted in the North Stand looking oddly angled and crooked at its western end since 1935.

In 1951, 4,226 seats were fitted onto the upper tier standing terrace of the North Stand. The Lower North Terrace was kept for standing, until 1996.

During 1983, when pitch invasions by supporters were commonplace, perimeter fences were built around the entire Fratton Park pitch.

In the summer of 1988, new Portsmouth F.C. chairman Jim Gregory injected money into the club, the South and North stands were both refurbished with new white exteriors and blue sheet metal roofs. The condemned upper tier of the Fratton End was also demolished.[15]

Following the 15 April 1989 Hillsborough Disaster, Portsmouth F.C. removed the perimeter fences from Fratton Park for the 1989–90 season, except at the Milton End to separate away supporters,[15] although these too were removed for the following 1990-91 season after the Taylor Report was published in January 1990.

During the summer of 1996, the North Stand (and all other stands) became all seated with modern blue plastic seats replacing the old wooden ones in the upper tier of North Stand. The Lower North Terrace of the North Stand was fitted with seats too, as part of the Taylor Report recommendations.

In the summer of 1997, a new North Stand roof extension was built to shelter the exposed lower North supporters from rain. At the same time, a new Fratton End stand was built, which first opened on 31 October 1997.

In 2015, a new gravel surfaced main car park for Portsmouth FC was built and opened behind the North Stand. This additional land, formerly part of a neighbouring industrial estate, had been purchased by Portsmouth FC during the early 2000s. Most of the original 'Milton Lane' footpath has now been absorbed into the new car park, meaning that a newer, straighter 'Milton Lane' footpath has been built along the new car park's northern boundary.

On Saturday 17 December 2016, The Pompey Supporters Trust unveiled the 'Wall Of Fame' plaques to the rear wall of the North Stand,[18] featuring the names of all the 2300 PST shareholders who helped save Portsmouth FC from liquidation by the High Court Of Justice on 10 April 2013.

'The Boilermakers Hump'[edit]

'The Boilermakers Hump' was the twentieth century nickname given to a section of terrace where the North Terrace stand and Milton End met in the north-east corner of Fratton Park. It had also been nicknamed the "Spion Kop" in its history. It is likely that the corner terrace was built as part of upgrades to Fratton Park in 1905, joining the North Terrace to the newly built Milton End terrace.

The Boilermakers Hump name originates from men who worked in Portsmouth dockyard who specialised in building and maintaining the steam boilers for the Royal Navy fleet. The 'Boilermakers' met at the north-east corner of Fratton Park, which became nicknamed 'The Boilermakers Hump', because of the curved hump-like terrace.

The Boilermakers had a rowdy reputation. They worked hard and played hard. They would often sneak out of work early for midweek afternoon matches, leaving work unwashed, dirty and drunk. Because of this reputation, people would steer clear of them and the Boilermakers claimed their own corner of the ground for themselves - on the Hump.

In 1962, floodlight pylon towers were constructed in the four corners of Fratton Park, replacing the original roof-top sets installed in 1956.[19] The north-east tower was built in the north-east corner of Fratton Park, on top of the Boilermakers Hump.

In 1996, blue plastic seats were fixed onto the Boilermakers Hump terrace, as part of the overall plan to make Fratton Park an all-seater stadium to meet Taylor Report standards.

The Boilermakers Hump today is the closest point in Fratton Park between home fans in the North Stand and the visiting 'away' fans in the Milton End stand. The Boilermakers Hump is now mostly occupied by a police and security control room box, scoreboard and the north-east floodlight pylon tower. Seats installed in 1996 were removed from the north-east corner area between 2016 and 2017 to provide a separation buffer zone between the opposing sets of supporters.

The Milton End[edit]

At the eastern end of Fratton Park is the 'Milton End', the smallest stand. Originally built in 1905, the Milton End was built as a solid earth bank terrace, covered with wooden plank steps over layers of cinders and compacted top soil. The Milton End was joined to the North Terrace's eastern end with a connecting corner terrace, later known as 'The Boilermakers Hump'. Behind the Milton End is a narrow public alleyway known as 'Specks Lane' allowing rear access to neighbouring terraced housing. As the Milton End is a solid earth bank, there are no concourse facilities beneath the stand.

In 1928 the Milton End was rebuilt with concrete terracing and a large analogue scoreboard and clock, taking the Fratton Park capacity up to 40,000.[16]

In 1974, Fratton Park became the first football stadium in England to dig "moats" between the pitch and the stands to prevent supporters invading the pitch. The "moats" were a recommendation by the then Minister of Sport and Recreation, Denis Howell. The "moats" were deep trenches with thick concrete walls, dug behind both goals at the Milton End and Fratton End stands. The term "moat" is a little misleading, as they were not designed to be filled with water.

During 1983, when pitch invasions by supporters were commonplace, perimeter fences were built around the entire Fratton Park pitch.

On 12 March 1983, during Portsmouth's promotion chase to Division One, visiting rival Cardiff City fans - also chasing promotion - climbed the large scoreboard at the back of the Milton End terrace and stole the hands from the Milton End clock.[20] Portsmouth eventually won the Division Two championship, with Cardiff City finishing as runners-up.

Following the 15 April 1989 Hillsborough Disaster, Portsmouth F.C. removed the perimeter fences from Fratton Park for the 1989–90 season, except at the Milton End to separate away supporters,[15] although these too were removed for the following 1990-91 season after the Taylor Report was published in January 1990. However. the Milton End moat and wall have been retained to present day, with additional emergency exits retrofitted in.

In the summer of 1996, Fratton Park became an all-seater stadium. The Milton End terrace was reprofiled and blue plastic seats were installed.

During the late 20th and early 21st centuries, various television companies erected a series of temporary elevated miniature television studio boxes on scaffold pylons at the centre rear section of the Milton End where the scoreboard and stadium clock had previously been. This continued up until 2007 when the Milton End received a roof for the first time, which also prevented the continued use of temporary studio boxes on the Milton End.

In 2007, a roof was added over the Milton End following complaints to the Premier League by 'Away' supporters not accustomed to being exposed to rain. The Milton End, between the 2003-2004 and 2006-2007 seasons, was the Premier League's only unroofed stand. This unofficially earned the Milton End the nickname of "The Gene Kelly Stand" by soaked visitors, a reference to the 1952 "Singing In The Rain" musical and song.

During the summer break of 2018, a large video screen was installed to the roof line of the Milton End.[21] The new screen was first used on Saturday 28 July 2018 in a pre-season friendly against Dutch team FC Utrecht, which resulted in a 1-1 draw.[22]

The Fratton End[edit]

In the first half of the twentieth century, the western end of Fratton Park, known as 'The Fratton End', was an uncovered open air earthbank terrace, built in 1905 and surfaced with wooden planked steps (every 15 inches) over a layer of cinders and a sub-layer of compressed top soil.[23] In 1915, the Fratton End terrace was upgraded to accommodate 8,000 standing supporters and covered with a roof for the first time.[24][25] There was no built-up back wall to the Fratton End, which allowed wind from the west to pass across the pitch towards the Milton End which helped dry the pitch in wet weather.[23]

The original Fratton End stand was later demolished and replaced in 1956[26] with a new stand built from prefabricated concrete and steel. It had two distinctive tiers, a roofed upper terrace and an open-air lower terrace not covered by the roof. Both sections were separated by a concrete wall which ran across the full width of the Fratton End stand. The lower standing terrace of the Fratton End on its northern side connected to a contoured corner terrace, which in turn was joined to the lower North Stand terrace.

In 1974, Fratton Park became the first football stadium in England to dig "moats" between the pitch and the stands to prevent supporters invading the pitch. The "moats" were a recommendation by the then Minister of Sport and Recreation, Denis Howell. The "moats" were deep trenches with thick concrete walls, dug behind both goals at the Fratton End and Milton End stands. The term "moat" is a little misleading, as they were not designed to be filled with water.

During 1983, when pitch invasions by supporters were commonplace, perimeter fences were built around the entire Fratton Park pitch.

Only three decades after it opened, the Fratton End was condemned in 1986 and partially closed for the Division Two season of 1986-87[27] and for the return to Football League Division One (now 'Premier League') in the 1987-88 season. This meant only the lower terrace section could be used for the Fratton End fans. The upper half and roof of the Fratton End were subsequently demolished at the end of the 1987-88 season, with Portsmouth being relegated to Football League Division Two (now 'The Championship'). It had been found that the aggregate obtained from The Solent used in the 1956 concrete mix contained high levels of sea salt and had caused the upper Fratton End's steel structure to corrode and weaken.[28]

Many fans theorise Portsmouth's relegation from the top flight was in part attributed to the partial closure of the Fratton End, in terms of both decreased crowd atmosphere, lower attendances and earnings. The remaining unroofed lower terrace section of the Fratton End continued to be used for the next eight years, before being finally demolished in 1997 during the new ownership of Terry Venables.

Following the 15 April 1989 Hillsborough Disaster, Portsmouth F.C. removed the perimeter fences from Fratton Park for the 1989–90 season, except at the Milton End to separate away supporters,[15] although these too were removed for the following 1990-91 season after the Taylor Report was published in January 1990.

In the summer of 1996, the lower terrace remnant of the Fratton End (and all other stands) was fitted with modern blue plastic seats, making Fratton Park an all seated stadium.

The summer of 1997 saw the full demolition of the 1956 Fratton End - and its "moat". Construction then immediately began on a new single-tier 4,500 seat all-seated Fratton End stand. The new Fratton End was much larger than the previous stand and claimed 6 yards previously occupied by the Fratton End "moat". At the same time, a new roof extension was built over the uncovered lower tier of the North Stand. As the autumn and winter sun is low in the evening western sky behind the new larger, taller Fratton End stand - at the western end of Fratton Park - this causes a low shadow to be cast across the pitch. Additional floodlights had been designed into the rooftop of new Fratton End stand to counteract this.

With the Fratton End construction complete, the new £2.2 million Fratton End was cleared for its first "official" opening - without ceremony - on Friday 31 October 1997 at 4.59pm - with one minute to spare before a 5pm opening clearance deadline. Problems with some misorientated Fratton End rooftop floodlights had caused the Fratton End of the pitch to be "shrouded in gloom on Hallowe'en", according to the Sky Sports 3 TV commentator, causing some doubt that the live evening televised Division One game against Swindon Town would take place.[29] Fortunately, the match referee, Paul Danson gave the go-ahead for the evening fixture. Unfortunately, the game was won 0-1 by Swindon Town with an official Fratton Park attendance of only 8,707.

Initially, the new Fratton End was officially known as 'The KJC Stand' under a sponsorship agreement with the mobile telephone retailer KJC Mobile Phones Limited (now dissolved[30]). As a mark of respect to the club's most famous former player and manager, a large portrait of Jimmy Dickinson was designed into the seating plan of the new Fratton End stand on its southern wing, with the club's famous crest on the northern wing. The Fratton End is the tallest stand in Fratton Park and has a maximum capacity of 4,500 seats. During construction of the new Fratton End, the connecting north-west corner quadrant stand (similar to 'The Boilermakers Hump') which connected the old 1956 Fratton End lower terrace to the lower terrace of North Stand was also demolished. This provided a new large open space "gap" for vehicles to access the Fratton Park pitch as well as a wider exit route for exiting fans.

The Fratton End later received a formal opening ceremony in Portsmouth F.C.'s 100th Anniversary Year celebrations in a League Division One match against Birmingham City on Saturday 4 April 1998 - one day before the official 100 year anniversary on Sunday 5 April 1998. The match ended 1-1 with an attendance of 14,591 supporters.[31] The Fratton End stand had actually already been opened - without ceremony - on 31 October 1997 earlier in that 1997-98 season.

Between 2002 and 2005, the Fratton End was commercially branded as "The Ty Europe Stand" under a shirt sponsorship agreement with the Ty Europe division of Ty Inc., the manufacturer of "Beanie Babies" soft toys.

Strangely, a large analogue clock which was originally installed and hung beneath the Fratton End roof in 1997, broke during the mid 2000s and was removed 'for repair'. The clock has never been seen since. Rumours persist that a Havant based clock repair company was not paid and have kept the clock until payment is received.

On the rear of the Fratton End hangs a pub sign which reads 'The Pompey', and depicts an imagine of football player wearing blue and white Portsmouth home kit from the 1972-73 season.[32][33] This pub sign originally hung from the former Brickwood Brewery public house called 'The Pompey', designed by Arthur Edward Cogswell in 1900. The former pub on the corner of Frogmore Road and Carisbrooke Road was closed on 19 August 1988 and purchased by Portsmouth F.C. to be used as premises for a club shop, a ticket office and a media centre.[34] The pub sign was removed and fitted to the rear of the Fratton End stand above the entrance to the Fratton End's own bar.

The Fratton End is known today for housing the most vocal of Portsmouth FC's home supporters and are arguably, 'the loudest in the land' according to some television commentators. However, this was not always so as before the 1960s, the loudest supporters were to be found at the centreline areas of the North Stand's lower terrace and eastwards along to the Boilermaker's Hump. During the 1960s, a new wave of younger "baby boomer" Pompey supporters claimed the Fratton End as their own area, which with decades and later generations has since became the loudest area of Fratton Park.

"The Pompey"[edit]

Fratton Park's Pavilion and former The Pompey pub in Frogmore Road

In 1900, Portsmouth architect Arthur Cogswell, built a Brickwoods Brewery pub at Fratton Park for the first Portsmouth F.C. chairman, John Brickwood, at 44 Frogmore Road. The pub was named The Pompey and is currently the oldest building at Fratton Park, although not originally built as part of the original 1899 era stadium. Arthur Cogswell was well-known to John Brickwood, as Cogswell had built many other Brickwoods Brewery pubs around the Portsmouth area.[34] Arthur Cogswell was also an enthusiast of association football, having formed an earlier amateur level Portsmouth Association Football Club (1884 to 1896). Sadly, The Pompey was closed down in 1988, but was purchased by Portsmouth F.C., who then converted the building into a club shop. Since 1988, the former pub has had various roles, as the club's media centre, for hospitality and most recently as the club's ticket office.[34] The Pompey's pub sign, which displays an image of a Portsmouth footballer in 1972-73 season kit,[32][33] was later relocated and is currently fixed to the rear wall of The Fratton End stand.

The Fratton Park Pavilion[edit]

In 1905, a club pavilion was built at the south-west corner of Fratton Park in Frogmore Road by Arthur Cogswell, who had also designed the Brickwoods Brewery public house The Pompey five years earlier. The Fratton Park pavilion was built in the same mock Tudor style as those found in other late 19th century football grounds, such as Fulham F.C.'s Craven Cottage.[35] Fratton Park's pavilion was built just to the north of The Pompey pub which Cogswell had designed in 1900. The eastern side of the pavilion featured a tall clock tower spire, donated by John Brickwood, and featured a covered spectator gallery beneath it. The pavilion also housed the players dressing rooms and the club offices.[26] However, the pavilion's clock tower spire was removed in 1925 to allow space for the construction of the current South Stand, which was designed by the acclaimed Scottish architect, Archibald Leitch. The mock Tudor pavilion facade has for several decades been painted white with black timber frames, but older monochrome photographs clearly show that the pavilion originally had darker walls and much lighter coloured timber frames, as recently as the 1970s, but was later repainted to match the black and white paintwork scheme of The Pompey pub.[36][37]

Floodlights[edit]

Portsmouth FC was the first English football club to stage a Football League match under floodlights, in a 22 February 1956 game against Newcastle United.[38] These original floodlights were positioned at opposite ends on top of the South Stand and North Stand roofs.

In 1962, floodlight pylon towers were constructed in the four corners of Fratton Park, replacing the original 1956 roof-top sets which were removed. The Portsmouth Supporters Club contributed £12,000 (approx £254,000 in 2018) to the new pylon towers.[39]

In July 2015, work began by Musco Lighting to bring pitch illumination up to Championship standards for evening games at Fratton Park. The work was completed in September 2015. The new lamps were installed along the roof edges of the Fratton End, North Stand and Milton End stands of Fratton Park. This new lighting rendered the two northern corner floodlight towers obsolete and they were permanently switched off, with the illumination lamps removed from the north-east tower. There are no plans to remove the iconic 1962 pylon towers. During initial surveying work, it was discovered that the South Stand roof was not capable of supporting the new lighting equipment, so the decision was taken to keep the two southern corner floodlight towers operational.[40]

Other History[edit]

Fratton Park has hosted one full England international match on 2 March 1903 against Wales[41] and has also hosted some England U-21 internationals.

On 6 June 1918, an American army team played a Canadian army team in a baseball match at Fratton Park, with the gate money donated to the British Red Cross. The US army team won 4-3.[16][42]

Southampton F.C. was briefly forced to switch home matches to Fratton Park during World War II when a German Luftwaffe bomb hit the pitch of The Dell, Southampton in November 1940, leaving an 18-foot crater which damaged an underground culvert and flooded the pitch.[43][44]

Fratton Park hosted a first-round football game in the 1948 London Olympics, one of only two grounds outside London to host matches in the Olympic football tournament.

Records[edit]

Crowd Attendance Record[edit]

Fratton Park's crowd attendance record is 51,385 for an FA Cup quarter-final match against Derby County on 26 February 1949, in which Portsmouth won 2-1. The capacity has in recent years been greatly reduced by the introduction of compulsory seating rules recommended by The Taylor Report.

Largest Fratton Park Home Win[edit]

On 9 April 1927, Portsmouth beat Notts County a record 9-1 in the successful 1926-27 Football League Division Two season.[45]

Largest Fratton Park Home Defeats[edit]

By largest margin:

By greatest number of goals conceded:

Largest quantity of Fratton Park Goals[edit]

By highest aggregate score:

Future development[edit]

The ground has been home to the club throughout its entire history. The old stadium has been refurbished and repaired, but the current facilities are showing signs of age. By the time Portsmouth reached the FA Premier League in 2003, other clubs at this level had either built new stadiums or significantly redeveloped existing facilities along modern, less working-class lines, abolishing traditional features which have so far been preserved at Fratton Park, despite relocation being suggested as long ago as the early 1990s. When the Taylor Report of January 1990 required all clubs in the top two divisions to have all-seater stadiums by the 1994-95 season, relocation was soon being considered by the Portsmouth board, although Fratton Park was still converted into an all-seater stadium over the next few years, giving it a capacity of over 19,000.

At the end of the 2003–04 season, the club having survived its first season in the Premier League, plans were developed to build a new stadium on the site of an adjacent disused rail-freight depot. These plans, which were supported by the city council, would also have allowed a much needed increase in ground capacity, but it was claimed that it would be impossible to achieve on the current footprint because of the close proximity of residential housing.

Before work could begin, however, the plans were superseded by a new proposal to redevelop more or less on the existing site, but realigning the pitch 90 degrees to accommodate a larger capacity stadium, funded in part by a "Pompey Village" residential, hotel and retail project on the adjacent site. Work on the stadium was due to commence in the summer of 2006, and the first phase of the redevelopment completed a year later.

Again, before work could begin, the plans were dropped, with yet another proposal announced on 25 April 2007 that would see a 36,000-seat stadium on reclaimed mud flats close to Portsmouth Naval Base.[46] These plans were ambitious and included creating a leisure village around the stadium, complete with 1,500 waterfront apartments as well as restaurants and other facilities.

The proposal for a new stadium was widely supported, although cautiously by many that were conscious that the waterfront location proposed in the outline plans would be surrounded on three sides, by the naval base, harbour itself and railway, thus leaving only one end for access by residents and supporters. Critics also pointed out that the mudflats the stadium was proposed to sit on was close to an area of Site of Special Scientific Interest, would be difficult to get to by road and had nowhere near the amount of car parking facilities needed for such an enterprise (Portsmouth is an island, with road access by only three routes from the north, and the waterfront site was close to the south-west extremity of the island).

These plans were also dropped before work could begin. The club had undertaken consultation and there were a number of objectors to the proposal, no least about the problems that 36,000 fans would cause to the local travel infrastructure. The Royal Navy also said that the proposal would cause problems with the proposed introduction of its new aircraft carriers.

In 2008, a fourth set of plans were approved, to build a new 35,000 capacity stadium and leisure/residential complex on Horsea Island.[47] In 2009 the Horsea Island development was put on hold due to financial issues.[48] The previous proposal to rotate the existing pitch at Fratton Park by 90 degrees was re-instated.[48] Work was due to begin late 2009, with a gradual increase in capacity until completion in 2010 ending with a capacity of 30,000.[49]

In 2011, plans to spend money redeveloping Fratton Park were announced, with improvements to changing rooms and toilets. By 2015, however, with Portsmouth in League Two (fourth tier of English football), no redevelopment or expansion work had yet taken place. As it stands, Fratton Park's current capacity would appear adequate until promotion to a higher division is achieved.[50]

In 2015, two floodlight pylons were rendered obsolete due to corrosion and leaking water in the control boxes causing short circuiting. Musco Lighting handled the installation of new lighting in the stadium over the course of three months. However, a report indicated that the South Stand was not capable of taking on the lights. For the time being the decision has been made to keep the south pylons active.[51]

Details[edit]

Records[edit]

Overall Record Attendance: 51,385 v Derby County 26 February 1949, FA Cup Sixth Round 1948-1949 season.

All Seated Record Attendance: 20,821 v Tottenham Hotspur 17 October 2009, Premier League 2009-2010 season.

Average attendances since World War II[edit]

[52]

Season Tier Final position Average attendance Stadium notes
1946–47 1 12/22 30,198
1947–48 1 8/22 31,226
1948–49 1 1/22 37,082 Fratton Park crowd attendance record of 51,385 set for an FA Cup quarter-final match against Derby County on 26 February 1949
1949–50 1 1/22 37,004
1950-51 1 7/22 32,794
1951-52 1 4/22 32,523
1952-53 1 15/22 31,578
1953-54 1 14/22 28,993
1954-55 1 3/22 29,868
1955-56 1 12/22 26,260
1956-57 1 19/22 25,024 Fratton End rebuilt and opened. Floodlights built on top of North and South stand roofs
1957-58 1 20/22 28,499
1958-59 1 22/22 24,016
1959-60 2 20/22 16,156
1960-61 2 21/22 15,028
1961-62 3 1/24 16,782
1962-63 2 16/22 16,043 Floodlight tower pylons built in Fratton Park's four corners. Floodlights removed from North and South stand roofs.
1963-64 2 9/22 14,681
1964-65 2 20/22 13,058
1965-66 2 12/22 14,644
1966-67 2 14/22 14,831
1967-68 2 5/22 22,988
1968-69 2 15/22 19,163
1969-70 2 17/22 14,928
1970-71 2 16/22 13,759
1971-72 2 16/22 11,918
1972-73 2 17/22 9,477
1973-74 2 15/22 13,675
1974-75 2 17/22 12,474 Moats dug in front of the Fratton End and Milton End in an effort to prevent pitch invasions.
1975-76 2 22/22 10,472
1976-77 3 20/24 11,564
1977-78 3 24/24 9,678
1978-79 4 7/24 10,123
1979–80 4 4/24 15,850
1980–81 3 6/24 13,514
1981–82 3 13/24 8,544
1982–83 3 1/24 14,095
1983–84 2 16/22 13,196
1984–85 2 4/22 15,185
1985–86 2 4/22 13,614
1986–87 2 2/22 13,404 Fratton End upper terrace condemned and restricted
1987–88 1 19/22 15,923 Fratton End upper terrace restricted
1988–89 2 20/22 10,201 Fratton End upper terrace demolished. North and South stands refurbished and roofs replaced. 'The Pompey' pub becomes club shop
1989–90 2 12/22 8,959
1990–91 2 17/22 9,681
1991–92 2 9/22 11,745
1992–93 2 3/24 13,695
1993–94 2 17/24 11,622
1994–95 2 18/24 8,269
1995–96 2 21/24 9,407
1996–97 2 7/24 8,723 Fratton Park becomes an all-seat stadium
1997–98 2 20/24 11,149 Fratton End fully demolished. North Stand roof extended. New Fratton End opened on 31 October 1997.
1998–99 2 19/24 11,956
1999–00 2 18/24 13,906
2000–01 2 20/24 13,707
2001–02 2 17/24 15,121
2002–03 2 1/24 18,933
2003–04 1 13/20 20,109
2004–05 1 17/20 20,072
2005–06 1 16/20 19,840
2006–07 1 9/20 19,862
2007–08 1 8/20 19,914 Milton End roof built
2008–09 1 14/20 19,830
2009–10 1 20/20 18,249
2010–11 2 16/24 15,751
2011–12 2 22/24 15,044
2012–13 3 24/24 12,232
2013–14 4 13/24 15,460
2014–15 4 16/24 14,350
2015–16 4 6/24 15,117 Floodlights fitted to North Stand, Fratton End and Milton End rooflines. North floodlight towers obsolete but retained. New flatter pitch with all-weather sidelines laid
2016–17 4 1/24 16,712
2017–18 3 8/24 17,917 Fratton Park capacity restricted to 19,669
2018–19 3 ?/24 TBD Large video screen fitted to the centre of the Milton End roof line.[53]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  3. ^ http://www.pompeyvoices.co.uk/story/0ff8ec6ee5
  4. ^ "Map of all English Premier and football league teams". www.myfootygrounds.co.uk. 
  5. ^ "Fratton Park plea to Football League - Vital Portsmouth". 28 July 2017. 
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  20. ^ Phillips, Terry (9 May 2008). "City fans had great time at Pompey". 
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  27. ^ "YouTube". www.youtube.com. 
  28. ^ Storey, Daykin &. "Subscriptions - theBlizzard.co.uk". www.theblizzard.co.uk. 
  29. ^ Swindon-Town-FC.co.uk (5 December 2014). "1997-10-31 Portsmouth vs Swindon Town [full match]" – via YouTube. 
  30. ^ Company Check Ltd. "KJC Mobile Phones Limited - Free business summary". Company Check. 
  31. ^ "Portsmouth v Birmingham City, 04 April 1998". 
  32. ^ a b http://portsmouthpubs.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/ThePompeyMarch1991.jpg
  33. ^ a b http://www.historicalkits.co.uk/Portsmouth/Portsmouth.htm
  34. ^ a b c http://www.pompeyvoices.co.uk/story/d6771640d3
  35. ^ Ltd, Not Panicking. "h2g2 - Portsmouth FC - A History". h2g2.com. 
  36. ^ https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CM8O_LtWwAAoYgh.jpg:large
  37. ^ https://i.pinimg.com/736x/99/ba/69/99ba69ca77d0068a7da070430f133d53.jpg
  38. ^ "The History Of The Football League". The Football League. Archived from the original on 2007-02-11. Retrieved 2007-02-22. 
  39. ^ "1962 Floodlight pylon towers". 
  40. ^ "Pompey's shining lights have given bright new future". 
  41. ^ "A database of England Internationals since 1872". 
  42. ^ cite web|url=https://twitter.com/PompeyHistory/status/1004411822827548672
  43. ^ "History". www.saintsfc.co.uk. Retrieved 7 July 2016. 
  44. ^ "Southampton Blitz 70th anniversary remembered". BBC. 30 November 2010. Retrieved 7 July 2016. 
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  51. ^ "Pompey's shining lights have given bright new future". The News (Portsmouth). 1 October 2015. Retrieved 8 August 2016. 
  52. ^ "England historical attendance and performance". european-football-statistics.co.uk. 
  53. ^ https://twitter.com/PompeyNewsNow/status/1023271393218183169
Sources
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External links[edit]