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PHS005 Bill Collins MP3

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Audio Details

Collection Title Champions of England: Oral Histories
Date of Recording 16th November 2021
Name of Interviewer Samantha Middleton
Location of Interview East Sussex
Participant Name Bill Collins
Participant Date of Birth
Participant Sex Male
Participant Occupation
Participant Background
Type of Recorder Zoom H4n Pro
Track No 1
Track Duration [00:45:21]
Recording Format MP3
Transcript Summary
[00:00:00] Bill Collins, home in Gosport, was working and living in London, started work at 16 as a clerk for an oil company. First spectator match was from 1943/1944 at about 13 years old. Remembers game against Millwall, a well-known Millwall player called Sailor Brown, first game and was hooked from then on. Games in the war there were frequent guest players. Explains how teams needed sometimes guests players as they couldn’t raise a team, sometimes look at programme and it would say J. Jones and in brackets RAF or Royal Engineers or even a story in the League from the crowd. It was a real wartime aspect to the guest players involved. Mentions due to a limitation to travelling there was a Southern League of teams from the South East, Aldershot or Leyton Orient and travelling to the North was difficult during the war because of the uncertainties. Programmes were a single sheet of paper and what was on was the team, no substitutes.
[00:04:30] Remembers outbreak of war there was talk of whether places should close due to the interruption and football was well attended like the cinema as there was limitations on what you could do so there was big crowds. Fratton Park was full of matelots and was a major entertainment. Grounds were pretty full and people enjoyed it as it was an outlet at that time. Was evacuated to Chichester from London during the war. Sister worked at the Guildhall and remembers being in Chichester the radio said the Guildhall had taken a direct hit but knew she didn’t work at nights. Visited Gosport on holiday at that stage and don’t recall any matches being cancelled due to raids. 1000 civilians lost during that time in the city.
[00:08:14] Remembers attending some matches due to being in London when visiting mother. Remembers the team were winning everything at the time, always watching a winning game. A fantastic team. Stood either at the North End against the wall or the Milton End. The South Stand was expensive and never went in there.
[00:10:04] As a boy would cycle and came across on the ferry. In Frogmore Road the terrace houses there would let you store your bike in their garden and you would wheel through and be careful with the handlebars on the wallpaper through to the garden, the passageway, dining/parlour through to the kitchen and garden. Remembers charging three pence. Mentions about 20 bikes and an average wage of £3.50, it was a useful addition and convenient. Remembers the ferries there would be lots of cyclists and it would fill the bow of the boat, with some thrown on top. Mentions using the trolley bus for trips to Portsmouth and the cinema but Gosport used to lay on the odd coach across the hill. Remembers the Georgian doors and lamps still in from houses in Frogmore Road now
[00:12:57] Doorbell and dog barking. Interview recommences.
[00:13:40] Continues with memory of the bicycles in Frogmore Road. Remembers the experience of being in a large crowd. It was mainly standing and a better was had by one of the barriers. It was enjoying very fast and very successful football. The crowd were 100% behind the team. Remembers the rattles and the chimes which other clubs didn’t. A large number of service people in the crowd. Never any trouble only shouting. No away fans in those days except for some of the service people away from home would often support the away team. It wasn’t just that we were winning it was the way in which we won.
[00:16:25] Play very much affected by the powerhouse Duggie Reid, in one of his games he broke a net. When taking a free-kick there was great expectations. Peter Harris was very fast on the wing. Remembers Jack Froggatt and Reg Flewin. All become idols and not like today with substitutes, that was the team. Remembers Jimmy Dickinson was favourite player, a great player to watch, ability to read the game and so neat and when he played for England his competition for that position was Duncan Edwards, Manchester United and he was competing for that position. Liked Jack Froggatt was brilliant, had a shot of fair hair, centre forward. Remembers Reg Flewin getting injured in a game and Jack Froggatt took over at centre half. Ball was in the air a lot more. Took over that position and shone and he retained that position, and ended up playing for England at both centre forward and centre half. Would run with the ball and had good control and then need to get back up in to defence.
[00:20:48] Mentions that Portsmouth is a football city and it was your connection to home, being in Boarding School everyone had their own home team, whether they were doing good or bad. But always a lead in conversation and as a young man joining the National Service it was your link with home. Remembers only going to Chelsea during the years of their decline and not until about 1953.
[00:22:49] Remembers little about how the club was run. Remembers the crush of the crowd at the end of the game coming out the double blue gates in Frogmore Road and being young remembers no control. Didn’t like the Fratton End at the time, a single tier. Mentions the Fire Brigade band and the Drum Major was always cheered. Remembers the succession of coaches, changed a lot with the decline. A strong community club and lots of people came from Gosport on the ferries. The mood of the club improved and remembers a photo in the paper when Portsmouth played Bolton for a midweek match with a crowd of 40.000.
[00:27:05] Remembers the odd guy with the rattle, unlike now John Westwood. The Chime Play Up Pompey, lots of clubs never had a song.
[00:28:20] Was away on the day they won the Title, working in London but sure the newspaper reports and it was almost expected for them to win. Sport in the paper got good coverage in those days but having won it twice it had a permanent feel in the paper, a ‘here we go again’ attitude. Remembers reading newspapers at school competing to see the photographs with the other boys and the right ups. The daily newspaper due to success was in there a lot and the radio gave the results and these were the only ways to find out. At boarding school, the papers were available in the Library and if you were playing football everyone would play at being their own town’s team.
[00:31:45] Remembers nationally Portsmouth was highly spoke of and the grounds capacity of 50,000 made them right up and known for their good support. Other clubs may have had bigger grounds but there was no investment, crowds getting there on buses and people liked it. Portsmouth stands out now even with crowds of 18,000. That difference of bigger ground didn’t exist as we were successful and the ground now is a bit of a time warp.
[00:34:00] Mentions that Southampton were no rivals at that time and in a different league. The money wasn’t such a big feature but the gates were important. In those years any teams that came down was a big game.
[00:35:30] Remembers a game being played on Christmas Day morning and Ernie Butler in goal and during match asked what the time was and there was no clock due to allegedly his father dying. Also Phil Gunter, left-back wouldn’t play on Good Friday due to religious grounds [ndlr late 1950s].
[00:37:09] Players used the trolley bus to make their way to the ground and a friend was a wife of a player and told stories of them getting there.
[00:37:45] Remembers being in New Zealand and hearing over the tannoy that Portsmouth had beaten Nottingham Forest in a cup match and impressed with the reach that Portsmouth have and its linkage with the Naval side of the city and believe it makes us different, even Plymouth Argyle.
[00:39:20] Mentions having a single sheet programme against Sunderland in 1953 which told you a lot of information. League table, adverts and some narrative and very informative. Showed some supporters the programme at the recent Sunderland matches.
[00:40:40] Remembers in 1943/1944 was taken by a friend of the family to a match in the South Stand which was a treat at the time. Never sat in the South Stand until recently when taking grandchildren and sons.
[00:41:27] Main supporter of Portsmouth in the family, 4 sons supporting Southend Utd, West Ham United, Brighton and Spurs, whom were my London club. But they all enjoy the atmosphere of Pompey. Mentions birthday last year was meant to celebrate with hospitality against Peterborough and unfortunately the game was postponed. Family appreciate the Pompey connection. Sentimental to the ground and how it is in the heart of the city.
[00:45:28] End of interview
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