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Former Chairman passes

Syd Leverett with TrophySyd Leverett (left) with League Championship Trophy 


Each week the Pompey History Society takes a delve into the club’s archive and pulls out a document or artefact and tells the story behind it. This week we’ve dug out a letter sent in June 1959 to other clubs announcing some sad news…  

1959? Weren’t we relegated that year? Surely we didn’t need to let other teams know?
You are right. Pompey’s 32-year stay in the top flight came to an end in April 1959 but, to contradict the late Bill Shankly, football isn’t more important than life and death and this particular letter had the sad task of letting clubs know the funeral arrangements for Director Sydney Leverett, who had just died, aged 83. 

Ah. Sad news indeed then…
Yes. Dated June 26th from then club secretary Mr R(eg) Mulcock, this copy was sent to Blackpool FC, but clearly this was just one of many such letters sent out. It informed his counterpart of the death of Mr Leverett on June 23 and that the funeral service would be held at Portchester Crematorium on Monday June 29, 1959 at 2pm.  

Letter announcing death of Syd Leverett

Who was Syd Leverett then?
As the letter indicates, he was a bit of a Pompey legend in many respects, describing him as “…former Chairman and a Director of the Portsmouth FC for 47 years.”  

Crumbs! That’s nearly half a century!
Quite. When Portsmouth FC was reconstituted in 1912, he joined the Board of Directors. At the time Pompey were a Southern League club and a subsequent obituary in the first programme of the following season also indicated he had been involved at the club since its inception in 1898. It also added the club’s hostel for young players – run by groundman and former championship hero Duggie Reid and his wife – would be renamed ‘Leverett House’. 

Do we know anything more about him?
Not really to be honest, for someone who was so central to the club. The same obituary described him as ‘the soul’ of the club and a ‘self-effacing’ man. He was a deep-sea diver by profession and did ‘noble service’ to the country in World War One as part of the diving and salvage staff at the Admiralty. There was one person who wasn’t so keen though… 

Pray tell…
Jimmy Guthrie, our 1939 FA Cup winning captain and stalwart of the PFA, the players’ union, recalls a clash with Leverett in conversation with the Mayor of Birmingham, who was arguing players created the wealth in the game. Leverett said it was the volunteers, such as himself. Guthrie’s pointing out that Leverett’s three Directors’ Box tickets and first-class travel and hotels over 40 years amounted to £10,000 of value saw the conversation moved swiftly on...

Thanks to Paul Boynton and Chris Gibbs with the compilation of this article. 


This article was published in the matchday programme Rochdale April 2021

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