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PHS016 Mike Symonds MP3


Audio Details

Collection Title Champions of England: Oral Histories
Date of Recording 5th March 2020
Name of Interviewer Samantha Middleton
Location of Interview Portsmouth
Participant Name Mike Symonds
Participant Date of Birth
Participant Sex Male
Participant Occupation
Participant Background
Type of Recorder Zoom H4n Pro
Track No 1
Track Duration [01:09:04]
Recording Format MP3
Transcript Summary
Track 1 [00:00:00] [5th March 2020] Mike Symonds, only son of a school teacher that taught in Portsmouth, was 5 years old when World War 2 broke out. The war affected interest in football because there wasn’t much going on except wartime games with some well-known players who came because they were based in the Navy or Army. Once war finished League football started again in 1946 and attended first match with Father until old enough to attend by going on bike, riding to an Aunt’s who lived 100 yards from Fratton Park and would park bike there. Sometimes Father also rode bike and would go together. Attended all matches in the Championship Seasons except the last one. Father was very interested in football and extra-curricular idea and a member of the NUT not in a political way but for the orphan side and he was responsible for restarting schools football after the war and was Chairman of the Schools Football Committee. Moved to a bigger house in Torrington Road, Hilsea at the beginning of the war and it had a driveway and an extra bedroom. Because of Fathers interest in Schools football became interested also in the game and therefore attended matches regularly.
[00:03:51] Stood in the same place every match in the front of the North Stand, going down close to the wall and could see over the wall and fans would let people stand near the front. The house had a large driveway and would play any ball games with the next door neighbour who was the same age. In the road Peter Harris lived about 12 doors away and would see him walk pass earlier to catch the bus with the supporters that were going to watch. Saw him as a famous person and was always very pleasant. Not earning money like today
[00:07:29] Atmosphere was new as a child, it was noisy and mainly male. It was exciting and the first League game and was hooked, noisy in a way of male voices, deep loud voices and using rattles. Just happy to be given a pathway down to the front and understood football at an early age. First match against Blackburn was completely new and felt the best experience of life to date, that was 1946 and still support the club now. A lifetime interest.
[00:09:13] Mentions the city with many empty bomb sites where the buildings destroyed. A bomb fell in the street and it never exploded and it was defused and a water tank built over it. Remembers also barrage balloon also falling on to family’s garage roof and being 6-8 years old was evacuated to North of Hampshire and was disturbed by the bombs and being taken to the cupboard under the stairs for safety. Bombs mainly landed in the Dockyard area of the city and lucky the bomb that didn’t explode was lucky otherwise may not be here today. Mentions the city didn’t have many motor cars and everyone either went by bus or bike. Remembers biking everywhere in childhood days and going past the Dockyard and seeing around 6,000 men all leaving at the same time finishing work and saw them all going in different directions on their bikes. Mentions it was a quiet city after the war and rebuilding went on later. A suitable city for bikes being so flat.
[00:14:27] Mentions there was little to do but were lucky there was a civil service sports ground and could go over there and as long as you said hello to the groundsman he was happy to let you play there. Mentions it was strange didn’t see the beach for a long time but it was so dangerous after the war and wasn’t cleared straight away and were not allowed to swim for a long time due to so much debris.
[00:16:24] Remembers football was affected by the war. During the war not so much football to watch, just odd wartime games and only contact was in 1942 Portsmouth reached the wartime cup final at Wembley and got an autograph from the goalkeeper, Harry Walker, a Dockyard worker and a friend of Uncle. As things slowly got back to normal and could venture further and see the bombsites. Mentions being a big reader and reading newspapers and they had little reports of football and later enjoyed finding out more about the city. Mentions visiting the local library and reading all the papers in there so as to read the football reports. Remembers VE Day and lots of street parties and still has a friend now from then that is still in contact with.
[00:21:52] Mentions football meant everything at that age and that’s why read lots of papers and helped with reading. Mentions going home singing the Pompey Chimes when Pompey won after a match, always felt safe and celebrated taking newspaper cuttings and put in a scrapbook. Mentions regrets having a lot of mementos in garage which is difficult to get to with lots of programmes of cup finals and matches.
[00:24:54] Mentions not attending an away match until 1949, aged 15 years old and went to the Cup Semi-Final against Leicester City at Highbury. Came home completely miserable due to the loss. Highbury was bigger and neater and much easier to move around, had proper seats. Only stadium visited until later in life and was the only stadium other than Fratton I had been to. Fratton Park was a little decrepit.
[00:27:45] Remembers it was the hub and the war had hit the city so badly that the success of 1939 Cup win had been forgotten and the new success became the hub of the entertainment in the city and impacted on the general attitude of the city and gave people something to talk about and enjoyment for people and welling up of loyalty towards it and a thanks to what the city had been through and how it got people together and affected the families too and all became interested. Father was a busy man but his love of sport came over to me.
[00:30:27] Mentions being young and didn’t really mix or get the knowledge of the players except Peter Harris and were seen as gods and didn’t relate to adults except parents due to shyness and didn’t attend events unlike they do today. Remembers the Pompey Chimes dominated the ground, no of the anger or crudity that you hear in today’s game and how society has changed today.
[00:33:01] Remembers football was different in its pace and was a lot slower, the players were fit but was one of Pompey’s attractions that they did move quite quickly and has change dramatically, a recent game a player on the radio was mentioned who had played 400 games, mentioned that Jimmy Dickinson had played 900, son commented the game was so different to today. Pompey only used 16 players in a season and there is more dangerous tackling and injuries are more apparent. Mentions club like Liverpool have around 45 players in squad. Players were paid about £20 a week and made them more friendly with supporters and moved in more the same circle than today. Comments that perhaps player’s wages have caused a break in the link unlike players living in same type of house. Players like Len Phillips lived in Central Portsmouth like other supporters. Although Jimmy Scoular was considered a dirty player and remembers a discussion in the queue at the Oval and arguing with other supporters as they didn’t like Scoular’s dirty play.
[00:40:00] Remembers Peter Harris being a favourite and Len Phillips who was so clever and sweet in his movements but as a child liked the forwards that tried to copy with playing of football. Jimmy Dickinson was a legend because of his history and Ike Clarke played at centre forward and was another player would try and copy at St Johns College playing football. Only school during that time actually settled back into Portsmouth after the war. Parents decided that primary schools felt that could have something other normal primary schools and had a prep department and the secondary school had got back to normality and returned as soon a war ended and paid £12 school fees.
[00:44:20] Remembers the 2nd season more in that the last game of the season when they won the League, was playing cricket for the school at Farlington and so only game missed in the 2 seasons in 1950 and around 15 year olds. St Johns had Saturday morning school and you had to play for the school and was dying to find out the score and the playing field was fenced off and those that were out ran over to the fence to see the cars going past and someone shouted we had won 5-1 and can’t remember who won the cricket but knew we had won the football.
[00:47:31] Remembers one game was the PFC Golden Jubilee match against Arsenal and was such a happy day as Pompey won 4-1, Duggie Reid scored some great goals and a celebration of 50 years and some pre-war players all paraded round and sung the Pompey Chimes, a beautiful sunny day in October, the whole ground was bathed in happiness. Most pleasant ever experienced where 90% of the ground wanted Pompey to win. Remembers a 1-0 against Newcastle at home, after school on a Saturday morning but wasn’t as good as football than cricket so was able to go to the match. One friend had broken his ankle, so wrote to the club asking for tickets in the South Stand so they could sit. Went straight from school and had a great time sitting in the stand like an adventure. Lucky to have got 6 tickets. Very exciting and close game and a different occasion as sitting down at a football match and a higher up view. Game where made the 2 players Phillips and Clarke as between them they made and scored the goal and was done with such beautiful moves and Clarke was a clever centre half with feet and pick up passes and quick turns. Phillips would run ahead if he saw him getting in that position and wait for the pass in the middle. This goal Clarke turned in the centre circle and straight down to Phillips who flicked it in. Always tried to create that goal in schoolboy football. Mentions Newcastle away, no floodlights so games at end of the season matches kicked off about 5pm and Father had taken him to Gosport for a school’s match and on way back were anxious to find out how Pompey had got on and then the Sports Mail would get an edition of the sports report and managed to get a paper at the Gosport ferry and Pompey had won 5-0, with Froggatt and Harris had scored goals. Really clinched one of the titles in the 2nd year. A magical memory but not there. Mentions the cup semi-final at Highbury and that was a memory being allowed to go unaccompanied and it was a new stadium but a bit disappointment that as they won the League they were going to win, but an adventure finding my own way around London on own. It was like the end of the season as everyone thought they were going to do the double.
[01:00:12] Remembers the first year there was a hotel in Southsea, the Royal Beach hotel opposite the pier, a dinner was held for the players there and you could get good views near Canoe Lake and about 10,000 people watching. The players were then going to the Guildhall for a civic reception and stayed outside waiting for them to come out into a coach for a procession. Mentions running from pier to the Guildhall following the coach and took a short cut to follow the procession and watched them all climb up the steps to the Reception.
[01:04:00] Mentions Southampton were not in that league and there was also a certain glamour when Arsenal but wasn’t really bothered by rivalries and was just interested in Pompey winning. London clubs were the nearest clubs in the League at that time.
[01:05:29] The atmosphere at the civic reception was nice that something was done at the hotel, as in the first year many people had not ventured to the beach due to the war and it was a fitting reward for all the fans that was a memory that has remained and tested fitness to follow coach and the trolley bus journey was a welcome rest ride home. One of the best memories that evening.
[01:07:35] Mentions schools cricket match at Farlington and the result of Pompey, Bill Thompson a reserve player for most of his time there had scored 3 that day [ndlr 2].
[01:09:18] End of interview
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