PAUL NEWELL: I was a speedy and versatile football – you had to be to play in four positions...

Growing up, the football pitch was the place to be (Pexels: labeled for reuse)
Growing up, the football pitch was the place to be (Pexels: labeled for reuse)
The Royal Pier Hotel, now Rees Hall.

NOSTALGIA: No bath for 10 weeks

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I was nine years old when dad took me to Bransbury Park to try out for a Sunday league team called Fleur de Lys.

I was technically a year too young but dad knew the guy that ran it so pulled a few strings. Being too young I was not expecting anything to come of it, but to my surprise I was asked to join the under 11s team run by a lovely man called Mick Madeley. I was a centre half.

Our home pitch was Bransbury Park but we played at Moneyfields, King George V, Great Salterns, Purbrook Heath and Farlington pitches as well.

The furthest afield we went was to Waterlooville to play Jubilee (my first ever goal, lobbed the keeper) and to Fareham to play Fareham Park Lane.

We had an excellent team. We came runners up in the league to Solent United but beat them 4-2 in the cup final at Waterlooville’s football ground. I played a few games that year including an 8-2 win over Solent.

In my first ever game I came on as a substitute as centre half against Solent.

My introduction to the game was an unintentional elbow to the face from Daryl Powell who went on to be a team mate, and, ultimately, played for Pompey in the 1990s. We lost the game 3-1.

At the end of the season each team member could keep the cup and runners up shield for a week or so. I was the first to have it because Mick had a soft spot for me being the youngest.

There was a special presentation evening at the Mecca Ballroom where we were presented with our league and cup medals by the then Pompey manager Bobby Campbell. This would have been around 1982-3.

It was a shame the age rules meant that I had to remain playing for the under 11s the next season as I was not able to play for this team again. I switched from centre half to centre forward and then to left wing.

In the two seasons I played I scored on average twenty goals a season which was not bad.

We organised a Wembley tour and stopped somewhere to play football and have a picnic.

Dad used to run the line and he could get quite animated. One time his welly boot came off in the mud and another time the referee told him to quieten down. He took over as manager in my final year playing and I found myself a substitute more often than not.

Despite that I still finished joint top scorer.

My enthusiasm was beginning to wane.

By the end of that season I was playing for four teams.

Fleur de Lys on a Sunday, my school 3rd year team and the year above team plus I had been selected to play for Pompey Boys.

I was also asked to go for trials for Hampshire Boys but by that point I had had enough.

I played on for one more year but I wasn’t enjoying it anymore. Whether it was the right decision or not to quit I will never know. Dad wasn’t impressed but mum was pleased to get her Sundays back. I picked up a couple more trophies, one for fifty appearances and one for winning the friendly league.

I played in a different position for each team. I was captain and centre half for the 3rd year school team, midfield for the 4th year team, right back for Pompey boys and centre forward or left wing for Fleur de Lys.

Being quick made me versatile!