Mourners bid farewell to Harry Garcia, the ‘saviour of Pompey’

Mourners at the funeral of the late Harry Garcia at The Lawns Cemetery in Catherington Lane Catherington
Mourners at the funeral of the late Harry Garcia at The Lawns Cemetery in Catherington Lane Catherington

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HIS devotion to Pompey never wavered.

Harry Garcia fell in love with Portsmouth FC as a child and, when the club hit the rocks in the 1970s, he went the extra mile to save it.

18/7/13      EP''Retired bookmaker Harry Garcia of North End''Picture: Paul Jacobs (132003-2) ENGPPP00320130718165906

18/7/13 EP''Retired bookmaker Harry Garcia of North End''Picture: Paul Jacobs (132003-2) ENGPPP00320130718165906

Mr Garcia was laid to rest in a poignant service at the Jewish Cemetery Chapel, in Catherington.

On a rainy autumn afternoon, he was buried next to his late wife Jose, who died in 2009, in the hilltop cemetery, which has views all over Portsmouth.

Mr Garcia, who died at the age of 89 and lived in Kirby Road, North End, was the figurehead of a huge campaign to save Pompey in the 1970s.

He was approached by the then-Pompey chairman John Deacon to set up the SOS Pompey campaign which was backed by The News.

Blues supporters donated money to save the club from going out of business and the campaign raised more than £35,000 in just over six months.

Mr Garcia’s efforts were referred to in the traditional Jewish ceremony, which was attended by around 70 people.

Rev Gabriel Burns told the congregation: ‘I believe he was at one time the saviour of Pompey. I know he was loved by many.’

After the service Ray Stainton, former managing director of Portsmouth FC, said: ‘He was marvellous.

‘He was a very generous man. He gave everybody his time and we will miss him. He loved Portsmouth FC.’

Merle Frost, 78, from Purbrook, remembered Harry in the 1950s when he was her boss at a bingo hall at Bradford Junction in Portsmouth. She also helped with the SOS Pompey Appeal.

‘He was a wonderful boss,’ she said.

‘He put himself out for everybody. I worked for SOS Pompey and we went down to Commercial Road and had a great big stall.

‘A lot of older people would come and put in five or £10 notes. Harry saved the club. He did everything – his life was Pompey.’

Susan Dolman, from Southsea, said: ‘He’s always been a gentleman.

‘I know how much he loved football. He was very sad the way things had gone in the last few years, but was really pleased to see them recovering.’

Mr Garcia leaves behind his two daughters Jennie Pope and Jane Garcia and grandson Greig Fraser.

Mrs Pope said: ‘We just want to thank everybody for coming.

‘It shows how popular he was.’

Mr Garcia’s wake was held at the place he loved most – Fratton Park.