Pitched on the Fratton Park pitch

UNDER CANVAS The tents on the pitch and inset, Patrick Scarborough, five.  Pictures: Clare Martin
UNDER CANVAS The tents on the pitch and inset, Patrick Scarborough, five. Pictures: Clare Martin

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A SEA of tents on the pitch at Fratton Park made for quite a spectacle on Saturday night.

Dozens of families hammered plastic pegs into the turf and bedded down for the night in their tents. But this was much more than just a sleepover.

UNDER CANVAS Patrick Scarborough, five.  Picture: Clare Martin

UNDER CANVAS Patrick Scarborough, five. Picture: Clare Martin

Children revelled in the fun as they played football until dark - and then again from dawn.

The families enjoyed an evening meal of gourmet Italian food, provided by Jamie Oliver’s restaurant at Gunwharf Quays.

Clare Martin, who runs community events at Portsmouth FC, slept in a tent with her five-year-old son Patrick.

She said: ‘It was amazing.

‘There was a mum who came up to me at 9pm and said even if you told me I have to go home, I have still had the best experience of my life. It was very special.

There was one little boy who woke up and said to his daddy, thank you so much for bringing me. It was just buzzing.’

And there were a few surprises in store for the campers.

Clare added: ‘It’s quiet, but there was a surprising number of foxes barking. Then at 5am the seagulls came and they were loud.

‘The kids loved it, but the parents were just gobsmacked by it all.

‘We went back to the history books and no-one has slept on the pitch before.

‘It’s taken 114 years.’