Pat Neil: The man with Pompey at heart

The late Pat Neil. Picture: Keith Woodland.
The late Pat Neil. Picture: Keith Woodland.
Pompey boss Kenny Jackett was handed a fresh Fratton Park contract this week  Picture: Joe Pepler

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A POMPEY boy who went from the terraces to wearing royal blue – and played an important role for the club he loved throughout his life.

Pompey are mourning the death of Pat Neil who died on Tuesday at the age of 79, after a long and brave battle with leukaemia.

Neil will be remembered as the club’s youngest goalscorer when he hit the mark against Blackpool at the age of just 17, as a schoolboy, in 1955.

The Northern Grammar School student also picked up four England Schoolboy caps and played in the same team as Sir Bobby Charlton and Wilf McGuiness.

Neil was also known and respected for his work in what is now known as the Pompey Former Players’ Association in later life.

The association has been around 53 years thanks to the contribution of key figures like the attacking talent.

Neil was drafted into the Pompey side in 1955 for his debut at Huddersfield alongside the likes of Jimmy Dickinson and Duggie Reid.

His landmark goal arrived the following weekend in a 3-3 draw with Blackpool in front of a home crowd of 37,072.

‘I just hit the bloody thing and it nearly burst the net!’ Neil said in an interview two years ago of the moment.

Neil scored another three goals in nine games before his amateur forms expired at the end of the season.

Legendary Wolves manager Stan Cullis then persuaded him to move to Molineux where he made four appearances and scored one goal.

Neil then decided to focus on his studies and move out of the pro game to study at Cambridge University.

He did, though, play for famous amateur sides Corinthian Casuals and Pegasus.

Neil later returned to play two games in the 1962-63 season before focussing on a full-time teaching career. He continued to play non-league football for Poole Town and Bath City, however.

It was after his football career he served the players’ association with such distinction as secretary, chairman and later vice-president, with his work spanning over 30 years.

Pompey will today also say their goodbyes to the man who was the club’s oldest surviving player.

Fred Evans will be buried at Portchester Crematorium after he died at the age of 93.

The ‘Havant flier’ was a boyhood Pompey fan who made 11 appearances and scored four goals.

Club stalwart and historian Barry Harris said: ‘Pat was a lovely man and a fantastic player who was appreciated and respected by all.

‘Freddie was a great player who lived around the corner from Fratton Park. They will be dearly missed.’