Peter Harris

Peter Harris
Peter Harris
Nicke Kabamba. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey fringe players must grasp chance in Checkatrade Trophy

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Although retiring from professional football since the turn of the 1960s, Peter Harris still remains Pompey’s highest goalscorer.

He first started playing football at school but, although a Pompey fan, he harboured no interest in playing the game to earn a living, opting instead to become an apprentice carpenter.

After joining Gosport Borough Athletic after his work’s team fell apart, former Pompey player Harold Cradshaw persuaded the young Harris to train at Fratton Park in the evenings.

Before the Football League started after the Second World War, Harris had already played for Pompey and netted plenty of goals, learning his trade from the likes of Jimmy Guthrie, Bill Rochford and Cliff Parker.

In the first football campaign, Harris played four times, netting his first goal against Leeds United. Over the next few years, he would continue to be the club’s most prolific goalscorer and was described as having electrifying pace, running down the flank before cutting in and firing home.

For the 1948-49 season, Harris finished top scorer for the Blues and helped secure the Championship with the same feat repeated the following year.

Harris and Pompey never lifted the title again after that, but the born-and-bred Blues player remained a 20-goals-a-season man which any other forward could have only dreamed of doing, let alone an outside player.

It was a huge shame for Harris that a fledging international career did not ensue due to him being born in an era of no substitutions and when stars Tom Finney and Stanley Matthews ruled the England flanks.

Around the mid-1950s, Harris was one of the very few Championship winners left in the side and was tasked with keeping Pompey in division one. He did so until the 1958-59 season, where an ankle injury meant he missed 10 consecutive games and the Blues were relegated to division two.

After failing to get their campaign in the second tier off to the best possible start, Harris scored only one goal before being dropped to the reserves.

At 34, he was still a game winner, but not the same player he once was. He did not ask for a transfer but made it clear to then-manager Freddie Cox he would move if the chance arose.

Alerting several clubs, including rivals Southampton, and West Ham, the Fratton faithful made their feelings clear and cheered Harris’ every touch in the next few games to show they wanted to keep their man.

But with an annual check-up showing Harris was seriously ill with a chest ailment, the former electric winger retired on the spot, shocking Pompey and indeed the footballing community.

He applied to manage Pompey in 1961 but to no avail. He died in 2003, aged 77.

Peter Harris

Born: Portsmouth December 19, 1925
Position: Outside right
Appearances: 514
Goals: 211