Pompey set to welcome new crop of legends

Paul Merson with the Division One championship trophy
Paul Merson with the Division One championship trophy
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The Pompey Hall of Fame have today announced their latest inductees.

Jordan Cross looks at the heroes who will be feted at the induction evening on April 7.

Colin Garwood

Colin Garwood

PAUL MERSON

The man who held the trophy aloft as Pompey won the Division One title in 2003.

Merson was the player who proved key to Harry Redknapp’s side storming to the Premier League.

Blues fans were left pinching themselves when the forward arrived from Aston Villa on a free transfer on the eve of the campaign.

Merson proved to be the talismanic figure as Pompey set a ferocious early pace – winning nine of their first 10 games.

Redknapp called the former Arsenal man his team’s ‘quarterback’ as he supplied Svetoslav Todorov and the likes of Steve Stone and Matt Taylor in the side’s wing-back formation.

Merson ended the season with 12 goals and a stack of assists from a season which will never be forgotten.

Pompey Former Players’ Association secretary, Jake Payne, said: ‘Paul may have only played 48 games for Pompey but he lifted that trophy.

‘He had a great season and people do say it was Merson’s season.

‘At the Boys of 2003 dinner the lads who spoke said it was Merson joining which moved the goal posts.

‘We were a decent team, but Merson came in and turned us into a strong team.

‘Redknapp gave him the captaincy and told us he’s leading the team. That worked brilliantly.

‘When it was needed, Merson would come up with a surging run or bit of quality to make the difference.’

CLIFF PARKER

A Pompey legend who scored twice in the 1939 FA Cup win over Wolves - and featured in the league championship victories.

Parker turned out for the Blues either side of World War II after joining from Doncaster in 1933.

He established himself as the team’s first-choice outside-left halfway through the 1935-36 season, where he scored nine goals.

The Denaby-born player could handle himself against bigger opponents and always gave as good as he got.

Parker was the man who put Pompey 3-0 up against Wolves and is rumoured to have told keeper Bob Scott: ‘This is my first Scotty, I’m coming back for another’.

He kept his promise as he rounded off his side’s 4-1 win at Wembley.

After the war, Parker was back-up to Peter Harris and Jack Froggatt in Pompey’s back-to-back Division One title wins.

Pompey Former Players’ Association secretary, Jake Payne, said: ‘Cliff is being recognised with the posthumous award.

‘He was at the club over 20 years, played in the 1939 Cup final and played the other side of the war in the championship seasons.

‘After that, Cliff became a coach at the club, so he was here for a very long time.

‘Club stalwart John Jenkins says he was one of his favourite players because he was such a fast, exciting winger who didn’t fear anyone.

‘He’s certainly a worthy addition to the hall of fame.’

COLIN GARWOOD

The player who helped fire Pompey out of Division Four - despite being sold to Aldershot halfway through the season.

Garwood arrived at Fratton Park in 1978 from Colchester, after Dave Kemp was sold to Carlisle.

The striker grabbed a goal on his home debut and went on to bag 15 efforts in the 1978-79 season to top the Blues’ goal charts as they finished fourth.

Garwood really made his mark the following campaign when he smashed in 17 goals by December.

But controversy followed as he was told he was being sold to Exeter. Garwood was keen to stay but informed he wouldn’t kick a ball for Pompey again.

He eventually moved to Aldershot where he continued to hit the goal trail and finished as the division’s top scorer.

Pompey Former Players’ Association secretary, Jake Payne, said: ‘Colin was a great goalscorer.

‘Maybe he wasn’t the manager’s favourite player because he didn’t like training, but Colin did it on a Saturday.

‘It was a strange one when he was sold to Aldershot halfway through the season – he was the top scorer at two clubs in the same campaign!

‘Colin had that goalscorer’s knack. Give him the ball in the box and he put it in the net.’

VINCE HILAIRE

A key component of Alan Ball’s Boys of ’87 who took Pompey back to the top flight of English football after a 28-year absence.

After arriving from Luton in 1984, Hilaire was part of the Blues sides who went agonisingly close to promotion to Division One on two occasions. It was third-time lucky, however, with the flying winger’s pace and trickery a key component as Ball’s men went up in 1987.

Hilaire’s popularity saw a renowned terrace chant coined in his honour, paying tribute to his high-energy play.

The Londoner remained at Pompey through their season in the top flight, before moving to Leeds for £190,000 in 1988. Hilaire still lives in the city and is a fixture at Fratton Park on match days, entertaining corporate guests.

Pompey Former Players’ Association secretary, Jake Payne, said: ‘We’re already running a book on whether Vince will actually turn up! He’s a member of that promotion team who certainly deserves his place in the hall of fame.

‘He was a quick winger who could cross well and score a few goals, too.

‘He also won more penalties than any other player I’d seen play! Vince has remained part of the club and city.’