Pompey was just one part of Portwood’s colourful life

Cliff Portwood
Cliff Portwood
Peterborough United manager Grant McCann. Picture: Joe Dent/JMP

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Cliff Portwood – a quick, skilful and clever forward who spent four years at Fratton Park – has died at the age of 74 but leaves many happy memories for Pompey fans from that era.

It also says much for his colourful life that even after a successful career as a professional footballer, Portwood then enjoyed a high-profile time as a singer in Australia while also living in South Africa and Florida.

Having joined Pompey from Grimsby in 1964 – on the same day that Ray Hiron signed for the Blues – the forward netted a debut goal in a 5-2 win at Leyton Orient on the opening day of the 1964-65 season.

And with the Blues caught up in a relegation battle that season, his 12 goals proved vital as they beat the drop by just one point.

Salford-born Portwood made 107 league and cup appearances for the club and netted 31 goals during that time, striking up successful partnerships with both Hiron and Ray Pointer.

Perhaps his finest moment for Pompey was in a division two top-of-the-table clash with Blackpool at Fratton Park in 1967.

In front of a crowd of more than 35,000, Portwood put the Blues ahead, while Mick Travers – who had come on as substitute – and Pointer were also on the scoresheet.

Portwood also scored twice in a home clash with Wolves in 1967, leaving Pompey leading 2-0 at half-time, only to lose 3-2 with goalkeeper John Milkins taken off with a broken arm.

After falling out of favour, Portwood made his final appearance for the club in a 0-0 draw with Huddersfield and then turned down several offers to stay in England to join Durban United in South Africa.

But after retiring from football, he won a national signing competition in South Africa. He moved to Australia in the early 1970s and became a successful artist, with regular appearances on entertainment shows, a string of hits and even an appearance at the London Palladium.

It was a far cry from his summers as a Pompey player singing at a local holiday camp.

But he returned to the area in the 1980s and, after taking over as the landlord of a pub in Alton, he renamed it the Gentleman Jim – after Jimmy Dickinson – and continued working as a publican until the mid-1990s.

He even resumed his singing career in Florida on the cabaret circuit but returned to the UK in 2008 and made regular visits to Fratton Park to watch Pompey.