The Cross Word: People. Passion. Pride. It’s more than rhetoric.

Former Pompey player Eoin Hand, right

Pompey favourite at Fratton Park to sign autobiography

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We thought we knew the price of a city’s identity.

Thankfully, and to their credit, Cllr Donna Jones and the city council have decided otherwise.

‘The rebranding of the tower is not about football,’ said Jones last Friday. Quite right, it’s about a city’s psyche.

Apparently, £1m a year over five years was the figure placed on selling Portsmouth’s soul for the corporate shilling.

It’s a substantial amount, make no mistake, and a deal which would have been applauded in most circumstances.

But embarrassing proud people by turning what is now the undisputed Portsmouth icon the colours associated with its closest rival city, was only going to deliver one outraged response.

It was either breathtaking indifference or ignorance delivered at the launch of the Spinnaker Tower’s link-up with Emirates last week.

What developed in the hours following that launch was no surprise to anyone with even a modicum of understanding of how this city ticks.

As news of the new design filtered across the newsroom at Lakeside, I was rendered dumbstruck.

It felt like one of those April Fools’ Day stories media organisations are so fond of, as the details were published at portsmouth.co.uk.

‘The rebranding of the tower is not about football,’ said Jones last Friday.

Quite right, it’s about a city’s psyche – and the spinnaker now stands as its greatest symbol.

And, when it comes to colours, Portsmouth is blue and Southampton is red.

Of course, Pompey play a major role in contributing to that image as one of the bastions of the city – one which has been projected across the world.

Their royal blue is ingrained deep in our mindset, along with the Royal Navy’s colours and, indeed, the small issue of Portsmouth being a waterfront city.

Before indignant and angry voices grew last week, there was a feeling those who opposed the spinnaker being bathed in red were being portrayed as short-sighted simpletons.

Those who couldn’t see the commercial and financial benefits of being associated with a blue-chip brand like Emirates were stuck in the dark ages.

People can and do see what a positive link-up this is for the city, of course – but they value Portsmouth’s culture, too.

There is a strong tribal element to this island city, as we all know.

But there’s a difference between pride at identifying with its culture and some kind of misplaced Portsmouth jingoism.

Attempts to portray the former as the latter to suit agendas were cheap.

In the end, commonsense prevailed.

So, it’s been a good weekend for Portsmouth. On Saturday, over 13,000 fans descended on Fratton Park for the Madness concert, which chimed perfectly with the area, and can be the genesis of a sizeable annual music event.

The next day the bandstand season was kick-started in Southsea, and was bathed in sunshine for the occasion – another great advert for the community.

But hearing Portsmouth voices unite to be heard as loud as the Fratton Park roar over the spinnaker was their equal.

There’s much to look forward to this summer, too, with Victorious Festival and the Americas Cup on the horizon. Pompey’s bid to move back to prominence under Paul Cook is offering that traditional closed-season cause for optimism, too.

A few years back marketing bods came together to generate a slogan for the council’s bid to be a host city for the 2018 World Cup.

The thousands who were heard over the spinnaker furore showed it’s not empty rhetoric.

Portsmouth: People. Passion. Pride.