Pompey pirate's pride to be among veterans at match

IT WILL be a moment for the Pompey crowd to remember and honour those who have sacrificed themselves to secure and protect their freedom.

Friday, 11th November 2016, 5:55 am
Updated Wednesday, 16th November 2016, 4:37 pm
Pompey manager Paul Cook, left, receives the Remembrance Day match day ball from Pompey Pirate Craig Bryden. Picture Ian Hargreaves (161283-1)

And for Pompey fan Craig Bryden, otherwise known as the Pompey Pirate, it will be a moment of sheer pride as he walks on to the pitch with other fellow veterans to mark Remembrance Day.

The 56-year-old ex sailor, who fought in the Falklands, became a social media star when he was pictured going to his first treatment for cancer dressed as a pirate.

Since then, his story has been shared thousands of times as people followed his journey through treatment for terminal lung cancer.

Sign up to our public interest bulletins - get the latest news on the Coronavirus

Sign up to our public interest bulletins - get the latest news on the Coronavirus

An emotional day in April saw him lead Portsmouth FC out on to the pitch for their match against Plymouth, while he was dressed in his full pirate gear.

Craig said he is delighted to be asked back by the club to help them commemorate such a special match.

Craig, a former navy steward who survived the sinking of HMS Sheffield in the Falklands War and spent 20 years in the Senior Service, said: ‘I’m very, very proud. It will be a good, but very sombre occasion.’

Craig has finished his radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatment and has a final scan next week.

He said that even though the cancer has gone, he is very aware that it will come back.

‘It could be in three months or three 10 years, but life goes on,’ he said.

Craig, from Copnor, said he has been buoyed by the support of the club and the fans.

He said: ‘Portsmouth Football Club has been fantastic. I’m now a season ticket holder and every time I go, I get fans coming up to me saying “you’re the Pompey Pirate” and wishing me well. That itself makes it special. They know you and recognise you and that makes it extra special.’

Pompey manager Paul Cook said: ‘It is lovely to see Craig. He was really ill last time we saw him so it is great to see him looking better.

‘It will be good to remember the sacrifices people made, and it will be great if we can get a victory.’

The match will also see the teams play with a special league football, bearing a poppy design.

Saturday’s game against Mansfield will take place at Fratton Park at 3pm. There will be a minute’s silence beforehand.