NOSTALGIA: All smiles as Pompey fans go up for wartime Wembley cup

Up for the cup  Bernie Grant, left, raises a cheer wearing the sailor's cap. Len Durrant far right. Picture: Len Durrant Collection
Up for the cup Bernie Grant, left, raises a cheer wearing the sailor's cap. Len Durrant far right. Picture: Len Durrant Collection
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If I asked you how many times Pompey had appeared in a cup final at Wembley Stadium most would say five: 1929, 1934, 1939, 2008 and 2010. But there was another.

In the Second World War a London Cup Final was arranged, although it was only played for twice.

Airspeed lads up for the cup in 1942, plus a sailor friend, pose in Trafalgar Square. All in suits and ties. Picture: Len Durrant Collection

Airspeed lads up for the cup in 1942, plus a sailor friend, pose in Trafalgar Square. All in suits and ties. Picture: Len Durrant Collection

The Football League considered it a renegade cup and competing teams were fined £10.

The replacement was called The London Football League Cup and was won by Arsenal, Charlton and Chelsea before normal service was resumed at the end of the war.

Brentford made both the original finals losing the first to Reading and in the following year, 1942, they beat Pompey 2-0.

When the Brentford captain Joe James went up to receive the cup he promptly dropped it just managing to catch it before it crashed to the ground.

Pompey's oldest surviving professional, Len Durrant today aged 94.

Pompey's oldest surviving professional, Len Durrant today aged 94.

Some of the supporters who went to Wembley in 1942 were a group of lads from the Airspeed factory on the old Portsmouth Airport site.

One of them was 19-year-old Pompey professional Len Durrant who is on the far right of the main picture and as he is today, below.

Both the London photographs were taken in Trafalgar Square.

In the larger group Len Durrant is fifth from the left.

The carrierin the centre is HMS Leviathan with HMS Fife below her. The floating crane came from Germany as war reparation in 1923. Picture: Mick Nolan Collection

The carrierin the centre is HMS Leviathan with HMS Fife below her. The floating crane came from Germany as war reparation in 1923. Picture: Mick Nolan Collection

In the main picture, on the left in a civilian suit but wearing a sailor’s cap is Bernie Grant. The sailor on the right is wearing Bernie’s blue and white cap.

Notice all are wearing suits and ties.

• In the busy scene at Portsmouth Dockyard on the facing page we can see three aircraft carriers and a County class destroyer, but what I want you to look at is the massive floating crane in the centre of the photograph.

The carrier in the dock is HMS Leviathan with the destroyer HMS Fife below her.

Behind the top of the crane’s jib is HMS Victorious and to the right it could be HMS Illustrious.

The massive crane came to the dockyard in 1923 as First World War reparation from Germany.

In May 1923 the 250-ton floating crane was handed over to the Admiralty from the War Reparations Committee.

With an overall length of 166ft 9in, the maximum working load was 200 tons although the heaviest lift performed was 267 tons in a test lift.

In 1967 the crane was downgraded to lift just 60 tons after a fracture was discovered in the structure.

In April 1970 the crane was sold to Harry Pounds, the Portsmouth ship-breaker. He subsequently sold it on and it was towed to Greece.