Boilermakers roll back the years at the hump

Former boilermakers from Portsmouth Dockyard turned back the clock when they gathered at Fratton Park.

Saturday, 18th June 2016, 6:00 am
The former Portsmouth Dockyard boilermakers at Fratton Park Picture: Byron Melton

Twenty-five ex-boilermakers from several generations were reunited yesterday afternoon, sitting in the spot where they watched Pompey play throughout the last century.

Nicknamed the Boilermakers Hump, the once-terraced patch of stadium earned its name because of its contoured construction and the fans who met there.

Now, the area is seated and hosts away fans at Portsmouth games.

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Brian Small, 76, who retired from boiler-making in 1997, said the workmen would attend Pompey fixtures as a matter of ritual.

‘They would leave work early to come and watch the games. Nobody even washed or got changed beforehand,’ he said.

‘They worked hard and played hard. Whatever the going beer was, they liked it and they drank it. Because of this reputation, people would steer clear of them and they’d have their own corner of the ground.’

This image of rowdiness went beyond the stands of Fratton Park.

‘Local landlords would put up notices saying “no Irishmen, no boilermakers, and no dogs”. They really had a job to find digs,’ said Mr Small.

Though younger ex-boilermakers still attend matches today, the tradition is no longer adhered to as it once was.

Pompey’s supporter liaison officer Johnny Moore said yesterday’s return of the boilermakers was symbolic.

‘This is part of our history. It represents everything we were and still are today, it’s great,’ he said.

‘Football was much different in those days. People would congregate in certain areas, where they met every game. Now you see the seats there which have somewhat marginalised this spirit, but nevertheless, it’s great to see them all come back.’

Former-boilermaker Guy Lax, 56, brought the group of workmen together.

‘This is a part of Fratton Park history that could so easily disappear without events like this, because people just don’t know about it,’ he said.