Which year in Portsmouth's history would you go back to '“ football glory in 1949 or the heatwave of 1976? Â

Let's rewind the clock. To start with, let's go back to 1977. I'm an innocent, wide-eyed eight-year-old. Go on, ask me which fictional entertainment character I'd like to be?

Friday, 12th October 2018, 4:40 pm
Updated Saturday, 13th October 2018, 7:35 am
The Portsmouth FC national championship winning team of 1949

Thanks for asking '“ number three, Luke Skywalker; number two, Spiderman; and number one, Dr Who.

I loved the name Skywalker. Still do, in fact. And I had a bumper collection of Spidey comics way, way, way before he ever became cool in Hollywood blockbusters.

I would loved to have been Spiderman in 1977, but my home city of Exeter didn't have many tall buildings apart from Debenhams and life would have got a tad dull spinning webs round that all day long while fighting off regular attacks from the pesky Green Goblin.

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A dried-up reservoir in 1076

But Dr Who was the coolest of the cool. In my eyes, anyway. Tom Baker with his curly hair and fabulously colourful scarf repelling repeated invasions by the Daleks '“  'Exterminate! Exterminate!' '“  and the uber cool Cybermen.

A Timelord on the BBC every weekend, dancing merrily back and forth through the eons in his Tardis (Time And Relative Dimension in Space). I used to collect Dr Who cards from Weetabix cereal packets. I wish I still had them '“ I could make a fortune selling them on Ebay.

For all these years on, all these decades on, Dr Who is still cool. In some people's eyes, she is possibly cooler than ever. Yes, you read that right '“ after 12 male versions (Tom Baker was the fourth) spanning over half a century, the good Doctor is female now '“ Jodie Whittaker making her televisual debut last weekend.

So with the Doctor back on our screens, here's a question to ponder.

Adam Ant in his 1980's heyday

If YOU had a Tardis '“ and don't pretend you wouldn't want one! '“ which year would you take a trip back to? This is the gig '“ you can go back to any year you want, and you can be any age you want. But you have to live in that year for all 365 days (or 366 if it's a Leap Year).

I mentioned this to my partner and she instantly replied '1997'. When asked why, Sue said so she could stop Princess Di getting in the car ahead of her fateful journey through a Parisian underpass. 'You're not allowed to change the course of history,' I explained. 'You have to watch it being made'. Or, in order to play the game properly, rewatch it.

These would be my third and second choice years ...

1976: The famous, lethally hot summer '“ so famous and so lethally hot there's a Wikipedia page devoted to the heatwave. Fancy living '“  sorry, sweltering '“ through that again? Starting on June 22, there were 25 consecutive days of temperatures over 80F.

From June 23 to July 7, the mercury crept past 90F somewhere in the UK every day. A Minister of Drought, Denis Howell, was appointed.

Government advice, as the country experienced its worst drought for over 250 years, included sharing baths.

Mr Howell happily told journalists he was doing just that with his wife Brenda. The summer of 1995 was actually drier, and the summer we've just experienced was, on average, warmer.

But the 1976 heatwave employs a good PR company and will always live on in the memory as the yardstick to judge all other hot spells by. 1976 was also the year where Johnny Rotten and his mates took their first steps towards shocking most of middle England.

Anarchy in the UK '“ a nihilistic piece de resistance, still one of the greatest singles ever released '“  earnt the Sex Pistols a Top of the Pops appearance and a place on the Today programme on prime time BBC.

A few sneers and some swear words later via an infamous interview with Bill Grundy, and the Pistols were Public Enemy No 1 and ready to grab little Billy by the short and curlies and turn him overnight into a safety-pin wearing, mohican-sporting, spitting, sneering, pogo-ing societal outcast.

A word of warning, though. If any Portmuthians reading this are thinking 'yeah, a bit of punk rock and a long, hot summer '“ I'll programme my Tardis for 1976' just remember this '“ Southampton won the FA Cup that year. Would you really want to live through THAT again? Saints parading the cup around Wembley '“ thanks to a goal from Paulsgrove lad Bobby Stokes '“  and Brotherhood of Man at No 1 with Save All Your Kisses For Me.

Is that a fair swap for some loud music, a nice tan and the chance to cheekily ask your neighbour if he/she fancied sharing a bath?

If you've got Pompey in your blood, I'll take it as a 'no'.

1990: Another memorably hot summer, England reaching the semi finals of the World Cup '“ cue Gazza's tears, the waterworks that helped usher football out of the dark ages and into the general public's hearts again '“ some great music coming out of the Manchester area (Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, Charlatans), flares back in fashion, the end of Thatcherism.

And Exeter City FC crowned champions of what is now League 2 '“ the first (and, sadly, last) Football League title in our history. Really, why would I NOT want to go back to that year and relive being 21 all over again ....?

But if I could choose a year, any year, my Tardis would rack up in England on January 1, 1981. The year Exeter reached the quarter finals of the FA Cup, and the year Ian Botham almost single-handedly defeated the Australians at cricket to win the Ashes in some of the most amazing Test matches in history.

Both of those sporting Valhallas AND Adam and his Ants top of the pops as the likes of Stand & Deliver and Prince Charming dominated the airwaves. There was a Royal Wedding, Charles and Di hitched amid a riot of patriotism and street parties, and the haunting Ghost Town by The Specials also at No 1 in the charts, around the same time as Brixton and Toxteth burned in a different sort of riot.

For the first time ever, tear gas was used by UK police on the mainland against the disenfranchised youth. The Pope and Ronald Reagan both survived assassination attempts, and the girls in Bucks Fizz lost their skirts en route to winning Eurovision.

What a year!

I'm not expecting many Portsea Islanders to join me in 1981, though. For if I was you, I'd go back to 1949 '“ mainly for the football.

For that was the year Pompey were crowned Football League champions for the first time. They retained the title 12 months later, but winning something for the second time is never as exciting as winning it for the first time (unless it's the lottery and you win an even larger amount of filthy lucre).

Ok, I can picture some of you shuddering at the thought of a year back in 1949. I mean, post-war rationing was still around '“ that didn't end until 1954, believe it or not '“ and THERE WERE NO MOBILE PHONES OR SOCIAL MEDIA.

Some of you might be more concerned about that. Limited access to meat and eggs you could live with '“ and lard, that was rationed as well '“ but a whole year without a mobile phone is another thing altogether. I know people who'd struggle without Wifi access for 12 minutes, let alone 12 months. My two teenage kids, for a start.

Consider this '“ in 1949, when Pompey were the best team in England, the average league attendance at Fratton Park was just over 37,000.

Imagine regularly being a part of crowds that vast every other week. Also, the average First Division attendance in the 1948/49 season was 38,792.

Birmingham averaged over 38,000, Charlton Athletic over 40,000, Wolves over 43,000. At the top level, never has our national game attracted so many people through the turnstiles.

Football was used as an escape route from the memories of conflict '“ just one fascinating aspect of post-war social history. How remarkable it must have been '“ regular league crowds of almost 40,000 (plus a barely believable ground record 51,385 for an FA Cup tie against Derby in February 1949).

Fratton Park regularly almost bursting at the seams, the majority of the male-dominated crowd wearing hats or caps, the community spirit of the terraces in an era far, far removed from the horrors of Hillsborough four decades later. Hardly any police, no fear of crowd disorder. Worth a diet of powdered egg surely?

For those of us who cannot remember those immediate post-war rebuilding years, it's incredible to take a step back and consider what sociological changes those that did must have witnessed as the sands of time poured through the metaphorical hourglass from 1949 to 2018.

Portsmouth is a footballing city '“ the fact you get 18,000 crowds when you're in the third division, as you are now, tells everyone that. So what must this island have been like when crowds more than double today's average crammed into Fratton?

It is obviously a hypothetical query for anyone under the age of 80 to realistically answer.

That's why, back in 1977, I wanted to be Dr Who. So I could answer the questions of a child's feverish imagination.

And that's why, 41 years on, I STILL want to be Dr Who, even if I now have to transgender to do so ...