IT WAS all kicking off in Portsmouth as crowds gathered to impress on judges why the city should win its £1.6m football bid.
Sport England delegates were given a grand tour yesterday as part of Portsmouth’s bid to be named the first City of Football, ahead of Nottingham and Manchester.
The representatives were shown around key areas of Portsmouth by the Lord Mayor, Councillor Steven Wylie, as well as people from the football club and Pompey in the Community.
And throughout the day, scores of people gathered in Pompey blue to show what the club means to them and why this city should be the winner of the title as well be given £1.6m for grassroots football.
Cllr Wylie said: ‘‘It’s a great honour to show Sport England what Pompey’s really got – all the great football going on around the city and what a community we’ve got.
‘There is so much more we could achieve by winning this bid.’
The group started off the day by visiting the Historic Dockyard with tours of HMS Victory and HMS Diamond – from which the Lord Mayor kicked a football into the sea from the deck.
It then moved on to the Spinnaker Tower before a different view of Portsmouth from Portsdown Hill.
The tour ended with an event at Guildhall Square at which at which teams made up of councillors, university alumni and former Pompey players battled it out in good-humoured games on a temporary football pitch.
The Lord Mayor managed a hat-trick in one of his matches.
Pompey club captain Johnny Ertl said Portsmouth symbolised the spirit of community sport.
He said: ‘It’s a fantastic opportunity. The club was on the brink of extinction and everybody pulled together to help it out. We are the city of football.’
Sport England will now visit Nottingham and Manchester before a winner is announced next week.