History society interview reveals story of 1940s meat wholesaler who swapped an order for autographs from his Pompey heroes

POMPEY historians have revealed the story of a 1940s salesman who swapped a meat order for the signatures of his footballing heroes.

By Emily Jessica Turner
Thursday, 5th August 2021, 4:36 pm
Updated Thursday, 5th August 2021, 4:37 pm

His story was told in one of the interviews conducted by members of the Pompey History Society with football fans who remember the 1948-50 period, some of which appear in a pullout ‘Pompey – Champions of England’ in Friday’s News.

John Arthur Bonnett was a meat wholesaler working out of a company called Sansinena, a meat company based near the Guildhall.

Sansinena supplied Argentinian meat to various places in the south, including the Savoy restaurant in Southsea.

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John is on the left. Picture taken c1948

On August 15, 1949, John delivered the meat for a dinner and dance held at the Savoy Restaurant to celebrate the 1948-9 championship win.

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As the dance was attended by all of the players and officials of the club, John asked for all of the players’ autographs instead of payment for the order.

The football stars agreed, and signed their autographs on a celebration and seating plan for John.

William holding the autographed menu

This item became a family treasure and was passed on to other football lovers.

Michael Comben, a member of the society, said: ‘John was the father and father-in-law of two of my best friends Max and Jackie Deadman (nee Bonnett).’

‘We must remember that Pompey were simply the biggest and best team around at that time.

‘The autographs were supplied to him on the celebration menu and seating plan that had been produced for the evening.

‘This he subsequently received and he kept it and treasured it.

‘The item was passed by John to his daughter and from her to my son, William Comben who is also a lifelong Portsmouth fan.’

Michael said that the experience of interviewing fans from this era has been a ‘simply fascinating experience’.

He added: ‘The people I have spoken to are without question and a fantastic bunch of people.

‘It’s been truly brilliant and a privilege to listen to the ways they travelled to the ground, the atmosphere they experienced in Fratton Park and to hear about them meeting players and getting their autographs.’

Pompey History Society is a non-profit organisation run by supporters and recognised by the club.

Members are committed to preserving and celebrating the rich heritage of Portsmouth Football Club.

- Don’t miss the Pompey – Champions of England 16-page pullout free in Friday’s News.

A message from the editor, Mark Waldron.

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