Pompey-fan Peter celebrates his 90th birthday in style
Since Peter Hames was a young boy, he has adored Portsmouth Football Club. To him, there was no better way to celebrate his 90th birthday than to watch his home team at Fratton Park.
‘I have a wonderful family, a wonderful wife and a football club to beat – what more could you ask for?,’ laughs Peter, who now lives in Richmond, London.
Born in Victoria Road South, Southsea, on April 22, 1929, Peter recalls that he arrived five days before the FA Cup final between Portsmouth and Bolton Wanderers.
‘I can’t remember that one too well but they won in 1939 so I was around for that,’ he smiles.
‘I grew up within shouting distance of Fratton Park. I would get in for four pence and always sit in the Milton stand.’
Wearing his Pompey scarf and accompanied by two of his four daughters, Joanna and Olivia, Peter watched Portsmouth win against Coventry City and met legendary Pompey goalkeeper Alan Knight on Easter Monday to mark his special milestone birthday.
He says: ‘I had a brilliant time.’
Peter grew up in Essex Road, Milton, and studied in Southsea while his father was away in the Second World War.
‘While I was in the basement of our house and bombs were falling, I completed my homework. As a result, I was accepted into Royal Naval College on an admiralty scholarship at 13 years old,’ he explains.
The college was moved to Cheshire because of the war and Peter fondly recalls that he spent 11 terms there. And although he was away from Portsmouth, his love for the club did not fade.
‘In 1950, Pompey played Derby County Football Club. I left London Waterloo and got the train to Fratton Park to watch the game.
‘I had exams at naval college. I put my career in grave danger and Pompey lost,’ he laughs.
In 1957, Peter, who was then a gunnery specialist in the Royal Navy, was sailing across the Indian Ocean to Australia on SS Orcades.
Peter explains: ‘The Royal Australian Navy wanted British naval personnel to go out and man their ships while they sent Australians over here to get trained in our facilities.
‘And I fell in love half-way across the Indian Ocean.’
On that journey Peter met the love of his life Angela Williams, who was a ship’s officer. The couple became close on board before Peter had to leave the ship at Melbourne to board HMS Anzac, while Angela continued aboard Orcades.
After a while the couple saw each other again in Hong Kong.
‘We had 24 hours together. I should have proposed sooner,’ he laughs. ‘One day, I decided to ring her and took my bag of pennies to the post office.
‘She was 3000 miles away but I managed to get the ship’s telephone number and asked for Miss Williams.
‘They put me through to her cabin and she happened to be in. I said “will you marry me?”, she replied “yes” and the line went dead.’
Six weeks later on May 3, 1958, Angela and Peter married in Sydney and spent 15 months in rural Australia while Peter worked at a Royal Australian Naval Air Station.
‘We lived in a shack. Every Monday, an Aborigini would come and collect our waste and we had no running water.
In 1959, the Hames family welcomed their first daughter Pippa into the world and then Joanna, Olivia and Iona too. Peter has five grandchildren.
Peter’s daughter, Olivia, says football is a passion that he passed on to her.
‘The visit to Fratton Park on Monday meant the world to him. He said it was the “bestest of best days”. I kept the tickets a surprise until the last minute – the expression on his face when he found out was priceless!
‘The club were brilliant and my dad was overjoyed by the day – he has so many memories of Fratton Park back in the day and he loved being there. The atmosphere was great and the victory made it complete for him,’ she explains.
At 55 years old, Peter left the Royal Navy and worked as a clerk for a livery company until he retired. He reached the rank of RN Captain and proudly recalls commanding frigates HMS Plymouth and HMS Berwick in the 1970s.
‘I nicknamed the combined ship’s company of the two frigates Plymwick. Some of them wrote to me for my birthday – I was very touched.’
At home in Richmond, Peter still enjoys playing badminton, golf and gardening. And his undying love for his home team is still strong – he tunes into games as often as he can and was particularly ‘gutted’ when he couldn’t get a ticket for Portsmouth’s Wembley win against Sunderland in the Checkatrade Trophy final.
Olivia adds: ‘His memories of supporting the club over the years are so special and live clear in his mind – these days, although he doesn’t get to the games, his whole weekend revolves around their result – it’s a cradle-to-grave affair.’
When asked how he felt to reach 90 years old, Peter smiles and says: ‘I am extremely fortunate. It’s been a great life.’