Pompey pirate Craig says walking out at Fratton Park was ‘out of this world’

'Pompey pirate' Craig Bryden leads out the Pompey and Plymouth teams at Fratton Park Picture: Joe Pepler
'Pompey pirate' Craig Bryden leads out the Pompey and Plymouth teams at Fratton Park Picture: Joe Pepler
(Back, l-r) Nurses Linda Page and Laura Cleverley and doctors Becca Allan and Anne Hounsell, with (front, l-r) chaplain Carol Gully, doctor Katie Jerram and nurse Mellissa Bell             Picture: Vernon Nash

Doctor Katie and colleagues brave the waves to raise money for Rowans Hospice

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IT WAS an emotional afternoon for Portsmouth’s very own pirate Craig Bryden.

The 56-year-old was given the chance to lead the Pompey team on to the pitch in Saturday’s crunch League Two match at home to Plymouth.

And for Craig, who has terminal lung cancer, hearing the fans singing his name was ‘out of this world’ – even if the result didn’t go Pompey’s way.

He said: ‘Walking out at Fratton Park was the first time I have felt sheer happiness since my diagnosis.

‘Hearing the fans singing “there’s only one Pompey pirate” brought a tear to my eye.

‘The whole experience was amazing, it was out of this world.

Walking out at Fratton Park was the first time I have felt sheer happiness since my diagnosis.

Craig Bryden

‘Throughout my time in the Royal Navy, I went to football stadiums like Bayern Munich, Galatasaray and Napoli but nothing compared to Fratton Park.’

As previously reported in The News, Craig, from Copnor, became an internet sensation after dressing as a pirate for his chemotherapy session at Queen Alexandra Hospital, in Cosham.

He decided to wear the outfit after having an interest in pirates following his career in the Royal Navy for 20 years.

A fellow bus passenger took a picture of Craig and posted his story on Facebook. Since then, it has been shared thousands of times.

Craig added: ‘I never expected anything like this to happen.

‘I’m getting recognised in the street now and people are asking for pictures and wanting to know how I am.

‘People want photographs for their kids and that’s what it is about for me – sharing that happiness.

‘It is for me to promote fun.’

Yesterday, Craig visited the Blue Reef Aquarium, in Southsea, for a fundraiser for his chosen charity Macmillan Cancer Support.

The aquarium holds a two-day fundraiser every year for different charities and hearing Craig’s story, it wanted to get him involved.

‘It was really lovely for them to ask me to pick the charity,’ he said.

‘It was good to go down there and see the support for me.’

Despite an increase in attention, Craig says he is still finding the time to see his family.

He added: ‘I wasn’t expecting this much attention but I make sure despite all of it, that I have time for my family.

‘They are going through this with me and I have to make sure I spend time with the most important people in my life.’

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