Bobby Stokes: The Pompey boy who became a Saints hero

He was the Pompey lad who 40 years ago this weekend became a Saints legend.

Friday, 29th April 2016, 11:54 am
Updated Friday, 29th April 2016, 1:04 pm
May 1976 - Bobby Stokes has outpaced the Manchester United defence and his shot, beats goalkeeper Alex Stepney

Bobby Stokes will be remembered with fondness at both ends of the M27 on Sunday, the anniversary of Southampton’s 1-0 FA Cup final victory over Manchester United.

Pompey fans might grimace at the memory, but the sight of the local lad beaming with joy after grabbing the dramatic 83rd minute winner is one of the FA Cup’s many iconic moments.

It epitomised the cheerful approach to the game by the diminutive star who played for both of the great rivals in his career.

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Bobby Stokes pictured in 1994 at the Harbour View cafe

Bobby was born in Paulsgrove in 1951 and as a promising schoolboy footballer, dreamed of playing for his local club.

But he failed a trial at Fratton Park and instead signed for Saints, making a scoring debut against Burnley in 1969.

Ironically, in the run-up to the 1976 cup final there were reports that he was about to leave The Dell for Pompey in an exchange transfer that would take centre-back Paul Went to Southampton.

Whatever deal was planned, it didn’t materialise - and Stokes remained at Saints to secure his place in the club’s history.

Bobby Stokes pictured in 1994 at the Harbour View cafe

The following season, he left Southampton and joined Pompey, scoring twice in 24 appearances during his season at Fratton Park.

Bobby enjoyed a brief stint in America with the Washington Diplomats and also played for Waterlooville before hanging up his boots.

After retiring from the game, he ran the Manor House pub in Drayton an then worked at the Harbour View Café at The Hard in Portsmouth before his untimely death at the age of just 44 in 1995.

On the anniversary of your biggest day, rest in peace Bobby.