The Pompey legend who scored Fareham Town’s most famous goal
The news of his death was worthy of being the lead story in today’s edition of the Portsmouth News.
Ray Hiron passed away at the weekend at the Ranvilles Nursing & Residential Care Home in Fareham, his address for the last four-and-a-half years following the onset of dementia. He was 76.Signing for Portsmouth FC in the summer of 1964, Hiron spent 11 years at Fratton Park - scoring 117 goals in 364 games for the Blues.Only five men have ever scored more first team goals for the club, and so Hiron fully deserves his place in the Pompey Hall of Fame.Yet he also remains a legendary figure at Fareham Town FC.It was from the then Hampshire League club that Hiron joined Pompey.Employed in the Dockyard, he had to wait until his lunch hour before journeying to Fratton Park to sign that maiden professional contract – travelling on the back of his friend’s motorbike.Hiron had come to Pompey’s notice after scoring 39 league and cup goals in his first season for the Reds.Of those 39, one remains firmly in the memory – his dramatic late winner against Hendon in the first round proper of the FA Amateur Cup on January 11, 1964. For many, it is the greatest result in the club’s history.Here, Fareham-based sports journalist Mike Vimpany delves deep into his memory bank ...‘It was such a shock result that BBC Television’s Grandstand flashed the score up just before the final Football League scores were read out at 5 o’clock.‘Quite how the Beeb got the score I’ve no idea as barely anyone had a home telephone in those days, never mind email or wifi! ‘Being early January, it would have been a 2pm or 2.15pm kick off.‘Ray scored his most famous goal in Fareham’s colours at the Creek-cum-town end of the ground, the Bath Lane pitch (one of the best around) which was surrounded by green canvass sheeting which club officials used to ‘hang up’ before every home game.‘Bath Lane was crammed that day – the ground was a five minute walk from the town centre – with spectators shoehorned in alongside the touchline.‘The goal was rather bizarre. Les Fitzjohn (outside left) crossed, Ray collided with then England amateur international goalkeeper John Swannell (who was concussed in the mayhem) and Ray bundled the ball in the goal. ‘It was virtually the last kick of the match.‘Hendon were one of the top dogs of English amateur soccer. ‘They won the Amateur Cup at Wembley in 1960 and, having previously won the Athenian League, went on to finish runners-up in that 63/64 debut Isthmian League season. The next 64/65 season they won the Isthmian League and Amateur Cup!‘They were full of amateur internationals, Gerry O’Rourke went on to play for Wimbledon, with Roy Sleap, David Swain, David Hyde and Irishman Jimmy Quail all multi-capped.‘That Fareham team was recognised as the finest non-league side to have ever played in Hampshire soccer. ‘Led by Alan Wilson – who later became manager – at right-back, brother Don was top drawer at left-back. ‘The forward line of Alan Marchant, John Knight, Les Fitzjohn was something else.‘Ray’s origins were from the Grove School in Hardway – where he was taught by prominent local sportsman Peter Edgar, now 83 – who described him as a ‘simply outstanding player of his day.’ ‘It was simply wonderful to see such a talented sportsman like Ray progress from the Gosport League, through Fareham Town and on to Pompey. He really was outstanding.’Ray played for Gosport Rovers in the old Gosport & Fareham League and was such a talent, Bud Fisher (Fareham manager of the time) invited him up to Bath Lane. He was also a talented cricketer with Hardway in the Gosport League. ‘All sportsmen played cricket and football then!’Hiron’s 39 goals in 1963/64 helped Fareham claim a Hampshire League and Portsmouth Victory Cup double.He also helped them to the final of the Gosport War Memorial Hospital Cup. That was played at the start of the following season, by which time he was a Blues player.Hiron’s final goals for Fareham in 1963/64 came at Fratton Park – a hat-trick in a 3-1 Victory Cup final success over Gosport Borough Athletic.By winning 26 of their 30 games - losing just one - the Reds finished 15 points ahead of Hampshire League runners-up Portsmouth ‘A’. And, don’t forget, this was during the period of only two points for a win!Fareham’s only league defeat that season came in their very first match, a 3-2 loss at Netley Sports.Less than a fortnight later, Hiron bagged his first goals for the club - a brace in a 4-3 FA Cup preliminary round loss at Basingstoke Town.In terms of Hampshire League goals, he starred with four in a 7-2 beating of Swaythling and hat-tricks against Cowes and Newport.He also scored in a 1-0 home win over Portsmouth ‘A’In the Amateur Cup, Fareham had won through four qualifying rounds before they hosted Hendon, with Hiron firing a hat-trick in a 6-3 win at Chesham in the last of them.The reds’ Amateur Cup run was ended in the second round at West Auckland.After his professional career ended, Hiron returned to Fareham Town.He scored seven times in the 1978/79 season, which saw the Reds finish second in the Hampshire League behind Newport and elect to move up into the Southern League.There Fareham remained until the switched to the Wessex League toward the end of the 1990s.