The day a Pompey boss was floored by his left-back

Packed a punch: Former Pompey defender George Ley, right
Packed a punch: Former Pompey defender George Ley, right
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Christian Burgess and Michael Doyle came to blows in the dressing room at the weekend.

Yet George Ley once knocked down his Pompey manager during a fight.

Admittedly, the occasion was held in a boxing ring in the gym situated behind the old Fratton end.

Nonetheless, Blues boss George Smith found himself on the canvas following an impromptu bout in the 1960s.

Unsurprisingly, left-back Ley was announced the winner in an incident hushed up at the time.

However, John Milkins and Norman Piper were among those present to witness Smith handed a lesson by one of his players.

Milkins recalled: ‘Smith was a hard manager who picked on players, if he could target you then he would.

‘He picked on George Ley one day.

‘We were told we didn’t have enough aggression in us and put on boxing, yet he was furious no-one was hitting each other.

‘He said: “I’ll show you how to do it, who is going to box me?”

‘He chose our left-back: “Come on George hit me” – and Ley laid him out!’

Ley made 204 appearances during his time at Fratton Park, earning him a place in the Hall of Fame.

As for Smith, he spent nine years as boss, before appointed general manager in April 1970, with Ron Tindall his replacement.

Piper was also in attendance for that boxing match, telling the story in Played Up Pompey.

The midfielder said: ‘George Smith was an army man, a really strict guy, and when I arrived from Plymouth wanted me to get a short back and sides haircut, not that I did!

‘During my first season, it was apparent he and Georgie Ley didn’t get on, they were always arguing, with Smith accusing him of not being hard enough.

‘There was a little gymnasium behind the Fratton end and one day the players went in there and Smith and Georgie both had their boxing gloves on ready to go at it. So I had a towel round my neck as the trainer for Georgie, while Mike Trebilcock wore a towel as Smith’s trainer.

‘It was so funny, they really went for each other. I have never seen anything like it in my life, this player and former manager punching each other for three rounds of two minutes – and Georgie Ley won!

‘They shook hands afterwards and moved on, that was the way George Smith was.’