Fratton Park farewell as Portsmouth’s iconic floodlights to be switched off forever after Sunderland clash

Fratton Park's iconic floodlight pylons will be used for the final time tomorrow night. Picture: Chris Ison/PA Wire
Fratton Park's iconic floodlight pylons will be used for the final time tomorrow night. Picture: Chris Ison/PA Wire
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Fratton Park’s iconic floodlights will tomorrow night serve Pompey for the final time.

Sunderland’s visit in the play-off semi-final second leg marks the last home match of the campaign, irrespective of the outcome.

The encounter also represents the final occasion the four floodlight pylons will stand in place for a Blues fixture.

After almost 57 years of towering over Fratton Park, the 34m-high structures will this summer be removed as part of ground development work.

The disused pylon on the north-west side of the ground, though, is set to be spared.

A planning application lodged on March 28 seeks permission to relocate it to the North stand car park, serving as an historic reminder.

That floodlight was among two switched off in September 2015, with lighting instead introduced along the roof-edges of the Fratton end, North stand and Milton end.

Current strengthening work on the South stand will allow that to follow suit, thereby subsequently rendering the remaining two operating pylons defunct.

The floodlights were launched in October 1962, following a fundraising campaign by the old Portsmouth FC Supporters’ Club. Now they will be switched off forever following the Sunderland clash.

This summer will then see all four pylons removed from their long-time home, allowing the option of potentially filling in corners of the ground to boost capacity.

Fratton Park staged the Football League’s first match under lights in February 22, 1956, against Newcastle.

A crowd of 15,800 were present for the historic occasion, although the Toon beat Eddie Lever’s side 2-0 in the Division One encounter.

At that stage, the floodlights were roof mounted, fixed to the North and South stands, rather than taking the form of stand-alone pylons.

However, the present pylons were erected eight years later, opened in October 1962 with a friendly against Division One champions Burnley.

The four floodlight pylons were entirely funded by the Portsmouth Football Supporters’ Club, costing £15,227 6s 1d.

The new roof-mounted lights came into use for a League Two encounter with Exeter in September 2015, resulting in a 2-1 defeat in front of a crowd of 15,822.

Future Blues loanee David Wheeler was among the scorers for the Grecians against Paul Cook’s side.