Portsmouth’s Fratton Park presence in football history as floodlight pioneers

Pompey became the first club to use floodlights in a Football League match.

Wednesday, 10th April 2019, 10:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 10th April 2019, 10:40 am

Yet the current Fratton Park pylons earmarked for removal were erected eight years later.

It was on February 22, 1956, when the Blues hosted Newcastle under lights in a midweek Division One encounter.

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

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Fratton Park's existing floodlight pylons were opened in October 1963. Picture: Chris Ison/PA Wire

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

The present constructions were opened in October 1962 with a friendly against Division One champions Burnley.

A number of floodlit trial matches had been arranged to test the newly-installed lights, although the visit of Sparta Rotterdam had to be abandoned with Pompey leading 3-1 –through floodlight failure.

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

Fans rallied to organise a number fund-raising schemes, including lotteries and subscriptions, to meet the price.

Initially £6,000 was transferred across to the club in September 1962, followed by annual payments of £500 a month spread over a number of years until the debt had been settled.

To commemorate the supporters’ superb gesture, a plaque was unveiled on the pylon situated in the north-west side of Fratton Park, adjacent to the North stand and Fratton end.

However, that has disappeared in recent years, with the Pompey History Society still searching for its whereabouts.

In September 2015, the pylons positioned on the north-east and north-west of Fratton Park, either side of the North stand, were switched off.

That was following the installation of new lights along the roof-edges of the Fratton end, North stand and Milton end.

The new lights came into use for a League Two encounter with Exeter, 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.