In March 1977 there were 83 teams making up the seven divisions of the Portsmouth & District Saturday League – with some clubs putting out three or four sides each week. Now only two of those clubs remain.
It is incredible that only Carberry and Ventora have survived. I acknowledge that some have moved on to the Wessex League and others to the Hampshire League but when you consider the North End League had 35 teams at this point, that is one big loss of teams in just under 30 years. As I commented in my first article you do wonder why this has come about?
I do understand that the Southampton leagues have suffered the same difficulties – as has the Gosport League.
Going back to the two remaining clubs, Carberry and Ventora, both had very good secretaries, Brian Jeal at Ventora and Peter Denford at Carberry. Jeal had some of his family playing for him. Ian Jeal was a fine player who represented the league’s representative side.
Another player was Wai Mann – a hard working forward, while Gary Aston scored the goals up front. Denford, after a long playing career for his only club, was also a league divisional secretary and later became chairman giving great service.
Players I recall from the Carberry side include Jeff and Tony Girling, Jack Warner and the tough-tackling John Marsh. Phil Pettit was centre half who went on to play with distinction for Paulsgrove. Paul Gissing, Paul Ford, Bobby Gates and Barry Sinclair are others who were part of this fine team.
At one time there were many works teams featuring every week. Among them were Marconi, Archital, Post Office, Metal Box, Kenwoods, Fleetlands, Plessey Sports, Vickers, Dunham Bush, McMurdo, IBM and Gas Social, who had probably the finest pitch in the City – with Portsmouth Civil Service not far behind.
The Royal Navy had the Victory Stadium at Pitt Street, where local cup finals and representative games were played before they were moved to HMS Temeraire and the ground was sold for development as a retail park where Morrisons now sit.
Some of these clubs only had short spells with the league. Post Office had been around for quite a few years before they eventually folded. It was always enjoyable for visiting teams playing Plessey Sports at Titchfield as they kindly provided a bottle of beer after the game for every player.
Ralph Jeffery ran the IBM side that played at Langstone adjacent to their offices, which also doubled up as Pompey’s training ground for a while. Fleetlands are still going strong in the Hampshire League. Ron Searle was there at one time before going on to run Apollo Sports who I will be featuring in the coming weeks together with other Gosport sides, such as Gosport Civil Service, Brockhurst and Crofton Rangers who were to make a big impression with the quality of players they fielded.