With the ongoing construction of the Ben Ainslie Racing HQ at the Camber and recent VIP visits you would most likely be well aware that this (and next) summer sees Portsmouth home to a stage of the America’s Cup World Series. The four day event on Thursday 23rd to Sunday 26th July will see world’s best sailors battling it out on high speed AC45 foiling catamarans out on the Solent off shore of Southsea.
From today tickets have become available, with both free-to-view and paid ticket options. The paid tickets will provide access to the official event “Fanzone Arena”, allowing up to 5,000 fans per day to immerse themselves in the world of the America’s Cup whilst enjoying prime views of the race course and access to exclusive event entertainment. The free-to-view area will be located on Southsea Common, to be named ‘The Waterfront Festival Arena” where only pre-registered ticket holders will gain access. All tickets are only available through
Ticket holders can celebrate securing tickets by entering the #goldenticketACWSUK social media competition too. You can find out more at:
World class hospitality packages also go on sale from Monday 2nd March through Official Hospitality Provider Sportsworld. Offering premium experience packages in the prime site ‘Waterfront Pavilion’ – the only site that will have direct views overlooking the racing – a mere 100m away. Details are available on:
This event is sure to see thousands of visitor coming to the city plus a special date in the diary for everyone who wants to witness the formula one of sailing off the beach of our city.
After two rounds of matches in this years RBS 6 Nations England are leading the pack with two wins from two games. Admittedly it is a bit early to start celebrating anything just yet, especially with a big game this weekend against Ireland, who are the only other unbeaten side so far.
You will be able to see every minute of the game and every 6 Nations match live on a big screen at Southsea Castle. Entry is free and there is be plenty of draught beer, cask ale, ciders and plenty of food available.
To stay up to date you can join the Facebook Event page HERE.
While searching through my Facebook feed, amongst all of the selfies and cat photos I noticed a really fascinating post within the Memories of bygone Portsmouth group.
Tony Cook’s five photographs were taken at Fratton Park during the 1978/79 season. Featured in the photographs were the games against Wimbledon on Saturday 14th April and Barnsley on Saturday 5th May. The game against Wimbledon finished in a 0-0 draw and unfortunately the Barnsley game finished 1-0 to the visitors.
I wasn’t even born when these were taken but I can still remember going to Fratton Park in the late 80’s and early 90’s when there was still terracing.
Managed by Jimmy Dickinson Portsmouth finished seventh in division 4 that year, thirteen points behind league winners Reading. For our younger readers the old division 4 is now known as League 2.
Thanks to Tony for bringing these to photographs to my attention, I’m sure there are plenty of Pompey fans reading this who will be equally as interested to see the photographs.
If you would like to see more from Tony’s Fratton Park archive then you can find them on the Memories of bygone Portsmouth page HERE.
No. 3 Keith Viney takes a corner v Barnsley
Derek Showers holds off a Wimbledon defender
Steve Davey attacks the Wimbledon goal.
Peter Ellis can be seen in the foreground with Peter Mellor in goal
Portsmouth defending a corner v Wimbledon with Tony’s father on the right watching on intently
2015 is going to be an incredible year for us fans of egg chasing with this winter seeing the rugby World Cup being held in the UK. The build up begins next month with the start of the RBS 6 Nations. You will be able to see every minute, of every match live on a big screen at Southsea Castle.
Entry will be free and there will be plenty of draught beer, cask ale, ciders and plenty of food available.
The Champagne Bar during the summer is one of my favourite events and it’s great to hear that the Castle is going to be used a lot more this year. The success of Concrete Music’s event on New Years Eve just went to show that the venue can be a success outside of warm summer evenings too.
To stay up to date you can join the Facebook Event page HERE.
The Blacklight Run is a 5K fun run with a difference, it focuses on UV fun with friends and family. Whether you are an avid runner or will prefer to walk the course, all are welcome. The event appears to be a rave version of colour run which we have seen over the past few years.
Participants are asked to wear a white t-shirt, if you don’t have one you will be provided with one with your registration. During the run you will be covered in UV neon glow powder and illuminated by their blacklight zones. At the end of the Clarence Esplanade course you will be welcomed into the black light after party.
Each participant receives:
– Commemorative white Blacklight Run T-Shirt
– Blacklight Run Glow in the Dark Tattoo
– Blacklight Run Race Bib
– Donation to local charity
– Blacklight Run Glow Pack given at the finish line!
– Admission to Blacklight Run After Party
If you are interested in entering when it comes to Portsmouth on 28th March then you can take advantage of the early bird offer of £20 otherwise the full price of participation is £30. You can sign up HERE or stay up to date via the Facebook event page HERE or on Twitter @BlacklightRunUK.
Portsmouth Roller Wenches B vs Manchester Roller Derby B
Portsmouth Scurvy Wenches vs Cornish Nasties
The Portsmouth Roller Wenches’ B team, who are still buzzing after their last home win, this weekend they will be facing the formidable Manchester Roller Derby B. As part of a double header a mixed side consisting of ladies from the Roller Wenches and men from the Scurvy Dogs will be taking on the Cornish Nasties in a ‘co-ed’ bout.
Doors open at Havant Leisure Centre at 1.30pm with the Wenches B team starting things off at 2pm. Tickets are prices at £7, Kids aged 10 years or younger go for free. You can book your tickets online HERE.
For information on the after party check out the Facebook event page HERE.
On 25th October the Portsmouth Roller Wenches present another double header at Havant Leisure Centre with the A team facing Brighton Rockers Roller Derby and then, if that wasn’t enough, the B-team will take on the deadly Killa Hurtz.
Doors open at 1.30pm. with the first bout beginning at 2pm. Tickets are £7 in advance or £8 on the door and under 15 year olds are FREE! You can pick up your tickets HERE.
Poster by Sarah Ingram aka Coletta L. Damage.
After a summer of rest and recuperation the Portsmouth Roller Wenches are returning to action and will be hosting Swansea City Roller Derby. The Wenches came out on top last time they met and the citizens will be looking to take revenge. In a double header event the Wenches B team will also face Croydon’s Vice Squad.
Doors open at Havant Leisure Centre at 1.30pm with the Wenches vs Swansea City starting at 2pm. Tickets are prices at £8 in advance or £10 on the door. Kids aged 10 years or younger go for free.
For information on the after party check out the Facebook event page HERE.
Poster design by Sarah Ingram aka Coletta L. Damage
Portsmouth Football Club have today launched their new home kit for the upcoming season. The shirt pays tribute to the ‘Pompey Pals’ who are soldiers from the city who died in First World War. The Pompey Pals were the 14th and 15th battalions of the Hampshire Regiment, and were recruited at Fratton Park.
Unveiled on the 100th anniversary of Great Britain’s involvement in that conflict, the kit replicates the look of the Blues’ 1914 version and also contains the names of all 1,400 members of the Pompey Pals who died.
The kit is on sale today at the Pompey Store, with shirts priced at £39.99 for adults and £34.99 for children’s sizes.
Portsmouth Football Club have also unveiled a ‘Pompey Pals’ memorial at Fratton Park. You can find out more about the memorial HERE.
Welcome back to part two of our interview with John Bagnall, a key player in bringing one of the biggest dates in the sporting calendar to Portsmouth in 1994. You can revisit part one here.
Hi John, in part one we discussed what it takes to begin paving the way for a Portsmouth stage. What else did you have to organise or overcome on your road to June 1994?
The next obstacle we had was the police, mainly due to the fact they had never dealt with anything quite so big before. At the time you had the Milk Race and the Kellogg’s Tour Of Britain as the biggest cycling events in the UK. And those were done by rolling road closures: a police car or motorcycle in front and behind which leapfrogged each other to stop the traffic. The Tour wouldn’t contemplate that, it had to be a completely sterile loop. The police have an organisation called ACPO (Association of Chief Police Officers), that oversee combined or national large scale operations. We got assigned an inspector who was a bit full of himself and quite jack the laddish. You could see why he had gone far in the police force; a rather strong personality. He came to the first meetings saying, “well you know, I can’t see it working but we’ll go through the motions”, it was that sort of attitude. This was partly because, to start off with, they couldn’t get their mind round what the Tour was and how it felt to be part of it. So we took him and a couple of his deputies, including another guy assigned by Hampshire Constabulary, to France the next year to see the race. The Tour kindly decided to put them in their control car as guests, and for two days they were able to experience their operations first hand.
Unfortunately we thought we’d blown it on the first day. By then they were into the mountains, and this particular stage finished at Sestriere in the Alps, which is one of the very famous climbs if not one of the very legendary ones. Sestriere is now in all of the record books because Claudio Chiapuccino won it with the longest by distance and time break away in Tour history. Claudio came in forty five minutes ahead of the rest, it was quite an incredible ride, and probably drug assisted at the time if the truth be known… But Sestriere is a mountain top and it was just gridlocked. There was no way you could get anywhere for hours afterwards and yet we were supposed to collect these ACPO guys in order to look after them. We just couldn’t make the physical connections. Mobiles were very new technology and there was no coverage on the tops of the alps, so we had no means of getting in touch with them. We thought we had really blown it, they will be pretty hacked off at being left stranded with French men. As it turned out our French counterparts realised the situation and said “don’t worry, we will look after you”. They dished up a really nice dinner, got them suitably drunk and they had a really good time. When we met up with them the following day we fully expected them to pull the plug on the whole affair, however they expressed a different kind of concern; “After what we saw yesterday I’m not sure that we, the English police force, could manage something so awe inspiring. It was so well organised, it is going to give us real problems matching it”. Thankfully this soon became an ego thing and before we knew it, the challenge had been set to do it better than the French.
I recall in the first half of this interview you briefly mentioned the issue of legislation having to be created specifically for the Tour, could you give us more details on what had to be put into place?
What the police soon realised was that road cycling at that time, took place under a minor clause-of-a-sub-statute-of-a-bit-of-legislation dating back to 1948. This simply didn’t give them the powers they would need to create a completely sterile road closure. The existing legislation meant that it was okay for a police car to stop and for a policeman to halt traffic with his hands for 15 minutes, but not for a full day. So we shaped and drafted an Act of Parliament that was taken through as a private member’s bill. It was very discreetly done because this was still subject to confidentiality, all very hush hush. The bill went through Parliament and was enacted; giving all the relevant authorities the power to do whatever necessary to close the road and such like. This is the same legislation under which the Tour can take place in Yorkshire on Saturday.
That then just left all the towns and villages. We had numerous meetings with the county councils: Kent, East Sussex, West Sussex and Hampshire because the Tour want money to come. To be a start of finish town back then was around £100,000.00, which is quite a lot of money. And that was just for the Tour to come, so not including your organisation costs. All of that had to be negotiated through all of the various councils, but I think we had the political network working for us, everyone at Portsmouth City Council was up for it. By then a momentum was gathering and rumours started to appear. Cycling Weekly would phone up every so often and ask “what is going on?” “well what do you think is going on? I haven’t heard anything?”, all this bluff and counter bluff. Cycling is a small world, so they recognised that if they blew it then it could lift the lid on the whole thing. They were bound into it as well. Gradually we ticked off all the councils putting up the money for physical improvements. After this operation had been put into place the roads on the planned the route had never better for cycling; whole stretches were re-tarmacked because none of the councils wanted to be known for having bought a rider down.
The next part of the operation was to simply identify all the businesses that would be affected; banks, supermarkets, retail outlets, etc. Staff would have problems getting in due to the roads being closed at five in the morning. Deliveries would not be able to take place and cash points would not be refilled. Memorably I researched every crematorium, cemetery and undertakers on 25 miles either side of the route in order to write to them saying “please be aware that on this day restrictions will be in place and you might not have access for mourners, don’t book funerals for that day”. Similar to this, part of the route was going up Ditchling Beacon where a very rare orchid grows, so rare that its location is kept a secret. Naturally the Environmental Agency were worried about it, so the area was coned off and marshal placed there specifically to protect this plant from cycling fans and plant collectors alike.
Then it was just down to getting people along the route to buy into it; we persuaded villages councils and the Department for Education to allow schools to close for the day so that their pupils were able to watch the race. By the time we had the national launch, Cycling Weekly was planning events and their editor, Martin Ayres, came on board on a freelance basis to help with the writing of our newsletter. Through our newsletters we were having to inform people who had never heard of the Tour de France what it was about. We had to get out there and convince the people who, not only did not cycle, but disapproved of cycling in general. All whilst keeping the cycling clubs and the aficionados happy. It all came together amazingly well, but it was a lot of hard work. During the winter of 93 -94, for three to four nights a week I was in village halls somewhere along the route; showing a film and telling people what would be happening. Often you would get people sitting there with their arms crossed saying “why should I pay my rates so that French men can race bikes past my house?”, we were dealing with that sort of mentality.
By all accounts this was a successful stage, but can you tell me if there were any incidents that you had to deal with? With that amount of people massed together surely some issues cropped up?
The only incident in the whole thing was during the Portsmouth leg, when a child stepped out onto the curb after the peloton came round. Unfortunately he was clipped by the wing of one of the official’s cars who were following the riders, and momentarily we were quite concerned. Thankfully the Tour stopped one of its medical cars and called up one of their helicopters. The helicopter landed just behind where it happened and took the child and his mother to the hospital for the check-up. He had a headache and was slightly bruised but nothing serious. In truth it was fantastic PR on the Tour’s part to of done that, it added hugely to the concept of goodwill.
Over the two days, the police estimated between two and three million people had watched at the roadside. It had huge television coverage relative to the time, I remember Mr Leblanc saying that we have already seen the biggest stage crowd for the whole Tour, and we were only on stage four and five. The goodwill that was generated was just amazing, it’s fantastic anywhere you go on the Tour anyway, but the friendship and fun that was being had was truly magic. It laid the groundwork for the Tour to come back to England.
What would you say the aim was in bringing the Tour here, and what legacy did it leave? What do you think it brought to the city?
The immediate aim was to inform as many people as possible across the world, that there is a city called Portsmouth on the south coast of England. A city with an important heritage and history. A city that is open for commercial business. We were the people that started this whole thing, we are a city with a “can do” spirit. We are international and friendly. This was general promotion of sorts, for all kinds of different reasons and messages, and we very much hoped to ignite greater interest in cycling. Not to mention greater investment in cycling on the part of the city. We are on an island, the highest point in Portsmouth is twelve meters above sea level, it’s difficult to think of somewhere better, perhaps Cambridge apart, in physical terms for cycling. And yet the provision within the city is not good. Unfortunately I think Portsmouth just didn’t managed to capitulate on the immediate legacy of the Tour to achieve a tipping point that could be built on. In a way that you could argue that London has done with the Boris Bikes. There is still more work to do and I don’t entirely see who is doing it and where it is coming from. Southsea Cycle Club and various community projects are doing a great job in making it visible, but I don’t think it’s really come together as a critical mass in Portsmouth.
What really makes me sorry is if you cycle up of down the back or Portsdown Hill, you can see where the cycling tracks have been laid and marked out, but the tarmac has almost worn off. There is just the faint trace of a bike as you come up from Waterlooville and I think that is ever so sad, it’s symbolic of the tokenism that prevailed in the end in Hampshire and Portsmouth. They were given an opportunity to make themselves famous permanently in England as the cycling city, but the momentum was never really achieved in the first place. It was a very successfully stage and I think the longer term legacy wasn’t in the immediate benefits to the people who ride bikes in Portsmouth. However, to the cycling community in Britain as a whole it has had enormous benefits; it worked by laying one of the first foundation stones in what you could describe as a cycling wall. In the next course of bricks above Portsmouth 1994 you have Dublin in 1998, and then a couple courses of bricks above that you have London in 2007. Next you have smaller bricks above that: Mark Cavendish and Bradley Wiggins. Riders who, as kids, might of watched Portsmouth on Channel 4. I would love to know if Mark Cavendish did and whether it fuelled his desire to be part of such a legendary event. You cannot quantify this part of the legacy. By this weekend, Yorkshire 2014 will be at the top of the wall. Yet when you look closely; Portsmouth is still right there at the bottom, as a foundation stone. This is where it all began.
I would like to express a huge thank you to John & Jan for allowing me into their home and sharing this great story with me. The 101st edition of the Tour De France begins on Saturday the 5th July, with ITV and ITV4 covering live stages and providing nightly highlights.