Life & Chimes: The Pompey Story
The Chime’s of Pompey rang out to all Portsmouth fans to come to the Kings Theatre to watch a potted amusing, informative theatrical history of their football club. This highly entertaining show was introduced by BT Sports commentator Ian Darke with the help of Peter Brackley bringing his now famous caretaker character back on stage to observe some of the more funnier moments in a history of a club which has contained drama, take overs, fall outs and some success on the pitch. What better ingredients to underpin a two-hour, extravaganza of memories, moments and sadness’s of Portsmouth F.C. All shared and accompanied by many important players of the past including, Ray Crawford, Vince Hilaire, Alan Biley, Noel Blake, Steve Claridge, Paul Walsh, Alan Knight and many more each reflecting on their time at the club often to be surprised by some footage of an amusing moment seized upon comedically by Brackley, much to the enjoyment of the packed audience.
Alan Biley recalled his famous two late goals against Oxford in a cup tie, being one – nil down on the night a fan invaded the pitch dressed as Father Christmas. There was a delay in the game, but once restarted, things changed and Biley enjoyed his two goals sending Portsmouth through. As the theatre audience applauded the same man who ran onto the pitch did it again on stage, dressed suitably as Santa Claus recalling the incident and complaining his brother never paid him the £20 bet for doing it.
Music on the night was supplied by The Portsmouth City band bringing everyone together for a sing song and Shep Woolley on his guitar with Tenor Simon Long singing a beautiful melody as an emotional thank you to past players.
An unexpected visit from Donald Trump in the guise of impressionist Mike Osman made two short appearances which could have been crafted better in terms of material but full marks for the impersonation. Joining him on stage in this moment of comic chaos was John Westwood the ultimate Pompey fan who is a TV Sports directors dream often picking him out on match days dressed in his colourful tattoo’s and extravagant blue & white regalia, capturing the true passion of any football fan. In John’s spear time he works in a bookshop. Co-Organiser Steve Darby made his stage debut in two small cameos’ as Trumps security and super fan Westwood’s stage girlfriend. Both adding to the colour and comic surprise in this fast-moving show.
Past players and staff sadly no longer with us were paid tribute to, through stories and anecdotes in particular Jimmy Dickinson (1925 – 1982) and former manager Alan Ball (1945 – 2007). Guy Butters spoke on his time at the club but was also instrumental in getting all the players to the theatre including from Iceland, Hermann Hreiarsson who happily reminisced on the clubs FA Cup final win in 2008 against Cardiff before leaving the theatre to get his flight home. This pleasant surprise was typical in a show full of nostalgia and humour.
At the end of the evening former manager Harry Redknapp was introduced on screen to the hushed audience waiting on what he had to say following his successful and turbulent time at the club, diplomatically referred to by Darke as ‘Divisive with some fans’. Redknapp was complimentary to many in his short address and brave in doing so, as well as recalling some happy moments at the football club, eventually receiving a polite round of applause at the end in somewhat stayed atmosphere.
The whole night had captured the full extent of emotions suffered by all committed football fans through out their long support of any club encompassing joy, laughter, sadness and more importantly passion.
Matthew Willetts MA is the Director of Comicus who has over 35 years experience in television, film, theatre, and comedy club/cabaret entertainment, working as a performer, screenwriter, producer and agent. He lectured at Southampton Solent University in Comedy, Screenwriting, Television, Theatre & Radio. Matthew can sometimes be seen and heard on TV & Radio and often quoted in the national press and media publications. As well as speaking regularly at festivals and industry conferences, he has been a judge at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the Montreux Television Festival.