The vision which became Pompey’s kit reality

From left: Ricky Holmes, Andy Barcham, Jed Wallace, Adam Webster, Nigel Atangana and Craig Westcarr display Pompey's new home kit at Fratton Park
From left: Ricky Holmes, Andy Barcham, Jed Wallace, Adam Webster, Nigel Atangana and Craig Westcarr display Pompey's new home kit at Fratton Park

It was a vision conceived in the Shepherds Crook.

Now Bob Beech’s concept has been developed into Pompey’s home strip for the coming season.

The Blues yesterday unveiled their new kit, featuring a design paying tribute to those who fell in World War One.

The shirt consists of the same collar and club badge sported by Pompey’s 1914-15 side.

In addition, it contains the names of the 1,400 Pompey Pals members who died during the four-year conflict.

It is the handiwork of Blues fan Beech, who came up with the idea during a brainstorming session with commercial and marketing manager Micah Hall.

Once given the go-ahead by chief executive Mark Catlin, the duo set about making it a reality.

And Beech is delighted with the outcome which has drawn plenty of fan praise.

He said: ‘Like all good ideas it came out of the pub, genuinely!

‘We knew we were going to be doing the Pompey Pals memorial so were discussing that and came up with other ideas such as trying to get a German side over to play a friendly.

‘Then I said “Why don’t we play in the 1914 kit with knickerbockers” and then it was “Hang on it’s not a bad idea”.

‘Once I ran it past Mark Catlin, who thought it was a great idea, myself and Micah developed it more and it has come out as it is today.

‘This is something I wanted to do because I thought it was important that when the players go out they are honouring and representing those men that fell.

‘These were men from this region, Havant, Fareham, Gosport and further afield who joined up – many from at Fratton Park – and never came back.

‘Some were 16-year-olds, a whole range of ages and occupations, and their relatives are fans who come to games, quite a few at yesterday’s unveiling.

‘As far as I know this idea is unique. There are one or two clubs who have done similar things with season ticket holders but nothing to remember the past.

‘The likes of Raith Rovers have released memorial shirts, but none have been anywhere near ours. Ours is, without doubt, the best one.’

The Pompey Pals were the 14/15th battalions of the Hampshire Regiment, with the 16th serving as a reserve list.

And many were recruited while attending Blues matches from the era.

Beech added: ‘The Pompey chairman at the time hit upon the idea to build a recruitment stand in Frogmore Road, and before and after the game they held speeches and recruitment drives.

‘A lot of the Pompey Pals were genuinely Pompey fans. They went to a game and signed up.’