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Club News


22 February 2017

Garwood, Hilaire, Merson and Parker inducted

A prolific striker, waspish winger, midfield dynamo and FA Cup hero are among the latest inductees into the Pompey Hall of Fame.

Colin Garwood, Vince Hilaire and Paul Merson have been chosen by the committee, while there is a posthumous award for Cliff Parker.

When Garwood arrived from Colchester in 1978 he had the unenviable task of stepping into the boots vacated by goal-hero Dave Kemp, with the Blues already all but relegated to the old fourth division.

But by the time he made the switch to Aldershot for a fee of £54,000 in 1980, he had become a cult hero and many fans were unable to comprehend the sale.

Pompey scraped Division Four promotion a few months later with victory at Northampton on the final day.

But Garwood – who struck 34 times in 78 games during his time at Fratton Park – had ensured his name was in the record books, finishing as the club’s top league scorer with 17 goals, despite his early exit.

Hilaire became an instant favourite with the fans in 1984. On his debut against Blackburn, a diving header at Fratton End brought the Blues back into a game they were trailing 2-0, but would eventually draw.

The winger, who signed from Luton, had an almost permanent place in the team under Alan Ball, who used him and fellow wide-man Kevin O’Callaghan to great effect.

Opposition full-backs on both sides of the pitch were often terrified, with the duo sometimes switching flanks to mix things up.

Hilaire and Pompey finally made it to the promised land of the top-flight in 1987, although their stay lasted just one campaign.

After netting 24 goals in 168 appearances, Vince and central defender Noel Blake were sold to Leeds in 1988, with the former going for an arbitrated fee of £190,000.

Merson was very much a one-season wonder – but that is in no way meant as a criticism of the midfield genius brought in by Harry Redknapp.

He was the lynchpin – and captain – of the 2002/03 side that etched their names into Fratton folklore.

Coming to the end of a 17-year playing career that had seen him win titles with Arsenal and gain 21 England caps, he arrived at Fratton Park as a marquee signing.

And Merson showed a level of class seldom seen on the south coast as he orchestrated Pompey’s magnificent march to the Division One title.

His 12 goals in 48 appearances were only a small part of his vital contribution, as he sprayed exquisite pin-point passes to the strikers, including Svetoslav Todorov, who finished as the division’s leading marksman.

Not one to outstay his welcome, Merson then called time on his Blues career, rejecting the chance of one more shot at Premier League football and instead joining Walsall as player/manager.

Parker will forever be the man most associated with Pompey’s first ever FA Cup triumph back in 1939.

Signed from Doncaster in 1933, his forte was delivering precise crosses into the box from the left side of the pitch.

And he certainly took the accolades from that Wembley victory over Wolves, who were hot favourites to lift the trophy.

But after the Blues had taken a shock two-goal lead, Parker bundled home a third after Bob Scott had saved from Bert Barlow.

As he wheeled away in delight, he quipped: “This is my first, Scotty – I’m coming back for another.”

And Parker was true to his work. His firm header from Freddie Worrall’s cross beat the keeper to cement a glorious triumph.

He scored a total of 63 goals in 258 appearances, later playing a limited role as Pompey became champions of England in successive seasons after the war.
Parker’s playing career spanned 20 years from 1933 to 1953, when he became scout and then trainer before settling on the Isle of Wight.

The Hall of Fame dinner will be held at Fratton Park on Friday, April 7 on the eve of the club’s Former Players’ Day, when Pompey entertain Yeovil.

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