On April 1 2023, Portsmouth Football Club celebrated their 125th birthday with a former players’ parade and on the day, two Pompey fans came up with a creative writing response to the anniversary and to launch their roles as the club’s 'creative writers in residence' for the 2023/24 season.
Richard Williams and Chris Perry, two long-standing supporters, approached the committee earlier this year to offer their voluntary services to coordinate and capture the writing of fans and people of Portsmouth on the theme of Portsmouth FC and Fratton Park.
Working with Pompey in the Community, Richard and Chris aim to encourage writing by fans and residents of Portsmouth about the club and how it affects life and their personal lives in the city.
A book of poetry and prose about Pompey is planned as part of the 125th anniversary activities and this is your chance to write something to be included in that publication.
Richard, who has worked on several similar projects in the past, said: “My first game at Fratton Park was a 0-0 draw against Reading in 1980 and I’ve been hooked ever since. This club really is unique, and Fratton Park such a special place. I have written about it often.
"Football transcends boundaries, countries, and cultures around the world. I’m excited by the opportunity to write more about Pompey and football in general.
"More importantly, this project will encourage others to do the same, and use creative writing as another way of expressing themselves about this fantastic club.”
Chris, a teacher by profession, who also has an MA in creative writing, added: “Snowy away games at Accrington on a Tuesday night; a lucky orange ball at Wolves away one December afternoon in 1995, meaning we could not lose, despite being 2-0 down; stuffing Spurs at Wembley, although bound for relegation.
"All are examples of what it means to be a Pompey fan. There are so many stories to enjoy.
"Richard and I want to hear your views of life with Pompey so we can include them in a unique collection next year.”
This is an opportunity for anyone to contribute their stories and poems in writing. The project is open for first-time writers, established writers and anyone in between.
Details of the project events, activities and opportunities to submit poems and stories will be shared on social media and through the matchday programme throughout the 125th anniversary year.
You can contact Richard (pictured right) and Chris (left) with your ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org
To inspire fans, here’s something Richard wrote off the back of the recent former players’ day:
At the Reunion
by Richard Williams
He holds out his hands,
says they are sore every day.
Old knuckles so swollen,
he’s never worn a ring.
No protection like now,
gloves thinner back then.
Those stitched leather footballs,
weighted with rain.
Yet recalling his history
he smiles at the past,
a life fully lived,
in all its victories and scars.
Joining other players
on this anniversary date,
for wide grins and laughter,
for memories replayed.
For John Milkins (Pompey goalkeeper 1960-1974)