The new club at Portsmouth


February 18, 1899
Just as people were beginning to wonder what the Directors of the new Portsmouth Football Club were doing towards getting into working order for next season, came the most welcome news that Mr. Frank Brettell, the popular manager and secretary of the Tottenham Hotspur F.C., had been induced to resign his post and accept the office of manager and secretary of the Portsmouth professional team.

It took most people quite by surprise, and gave the greatest satisfaction to local football enthusiasts, who are anxious to see the town gain a reputation in the best sporting circles by supporting a band of “class” players.

The appointment of Mr. Brettell shows that the Directors know how to go to work, and it may confidently be expected that there will be several more surprises when the time comes for the signing-on of the players. If anybody in England knows how to run a football team, it is Mr. F.J. Brettell, who has had over 22 years’ experience of one sort and another, has been conspicuously successful in improving the various clubs with which he has been connected, and is undoubtedly at the very top in his line of business.

Details of Mr. Brettell’s career.
Mr. Brettell was, at the beginning of his football career, a member of the St. Domingo Cricket Club at Liverpool, which was formed into a football team somewhere about 1876 to keep the members together during the winter months. From this insignificant club, attached to a church, rose the great Everton F.C., now boasting of an income of over £10,000 a year, and attracting crowds of many thousands of people to its matches. Mr. Brettell was on the committee, and subsequently was elected Secretary, in which office he remained till the Liverpool Club was formed, when he went over to them and helped in the management. In the 1895-96 season he became Secretary to the Bolton Wanderers, a position sought after by nearly 100 candidates, but unanimously voted to the young man from Liverpool.

Before this Mr. Brettell had been a player, figuring as centre forward most of the time, but occasionally as inside left. He had a leg broken, however, and did not play much after that, 1886 being the year of his last game. On relinquishing the player’s jersey he took up the pen, joining the staff of the Liverpool Mercury as football reporter, and doing good service.

From Bolton Wanderers, Mr. Brettell went to the Hotspur last March, when the club was converted into a Limited Liability Company.

Just the man for Portsmouth.
The motto he worked on at Tottenham was “Get the best players, and give spectators the utmost value for their money,” a motto which will apply to Portsmouth with excellent effect.

Introducing Northern ideas to the South, Mr. Brettell improved the Hotspur team by securing such men as John Cameron, Bob Cain, Harry Bradshaw, Tom Smith, Kenny McKay, and James McNaught. In fact, he made the Spurs the famous team they are, and no doubt he will perform similar good offices for the new club.

He has a strong belief in the future of Southern football, contends that the Southern League will in time become quite as strong as the League proper, and intends to help it forward as much as possible.

This is just the man to start the Portsmouth team. Add to his football qualities that he is a cricketer, billiard player, and a good shot, and that he is most genial, and a thorough business man, and it can be seen that he is a genuine acquisition.

Other signs of progress.
Mr. Brettell begins his duties at Portsmouth in May next, and will most likely bring the Tottenham trainer with him. The Board of Directors of the Club has been greatly strengthened by the addition of Sergeant-Major Windrum, Royal Artillery (RA), and it is too much to say that that enthusiast’s wide experience in connection with the R.A. team will be most useful.

The ground in Goldsmith’s Avenue has been drained, levelled, chalked, and turfed. The pitch has been complete for some time and is a very good one, of the “billiard table” variety, and is larger than the extreme dimensions mentioned in the rules of the game, so that there will be plenty of room. Ten thousand spectators will be accommodated with ease when the preparations are finished. There is to be a covered stand 100 feet long, with seven rows of seats, and underneath and at the back of this will be the dressing rooms, Committee rooms, players’ rooms, baths, &c. This stand will be om the south side near the entrance, and the bottom row of seats will be three or four feet above the ground, so that all the spectators will have a clear view of the game.

Everything up to date.
There will be another covered stand on the north side, 240 feet long, and the spectators who do not patronize the stands will have the advantage of a wooden erection, with steps running in tiers round the ground, and affording good vantage points for watching the play. It will thus be seen that the arrangements will be quite up-to-date. Turnstiles will be placed at the entrance, the Press will be well looked after, and some of the spectators’ seats will be numbered and reserved.

In this connection it is as well to note that there are still some shares waiting to be taken up. Owners of 25 shares and upwards not only get free admission to the ground, but are entitled to a reserve seat for all matches except cup-ties.

The aim of the Directors in laying out the ground has been to “go one better” than Southampton, and as the ground is larger than that on which the Saints perform, they have succeeded in one respect at all events. The ground is very conveniently situated, as both tram and train run close by, and it is very likely that omnibuses will be run right up to the entrance when the time comes.

A good team promised.
The team will probably be known as plain “Portsmouth,” fancy additions such as “United,” &c., not being in favour. Mr. Brettell is to have the selection of the players, and it naturally follows that the team will be what is known as “hot” one.

Rumours have already been freely circulated (in print, too) as to the composition of the eleven. On the one hand, it is hinted that the Royal Artilley, offers a good foundation for the defence, and some writers have even gone as far as mentioning Reilly, Turner, Hill, and Hannah. On the other hand the Hotspur forwards have been indicated, but all this is premature, and it may safely be left for time to show the trend of events.

When the Hotspur performed at Portsmouth a good many local experts thought what a fine combination their forwards and the R.A. defence would make, but it was then only a hope. One things is certain, that there will be a long rivalry between Portsmouth and Southampton. The Portsmouth tea will be entered for the First Division of the Southern League, and for the English Cup, and will commence operations next September.
(Source: Portsmouth Evening News: February 18, 1899)

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