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On This Day (11th February 1956): ‘Read all about it’ as Pompey are sent packing!

We take a trip back to the 1950s today, as a Sunderland victory over the south coast visitors becomes the latest ‘Storey’ at Roker Park

The 1955-56 squad, as seen in Sunderland AFC The Official History

Portsmouth and Sunderland may be located at opposite ends of the county, but the two great port cities have often shared a similar voice by virtue of the fact that their main newspapers were owned by the same family.

In 1873, Samuel Storey co-founded the Sunderland Daily Echo And Shipping Gazette, and in the 1880s, having also served as Mayor, he represented the town further as an elected Member of Parliament.

During that decade, his group included several other titles including the Portsmouth Evening News, and by the 1950s, it was overseen by Storey’s namesake grandson, who’d also been an MP in the Sunderland constituency.

The company was known at that point as Portsmouth And Sunderland Newspapers Limited, and their two main outlets were alike in design and style.

Anybody perusing the sports pages will have also noticed another similarity in the shape of an all-seeing reporter tasked with documenting the fortunes of the respective football teams.

Whilst ‘Argus’ was a Wearside institution in his own right, delivering news and valued opinion on the regular goings on at Roker Park, his counterpart in the south, ‘Nimrod’, was just as vital a source to those that followed Pompey.

The role of a chief reporter was particularly important in the days of limited away day travel and television or radio coverage, but whether it made for enjoyable reading in the eyes of fans was invariably down to results.

When Sunderland hosted Portsmouth on this day in 1956, it was ‘Argus’ who was able to deliver good news to his audience, with the Lads dominating the column inches in a high-scoring Division One clash.

‘Nimrod’, however, wasn’t too happy.

Their summary in the following Monday’s edition pointed towards three key areas that seemingly made the difference: the visitors’ poor finishing, a debated penalty decision and a badly-timed goalkeeping error.

Those with red and white-tinted spectacles viewed the match differently, but it’s true that the penalty came at a crucial time. Both teams had created chances before Ray Daniel blasted in from the spot just before the half hour mark, and whilst Portsmouth soon equalised, it seemed as if going ahead had given Bill Murray’s team a psychological edge.

More Roker action from later in the year, as seen in Sunderland AFC The Official History

Jack Mansell had been penalised for a foul in the area on Charlie Fleming, not that ‘Nimrod’ or two nearby photographers they later spoke to agreed, and despite Mike Barnard sticking out a boot to convert Peter Harris’ cross to make it 1-1 ten minutes later, Pompey were never the same again.

A quickfire double just before half time put the hosts in control, and it was the nature of the second of those goals that proved the hardest to come back from.

Sunderland regained the lead with a smart move, as Billy Elliott played the ball to Len Shackleton, and when he backheeled it into the path of Bill Holden, the resulting cross was buried by Fleming as he nipped in ahead of his marker.

Had the advantage at the break been limited to just one, the visitors might’ve fancied their chances, but the slip from goalkeeper Norman Uprichard that soon followed was a big blow.

After he’d misjudged a cross from fellow Northern Ireland international Billy Bingham, most spectators assumed Uprichard had gifted another goal to Fleming, but whilst he was stood directly behind the stopper and did attempt to make sure it crossed the line, Portsmouth captain Jimmy Dickinson later confirmed that it floated straight into the net without another touch.

Dickinson had stretched with Fleming to try and help his teammate out, but presumably knew from that point the game was up.

To their credit, the away side did try to make a go of it during the second half.

It was a long trek up to Wearside and they hoped it would’ve been worthwhile, but a strong spell proved too little too late and despite Jackie Henderson turning well and scoring in off the post, hopes of a big finish were dashed when Fleming grabbed his second of the afternoon.

Shooting from fully thirty yards, the Scot’s attempt was deflected off Phil Gunter to give Uprichard no chance.

Pompey had won on the south coast when the two teams had met earlier in the campaign but on this occasion, it was the home side making the headlines and securing the points.

As for the visitors, they set off for home, hoping that by the time they were done, the news would soon be forgotten.

Saturday 11 February 1956

Football League Division One

Roker Park

Attendance: 29,761

Sunderland 4 (Daniel, pen 28’, Fleming 42’, 83’, Bingham 44’)

Portsmouth 2 (Barnard 38’, Henderson 62’)

Sunderland: Fraser, Hedley, McDonald; Morrison, Daniel, Aitken; Bingham, Fleming, Holden; Elliott, Shackleton


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