By Connor Steel
FAREHAM TOWN FC will host an Easter charity football match this weekend at Cams Alders for their former manager and legend Jon Gittens to celebrate his long career in the sport, with all monies going to Cancer Research UK following the club hero’s death in May 2019 from the disease.
Gittens was announced as the Creeksiders’ manager in June 2002 following a short six-month coaching stint at Cams. His spell in charge lasted just two years before he resigned in July 2004, going on to manage Southampton-based Team Solent and Blackfield & Langley before retiring in 2009 from Gang Warily.
But his spell at Fareham was successful without winning any silverware as they finished fifth and seventh in the Wessex League standings respectively, alongside reaching the Hampshire Senior Cup Final in 2003-2004. In the same season the Creeksiders also reached the FA Vase Third Round, a record that remains their longest run in the competition and was matched in the 2020-21 campaign by Pete Stiles’ side.
One of his most popular moments during his two-year spell at Fareham Town saw him sent to the stands for dissent during a league match on Easter Monday 2004; calling the linesman a “chicken nugget” after a decision. He was quickly charged by the FA for misconduct due to foul language and was ultimately fined.
Before his coaching journey Gittens played at professional level football between 1985 and 2001; playing for a range of clubs including Swindon, Torquay, Exeter, and Middlesbrough, where he scored a crucial goal to help win promotion to the Premier League in 1992 before playing a series of matches in the top league.
Perhaps more notably Gittens had two short spells for Southampton making thirty seven appearances, whilst he also played for hated rivals Portsmouth as a regular between 1993-1995. He scored two goals in ninety-nine displays for the Fratton Park club and was sent off alongside his goalkeeper Alan Knight in the FA Cup 4th round in January 1995; a tie that finished one-nil to Leicester City.
In his later years Gittens was a leading voice on equality, diversity and inclusion and was committed to providing opportunities in football for all, being a positive role model for so many people involved in the game and was a pioneer in coach education. His achievements have seen him recognised by the FA with the opening of The Jon Gittens Pitch at St Georges Park, England Football’s training base at Burton.
And former teammate Bjay Green, with the support of Hampshire FA, has orgnaised a charity match to be held on April 17 (Easter Sunday) with a 2pm kick-off time. It will see a Fareham Town FC side featuring players who played under Gittens’ management face off against the Ex-Professionals, which will include players who played alongside the defender such as Alan Knight and Southampton legend Matt Le Tissier.
For information on the match this Sunday such as ticket prices or to donate raffle prizes they could contact the details on the below link; which is also the page for donations as the match looks to raise more than £1,000 for charity; https://www.gofundme.com/f/charityfootball-match-in-memeory-of-john-gittens.
PICTURED BY PORTSMOUTH FC: Gittens playing for Pompey at Fratton Park during his lengthy playing career.