Legends line up for memorial cup

By Connor Steel

FURTHER INFORMATION has been announced ahead of the much-anticipated Lee Rigby Memorial Cup match to be held at AFC Portchester later this summer, with football club legends from Portsmouth and Glasgow Rangers set to raise funds for charity alongside remembering the former who was tragically murdered on the streets of Woolwich, London by terrorists in May 2013.

The match will take place at the On-Site Group Stadium on June 3 with an afternoon kick-off, this date being pushed back one week from May 28 as organisers look to take advantage of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Bank holiday weekend. It will also allow time for travel from Scotland as the two sides play each other for the first time in three years due to Covid-19 restrictions.

However this hasn’t stopped a number of Portsmouth legends from joining this worthwhile cause, including many Fratton Park stalwarts from ex-manager Jim Smith’s successful team in the early 1990s. The first confirmed name is goalkeeper Alan Knight, who made 801 appearances for the club during his career and played a key part of Portsmouth’s run to the 1992 FA Cup semi-finals.

Joining Knight will be former teammate and attacking international talent Paul Walsh, who scored nine goals and assisted many more in a strike partnership with Guy Whittingham; firing Portsmouth to eventual play-off defeat in the 1992-93 First Division (now the Championship as he won the 1993 player of the year). He then re-joined Fratton Park in 1994 after a spell at Manchester City, scoring five goals in 21 matches before injury ended his playing career.

Another former international hoping to grace Portchester is attacking midfielder Darren Anderton, who won thirty caps for the England national side during the 1990s after starting his professional career at Fratton Park. He is fondly remembered as scoring in the famous 1992 semi-final at Highbury against Liverpool that ended in a replay and shootout defeat at Villa Park to the eventual winners. The midfielder then spent twelve years with Tottenham, before playing for Wolves and AFC Bournemouth in his latter career ending in 2009.

Further featuring in this occasion will be stars from Pompey’s recent successes, namely the Premier League era and famous FA Cup victory over Cardiff in May 2008. One of these names is midfielder Pedro Mendes, who joined Fratton Park in 2006 and became a club hero with crucial goals to help avoid relegation that campaign. He scored five goals in 58 Portsmouth appearances over two years and started the cup final at Wembley, as well as the Community Shield defeat versus Manchester United in August 2008.

Mendes then completed a £3 million transfer from Portsmouth to Glasgow Rangers later that summer and won man of the match on his debut versus Hearts. He scored his first goal in Scottish football in the Old-Firm derby against Celtic, which paved the way for a successful first season before injury in a European tie ruined his momentum and he moved back to Portugal in 2010 after many niggly setbacks.

Another Portsmouth signing from 2006 will also play in the Memorial Cup, with Sean Davis agreeing to feature in this event; having featured for three years until 2009 making over one hundred displays at Fratton Park. The midfielder also enjoyed spells at Fulham, Tottenham, Bolton and finally Bristol City before retiring from football in 2012 to end a sixteen year career since his debut.

It isn’t just former Portsmouth stars on show in Portchester, with the Rangers’ side set to feature Gregory Vignal in their ranks for the match; the left back winning a League Cup and Premier League double in his one season in Scotland. He then joined Portsmouth on a free transfer in 2005 but failed to impress Harry Redknapp and was released after twelve months; more recently managing the Rangers’ women squad.

A final confirmation at this stage is that Rangers’ legend and striker Mark Hateley, who scored eighty seven gals in 165 appearances between 1990-95 to help the Scottish giants win five successive titles alongside league cups and domestic national competitions. The dangerman will further not need any introduction to Portsmouth as he featured at Fratton Park for the 1983-84 second division season, in which he scored 22 goals in thirty eight games before moving to Italian side AC Milan in the summer of 1984.

More details on players and staff will be announced in due course as the match fast approaches, with all proceeds going to the Lee Rugby Foundation; a charity that is looking to provide a support network of respite therapy facilities across the country for bereaved military families, veterans families and serving military families.

Anyone planning on attending the event is urged to buy their tickets now via the Portchester club website. Adult tickets will cost £13 per person whilst under-16s tickets are priced at £6 each.

PICTURED BY YOUTUBE: Memorial cup clash held at AFC Portchester in 2018