Accessibility Tools

14 June 2024
Noel Blake.

Noel Blake, a Jamaican-born football player, at one time or another played for Aston Villa, Shrewsbury Town, Birmingham City, Portsmouth, Leeds United, Stoke City, Bradford City, Exeter City and Dundee.

Noel Blake.

I met Noel Blake in the late 1980s, but when I met him, I didn't realise who he was. I have always been a lifelong Arsenal fan. Most of my friends in Fareham, where I used to live, were staunch Portsmouth fans. One Saturday, after a long hard drinking session the night before, they all decided to go to see the Portsmouth game at Fratton Park. They dragged me along as they were going to have a drink before the game and carry on after the game when they were going to go on a pub crawl around Southsea.

Before the game, about eight of us were all standing in the pub next to Fratton Park, which was called the Fratton Arms. At the time, part of it was used as an office for the football club. The downstairs area was split between a public bar and a private lounge bar. Before home games, Pompey fans would meet in the public bar for a drink to loosen up their vocal cords. If you stood at the bar and looked along it, you could see whoever was in the private lounge bar and my friends had all seen a good-looking blonde girl in the private bar they all fancied. I looked at her and told them I could get her to buy me a beer. 

They all told me I had no chance, and as we were all looking at her, Noel Blake arrived in the private bar and began talking to her, although I didn't know who he was. Whilst all my friends watched I waved to her and politely asked her if she'd like to buy me a drink. She smiled at me, whispered something to Noel Blake, and pointed at me. All my friends started laughing at me, telling me I had no chance as Blakey would sort me out. Whilst they were laughing at me, a door between the private bar and the lounge bar opened and Noel came through and asked me to come through to the private bar with him. While my mates all looked at me amazed, I followed him to the private bar.

Once in the private bar, Noel led me to the bar and the pretty blonde girl. He asked the girl if this was the man she meant and she said it was. He then turned round to me, shook me by the hand and bought me a pint and the girl a drink. I then turned to the girl and gave her a big hug and thanked her for winning me a bet.

I then explained to the girl, my sister, Karen, that nobody I was with knew who she was and that I had bet them all I could get the pretty blonde to buy me a beer. She laughed and introduced me to her friend who had come through to collect me, "Alan, this is Noel, Noel, this is my brother Alan". We stood talking for a short while before Karen said she had to leave and departed. After finishing our drinks, Noel bought us another drink and we chatted about football. I told him that I supported Arsenal but was supporting Portsmouth today and with a group of friends behind the goal in the Fratton End. After chatting for a while, he said he had to go and left me at the bar. I returned to the public bar to be greeted by my friends.

Then, my friends told me who the big guy who had been buying me the beer was. It was Noel Blake, Portsmouth´s centre forward. I told them I didn't know who he was but explained the pretty blonde girl was a friend of Noel's and was, in fact, my sister. They told me what a great player he was, and I told them that he wouldn't be playing today as he had two beers with me in the short time I had been with him. After finishing our drinks, we left the pub and went to the ground just before kick-off.

As the game started, I was amazed when my friends pointed out who was playing up front for Portsmouth. It was Noel Blake, who, literally minutes before kick-off, I had been standing in the Fratton Arms drinking beer with. I can't remember anything about the game other than he didn't score and all my mates cursed me for winning the bet.

I don't think many people will believe this story, but it did happen. I did meet him, and he was drinking at the bar minutes before kick-off.