Address: Fratton Park,
Capacity: 19,670 (All-Seater) (Reduced for Health and Safety Reasons)
A sporting landmark on England’s south coast. Fratton Park is one of the country’s best-known football grounds and has stood the test of time to remain a stadium fit for elite football.
Built in 1899, it has been the home of Portsmouth Football Club ever since.
Pompey were founded the previous year and immediately began the search for land onto which they could build a ground primarily for football but also “for such outdoor games and exercises that were approved by the directors”.
Land was bought in Milton and the first match played there was a “friendly” against Southampton Football Club on 6th September 1899, which Portsmouth won 2-0.
Location and Getting There
Fratton Park is famously the only current ground in English professional football not based on mainland Great Britain. The stadium is instead located on Portsea Island, much like the City of Portsmouth itself. Specifically, it is based in the St. James’ parish of Milton, around 1.5 miles southeast of Portsmouth City Centre.
The ground takes its name from the nearby Fratton Railway Station, which had good transport connections in an era before cars were commonly owned and is a key reason as to why supporters were attracted to Portsmouth Football Club in its early days.
Milton Cemetery and Milton Common are to the northwest of the ground, the University of Portsmouth’s Langstone Campus is due east, and heading due west from the stadium will eventually bring you to Portsmouth Harbour and the now permanently docked HMS Warrior.
Fratton Park does not have a great deal of parking spaces and finding free parking within close range can prove a challenge given the mass of tight streets surrounding the stadium.
Those coming by rail tend to use the aforementioned Fratton Station, which is less than 15 minutes walk west of the ground.
An alternative option is to go further along the line to the larger Portsmouth and Southsea Station. Walking from here takes around 30 minutes.
Outside the Stadium
You can freely walk along three sides of Fratton Park, and the only stand that you can’t do this for is the South Stand.
It has a row of houses right outside of it and there’s only one entrance inside, that being at the end of Frogmore Road near to the stadium’s southwest corner. This entrance is perhaps the most famous and recognisable part of all of Fratton Park. The upper parts of the entrance resemble that of old Tudor era houses, and in the adjacent building next to the South Stand turnstiles (27-36) is Portsmouth’s Main Ticket Office, with the Montgomery Lounge and Partners Lounge Entrance on the opposite side of Frogmore Road.
There is a very narrow gap in the houses next to the Lounge entrances which you can freely go through, and continuing round from there brings you to the West Stand, better known as the Fratton End after the area out beyond it. If you are coming to the Fratton End from the South Stand then you will pass the Victory Ticket Office on your way.
The stand’s exterior has a brickwork base with white corrugated iron in its upper parts. The Entrance to the Victory Lounge is based at the southern end of the exterior, with the entrance to a pub called The Pompey further along to the left. Left of here is the entrance to the Warrior Lounge, and towards the northern end of the stand's exterior is the entrance to the Legends Lounge.
Turnstiles leading into the Fratton End itself can be found at either end of the stand in the open northwest and southwest corners. Turnstiles 37-40 are at the southwest corner and Turnstiles 1-4 are at the northwest corner of the stadium.
The North Stand’s has undergone and continues to undergo a lot of redevelopment. It used to have a narrow path running along the back and the area out beyond it was inaccessible to fans but this is now no longer the case. The area out beyond it is used as the club’s disabled car park.
The exterior of the North Stand meanwhile now consists of a deep blue brickwork base with white corrugated iron higher up and further back. Along the top of the exterior runs a giant timeline which recalls major moments in Portsmouth's history.
Over at the western end of the exterior are large plaques listing the names of hundreds of supporters who bought shares to save the club from liquidation back in 2013.
Turnstiles for the North Stand (5-18) are spread all the way along the blue brickwork base.
The east side of Fratton Park is known as the Milton End after the area out beyond it.
The path out the back of the stand, known as Specks Lane, is on lower ground than the Milton End itself. It has a row of garages on one side and a black wall on the other which has been completely covered in graffiti.
The Milton End has a very open outer concourse and its turnstiles can be found detached from the stand itself in the northeast and southeast corners. Away supporters tend to use the southeast turnstiles (23-26) and home supporters use the northeast ones (19-22), but it is worth noting that both sets of fans have to go up a flight of stairs to get to the seating area inside.
Inside the Stadium
The South Stand is divided into three tiers.
The upper tier is the clear largest and the middle tier is little more than a few rows of seats in front of those upper tier blocks. The Director’s Box and Executive seating is in the centre of the upper tier, and the area holding the matchday camera is up on the roof above.
There are large supporting pillars coming down from the roof that will likely restrict your view from an upper tier seat, and additional smaller pillars come down into the lower tier blocks. Your best view of the pitch comes from the middle tier seats and the front rows of the lower tier.
It’s also worth noting that the very front row of the lower tier is lower down than the pitch. Fans sat here are in a trench-like area and with no advertising hoardings next to the pitch, there’s always the chance that players can run off the grass and fall into the seating area below.
Portsmouth’s changing rooms, dugouts and tunnel are all based inside the South Stand.
The Fratton End is easily the tallest of the four.
It is made up of a single tier of blue seating with the Portsmouth club crest made out of yellow seating near to the northwest corner, and a picture of Jimmy Dickinson’s face is made out of black, white and grey seats near to the southwest corner.
Born in Alton on 25th April 1925, Dickinson made a club record 764 appearances for Portsmouth between 1946 and 1965, winning two successive League titles in 1949 and 1950 whilst earning 48 caps for the England National Team. He would later manage Pompey between 1977 and 1979.
Considered one of Portsmouth's most iconic figures, Jimmy Dickinson passed away on 8th November 1982 at the age of 57.
There are no supporting pillars coming down from the roof and so your view of the pitch from any seat inside is perfectly clear, whilst windshields on either side cover all but the front rows of the stand.
Expect Portsmouth’s most vocal, passionate fans to be based in here on a matchday.
The North Stand is two-tiered but you can freely get from one tier to the other.*
The letters PORTSMOUTH FC are spelt out in white along the upper tier blocks and the letters PFC are spelt out in white at the front of the lower tier blocks, which are much larger.
Supporting pillars run regularly along the front of the upper tier and around half-way down the lower tier. Your best view from this stand will therefore be on the front rows of the lower tier.
Windshields at either end of the stand only cover the upper tier seats however.
*At present, the western end of the North Stand's lower tier is under redevelopment and currently contains no seating.
The Milton End is a single-tiered stand.
It is made up almost entirely of blue seating, although the letters PFC are spelt out in white at the front of the central blocks.
The stand hasn’t got a back wall. Instead you will find a blue fence with advertising signs attached to it. With both corners open as well, there is a very good chance that you will feel the cold, wind and rain in this stand.
An electronic scoreboard is attached to the roof and can be seen by everyone except for those in the Milton End itself.
Supporting pillars come down at the front of the stand which may restrict your view of the pitch slightly, though they are quite well spread out.
Truth be told, given that all four sides of the stand are essentially open, the Milton End is the worst stand to be in out of the four at Fratton Park. Wrap up very warm if you’re coming here in the winter months.
Away fans are housed behind the goal in the Milton End.
Depending on the allocation, they are given a few blocks next to the southeast corner, with large sheets and stewards used to segregate them from any home fans who take up the rest of the stand. Larger away crowds are usually given the entire Milton End to themselves.
The Milton End is perhaps the weakest side of Fratton Park. Views from the majority of seats are slightly restricted by supporting pillars at the front, but the main design issue is the absence of a solid back wall or windshields on the side. It's very easy for the cold and rain to get into here when present.
Portsmouth have announced plans to redevelop the Milton End and I look forward to seeing the results. Fingers crossed we get an actual wall behind the back row!
Pubs available to supporters on a matchday include:
-The Brewers Arms (170 Milton Road, PO4 8PN) (Popular with Away Supporters)
-The Good Companion (2 Eastern Road, PO3 6ES) (Popular with Away Supporters)
-The John Jacques (78-82 Fratton Road, PO1 5BZ) (A JD Wetherspoon Pub, Typically Home and Away Supporters)
-The Newcome Arms (189 Newcome Road, PO1 5DT) (Home Supporters Only)
-The Staggeringly Good Brewery (Unit 10, St George's Industrial Estate, Rodney Road, PO4 8SS) (Away Supporters Welcome) (Located near the Away Turnstiles at Fratton Park)
The Milton End’s design shouldn’t take away from the overall look and feel of Fratton Park which is very good. The Fratton End is a high-quality stand and the North and South Stands are perfectly capable of holding large numbers of fans.
Fratton Park is very accessible by public transport and its Frogmore Road entrance is one of the most recognisable in the country.
Getting down to Southsea Island is a long trip for a lot of football fans, but certainly worth it to check out a stadium as unique as this one.