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Grant Coleman – an inspiration to someone he’s never met or probably even heard of

Me.

I suspect only a handful of people who ever stumbles across my blog will even know who Grant Coleman is. Well for those that don’t he was Sports Editor at BBC Radio Solent for what seemed like my whole childhood. He often got accused of being a Southampton fan but Pompey fans and vice versa by Southampton fans. Bournemouth fans just thought he hated them. Oh the joys of being in charge of sport for a station with three league clubs.

When I first used to listen to BBC Radio Solent’s sports show they didn’t have any live commentary of either Saints, Pompey or the Cherries but in time they slowly started doing games. First it was the odd second half here and there and then they would broadcast the biggest game of the day from the three clubs. Then slowly they split the frequencies so they could broadcast more than one live match at a time and as we stand today all three clubs will have every game live on some part of the BBC Radio Solent frequency.

I haven’t lived in the BBC Radio Solent region since 2002 and in all honesty once I became a Season Ticket holder at Fratton Park the amount of games I listened to on either Solent (or 107.4 The Quay) went down dramatically. I’d go watch Newport IoW if they were at home or often even follow them away as well. When Jeff and the boys started to really get Soccer Saturday going I’d watch that although I’d still listen to the Pompey games online. These days I don’t bother and if I’m in I’m usually just watching Jeff and the boys.

However this is now and I’m talking about then. Portsmouth Football Club was a significant part of my world for many years. These days less so but they’ll still always be my club. In the late 90s the club were on the verge of going to the wall and I truly believe that three men were huge parts in why they didn’t go under and that the club survived. Everyone knows about Alan Ball. Just a great man and words cannot describe what Portsmouth fans feel for the man. The next is Tom Burton who was the administrator appointed to oversee the club. It was him who managed the purse strings enough to both keep the club up and secondly get the club sold on. Then there is Grant Coleman.

Grant Coleman as Sports Editor at BBC Radio Solent kept the club very much in the news and his passion for the club shone through. The year of the Great Escape in 1998 is something no PFC fan will ever forget. That game away to Crewe Alexandra where it all started down 3-0 and ABBAWA rang out loud and proud. Three days the later the now infamous Stockport County game where there were nearly four million fans inside Fratton Park (if you believe everyone who said they were there) but in all honesty I think it was just under 9,000 if my memory serves me right. I was listening at home that night and the atmosphere was insane and Grant Coleman couldn’t believe it.

We would fight on and somehow took it to the final day of the season. We had to win at Bradford and if we did we were safe whatever happened in the Stoke City v Manchester City game. Behind this link is the three goals from Grant Coleman that day (with Alan Knight in the background). A truly great day but it was Grant Coleman to whom I aspired to be. A good man running sports at local radio. Kind of a humble aspiration no?

Well those dreams have faded and life as they say has moved on but when I made my live football radio commentary debut last weekend I couldn’t help to think back to the man I aspired to be. Doing some internet research it seems as though he lives in Spain now working for the Olympics Host Broadcaster out of Madrid. Doesn’t seem like a bad gig. However I just want it out there that he was the man who made me want to be on radio covering football. I doubt he’ll ever read this but I just want it out there. There are plenty of people who have inspired me in my life but very few of those are people I’ve never even spoken to but he is certainly one of them.

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5 Comments

  1. Couldn’t agree more in regards to the 2008 cup final. I remember going to Bradford away in 02/03, I think Pompey won 5-0. It was at a time when alcohol was stil a friend. Me and a mate stayed up drinking all night in Leeds dreaming of the PL whereas winning the Cup seemed an anti-climax in comparison to such times. I suppose we didn’t play particularly well in the rounds and after winning the final I just felt relief rather than glory. While 2010 did bring back some of my old passion. I was on holiday surrounded by Spurs fans when we beat them in the SF, brilliant, always better being the underdog!

  2. Hi Neil,

    Yea, I remember the Stockport game. Just thought i’d add that your blog has caused quite debate among us (we had to give up on the game, Pompey lose again) about whether football was better in the 90s. Going through the blog I’m surprised I haven’t come across it before. As a Pompey fan, Lib Dem voter and a single guy who struggles with the dating scene I’ll certainly be subscribing!

    • neilmonnery neilmonnery

      Glad you are enjoying the blog Stuart. As for whether football was better in the 90s – I know I cared more about football then although the 02/03 season is by far my favourite. To be just that much better than everyone else was kinda cool. I haven’t warmed to many of the recent players – none of them are fit to lace up Brickie Burns laces’ – you don’t see the passion. Even when we won the FA Cup it was a strange feeling. Now when we got to the final under Uncle Avram when we sucked but kept winning somehow – that was fun – that was the Pompey way…

  3. As I write this me and a friend are listening to a Pompey game on Radion Solent. He’s just been explaining how he heard Bruce Hornsby’s ‘The way it is’ on the radio earlier (it was the music for Solent’s sports coverage in the 90s) and wondered what had happened to Grant. Although me and my friends went to many home games at Fratton Park, we listened to any games we missed or away matches on Solent. It was a huge part of my childhood and great times, it was always more fun with the dream of Pompey getting promoted than the reality of the PL. I met Grant several times in the 90s, so its great to read that somebody else appreciated his great work.

    • neilmonnery neilmonnery

      Hey Stuart,

      Thanks for the comment. Yep Bruce Hornsby & The Range with The Way It Is as John Miles ‘Music’ were the two tracks of Solent back in the day. Music is just the instrumental bit towards the end that they used as the backend bed for the results along with TWII. The days of Grant leading Solent’s coverage was by far its best times (although the year Grant and Harry Gration were both involved was good too). Solent was a huge part of my childhood too – whether it was a Saturday (the amounts of times I was at Newport IoW with Solent in my ear was insane if PFC were away) and tuesday nights. I still recall that Stockport game on the radio. Marvellous times.

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