Pompey Hardmen Eleven12.08.16
The harder they come, the quicker their opposing number limps off injured
What the 5ft 9in keeper lacked in inches he made up for in bravery, and was known for throwing himself head first at the feet of onrushing forwards. Famously played on with a broken hand and twisted ankle to help his native Northern Ireland to a World Cup quarter-final.
Without a doubt the hardest Gavin to pull on a Pompey shirt, and a major reason why the football league made the use of shin pads compulsory. The red mist often got the better of Maguire and he came close to lamping Le Tissier in a game of masters five-a-side. These days he crimps hair for a living.
The quintessential hard nut centre half, Billy Gilbert joined from Crystal Palace in 1984. His ultra-steely defensive pairing with Noel Blake is the stuff of Fratton Park terrace legend. The fearsome enforcer was inducted into the Pompey Hall of Fame in 2013, nobody had the nerve to tell him he wasn't.
The other half of the club’s most abrasive centre-half partnership, the teak-tough Noel Blake was signed from Birmingham City in 1984. The powerful and uncompromising defender went on to make over 150 appearances for the club, winning back to back player of the season awards (1986 and 1987).
The Herminator enjoyed nothing more than getting right up in the grill of his opposing number, and his crazed stare made it clear he wasn’t to be messed with. He jointly holds the record as player who has suffered the most relegations from the Premier League.
Some people are just born hard, and Mick Tait is one them. The fearless midfielder turned out 760 times in a football league career that spanned 24 years; with 240 of those in the blue of Pompey. As hard (if not harder) as nails, Yosser liked a tackle and took no prisoners in the centre of midfield.
Mick Kennedy was a cold-eyed assassin in the middle of the pitch. The mind boggles at what his disciplinary record would be like if he played in the modern game. He once found an opponent’s tooth lodged in his elbow at the end of a game. Kennedy captains the Pompey hard men XI. May he rest in peace.
The fieriest of fiery Scots, Jimmy Scoular was quite possibly the hardest of them all. An ultra-combative midfielder with a cast iron will to win and a volcanic temper, he was described by Duncan Edwards as ‘the finest tackler of the ball I ever saw.’
The former England youth international was an old-school midfield enforcer with a great beard and thighs the size of giant redwoods. Always one to put his stamp on the game, Kellard holds the dubious record for being the first player sent off on a Sunday.
He was only at Fratton Park for a season but that was enough for the Pompey fans to witness Hateley’s fearlessly robust style of play. Never afraid to mix it when leading the line, he went onto further his hardman credentials at AC Milan and Glasgow Rangers (where he gained the charming nickname ‘Atilla’).
After being told by Villa manager Graham Taylor that he needed to clean up his act, Warren Aspinall was soon involved in a stamping incident in a pre-season friendly and duly shipped out. The stocky striker turned midfielder always dished out as good as he got during his time at Pompey.