Redknapp heckled at ceremony

October 28, 2008

Harry Redknapp faced boos and shouts of "Judas'' as he arrived to be granted the freedom of the city of Portsmouth just three days after quitting Pompey to take over at Tottenham.

The 61-year-old left Portsmouth late on Saturday to take up his new post at Tottenham.

Along with the players of his former club, Redknapp was honoured by Portsmouth City Council for their success in winning the FA Cup by beating Cardiff 1-0 at Wembley in May.

The council decided to go ahead with the honour for Redknapp despite his departure from the city.

As he walked up to the stage in the Guildhall, there were loud boos from the public and shouts of "Judas'', while his replacement, Tony Adams, enjoyed loud cheers and chants of "Tony''.

A red-faced Redknapp shook his head as one member of the public shouted: "Get off the stage.''

The leader of the council, Gerald Vernon-Jackson, spoke of the city's gratitude to Redknapp for taking the team into the Premiership and winning the FA Cup.

He said: "This is a very different speech from one I had planned. It is only right and proper to say that this would have been a speech about celebration and thanks.

"It still is - winning the FA Cup was a great feat, but it must now also be about sadness and goodbyes.''

As he continued, the audience heckled. He said: "Harry has had a huge impact on this city. I was thinking, what do I call him?''

At this point, someone shouted out "Judas''.

Mr Vernon-Jackson continued: "Is it Mr Redknapp or Mr Harry Redknapp? But no, to everyone here in Portsmouth, he is just Harry.''

He added: "Six hundred million people around the world watched us win the FA Cup. Around the UK and around the world, people saw Portsmouth and they saw us win.

"It put us on the map and the pride of the city when the cup came home here to Portsmouth was a wonder to behold.''

As Redknapp went to sign the register of freemen of the city, he was unable to find a pen, to the amusement of the audience.

Afterwards, he spoke of his pride at having worked at Portsmouth Football Club.

He said, referring to his departure: "My timing has never been very good and, this week, it could never have been worse.

"It's a great honour to receive this award, but I was only a member of a team.

"The fans are absolutely fantastic, but, most importantly, we assembled an amazing football team. The talent that is at this football club is top class.

"I'm sure with the players, the chairman and the support the club has, the club will only keep going forwards.

"I really do appreciate everyone turning up today and being so kind.''

As he spoke, one heckler in the public gallery was escorted out by police and security staff, but by this point, the majority of the crowd clapped and cheered for Redknapp and one woman cried out: "We love you, Harry.''

During the ceremony, the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Richard Jensen, presented the scrolls proclaiming the freedom of the city to Redknapp and to the 2008 FA Cup-winning squad, led by captain Sol Campbell.

Previously, in 2003, the club as a whole was granted the freedom when they were promoted into the Premier League.

The ceremony included the FA Cup trophy being escorted by a Royal Navy guard accompanied by music from the Royal Navy Guard and the Royal Marines Band Portsmouth.

They were joined by a guard of honour consisting of 12 Portsmouth Football Club mascots.

The city council is still deciding whether one of the bells that play the famous Pompey Chimes at the city's Guildhall, which is being refurbished, should still be named after Redknapp.