The client

Portsmouth Football Club are one of only five English football clubs to have been champions of all four tiers of the professional English football pyramid. Founded in 1898, their 125th anniversary is a significant landmark and one that The Pompey History Society (official guardians of the club’s heritage) wanted to celebrate and record in a special way.

The Graphic Design House already produces Pompey’s matchday programmes, so we were a natural choice for this iconic project.

The Task

To create a limited edition coffee table book that would be impactful, memorable and stand the test of time, acting as the definitive history of the club. At 424 pages long, this was the single biggest project we have ever been approached with

What we delivered:

For any book or magazine, the cover design is critical.

We chose to use the club’s Frogmore Road entrance with its iconic mock tudor architecture to connect the history of both the club and the city. Illustration allowed us flexibility with the style, angle and content. (For example, we added seagulls flying overhead to reference the ground’s coastal location). We also felt it was more emotive than photography, which seemed fitting given the personal stories and collective memories held within its pages.

The final cover design combined illustration and photography, conveying that sense of celebration and bringing the club’s history to life.

Managing the layout

We had a huge amount of content to manage. By using a grid system we were able to ensure a good balance between copy and images, ensuring that both had the space to breath, while also doing justice to some of the incredible pictures provided.

We introduced a visual timeline using the club’s changing logo to aid navigation through the club’s history While all the crests are displayed, only the one relevant to that part of the club’s history is coloured. We felt this was a nice way to create an instant connection to memories for readers.

Rarely seen and specially commissioned, colourised images are a highlight of the book. We celebrated these using hero pages and chapter headers with the images fading from mono to colour, really bringing the history to life.

We met regularly with the book’s editor, Colin Farmery, at times on a daily basis, to go through the chapters, tweaking and adjusting the order so that the big hero sections broke the text sensitively and appropriately. Working so closely, we were able to suggest features, such as the ‘Terrace Hero’, to add an extra dimension to the book, and incorporate ‘player cards’ to make the statistics pages more digestible.

The Results

The book sold out in the first week after publication, earning plaudits from the Club, Pompey History Society, but most importantly, from the fans, who felt we had done them and their beloved club justice.

"It is absolutely outstanding - far exceeding my expectations. I’m absolutely blown away. Congratulations to all involved. Proud and excited to be a subscriber!”

Nigel Beckl , Pompey fan