The Pompey Father Christmas, who has gone down in club folklore, has finally been unmasked – and revealed he never got to see the famous Alan Biley-inspired fightback in ‘Santa time’.
On December 22, 1984, Pompey were trailing 1-0 to Oxford and heading for defeat in a second division top-of-the-table clash.
But Geoffrey Peters, of Cosham – spurred on by a £10 wager from his brother Douglas – unknowingly wrote his name in club history by conducting his own one-man pitch invasion dressed as Santa Claus, complete with a white bushy beard.
After he was sent on his merry way, Pompey then produced a remarkable turnaround as the cult hero Biley popped up with two headers – with the winner coming in the time added-on by the referee for the impromptu break in play.
But while Peters wishes he’d been able to stay behind to see a bumper crowd of 22,446 enjoy the festive gift he delivered, he is still proud of his mischievous place in Pompey history.
And many Blues fans who saw it still remember the occasion fondly.
Peters, 46, said: ‘In hindsight I wish I’d been able to stay behind somehow.
‘I would have been carried, not sent down that road by the police!
‘Basically, it was a dare. I’d just turned 17 and bought my first Vespa from Rafferty Newmans in Southsea.
‘My older brother Douglas had a Lambretta, so we dressed up and rode down to the football – it was one of my first visits to Fratton Park.
‘Douglas dared me to run on the pitch for £10.
‘If I’d thought about it sensibly, I’d never have done it!
‘I think the players were pleased to see me because they all looked knackered. Everyone was blowing!
‘But the referee stopped the game, giving me the freedom of the pitch.’
Having made his way towards the Oxford fans to pass on his own brand of festive cheer, Peters was then eventually escorted away.
He recalled: ‘After I’d reached the centre circle I ran towards the Milton End and gave the Oxford fans some stick, which got a loud cheer.
‘Then the whole of the North stand started singing “we’ve got a Santa on the pitch” which was incredible!
‘I remember thinking “what have I got myself into here?”
‘A policeman then took me away to have a chat. It basically went along the lines of “get out”. So we did.’
It was only upon their arrival back to meet their friends, did the Peters brothers realise what their intervention had helped Pompey achieve.
He said: ‘Me and Douglas jumped on our scooters and sped off.
‘When we arrived, a bloke working at Rafferty Newmans had the game on the radio and was running around like a lunatic.
‘We then realised we had won and started jumping up and down as well!
‘It was unbelievable. But it’s great that fans still talk about that game.
‘I’m glad I was able to help just a little bit.’