Darren Lambe from Athletico Pompey, one of the longest running IFA sides and regulars at WorldNet since the late 90’s, remembers a trio of team-mates who’ll never be forgotten on the blue side of the south coast..
Simon “Banger” Humber was born in 1970 on the Isle of Wight and soon caught the Pompey bug. After growing up a die-hard fan, he moved off the island to study at Kingston University. Following the completion of his course, he embarked on a career in the gaming industry, originally working for Virgin Media whilst residing in Twickenham, south east London.
A youthful Humber endeared himself to the Pompey faithful when he famously became known as the fan who gave Matt Le Tissier the standard Pompey greeting on Baddiel and Skinner’s Fantasy Football Show (click this link to see the clip— https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8bYzBpfsKM8). A legend was born.
His love of Pompey grew and grew before he met a group of like-minded fans via the Pompey Anorak Brigade, Pompey’s first mailing list and fan-based social media. Simon met his fellow Anoraks at WBA away midweek on 23rd February 1998, resulting in a 3-0 away spanking with a spectacular 20-yard goal from Steve Claridge. From then on Simon and his fellow Anoraks would travel far and wide to watch Pompey and also England, including a few weeks following the latter to Euro 2000 in Holland and Belgium— once again many fantastic, humorous memories were etched in time.
As well as watching the game, Simon loved playing it, where he regularly represented Athletico Pompey, the Pompey Anorak Brigade’s football team, in games against our local rivals (7-1 Pompey anyone?) and in the global fan-based football tournament, Worldnet. His flukey goal direct from a corner (he said it was intentional, the rest of the English-speaking world suggested otherwise) was eclipsed in 2003 when he was part of the Worldnet Plate-winning Athletico Pompey team.
Athletico Pompey’s success coincided with a memorable promotion season for Pompey whilst Simon was still finding his feet in the gaming industry—anyone remember Viva Football? No, thought not. However, Simon made sure of its place in Pompey gaming folk law, after employing the vocal talents of Adrian Whitbread and John “Johnny Lager” Durnin on the game. Their voices are still there today…. If can find a copy.
Later in life Simon moved to Vancouver, Canada for his dream job, creative director of EA’s FIFA football video game series. It was the perfect job for Simon, where he was joined by Lenka, his partner, before the birth of their only son Lukas. Lukas was modelled in his father’s eyes – mischievous and a challenge to parent. His friends finally knew what Simon’s parents had to endure.
Simon regularly returned home to watch his beloved Pompey and visit friends and relatives still resident on the island, once again leading the post-game celebrations of the FA Cup win.
Sadly, emigration didn’t turn out to the dream he hoped when he was diagnosed with ocular melanoma, a rare form of eye cancer which claimed one of his eyes. After a brief respite, Simon’s condition worsened as the cancer spread throughout his body. With each diagnosis, he faced cancer head on, researching alternative medicines and avenues to combat the dreadful disease whilst retaining an amazing and brave sense of humour. However, each time he emerged victorious, the cancer returned and whilst Simon never gave up trying he ultimately lost his battle in May 2015.
Simon’s love of life, humour and general madness left a massive hole in everyone’s lives, including his colleagues at EA who, over the years, had become his friends. His EA colleagues gave him a fantastic tribute when they in FIFA16, complete with his mates from the Pompey Anoraks behind the Fratton End goal and also the bunch of flowers left at the Pompey game after he died, the final game of the 2015 season.
His colleagues at EA Sports paid the following tribute;
“When you make video games, you spend a great deal of time with people, and shipping an annual title makes a team very close. I worked with Simon daily for seven years, and feel like I – and the team – lost a family member. In terms of his legacy within FIFA, he was the daddy of Ultimate Team, and played a big role in career mode – many of the features coming this year were ones he was leading development on.” – David Rutter, VP and GM, EA SPORTS FIFA
Additionally Simon had formed a strong bond with many at Pompey.
“Simon was well-known among Pompey fans. His love of life, humorous and caring character ensured he was loved by all who met him. His passion for Pompey, the FIFA game and football in general, was infectious and as such he leaves a legacy of having made a hugely positive impact across all three. Everyone at Pompey is honoured that Fratton Park will appear in FIFA 16 and I know Simon would be ever so proud to see his club featured in this way. He would no doubt hope that it helps spread the word about his beloved club.”” Ashley Brown, CEO, Supporters Direct & director of Pompey Supporters’ Trust board
To this day Simon’s memory lives on and friends and family have contributed to a plaque in his memory which to this day resides inside the north wall of the Fratton End.
Wayne ‘Donny’ Grahame
Donny to his mates, he was a Doncaster lad, who fell in love with Pompey while in the Royal Navy.He was a very big bloke, a bit scary to look at, but was the most soft, warm hearted fella you could meet.His hospitality was legendary, and he would always offer fellow Pompey fans a place to stay for away games up north.
Neil was the son of Paul Goodman. A fantastic footballer who spent time at a couple of league club academies in his teens. He passed away following a short and intense fight against cancer.
Neil, along with Donny and Humber, helped Athletico Pompey win the Plate Competition at Worldnet 2003. A memorable moment was when he scored direct from kick off versus Hull City in a 3-0 win.
All three Pompey players we’ve lost are pictured at Bodington in 2003;
Donny Wayne back row first on the left
Neil Goodman front row first on the left
Simon Humber front row 5th from the left.