In this week’s episode we focus in on super supporter John Portsmouth Football Club Westwood. Arguably Pompey's most famous fan, Westwood’s larger than life presence and passion for his beloved club has been a firm fixture on the Fratton terraces steadily over the years. Hard to miss with his signature blue wig, tattoos and blue garb of waistcoat and shorts, his unique look has made him a renowned figure both locally and across the UK. Self professed as a ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ character, Westwood’s day job see’s him run a quiet bookshop, a compelling contrast to the boisterous landscape of the football stands.
In our film, Westwood describes the elements which come together to make a passionate supporter with particular reference to Portsmouth. He talks of the importance of family, in terms of actual kinship with successive generations becoming involved with supporting the club, and also in terms of the football family. He argues that the bonding together of individual supporters by their following a common cause, creates what amounts to a second family.
His passionate attachment to Portsmouth Football Club fittingly tied up in his own words to his DNA. It's a sentiment I’m familiar with, my own father is a lifelong Pompey supporter -- literally lifelong since the tender age of 4 months old when he was wheeled in a pram by my grandparents to take part in the city’s celebrations following the teams FA Cup Final win in 1939. Although the war put a temporary hold on the development of those Pompey genes, growth resumed with his father’s return after an enforced absence as a prisoner of war. Over the next few years the two of them went together to watch home matches (even reserve matches) and rarely missed a game. I’ve grown up always witness to the passion that Pompey inspires, with my dad's loyalty fervently steadfast over the intervening decades.
It was my own familial ties to Portsmouth that made me determined to document Westwood and his unique brand of enthusiasm. And while the transformation of Westwood’s persona from mild mannered bookseller to that of enthusiastic and distinctive super fan on match day is perhaps an extreme example, it does serve as a model as how many football fans react on match days. Released from the normal constraints of day to day life, fans are empowered to showcase their passion connecting with other fans in the process. Within this, football chants offer a tribal display for territorialising terraces. A way to encourage your home team and demonstrate your dominance over your rivals. Westwood perhaps typifying as a colourful and noisy talisman, this eccentric passion. His bell ringing reverberating across Fratton Park, his home spun kit, trumpet playing and drum banging antics his own way of making Pompey's experience memorable and unique.
In case you missed this week's Episode 4, Check out the video below!