Pompey super fan John Westwood set to appear in new documentary photobook

A PHOTOBOOK which takes a look back in time to the fanatical football supporters of the 1990s is in the works.

By Emily Jessica Turner
Monday, 28th June 2021, 1:08 pm

Among those superfans featured in the book, titled Life’s a Ball 90s, is famous Pompey supporter John Westwood.

The creators have launched a Kickstarter to fund the book project, which is said to be a nostalgic and affectionate documentary-style look at diehard football fans of the era.

With photographs by Zak Waters, interviews by Ivor Baddiel, and text by Mike Amos and Helen Chamberlain, the book has been a 25 year project in the making.

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John Westwood

In the 90s, Zak and Ivor travelled around the UK to photograph and interview the most fanatical football supporters in the land.

Zak said: ‘We were both lifelong football supporters ourselves, but nothing compared to the individuals that made up our Life’s a Ball story, like Jesus of the Yeti (Rangers), Dave Burnley (Burnley) to Frank Sidebottom (Altrincham).’

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The first half of the book tells the stories of 25 of the most impassioned football fans, including The Copeland Nutter, fan of the Rangers, Frank Sidebottom, Altrincham supporter, Chelsea supporter Billy Bluebeat, and Celtic fan Vinne the Parrot, while the second half takes a close look at the Groundhoppers.


Zak said: ‘On my travels I stumbled across the Groundhoppers, a group of football supporters who made it their mission to attend as many grounds as possible wherever they may be. Not only would they watch a game, but they were obsessive note talkers, statisticians, performed match rituals, collected whatever they could from each ground, and some would even void a game if it were a 0-0 draw.’

Life’s a Ball 90s was launched this month to coincide with the Euro tournament, which is currently in the knockout phase.

Zak said: ‘In 2020, not long after the Euros were cancelled, I decided to bring the project back to life in time for Euro 21.

‘I wanted to celebrate the football supporter and bring back to life all those supporters who I had met on my travels as well as their stories.’

Frank Sidebottom

The project team hope to raise £6,000 by July 26 so that they can publish a limited edition of 1,000 books through the publisher Fistful of Books. For each book sold, £1 will be donated to Football Beyond Borders.

Zak added: ‘I have a few weeks to reach my target on Kickstarter with Life’s a Ball 90s, which will cover the printing of the book, production fees and postage and packing. July is going to be tough while I watch on to see if I make the production target.

‘It would mean a great deal to me if the book were funded as it would be a wonderful end to all the hard work that made it happen, but more so to pay tribute to those supporters of the 90s who like today are the most important part of football.

‘Football is nothing without its supporters.’

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