Northstand Nostalgia: I salute you, Mr Pompey

Pompey fan John Westwood
Pompey fan John Westwood
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They say you either love or hate Marmite – but I have no particular feelings either way!

John Anthony Portsmouth Football Club Westwood provides Pompey fans with their own divisory quandary.

To love or not to love?

I am very much in the former camp, although on our first meeting we didn’t quite hit it off.

Returning from a victorious Chesterfield visit in December 1982, John and I became embroiled in an argument relating to the merited loyalties of our variant clans.

John and his mates were bedecked in blue and white everything, while my group were more casually dressed.

John thought we were disrespecting the club by not wearing Pompey favors.

He commented on how silly we looked in our designer jumpers and tracksuit tops.

Looking back through old photos, I now accept the big-hatted, clown-shoe wearer had a valid point.

The decibels of our ensuing disagreement reached such levels we were both invited by the guard to leave our St Pancras-bound train at Leicester.

Before we alighted, I retrieved my Burberry scarf from the carriage, while John collected his own precious cargo of 20 cans of beer that would fuel his homeward journey to Petersfield.

When I bumped into him at our next away game (Sheffield United), he was apologetic.

Since that day my respect for John has grown immeasurably, as has his importance to the club.

He was Pompey’s standard bearer during the club’s emergence from years of mediocrity, to reaching the Premiership, Wembley and Europe, while attaining worldwide recognition.

During our 34 years of friendship, I have got to know John quite well and you could not wish to meet a nicer guy.

Intelligent, endearing and genuine. All of his quirky practices are committed in duty to his main passion.

His dressing up, bugle blowing, drum banging antics are not egotistic.

They are just John’s way of making the Pompey experience better for all.

I look at Westwood on the outside and imagine that’s how many of us feel on the inside in our Blues devotion.

John’s bravery to don the ‘full kit’ is admirable.

The players and staff are well paid for their efforts but when those efforts fall short, we let them know.

However, I deplore any fan who vents their angst on John in defeat, as his larger-than-life persona makes him an easy target.

I cannot imagine a Pompey without Westy but, upon that day, it will be a lesser Pompey.

Back in 1982, also returning from Chesterfield was my pal Andy Bache.

As many know, Pepe was seriously injured in Marseilles during the European Championships.

John, although just an acquaintance, has organized collections at recent games, raising more than £2,000 to aid Pepe’s recovery.

This typifies his feelings toward his Pompey brethren.

Many years ago Milan Mandaric recognised his role in raising the profile of our club.

John, I personally salute you in your continuance of doing so.

Northstand Critic was a regular contributor to the Football Mail’s letters page many moons ago, now he is back.