John Westwood: I'd feel cheated if Portsmouth won promotion - football needs fans

John Westwood insists he will feel ‘cheated’ if Pompey claimed promotion in the absence of supporters.

Tuesday, 23rd June 2020, 5:30 pm
Updated Tuesday, 23rd June 2020, 6:01 pm
The decision to play football behind closed doors has not impressed John Westwood

But he has vowed to stand in a street outside Fratton Park with a Guinness in his hand come the visit of Oxford on July 3.

Westwood has been a fixture at Pompey matches during the past 40 years, his instantly recognisable figure present both home and away.

However, like all the Fratton faithful, he will be shut out during the Blues’ bid to reach the Championship.

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With the League One play-off semi-finals – and Wembley final – to be held behind closed doors, no fans will be in attendance.

And Westwood strongly disapproves of football being allowed to restart without fans.

He told The News: ‘The sad thing for me is – and I can’t believe I am saying this – I don’t want Pompey to get promoted. I don’t think it’s right.

‘Personally, I would stay in League One and wait another year.

John Westwood poses with a young fan ahead of Pompey's FA Cup encounter at Maidenhead in November 2018

‘In 20-30 years time, I want to tell my grandkids that I was there to watch Pompey win promotion.

‘Any armchair fan can watch promotion, anybody can watch it on the television. It’s about being at the ground with the atmosphere.

‘You cannot beat that moment when you know you’re promoted and everyone is going wild around you. You will never replicate that in a million years.

‘I would feel cheated if we won promotion – I have to witness it. Football to me is the moment, it’s nothing to do with stats, nothing to do with formations.

‘It’s the sheer moment, the atmosphere, that adrenaline boost. It’s that thing which gets you out of your everyday job.

‘For the Oxford game, I’ll be down by Fratton Park in the street somewhere. I have to be there in spirit.

‘I will be social distancing, I’m not going to get into any altercations or cause any problems.

‘If I can’t see the game then I’ll need to be in the vicinity. I have been watching Pompey for 40-odd years and it’s my life.

‘If I am outside, in the vicinity of the ground, drinking a can of Guinness then it’s a football day. It’s as close as you can get to a football day in these circumstances.’

Westwood will ditch his infamous Pompey alter ego while stadiums remain shut to supporters.

Despite plans to occupy a street outside Fratton Park for the Oxford fixture, there will be no clown shoes, stove hat and blue and white dreadlock wig.

Similarly, the bugle and bell will not be accompanying him.

Although, there will still be a Westwood presence inside the ground – he is paying £25 to have a cardboard cut-out version to cheer the team on.

He added: ‘Stood outside the ground, I will be in my denims, which have Pompey all over them.

‘I won’t be in my usual gear. That’s for the moment, it’s for the theatre of it all. The carnival atmosphere – and there is going to be no carnival atmosphere at these games.

‘Mind you, I can’t believe I have moaned all my life about fans becoming cardboard cut-outs and now I’m going to become one of them!

‘There’s going to be one of me inside the ground. It’s ironic, this whole thing has turned football upside down.’

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