Portsmouth pays tribute to passing of much-loved Blues fanatic Basher Benfield

Basher Benfield, former chairman of Portsmouth Disabled Supporters Association, passed away on Sunday night at the age of 56. Picture: Sarah StandingBasher Benfield, former chairman of Portsmouth Disabled Supporters Association, passed away on Sunday night at the age of 56. Picture: Sarah Standing
Basher Benfield, former chairman of Portsmouth Disabled Supporters Association, passed away on Sunday night at the age of 56. Picture: Sarah Standing
The Pompey family have paid tribute to Basher Benfield, following the popular supporter’s passing.

The 56-year-old died at QA Hospital on Sunday evening after suffering from ill health for a number of years.

Basher was a Fratton Park fixture, missing just 20 Blues matches since the 1980s, including friendlies.

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In total, he estimated attending more than 3,000 Pompey games, once reserve and youth-team outings were taken into account.

Basher’s tally is even more remarkable considering he was blighted by poor health. He was born with mild spina bifida, had previously suffered a stroke and, in August 2000, underwent a kidney transplant.

Regardless, he continued to attend Pompey matches in a wheelchair – home and away – until lockdown was enforced in March.

Real name Howard, Basher once sat with Alan Knight and worked out he had watched 794 of the Pompey legend’s 801 appearances.

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Away from the pitch, he was involved in fan representation, previously serving as activity organiser for non-football events with the Pompey Supporters’ Club (Central Branch).

At his passing, he was chairman of the Portsmouth Disabled Supporters’ Association, a responsibility which saw him attend the Tony Goodall Fans’ Conference.

And during the Portsmouth Supporters’ Trust’s successful battle to seize back control of their club, he financially contributed to two syndicates raising funds to meet the £1,000 valuation of shares.

Close friend John Westwood said: ‘Basher epitomised everything that was good about being a Pompey fan.

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‘He was mad about the club, so passionate. When in hospital, he was pleased matches are currently being played behind closed doors as it meant he wasn’t missing them!

‘Everyone in Pompey knew Basher, he would do anything to help others and was a remarkable man,

‘It breaks my heart. I have always admired him and looked up to him. He never moaned about his illnesses, he’d say waking up each day was a bonus.

‘He wouldn’t miss a game, though. That was the bravery – and passion of the man. Pompey was his life.

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‘He was a Pompey encyclopedia too. I’d ring him all the time with questions people had asked me about the club and I had no idea! He always knew the answer.

‘It was a privilege to know Basher, he was a special, special man. A Pompey legend.’

Paul Banks added: ‘I travelled the world with Basher, we had so many laughs. There was Hong Kong, Nigeria, so many places we saw Pompey play together.

‘He was one who would never say no. I kept telling him to give up following Pompey away from home, but he wouldn’t listen. He loved the club too much.

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‘It became hard seeing him trying to climb those steps on the coach on match days. He was in agony, but wouldn’t stop going.

‘There are so many things you can say about the man. He was such a good friend and had plenty of time for everyone.

‘I saw him in hospital before he passed. I’m so glad I did.

‘He was loved by everyone, you only have to see the messages since he died. We’re going to sorely miss him.’

Pompey’s long-serving bootman, Barry Harris, rang The News to pay tribute to Basher.

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He said: ‘He was a lovely man. Only 10 days ago he videod me on his phone while in hospital.

‘Basher always spoke positively about Pompey and had a smile on his face. He was somebody I enjoyed sitting and talking to.

‘I respect all fans' views, but Basher was one you could have a conversation with. He thought a lot about the game and spoke a lot of sense. He was such a good watcher.

‘When we last spoke, he never moaned about his health, I didn’t realise how bad it was, so this news was such a shock.

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‘Nobody could have a bad word to say about him. Basher was a fine man.’

Pompey’s chief executive, Mark Catlin, also paid his respects to the late Blues fan.

‘I’m so sad to hear of the passing of Basher,’ he said.

‘I’ve worked quite closely with him during my seven years at the club and this has come as a total shock.

‘He was such a lovely guy, always had time to chat on a match day and was very calm and considered in everything he did.

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‘Basher was a genuinely nice guy who cared about the club. The world has lost a true gentleman.

‘My condolences to his family and loved ones.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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