Pompey's Top Fan Refused Entry To St Mary's
Wednesday, 11th Sep 2019 14:17
Portsmouth FC's top supporter was last night denied entry to St Mary's to watch England, were Saints justified in taking this action or should he have been allowed in.
John Portsmouth Football Club Westwood to give him his full name has been speaking to the press about how he was not allowed into St Mary's Stadium to watch England take on Kosovo.
Westwood who is of course well known to Saints supporters for his match day persona whilst watching Pompey in which he has over the years seemingly increased season after season the bizarre level of his attire to now look something resembling a modern day jester whilst ringing a bell and sometimes blowing a bugle, toned down his look for the trip to St Mary's and judging by his selfie picture taken on the train had only a Pompey shirt on underneath a black leather trench coat with a Pompey badge on his breast, topping off the look with a cowboy hat with a large Cross Of St George badge on it.
However on his arrival at the stadium he was refused entry by stewards who he claims would not let him in even of he turned the coat inside out and covered up the shirt.
In the article in Portsmouth's daily paper The News
Westwood told The News:
‘I was queuing up to enter the ground when a steward told me: “Sorry, I can’t let you in with a Pompey shirt”.
‘I called over another steward and offered to turn my shirt inside out and she pointed to my coat, so I offered to do the same with that, it’s only got a badge on it.
‘Then I was told I was too well known and they couldn’t guarantee my safety. I replied that I wasn’t worried about my safety, they didn’t have to don’t worry about me.
‘Next they said they couldn’t guarantee the safety of people around me!
‘I was even asked why I wear a Pompey shirt to England matches? Well, I also had an England hat on. I was showing my allegiance to my country and my allegiance to my club, what’s wrong with that?
‘I have been dressing in that style of attire to watch England games for 40 years.
‘This is was an England home game, nothing to do with local rivalries. I have been across the country to other grounds where rivals mix together.
‘I didn't want any problems, I just wanted to watch England play.’
Now I would say that there are two sides to every story.
The first side is that it is wrong that someone was turned away for sporting his club allegiance, having attended the game there were plenty of people with Saints stuff on and other teams were on show, but usually most England fans restrict their club allegiances to flags, most feel that it is not a club occasion but a country one and leave their club colours at home unless it is on a flag.
But that doesn't make it right to refuse Westwood entry to St Mary's just on that basis, indeed there were other Pompey fans in the stadium and there are pictures up on social media of them openly showing their colours with captions such as "in the home of the scum" etc.
The second side though is that there is more than this story than meets the eye.
The first question is why would Westwood want to come to our stadium and spout his Pompey colours anyway, he seems to take pride in that he can look after himself, but he should look to his own conscience and ask if the position was reversed and a Saints fan was trying to queue to get into Fratton to see an England game wearing a Saints shirt would he have even been given the chance to be turned away or would he have suffered abuse even violence by Pompey fans ?
I think even JPFCW knows the answer to that and it also perhaps gives some sort of logic behind his actions in the first place, if he had just wanted to watch England, he knew where he was going, why did he not just go with England colours on and leave the Pompey gear at home.
The answer is he wanted confrontation, he might be able to look after himself, but the stewards were not so much concerned about him but the people around him this was a crowd with a very high proportion of children and families including women, why would he want to put them in danger, he knew what the risks where, but he had no thought of the risks to others.
Why would he want to stoke up things only two weeks before a rare meeting between the two clubs, was he hoping for something like this so he could go to the media or perhaps something even more sinister, if he had been attacked by Saints fans then that would have sent the hate levels in Pompey up through the roof.
Whilst I agree that fans should be able to walk through the streets and in the grounds at football matches wearing colours safely and truthfully when Saints go to Pompey this will be the first time our fans have been unable to do that since December 2011 on our last visit to Fratton, John Westwood has created a public personality for himself and although in the main it is a harmless one focused on supporting his team, social media has plenty of clips of him leading his fellow Pompey fans in anti "scummer" chants.
In short he has made a rod for his own back and he is an educated man and knew exactly what he is doing when he went to St Mary's yesterday.
I have never met JPFCW, Pompey fans I know tell me that although he is seen by some as an idiot, those that know him well say he is a very generous and caring man to his fellow supporters, but when he goes to watch Pompey he adopts his "stage act" and last night he did just that.
I I was cynical I would say that his aim was to stir up the feelings of both sets of fans ahead of the derby in two weeks, indeed apart from informing his local paper he has apparently also been speaking to the likes of Talksport about being turned away.
But I am giving him the benefit of the doubt here that when it comes to Saints he loses a sense of rationality, he can only see us through blue tinted spectacles and that leads him to do things that perhaps in hindsight he would not do.
I am sure he disagrees with me wholeheartedly and that is his right, I truly hope that Saints supporters going to Fratton in a fortnight are given the same courtesy he received in Southampton last night, that they can walk the streets safely without being attacked as John was able to do last night despite being turned away fro our stadium.
Sadly though I think that whether unintentionally or not he is stoking up levels of hatred on both sides of the divide and that could have drastic consequences.
Photo: Action Images
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