Can we ever forget times spent at the Boleyn Ground, Upton Park watching our beloved West Ham United? Always believing but ultimately knowing that every match from week to week would be a rollercoaster of emotions, it could never just be about winning, but it was all about supporting. For me it all started when my grandad took me to my first home game. The ground was a short walk away from Plaistow where they lived and I can remember that feeling when we walked up the steps to take our seats in the East stand, everything seemed so big to an 8 year old, the pitch, the stadium, the noise, I can’t remember who we played or what the score was, I’m not sure that it mattered it was the adventure of ‘I’ve been to Upton Park’.
Now I have to admit that at that time I slightly deviated from being a hammer, not being able to go without an adult and with my dad working Saturdays I ended up a Leeds fan. Not entirely sure why but I think the white kit with the sock tie ups that had the numbers on them, along with a team that had the likes of Clarke, Lorimer, Bremner, Hunter, Jordan & McQueen playing in it. I took some stick for it at the time but still liked wearing the all-white kit.
The move back to supporting the Hammers came when I was finally allowed to go and watch games with my mates on our own, living in Manor Park it was straight forward. A short walk to the bus stop and a 147 bus from Little Ilford Lane went to East Ham Town Hall, from there it was a walk down the Barking road to the ground. In the early days and wanting to get a good view it was a case of getting to the ground for twelve when the turnstiles opened to get a spot behind the goal in the South Bank, then waiting three hours for kick-off, it was all part of the day.
As we got older and with height now on our side we could arrive later. We shifted from the South Bank and now stood in the North Bank, the noise and atmosphere seemed louder as the away fans shared the South Bank. Another shift followed which took us to the lower East stand called the ‘Chicken Run’ from here you got a better view of the game in narrow quite steep standing tiers. You could also give the players, away and home when needed a lot more stick as you could literally reach out and touch them when they took a throw, that close was the pitch to the supporters.