Its 6:30am on a cold Saturday in Toronto when my alarm clock’s buzz rips me from the dreams of pretty bubbles blowing in the air.
We have the early kick off this morning, 7:30am our time, and I’ve got to drag myself out of bed and up to the Dog and Bear pub to meet the Toronto Hammers. The match will be over before the pub is allowed to serve us up a pint, but it doesn’t stop us from showing up in numbers to support the lads. For us, every match is an away day.
In 2012, a collection of supporters from all over the greater Toronto area banded together to form the Toronto Hammers. At the start, we split our time watching matches at the Celtic Rock in Brampton Ontario before finding our home at the Dog and Bear, Toronto’s finest and only West Ham pub. The group comes from all over the city and beyond to pour our souls into singing the boys in Claret and Blue on to victory.
While many of our members were born in the east end and surrounding area, there are many like myself who are from Canada, and fell in love with West Ham from thousands of miles away.
This year marks my 30th walking around this planet. I’ve been supporting West Ham for ten years now. I’ve never been to Upton Park. I’ve never been to the UK. To a guy like me watching West Ham on the big screen at the pub with my mates is as close as I’ve ever been to East London and West Ham. I’d be lying if I said a tear wasn’t shed when we closed down the Boleyn last May, knowing I’ll never get to walk through those hallowed turnstiles.
To me, going to the football means early mornings, singing to an empty pub, and embracing every up and down the team throws us with the best group of people I’ve ever come to meet.
We have had our high times; beating Tottenham 3-0 away and Ravel’s Run, starting the season off with a win away to Arsenal and Cheik’s header, Payet’s free kick vs Palace. And we’ve had our bad times; drop zone anxiety under Big Sam, and driving through a snow squall to watch US draw at home to a poor Sunderland side comes to mind.
No matter the outcome, no matter the circumstances we always give it our all to support the club. Without the Toronto Hammers, I would still love West Ham but it was meeting with the lads every week that taught a Canadian boy what it means to be part of a football family.
As the excitement in London grows for the new season, the lads in Toronto are just as excited to get the ball rolling and have a shout for the Cockney Boys. As our club grows so have the Toronto Hammers. Each season more and more locals and ex-pats alike show up to the pub in the wee hours of the morning to enjoy the match with friends they just haven’t met yet.
— Toronto Hammers (@Toronto_Hammers) August 18, 2016
This year two of our founding members Gavin and Stewart Tyler brought the Toronto Hammers flag to Romania to hang in the away end to show plain and clear that we really do all support West Ham over land and sea. It seems like ages ago I was watching the play-off final, jumping up and down in my apartment alone screaming ‘Vaz Te!’ at the top of my lungs, and the Toronto Hammers have come a long way from seven fellas huddled around a television in the back room of a pub.
The product on the pitch changes from year to year, we win some we lose some. Sometimes we play wonderfully, sometimes we play poorly, but none of that matters when you have a good set of mates, and a team you’d die for.
The Toronto Hammers meet at The Dog and Bear, 11:00am Queen Street West in Toronto Ontario Canada every match day.
Whether you’re passing through on holiday, just moved, or looking for some likeminded fellas to sing the Payet song with, the Toronto Hammers would love to have you out for a match.
Come On You Irons!
Follow the Toronto Hammers on Twitter here – @Toronto_Hammers
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