They’re thousands of miles from the pitch at the Boleyn Ground but you can taste and hear the atmosphere over a pint of Guinness when a dozen or so hardcore Hammers fans crowd round a big-screen telly and feel every kick of the ball on a Saturday morning.
The Toronto Hammers recently suffered through a miserable 3-1 home shellacking to Southampton. Ever-presents like 52-year-old Stewart Tyler made the trek in from suburban Brampton to the Dog and Bear pub to watch the match.
Tyler has been in Canada 32 years but it seems like yesterday the English native from just outside London recalls going to matches and seeing
Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters play for the Irons.
“I remember the FA Cup wins and I went to a League Cup final and I’ve seen them win the FA Cup on TV,” said Tyler on Aug. 30, West Ham’s last league match.
He flew from Toronto toCardiff in 2006 and was at the Millennium Stadium stands for the FA Cup final when we lost on penalties to Liverpool.
“That was quite an event to be at with a great atmosphere. Gerrard scored to equalize and we lost but it was exciting,” said Tyler.
He’s clear-eyed about his views on this year’s club and the future for West Ham.
“The first thing I do is I look at the league and say, are there three teams worse than us? I think there are. So, I think that the club’s mentality, which I don’t disagree with, is to get ourselves out of debt, get ourselves to the Olympic Stadium debt-free and then see if we can build from there. I don’t expect a top-five finish or anything like that and I think the club realistically are looking at anywhere from 10th to 15th. As far as I’m concerned I’m happy with the progression. I know it takes time. Would I like to see us further up the table? Yeah I would, I think our ownership is taking us in the right direction. One step at a time,” said Tyler.
He doesn’t like the way some of the “big” Premier league teams – Man City and Chelsea – have built their teams.
“They come in with an oligarch or oil money and then it’s just buy our way to the top and then if Abramovich leaves Chelsea, Chelsea fall flat on their face.
“I’d rather see West Ham build their way to success and be sustainable. The model for me would be someone like Arsenal,” Tyler said.
Dog walker Simon Chadwick was quick with a quip. The 37-year-old said he thought Southampton were the walkers and West Ham were the dogs in the match he’d just watched.
“That’s probably the worst game, certainly the worst game I’ve seen this season, the worst in a long time,” said Chadwick who only had a 1-0 home loss to Spurs and 3-1 away win at Palace to compare it to.
The Essex native, who has been in Canada six years said, “My dad was a West Ham fan, his dad was a West Ham fan, so I’ve been a West Ham fan since I can remember.”
He is confident Monday’s game against Hull City will be much better because he said it’s not usual for “Sam’s teams to come out and play two bad games in a row.”
A 2:30 pm Monday match is not on for these working men so they’ll be back for a noon-hour encounter with Liverpool on Saturday, Sept. 20.
Come on You Irons!