So there are only few Saturdays to go before the start of the new season and I’m looking forward to it, as we know that we should finish above the relegation spots, based on last year’s efforts.
So what’s it like being a West Ham fan when you live 5500 miles away and with an eight hour time difference? How hard is it to watch the games live or even get to Upton Park? These are some of the things I’m going to write about during the season and knowing me, I’ll also give you my thoughts on other West Ham related subject.
First, a little about me. I was born in Stratford and on my birth certificate it says the London Borough of West Ham. I was actually born in Queen Mary’s Hospital in West Ham Lane – not there anymore. I lived in Stratford until I was 11, then my family moved with my dad’s job at BP/Shell (they used to be one company) to Hemel Hempstead. I stayed in Hemel, until I moved to America in 2000. I presently live in the city of Orange in Orange County, not far from Disneyland.
I am old enough to have watched Bobby Moore as the West Ham captain and can still see him leading the team out for the pre-game kick around before home games. I loved watching him run out to the tunnel, white ball on his thigh, heading to the North Bank. Bobby Moore is, in my opinion, the best and classiest player ever to wear our shirt.
It was a true shame that, after he retired, West Ham never knew what we had and let him wonder about in the football wasteland before he died much too young. He was ours and you only have to look how Man. United have used Bobby Charlton, to see what a golden opportunity we missed. I’ve been a West Ham fan since birth and there is no known cure!!
So how hard is it following West Ham from California?#
First off, I have to deal with the time difference. California is eight hours behind England. So a 3.00pm kick-off translates to an 8am start for me. That’s not too bad, as I am an early riser anyway. Monday night games that kick off at 8pm are played at noon for me and I set the video (I’m at that age where I should know it’s called the DVD but video still comes out of my mouth). I find the 12.45pm kick off the hardest to wake up to, as that’s 4.45am for me. We had a few of them last season, but then after watching the game it’s only 6.30am plus injury time when it ends here. So I have all day to savior a win!
The next challenge is – how can I watch the matches live? Since moving here, the Fox Sports network has had the rights to show live Premiership football and I have subscribed to their football channel. It is an extra to the basic service but,I do get my football (the Americans for some reason call it soccer). This coming season, it changes. The NBC network had purchased the rights to the Premiership and their adverts are telling me that they will show every game live!
Only problem is they have not told anyone so far, how they are going to do it. To counter this, Fox is also advertising that they have a new channel coming in August, on the 17th called Fox Sports One.
Again, there is no clear information on what they will be showing. ESPN, a company that the Disney company owns, showed several live games per week last season and again, there is no update on their schedule for the coming season. Around February this year, two new channels popped up on my TV, BEINHD and BEINEHD.
They showed a couple of West Ham games from last season. They are an Arab network that shows sports from around the world live, the difference being one is in English and the other broadcasts in Spanish. There are also a number of sports channels that broadcast in Spanish. The best two being GOL and UniVision, they love “futbol” and show football for the huge Hispanic audience here in Southern California. Hopefully in the next few weeks I will have a clearer picture of how I can watch West Ham on the telly.
Of course there is the internet, with its live streams. These are OK to a degree. There was a good one called LSHunter but that got closed down. There were lots of live streams last season but the viewing went from excellent to really bad and in every language imaginable.
I just muted the sound if I couldn’t understand it and watched the game. The live streams also had up to 30 seconds of adverts I had to watch before even seeing if there was a decent stream. Sometimes I lost the stream, other times the picture just froze and, on a few occasions, the football switched to a totally different programme all together.
My other option is to find a British pub that shows the matches live. I will write about this option in my next report.