They get up at dawn nearly every Saturday or Sunday from August to May to cheer on the Irons from thousands of miles away.
The Toronto Hammers Supporters Club are a hardy band of 15 to 35 souls who make their way to the Dog and Bear Pub in the heart of Canada’s biggest city.
They sometimes cope with snowy, -30C conditions all in the cause of cheering on the Claret and Blue. Travis Reidy, 25, is president of the club, a loose band of fans who meet each match day at the pub and formed up at the start of last season.
He said about 20 supporters were in attendance on Saturday morning at the 10 a.m. kickoff – there is a five-hour time difference between Toronto and London – to watch the heartbreaking 1-0 opening game loss to Spurs. Even a few Spurs fans viewed the action at the pub, though it wasn’t held against them.
“On a regular weekend we get between 15 and 20 but if it’s one of the top four teams we’re playing, we might have as many as 35 supporters turn up to watch,” said Reidy, who added that the odd Man United or Arsenal fan also comes to watch matches.
“We’ve never had any trouble. It’s a great atmosphere there,” Reidy added.
He said members are a mix of ex-Pats from England and Greater Toronto Area residents, a large region equivalent in geographic size to Greater London.
They have to get up several hours before the match starts and, if they live a fair distance from the pub and a 7:30 a.m. Saturday kickoff, it really tests their dedication.
All of West Ham’s matches with the big clubs – versus the likes of Man United, Man City, Chelsea, Arsenal – are on the telly, while any that aren’t broadcast are played by plugging a laptop into the HDTV and watching it on the big screen. No match is missed. You see, the pub owner is a West Ham fan as well.
“We get pretty excited. The youngest club member is 23, the oldest is in his late 50s. I became a West Ham fan because my grandfather, after he moved from Ireland to east London, supported the Hammers and I would get a West Ham top each year,” said Reidy.
“Once the games started being televised more and more, it became easier to follow over here (in Canada),” he added.
He said the mood among the Toronto Hammers Supporters Club is “pretty positive. You don’t know what you’re going to get with the new signings.”
“There is not a lot of experience playing in the Premier League, you get the odd guy moaning about Big Sam, but I think everybody expects us to finish mid-table,” said Reidy.
Expect a big crowd of supporters wearing West Ham colours this coming Saturday when the club travel to Selhurst Park to take on Crystal Palace. Like everyone else, they’ll be hoping for a better result than last week.
You follow the Toronto Hammers Supporters Club on Twitter – @TorontoHammers.