We don’t want to go. I know that. I want to stay at the Boleyn Ground, but I also want the progress that is likely to come from moving to the Olympic Stadium.
If we could take both, I would be happier than anyone can imagine, but we’re more likely to succeed in Stratford.
So, whilst the last few days and weeks has left me feeling empty, I’ve also felt excited. I am going to be a glass half-full type and list, in no particular order, the history we can look back at and be proud of.
We’ve had goalkeepers in my time like Phil Parkes, Shaka Hislop and now Adrian. Hell, even Rob Green went to a World Cup for England as a Hammers stopper – I’ve been blessed to see a number of shot stoppers.
I’ve seen cult heroes born. Ian Bishop who was one of my first favourite players of all-time. Then there’s Julian, there’s Paolo, there’s Scott Parker before he went to the darkside, and now Dimitri Payet. You’ve probably heard that we’ve got him.
The likes of Joe Cole, Frank Lampard, Ferdinands Rio and Anton, Glen Johnson, Michael Carrick and Jermain Defoe have come through our academy in the past. All bar Anton Ferdinand have played for England at senior level, all graced the Boleyn as their first professional club as a permanent player, discounting the loans of course.
There’s the very proud history that includes three World Cup winners in 1966. Moore, Peters and Hurst who, had they have not played, it’s unlikely that Jules Rimet would be still gleaming.
There’s one club hero Trevor Brooking, the linchpin of a midfield throughout the seventies and early eighties. A gentleman and a goalscoring midfielder. A loyal Hammer and a great player. Brooking.com? Brooking.yeah!
Clyde Best, a player who broke down boundaries as one of the first black players to play consistently well in the top flight.
And of course Billy Bonds. No player has played more games for West Ham. A hard man, but a fair player, who came back to the club as manager to the ovation of a returning hero.
And there’s this season. A former Hammer returned to manage the side, and one of our own, Mark Noble, took on the captaincy.
In a 3-2 victory over Man United, we capped a brilliant final season at Boleyn. It’s one of those seasons where it has been difficult to lambast any of our players, as Slaven has instilled a team spirit that matches the ability we have in droves.
It is emotional. Writing this has been tricky to put in to so few words, but to choose one moment, it would have to be, for me at least, the maverick genius that is Paolo Di Canio. Seeing his goal against Wimbledon, his one man show against Arsenal in a 2-1 win, his arguing with Lampard over a penalty against Bradford, and his emotion at scoring the goal against Chelsea after coming off the bench.
Paolo calls himself ‘lucky’ to have played for us fans while wearing the claret and blue. I think us, the fans, were lucky to have seen all these gladiators, with crossed hammers emblazoned upon their chests, giving blood, sweat and tears for the West Ham cause.
Thank you Boleyn Ground for your wonderful memories.