Chatting with other West Ham fans on a daily basis on Twitter, it’s clear to me that I’m not the only person who is passionate about West Ham United.
Once a football team gets in to your blood, under your skin and in your heart, it’s there for life. So why did I choose West Ham? What made me decide to follow this little team from East London?
If I’m honest, I don’t remember one specific thing or reason. I suppose it must of been a combination of events or things that I had been told or had seen.
My dad was, and still is, a massive Chelsea fan and he always tried to get me to follow the Blues, not in a pushy way, just the same way any parent would want their child to follow the same team as them. But I remember my Grandad telling me stories about this team called West Ham.
They had just won the FA cup in 1980, and his stories about players like Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst and Martins Peters had me mesmerised. I pestered my Dad to take me to a West ham game and, on a cold wintery day in November 1982, I went to my first game.
It probably wasn’t a game most fans would choose to go to when you’re eight years old, but my first Hammers game was away to Tottenham Hotspur. I went with my Dad in his old clapped out Ford Cortina with my sister and her friend.
West ham lost 2-1 to a late Steve Archibald winner after Franky Van der Elst had equalised for the Hammers. I didn’t care much as I was so happy to actually see West Ham in the flesh. It didn’t even bother me that I had to sit in amongst the Spurs fans.
In the car ride home I put my hammers scarf in the window of the car for all to see because, even though we lost, I was proud to support West Ham and I wanted everyone in the street to know it.
From that moment, I was hooked. So that was probably how I came to become a supporter of one of the most frustrating teams in modern football. But what does West ham actually mean to me? It means that for ninety minutes on a Saturday or a Sunday, I get to forget any problems I may have, forget any worries, forget any bills that need paying, forget the fact that I have to wake up at six thirty in the morning and I can just sit and watch the game.
This is never easy when they’re playing bad and some recent performances have had me pacing up and down in frustration but, for those ninety minutes, I’m on the field with them. Kicking and heading every ball, disagreeing with every decision made by the referee that goes against us and jumping about like a kangaroo on speed when we put one in the onion bag.
As I now live in Asia, people often ask me what I miss most about the UK and the answer is always the same. Matchday at Upton park.
Springing out of bed when it would normally take twelve hits of the snooze button on another day. Phoning your mates to make sure they haven’t over slept and arranging to meet them outside the off-licence near the local train station. Buying a six pack of liveners for the train ride to get you fired up for watching the boys get what will hopefully be a positive result. Off the train at London Victoria Station and into the nearest pub for a couple of extra beers before getting onto the tube for the long ride to Upton Park. Off the tube at Upton Park and into either ‘The Queens’ ‘The Boleyn’ or ‘The Duke of Edinburgh’ for a few more pre-match beers and chit chat.
Walk down to the stadium and take your seat and sing and shout your heart out for 45 minutes before taking a well earned toilet break and downing one more quick pint before the second-half begins. Back in the pub after the final whistle and stumble off to the trains to get the last train home. The whole day for me, is what football is all about. What supporting this great club is all about.
My favourite all time player has to be Paolo Di Canio. When he was in the team, you knew there was a chance something good was going to happen. And it usually did. I thought Harry Redknapp was mad when he signed him, but I was proved so wrong. Such skill and showed passion in abundance even when we were three or four nil down.
My favourite current player has to be big Andy Carroll. He puts in a shift when he plays. Gets back and helps the defence and also causes a major head ache for defenders with his power and movement.
So that’s what West ham means to me, but it got me thinking. What does West Ham mean to other people? So I asked a few friends to help me out…..
I support West Ham because of my Dad I suppose. He was an East Ham boy and supported them all his life. All the family, including my two brothers, support them too. My favourite player? Well I did see the great Bobby Moore, although he was playing on the opposite side for Fulham. But for me there were two, Sir Trevor Brooking and Alan Devonshire – so graceful in play.
Favourite game would be the 1980 semi-final replay against Everton at Elland road. I’ll never forget it. Now of course my boys I’m hoping will follow in my footsteps. I’ve got them kitted out and Bubbles to my son George, who is two, every night.
It’s sad that they have sold Upton Park but it has to happen if we are to compete with the big boys. The move will be massive. I feel sorry for the small businesses around Upton Park, though, like Nathans Pie & Mash, but you can’t win them all.
My first ever game was at home to Liverpool. It was a relegation game and we lost. Wolves had to lose away to keep us up and we went down as per usual. I’ve supported them ever since. COYI!
Sometimes I really wonder why I support West Ham but, being introduced to supporting West ham by my father, there was no real choice. My all time favourite player has to be Paolo Di Canio. Love him or hate him, he’s a bit like Marmite, but very rarely does one player come along and show such passion and emotion for a team which often gained him a lot of abuse. Would I have him back as manager? Not yet. A few years to establish himself and gain a sensible reputation after the troubles at Sunderland.
My favourite current player has to be Adrian. He’s not been long in the first team as a starting goalkeeper and has already become a fan favourite. He has passion, technical ability and he’s not afraid to show that he cares about every result. On top of being a bargain signing, he’s fast sealing himself as number one choice, pushing Jussi back onto the bench.
I can’t honestly remember my first game but my most memorable has to be the last day of the 2013/2014 season in the TBL stand singing at the Reading fans, acting far too happy they were going down.
But West Ham is fast becoming more popular with fans from outside the UK too…
My name is Arne Soderlund and I’m the chairman of our Swedish fan club called ‘West ham fans Sweden’. I live in the north of Sweden in a town called Umea. I started to follow West ham in 1971 because I liked a player called Clyde Best. West Ham then won the FA cup in 1975, and then came to my home town Umea in 1976. Then I was hooked for life about West ham. And I still am.
My first favourite player was Clyde Best and I have had a few after him, like Billy Bonds, Sir Trevor Brooking and Ray Stewart to name a few. My best memory is the day of my 50th birthday. 19th of May 2012 at Wembley, when West Ham beat Blackpool.
Our webpage is http://www.svenskafans.com/england/westhamutd/ where I write, but it’s in Swedish.
My name is Eric Mann and I’m from Washington DC. I follow West ham because, well,I am not really sure why. I was drawn to the club and when I started to learn more about West Ham, I found out that they were a lot like me, the underdog.
I also like the grit and toughness of East London and the ‘never say die/down but not out’ attitude of West Uam United, characteristics which I can also relate to.
However, I think what really sold me on West ham was when I went to my first match at Upton Park. It was a magical experience the moment I stepped off the tube and I immediately felt like I was home. The atmosphere was real, the people were real and the place was buzzing with excitement. I was immediately hooked and I immediately wanted to be a part of it.
I think my favourite player is probably Paolo Di Canio for all the obvious reasons, but if I had to choose a current player it would probably be Mark Noble. To me, he is everything a Hammer should be. He is consistent, plays physical, seems to really care about the club and puts it all on the line every week. In my eyes he is deserving of the Captains armband.
Right off the top of my head I would say my best West Ham memory was watching a ten-man West ham beat Millwall from the Bobby Moore lower. Coming from the United Sates it was nearly impossible for me to get tickets. But I was able to, and it was well worth the trouble and the trip.
My name is Haris Junicic and I come from Bosnia and Herzegovina. In 2012 I started a group called Hammers Balkan. And we are currently the largest group on the Balkans that gather West ham fans. We have many members going to watch West ham. Since we are all divided, we are planning to make a gathering after the season is over.
We are recognised by the club and we were lucky enough to be on BBC world sport. Personally I started following West Ham through punk music and Paolo Di Canio. There are a lot of memories but the latest memory is beating Tottenham with a squad of injured players.
Wherever we are from, whatever religion, race or colour we are, we are all West Ham.
And proud of it!