Written by contributor, Ian Tilbury
Having witnessed the events of the last few weeks at West Ham, I felt compelled to try and put my current feelings into words.
I’m disillusioned, to say the least, and that has nothing to do with the underwhelming start to the season, on the pitch. To be honest, that is completely irrelevant compared to what is happening off of it and currently blighting the club.
— West Ham News (@WHUFC_News) September 12, 2016
I’m in my late 30s and first went to Upton Park in 1987 (we lost, of course!) and I have been a season-ticket holder since the early 90s. And I can honestly say that I have never seen the club divided as it is now. When you consider I have been through four relegations, the bond scheme, near administration and Mike Newell up front, I consider that some achievement!
I will lay my cards on the table, I’m not on old-school cockney; brought up in the East End, my Dad and his family all came from East Ham/Barking way, before moving to Essex and this is why I became a West Ham fan. Now, I’m no ‘better’ a West Ham fan, than any other, so if you agree with my views, great; and if not, that does make us enemies, just fellow fans with different opinions on a football club we feel dearly about.
I was never really supportive of the move to the Olympic Stadium, I saw the reasoning behind it but was not ever comfortable with it. However, in the last couple of years I did start to warm to the idea. Upton Park was looking more and more rundown as it was clear the board were not willing to spend anymore money on the ‘old girl’, while the transport links to-and-from the ground were simply no longer fit for purpose.
Since David Gold, David Sullivan and Karren Brady have been on the scene, it appears to me that their main focus has been moving us from our spiritual home, to the Olympic Stadium; it has completely driven their agenda with the propaganda machine in full flow!
They have had the best part of six years to get this right, so how have they managed to royally mess it up?!
First thing first, let’s say thanks for getting us out the mire when the club was in financial meltdown. Less said about Avram Grant and relegation the better, me thinks, though!
Despite Gold and Sullivan both being fans, I sometimes don’t think they really get the club and what Upton Park meant to us all. I loved the place, despite many a crap team over the years, we all loved going to Upton Park, and we all have our own reasons why.
Mine was the journey on the train, quick beer in Barking, grabbing a rank burger and the walk down Green Street, getting to the ground, feeling the atmosphere building, first blast of bubbles, all just sheer bliss. I feel blessed to have stood on the North Bank, Chicken Run and for the last few seasons in the Bobby Moore Lower; just wonderful times.
Green Street obviously makes our seven most iconic football films!
It kills me that will never do this again, basically part of my life for 25 years has gone and don’t think I realised what a massive hole it would leave until I went along to the Bournemouth game.
Yeah, the stadium looks the part and all that, but what does it all really mean? What does it say about West Ham and about us as a club? The walk to the stadium is soul destroying as you navigate Westfield and the concrete jungle walk from the station to the stadium. No buzz or excitement just overpriced gourmet food and not a rank burger stall to be seen. When Arsenal moved, they stayed in their manor, can drink in the same pubs, we have not got this, we might as have moved to over side of the country as it feels so disconnected for me.
In my eyes, the board seem to want to start the club again, act like Upton Park never existed – do not get me started on the new club badge, looks like a tacky made up badge from the FIFA games – and that whole London thing, again, why?! Money, yeah I know, and exploiting the foreign market but forgetting your own who were there for the cold winters night in Peterborough, Swindon and Coventry.
And now for the match-day experience; me and a couple of mates were season-ticket holders in the Bobby Moore Lower, so when we bought our tickets at the shiny flash booking place in Westfield, we were given the spill this is where we all migrate, where the atmosphere will be…this has clearly not been the case.
The stand is currently a mix of old-school, kids, day-trippers, the casual observer and the club wonder why tensions are running high. Not for one-minute am I suggesting kids etc are not welcome, that would bemadness, but what is more mad is the lack of family enclosure and forward-thinking that this might actually be an issue.
The stewards are useless, we all know that, and lack of segregation is a disgrace, how can four drunk people at half-time stroll round from the East Side at half-time and then be able to stand in front of me for the entire second-half of the Watford game (given the performance not such a bad thing!)?!
— Julian Shea (@juliansheasport) September 13, 2016
I’m not for one-minute condoning fighting, and we do have some proper idiots amongst us that make me cringe, but I am willing to sit to keep the peace, but not if I can’t see! Also, at the same time, I’m made to feel uncomfortable for sitting, that I’m somehow not proper West Ham if I do.
Heads need to roll and the board need to step-up and take a lot of responsibility for the mess they have created. If they wanted us to progress and move forward as a club and uproot us from a lot of what we love about West Ham then a least have the decency to do it correctly.
I love West Ham football club but in its current plight I’m not proud of it. Please sort it out before my dreams fade and die.