Being a West Ham supporter is never easy and I should know as I have supported them for over fifty years. I learnt very early on in my life that I was destined to encounter many highs and lows.
“Two a penny West Ham,” is a phrase I will always remember and how right it is. I first heard it on my way home from a match when we were in the old second division round about 1956/57. We played a team at home who we were expected to beat and guess what, we lost the match. Well being a West Ham fan what’s new we have expectations of winning every game.
I had watched the match from my vantage point, the shelf, in the old north bank and rather disappointedly was making my way along Priory Road past the old terraced houses with their front gardens crammed with supporters’ bikes – no one had cars in those days – heading towards the bus depot. Just in front of the depot was a newspaper vendor and as I approached he asked, “what was the score son?” I told him we lost and what the score was. Next thing I heard was him shouting repeatedly, “paper, two a penny West Ham.” This memory has remained with me all my life and comes back every time we lose or draw a game we expect to win.
When I first started supporting the Hammers, they used to run onto the pitch to the sound of the signature tune, “The Post Horn Gallop” played by the Leyton Silver Band. The band provided the pre match and half-time entertainment. How things have changed. Part of their pre-match repertoire was “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles.” As now, the fans always used to sing it in full voice.
“Bubbles” is now our anthem, our signature tune and there is nothing quite like hearing the fans in full voice singing it especially when the ground is full and the game is played under floodlights. This is one of life’s magical and treasured moments. However, when you listen to the lyrics, they are not very optimistic and sum up what life is like being a West Ham supporter. Like the bubbles in the song – “they fly so high, nearly reach the sky then like my dreams they fade and die.”
Let’s put this into context of Saturday’s match against the Arsenal. Most of us were optimistic of getting at least a draw from this game after our battling performance against QPR last Monday. Although we had to soak up a lot of pressure in the first twenty minutes we all began to dream of winning when Diame scored his wonder goal against the run of play in the 21st minute. Then reality struck. Giroud scored on 41 minutes to level the score just before half-time.
With true West Ham optimism we thought we would regroup at half-time and come out and finish the job. Unfortunately, Nolan missed a couple of opportunities and the rest is history. Our bubbles burst and our dreams started to fade when Walcott cut open our defence and slotted one past Jussi. Then when Cazorla scored on 81 minutes our dreams well and truly died.
This one match summed up the roller coaster ride of being a West Ham supporter. We even finished the match with the ground ringing to a chorus of “Bubbles.”