In this week’s edition of our weekly Throwback segment, we speak to Jack, 15 and a Hammers Season Ticket holder about a very special night under the light at Upton Park in 2013.
“Born into an East-End family in 2002, there was only ever one team that my Dad was going to accept me supporting and that club was of course, West Ham United.
Although I was born in the generation of such Hammers’ legends as Paulo Di Canio, Rio Ferdinand and Frank Lampard, I was brought up watching the likes of Scott Parker, Dean Ashton and Robert Green. The period in West Ham’s history that I followed as a child was turbulent, it included two relegations and European Football, but it was to be a particular game in the 2012/2013 season that has stuck in my mind the most.
Two years before the fixture in question, we had been relegated to The Championship under Avram Grant, I still remember those painful memories like they were yesterday. However, Sam Allardyce soon came in to steady the ship and we were promoted back to the top-flight in May 2012. That glorious Play-Off final will always be a special memory for me and my first experience of Wembley. The victory was made even more incredible by the fact that my first Footballing memory was my Dad holding me aloft after we achieved a similar feat at The Millennium Stadium just eight years earlier. Our promotion, even though inevitable, was still like a dream to me and my Claret and Blue-blooded family.
It must have been a couple of months after the Wembley triumph but still before the new season, when my Dad, a Hammers fan of 50 years gleefully announced that we were to become Season Ticket holders for our upcoming return to the Top-Flight. The thought of going to the famous Upton Park to watch every single home game in that season was a tantalising proposition, but the one game that stuck out the most was the ding-dong derby of Spurs at home.
By the time that the exciting fixture had come around, we sat 11th in the Premier League table after a mixed season thus far. The momentous clash had been moved to Monday night under the lights at The Boleyn, the game was also featuring as Sky Sport’s MNF (Monday Night Football) encounter. However, it would not to be the Football or the TV presence that made that game so incredible. It was to be the fact that our greatest Footballing son-Bobby Moore had passed more or less exactly 20 years earlier to the very day. The evening’s proceedings were all directed at honouring the great and that is what makes the encounter stay in the minds of many Hammers, including myself.
There was a nostalgic and electric atmosphere in and around the Ground that night and it was simply fitting that the action on the pitch was something that the man himself would have been proud of. A huge mosaic of MOORE was held up by fans in The Bobby Moore Stand prior to the game and a minute’s applause was observed before kick-off. The game that followed was an absolute thriller, with the visitors taking the lead early on through Welsh superstar Gareth Bale. However, we were quick to respond when Andy Carroll was brought down by former Hammer Scott Parker in the area and Howard Webb pointed to the spot. Carroll duly and powerfully converted the penalty down the middle, the scores would stay level at half-time.
Returning hero Joe Cole ensured a dream start to the second period, when he turned the ball past Hugo Lloris and blew the roof off Upton Park. The atmosphere was electric in the closing stages of the game and chants of “Bobby Moore’s Claret and Blue Army” rebounded off every corner of East-London. Despite the electricity in the ground, Bale was the leader of a Spurs revival and they would level through Gylfi Sigurdsson just 12 minutes from time. A nervy final ten minutes would follow, but ultimately the quality of Andre Villas-Boas would prove too much and the soon to be Real Madrid man Bale smashed a stunning late winner. Even though the tie ended in heartbreak, it was a very special evening in many ways and one that I will never forget.
I will continue to tell the tale of that fiery clash for many years to come and hope that the club will continue to honour such heroes as Bobby Moore, even if we have now left the famous Boleyn Ground”.