Throwback Thursday: 2016: A Cherished Memory Of An Upton Park Night Under The Lights

Throwback Thursday

In this week’s edition of our weekly Throwback segment, we hear from Jack, 15 and a lifelong West Ham United fan and Season Ticket Holder about an extra-special Cup Replay night from the final season at the famous Boleyn Ground.

“This game was a bit different for me because, not only were we sitting in a different Stand, but this was the game where I was able to take a couple of my mates.

I was eager to boast the fantastic atmosphere of the notorious fortress that was the Boleyn ground, so an FA Cup game under the lights at Upton Park was a fantastic opportunity for me.

I was looking to convert my friends from football lovers to West Ham lovers and this tough objective was achieved as a thrilling contest took place, extra-time, a last-minute winner, a phenomenal atmosphere and a starting line-up that included Joey O’ Brien were all on display.

As this game was on a school night we had to leave as soon as the bell rang after last lesson, we rushed to the car in excitement and awaited the stop off at the nearest service station to get changed into suitable clothing.

We arrived in the surrounding streets of Upton Park, about two and a half hours before kick-off, this enabled us to go and fill our hungry bellies with proper East London Pie & Mash.

After our banquet of meat-filled pastry, we popped into the local off-licence shop where five chocolate bars were purchased as well as sweets for the interval after 45 minutes of Football.

We got back to the car and eagerly awaited team news which was proudly announced by my brother, a team that reflected the fantastic success of the 15/16 season, a team that included the likes of Dimitri Payet, Michail Antonio and Andy Carroll.

We arrived at the ground with enough time for my friends to take in the beauty of the much-loved Upton Park. We sat down in our seats, in the Bobby Moore Stand, as the atmosphere gained tenser and tenser.

Finally, kick-off arrived, and the game was underway, me and my friends were transfixed by a game of immense footballing ability, it was end-to-end stuff right from the first kick.

I remember well an O’Brien shot hitting the post, a well-struck effort, this was ironic as I was slating Slaven Bilic for picking him in the side for the evening’s clash.

The first 45 minutes belonged to West ham as on the stroke of half-time a fantastic Antonio volley, from an Enner Valencia cross, flew into the top left corner of the net.

The whistle blew moments after the strike went in, which put the hammers into a preferred position going into the break. The half-time songs rang around the mighty Boleyn as the sweets were opened.

A great half of Football warranted the question that was on my lips to be spoken, I asked my friends at half-time whether they slowly being converted to West Ham and they simply replied: “Nah, not yet anyway”.

As the players came back out to resume the fight for a place in the Fifth Round, I started to dream of FA Cup glory.

However, the events of the 48th minute struck those dreams down as a clever Philippe Coutinho free kick sent the Liverpool fans, who dominated the Sir Trevor Brooking stand, into fits of joy, fizzing into Darren Randolph’s net.

From then on, the game was completely open, there were chances at both ends of the field, a notable one was a Christian Benteke miss, he was slipped through as me and my mates held our breath, thankfully his finish was poor and made easy pickings for the West Ham keeper Randolph.

Time ticked on as the final whistle edged closer and closer, both teams held out for extra-time.

During the interval between full-time and extra-time, I must have heard the words: “Oh no, West Ham and penalties do not go” about five times. I was worryingly hoping that it wouldn’t come down to that.

My hopes paid off, but the 35,000 fans in the stadium had to watch the whole of extra-time for a goal, and finally, it came.

A fantastic swinging ball from a Payet free-kick was converted by the head of centre-half Angelo Ogbonna.

I think it’s fair to say it was one of my most celebrated goals as it was the last minute and beating Liverpool meant so much to me after what happened in the 2006 FA Cup final.

The whistle blew, and the game was up, West ham advanced into the Fifth Round of the FA Cup as Liverpool went crashing out.

It was a sweet feeling as the game also confirmed that my friends had been converted to hammers. I enjoyed walking back to the car singing and chanting where the party atmosphere was in its prime knockings.

We got back to the car, and the game was discussed thoroughly between me and my friends, as it was for many weeks to come”.

About the Author

Luke Glanville
Lead Writer and Site Manager of MTJAC, Sub-Editor for the Falbros Media Group.