In this week’s edition of our weekly Throwback segment, we hear from Geoff, 25 and a lifelong Claret & Blue-blooded Hammer about his first experience of live Football in what was a very strange season for all involved with West Ham United.
“They say “all you need in a bad season is one win to turn things around”, I guess this is true in some cases and it certainly was for my first ever trip to the famous Boleyn Ground back in winter 2006.
At the age of 14 and after years of nudging from the dad that did his utmost to raise me as a member of The Claret & Blue Army, I was slowly starting to take an interest in “the beautiful game”.
Although it did take some persuasion at first for me to fanatically follow and go to a game of a team that had just lost six of their last eight matches and were playing the sort of Football that would have been looked down on at my Sunday League level.
Finally, he managed to drag me along to a particular game in E13, part of my decision to attend The London Derby in question was the fact that Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal were the visitors, a free-flowing side that was extremely popular among my classmates at School.
Part of the “rules of going to a West ham game”, as my father put it was donning a tradition Claret & Blue Scarf, in wearing it on that Saturday afternoon, I felt like an idiot, until we arrived at the foot of Green Street.
Having parked in the neighbouring Streets and walked down towards The Ground, I remember the feeling of having never seen so many people in my life, but it was a Claret & Blue Ocean of fans and I was begging to get the sense of being part of something truly special.
I had never been to a “proper” Football Stadium before and I didn’t really know exactly what to expect, what I saw would stick with me forever and I was frozen in time whilst gazing upon the hallowed green turf of the immaculate pitch and the classic look of The Stands.
Suddenly, I was relishing the occasion and at last, shared an immense feeling of anticipation with my old man in waiting for the Hammers stars to adorn that playing surface.
Over the years, said father had tried endlessly to impose the lyrics of “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles” on me and I was about to hear what that anthem was all about from my position in The Sir Trevor Brooking Stand Upper-Tier.
A deafening but graceful chorus rang out accompanied by a backing track that played to both teams walking out of the Tunnel, however, it was the moment that the tune cut out and it was just the fans left to sing “Fortunes Always Hiding” that sent shivers down my spine.
It was time for kick-off, the game got underway to a roar from the home fans and a fierce exchange of chants between the Irons and The Gunners, I began to think about what I have been missing out on over the years.
Tensions were running high on a cold afternoon in East London, most notably between Alan Pardew and Arsene Wenger as the two Bosses clashed.
And, when Marlon Harewood netted an 88th-minute winner, it was a turning point in my life, I was part of the frantic celebrations and I loved it.
Somehow, we stayed afloat that season ever since that day, I have followed my beloved Hammers with the same if not more devotion than my dad and now, I can’t imagine a cruel World without West Ham United”.