In this week’s edition of our weekly Throwback segment, we hear from Mike, 56 and a die-hard Hammer about one of the oldest Derbies in English Football at the old Ground that we all knew and loved.
“Being a Season Ticket holder for 40 years and counting, the most extreme ups and downs of my life were experienced on my most beloved place of all, the iconic Upton Park.
Religious people had Churches, cultured people had Opera Houses, and the Wife always had the Shops, but I had The Boleyn Ground and West Ham United.
The smell of Hot Dogs that combined in the air with Police Horse dung making for a tepid but homely smell, the electric atmosphere that seemed to reverberate around East London and the family feel of local businesses were just a few things that made Green Street and the Ground so special.
While, Upton Park’s most notorious period came in the 1960’s,1970’s and 1980’s with the peak of Football Hooliganism and West Ham actually stringing together some neat football and success.
My favourite memory of E13 is a more recent episode and in fact from the emotional, controversial and memorable final season at one of the most traditional Stadiums in the World.
The fact that Slaven Bilic had us paying incredible Football and challenge for top four on the field just complemented the euphoric feeling that the 2015/2016 campaign brought to so many.
In the particular tie that made the season in my book, Mauricio Pochettino’s Spurs came to town, to play out my personal favourite rivalry and one that stretches back as far as the 19th century.
Tottenham too were challenging for something that season. The Lilywhites were involved in a very unlikely Title race with underdogs Leicester City, one that they would eventually lose with the help of the events of the night of the 2nd March 2016.
We would start that Game so incredibly brightly against a Spurs Side that were on a remarkable winning streak of six in The Premier League, but Michail Antonio was about to bring that to an end.
On 7 minutes, Dimitri Payet swung in a corner from the right, the atmosphere every time that the Frenchman took a corner in front of The Sir Trevor Brooking Stand was quite something with a usual friendly exchange of singing between The Chicken Run and “Chav Corner” moulding together as a symphony of “We’ve Got Dimitri Payet”. It’s sad how that one ended really.
But, nothing was sad about what happened as Payet delivered his corner, with Antonio making a superb run to the near post and heading past Hugo Lloris to send Upton Park wild.
We held on that night with a dominant display, I would like to say that it was down to our unflappable Team performance. But, mixed in with our superiority Spurs were fairly awful.
Luckily, the blow of leaving East Ham was slightly softened by The London Stadium’s own version of that night in May, when Manuel Lanzini struck to critically damage Tottenham’s Title hopes for a second successive season.
This Saturday, I will venture to Stratford, as usual, hoping for another Boleyn-esque atmosphere at our new home and that cheers of “Tottenham Hotspur It’s Happened Again” will ring out for the third consecutive campaign”.