All of our regular readers will know by now that I am an old fart who has supported the Hammers or the Irons if you prefer for longer than I care to mention; 55 years plus. I could probably add another ten years because as you know you don’t start supporting our beloved West Ham, you are born a supporter.
With the preamble over I want to get down to the nitty gritty. Will it be a good move taking on the Olympic Stadium?
Well, once again let me say, as a boy born in Stratford just a few minutes walk from the Stadium, I was so proud when we won the Olympic bid over the Frogs. Never in my wildest dreams whilst growing up in Stratford did I think that firstly, I would ever use a computer and secondly, that an Olympic Games would ever take place in Stratford. If anyone had ever suggested this to me I would have recommended them for a tenancy at Claybury.
My head said it would be a great move for the Hammers. Conversely, my heart said we can’t leave the Boleyn Ground as there is a century of tradition in the ether there. All those great players who have graced our hallowed turf or mud plain in my formative years. The likes of John Bond, Noel Cantwell, Malcolm Allison, Phil Whoosnam, John Dick, Ticker Boyce, Billy Bonds, Phil Parks. Tony Cottee, Julian Dicks, Ray Stewart (the greatest penalty taker of all time), Frank McAvennie, Alan Devonshire, Paolo Di Canio, Martin Peters, Sir Geoff Hurst, Sir Trevor Brooking and the greatest of them all (should be Sir) Bobby Moore. All the great matches we have played there, too. There is nothing as special as watching a game under floodlights with the supporters roaring on the team and singing bubbles.
I can also recall seeing some great opposition players of the past such as Nat Lofthouse, Sir Stanley Matthews, Peter Shilton, Gordon Banks, George Best, Bobby Charlton, Dennis Law, Danny Blanchflower, Billy Wright, Dave MacKay, Peter Osgood, Alan Hudson and Kevin Keegan. The list is endless.
My honest view is it is time to move on. Football has changed since my early years as a supporter. It is time to move on. When I was a lad, most of the support came from the boroughs of West Ham, East Ham, Barking and Dagenham. Nowadays, our support comes from much further afield – Havering, Essex and many other areas in and around the M25 but mainly on the east side. The whole demographics of the area surrounding Upton Park has changed and whilst the ground is still and always will be our spiritual home, for the sake of progress we must move.
When I look at what the Olympic Stadium has to offer, it really is, in the vernacular, a “No Brainer.” The revenue stream will help us to compete with the big boys; the Manchester United’s and Chelsea’s of this world. The transport links in and out of Stratford are far better. Look at last weekend when work was carried out on the District Line, it was chaos. The sale of the Boleyn Ground will allow us to pay off some of the debts that are still hanging over us like a dark cloud. Take it from a dyed in the wool Hammers fan we should make the move.
When we do make the move, it will be up to us, the fans, to replicate the atmosphere we once had at the Boleyn Ground. Bubbles has already been sung at the Olympic Stadium once, my wish is that we sing it every other week during the football season.