In this week’s edition of our weekly Throwback segment, we hear from a Cypriot Hammer about the day he became a member of the Claret & Blue Army, just under 40 years ago.
“I was born in Cyprus in 1960 and come to England with my family in 1972. We settled in Hackney Downs Secondary School.
I began to make friends and although I had learnt English growing up I had an accent and with my broken English, I managed to converse with my peers.
There was a very strong Football culture in school with a variety of clubs supported. Man Utd and Liverpool were featured but London club support was more prominent and Tottenham, Arsenal, and West Ham.
It was the latter that was thrust upon me when a good friend of mine (a fanatical Hammer) demonstrated such passion that it began to rub off on me.
He used to go Upton Park occasionally with his Dad but being from a working-class background this didn’t lead to an invite for me and I wasn’t in a financial position to go either.
The years went by with growing interest about West Ham via stories of games from my friend. We both left School in 1977 and promptly started work on building sites working for a plastering company.
As labourers, the pay wasn’t spectacular but in early 1979 I was persuaded to attend my first ever football match. It was Saturday the 24th of March against Newcastle United and kick off was 3 PM.
I had no idea of what this experience would be like. Coming from a sedate Cypriot village this was to be an eye-opener.
When we got off the bus along the Barking Road it was busy with fans decked out in the famous Claret & Blue but as we turned in to Green Street I was met with a unique sight.
I had never seen so many people like this before and with everybody in high spirits, I found it totally amazing. The cheering and chanting on the way to the Ground was just a starter for what was to come.
I bought a Programme for 20p and still have it today. It was just £3 to set into the East Enclosure of the “Chicken Run” as it was known. Just under 25,000 fans attended that day and I was proud to be one of them.
I absolutely loved the atmosphere with the singing and anticipation of the players coming out of the tunnel. The Bubbles song was special and even I was joining in.
The game kicked-off to a tremendous cheer and West Ham dominated from the start. Alan Devonshire, who quickly became my favourite player, was mercurial as ever and after a mazy run scored the game’s first goal and my first goal ever witnessed live.
Upton Park erupted with noise and I was hooked to this experience. The second goal was a brilliant team move that ended in Bryan “Pop” Robson adding to his impressive season tally.
Frank Lampard Senior scored the third with a slightly deflected shot and surprisingly defender John McDowell scored the final two goals which were to be his entire seasons total. They completed an emphatic 5-0 return.
Newcastle were completely outplayed for the entire 90-minute duration but there was one downside with midfield maestro Trevor Brooking accidentally falling over an opponent and tearing an ankle ligament that would keep him out for a lengthy period.
We were pushing for Promotion to Division One that season but with Brooking’s injury and some indifferent results we didn’t quite make it.
We did get Promoted a couple of seasons after that but after the Newcastle thrashing another Hammer was forged and it has been that way ever since, still going today with family and friends”.