The Iron Liddy Column

West Ham Supporters Are Tree-mendous!

As the proverb says ‘great oaks from little acorns grow.’ When I wrote that little article about football’s role in creating the First World War Centenary Woods on the spur of the moment on Sunday afternoon I had no idea that it would develop into something so fantastic and that’s all thanks to the response and generosity of you amazing West Ham fans.

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For anybody who missed the first article and would like to know the background to this one the link is here: For Club and Country: Help to get West Ham United to the top of the WW1 Remembrance League

On the afternoon of the 100th Anniversary of Armistice Day the total sum of donations in memory of the West Ham footballers and supporters who fought and died in the First World War stood at £52. As soon as my article was published that evening the donations started to flood in and by the end of the day you had donated an amazing £970, bringing the total to £1,025, which was just over the halfway mark of the West Ham target of £2,000. Over the next 3 days donations continued at a steady rate and the total to date now stands at an incredible £1,701. Take a bow West Ham fans; you are a credit to your club.

In the meantime, despite the press coverage of football clubs all over the UK taking part in planting WW1 memorial trees at their grounds last week, the donation levels for the other clubs featured on the For Club and Countrywebsite failed to move significantly, if at all. Although the campaign has been running for almost two and a half years and the clubs themselves were made aware of it the message clearly wasn’t filtering down to the people it was aimed at ….. the fans themselves. In fact 10 of the 62 football teams featured still have yet to receive a single donation.

The flurry of activity on the West Ham page and the fantastic and sudden increase in donations didn’t go unnoticed by the Woodland Trust, the conservation charity behind the First World War Centenary Woods. Upon reading numerous references to West Ham Till I Die in the comments which accompanied the donations, they investigated our blog and read my article. The Woodland Trust then contacted me on Tuesday via Iain Dale and today I spent half an hour on the phone to a lovely guy called Daniel, who has been behind this campaign since 2014. His role in this brings him into regular contact with our hero Sir Trevor Brooking, who is the ambassador for the For Club and Country campaign; and in fact he had dinner with him just last week at The Imperial War Museum as part of the Games of Remembrance project.

Daniel said that he was blown away by your response to my article and that he will be telling Sir Trev that his beloved West Ham has lead the way in donating to this important memorial and that we will almost certainly be the first club to reach their £2,000 target. This money will be converted into 100 trees, which will be planted in our name in March within the football section of the First World War Centenary Woods at Langley Vale. You can read more about this project here.

During our conversation I suggested that tapping into some good natured football rivalry would definitely pique the interest of fans of other clubs. Although the message of the campaign is a serious one and those who have donated obviously did so to commemorate the West Ham footballers and supporters who died or suffered in the Great War, there’s no doubt that the prospect of coming first in the ‘donations league’ was an added motivating factor. I mentioned the fact that Tottenham had previously been near the top of the ‘DL’ and that I had used this as an extra incentive to get Hammers to donate. Daniel acknowledged this and it was at this point that he wryly admitted to me that he is a Spurs supporter! Naturally this provoked a bit of banter and lots of laughs between us; he even referred to himself as Spud. :)

I also mentioned to Daniel that a WHTID reader and poster called Claret! had suggested including a dynamic league table on the For Club and Country website to reflect the number of donations coming in and he said he would look into whether this would be possible within the functionality of the website. So your idea may become a reality Claret!

And now for the exciting part ….. thanks to your generosity the Woodland Trust are going to be using West Ham and our sterling fundraising efforts as a case study in a forthcoming national press campaign about football’s role in creating the WW1 Centenary Wood and West Ham Till I Die will feature in the articles! If we can reach our £2,000 target before the media campaign takes place it will make Sir Trev doubly proud of us; so I’m appealing again to the members of the wonderful West Ham Till I Die family who haven’t yet donated to consider pledging whatever you can afford to help us over that line. Not only will your name then appear alongside the name of Sir Trevor Brooking CBE in the Roll of Honour in the National Football Museum; you will also have played a part in creating a beautiful green memorial to the people and animals that died in the terrible conflict of the First World War. A memorial that will benefit our environment and stand for centuries to come.

This link will take you directly to the WHU donation page: For Club and Country: West Ham United

Come on you Irons!


The Iron Liddy Column

For club and country: Help to get West Ham United to the top of the WW1 Remembrance League

Today I’ve been browsing the array of online articles commemorating the 100 year anniversary of Armistice Day and I came across one that was both surprising and a bit shameful.

Apparently the Woodland Trust and the National Football Museum launched a joint project on 1st July 2016 to plant trees in memory of footballers who fought in World War One. For every £20 raised by the fans of 62 football clubs a tree will be planted at England’s First World War Centenary Woodland on the edge of the Epsom Downs in Surrey, with a target of 100 trees per club.

The name of the project is For Club and Country Remembering the Greater Game and its aim is to create a living and digital legacy to remember the sacrifices made by footballers on the frontline as well as the home front effort during the First World War. As their website explains:

“The direct effects of the First World War are still felt on today’s landscape, with the UK having the least woodland cover in Europe. During and after the First World War, trees were planted in remembrance, marking the loss of life and the sacrifices made. We feel strongly that this tradition should be continued to create a living and growing legacy as a fitting tribute.”

Shockingly, in almost two and a half years the project has only raised £2,621 of its £139,000 target. I can’t believe for a moment that this is due to football fans failing to donate to such a worthwhile cause. It must be down to a lack of publicity, especially as over £500 of the money raised so far was donated since the news article about the lack of donations appeared yesterday. Clearly the PR departments of both the Woodland Trust and the National Football Museum need a kick up the butt. I’m a member of the Woodland Trust and this is the first that I’ve heard about this project!

So I’m appealing to all West Ham fans to consider making a donation in memory of the Hammers who fought and died in WW1. There are several good reasons to do this, not least because helping to restore our green and pleasant land in the name of those who died in her name is a very fitting and environmentally sound idea; but also because the ambassador of the project is none other than our very own Sir Trevor Brooking. As Sir Trev explains on the project website:

“The Woodland Trust and the National Football Museum’s For Club and Country project is the perfect way to commemorate football’s important role in the First World War.

“We’re planting groves of trees for the clubs whose players bravely fought for their country and creating something beautiful and long lasting for future generations.

“Every football fan needs to get involved and make sure their club is remembered in the football groves at Langley Vale Wood. If you love football as much as I do, please pledge just £5 to get your team represented and see your own name listed on the supporters’ roll of honour.”

So not only will you be helping to create a living, breathing tribute to those fallen men, you will also have the opportunity to add your name to the Roll of Honour alongside Sir Trevor Brooking’s name. Once the First World War commemorations conclude in 2019, your name will form part of a permanent exhibition at the National Football Museum.

If all of that isn’t reason enough to pledge whatever you can afford then consider this …… at the moment the top six clubs in the WW1 Remembrance League are as follows:

  1. Nottingham Forest – £315
  2. Tottenham Hotspur – £260
  3. Queens Park Rangers – £155
  4. Cardiff City – £150
  5. England – £140
  6. Plymouth Argyle – £105

I know! We need to climb up that table above the Spuds ASAP! Many clubs’ supporters have yet to donate anything at all, so at £72 West Ham aren’t in the relegation zone but this is a league that we can actually win. So please dig deep and pledge what you can, every little will help. Let’s make West Ham the first club to reach their £2,000 target and make Sir Trev proud of us.

This link will take you directly to the WHU donation page: For Club and Country: West Ham United

Come on you Irons!


The Iron Liddy Column

Putting football into perspective

When tragedy strikes it puts the importance of professional football into perspective.

Since the horrific accident at the King Power Stadium on Saturday night I’ve read many comments to that effect in the media and on social media. The truth is though; there is death, disaster and heartbreak globally every day. We are surrounded by it and immune to it to an extent. Sadly “The death of one man is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic.”

Of course the death of Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha and the four people who perished with him is a tragedy, especially for their loved ones. However, I think what really makes us put things into perspective is not the tragedy of the situation but the shock at the fragility of life. When something like this happens to somebody within our local sphere we are forced to reflect on our own mortality and how unexpectedly life can be snatched away from us in the blink of an eye.

This week Hamburg Hammer (HH) clearly found it difficult to know how to approach his article and he was concerned about discussing the ‘triviality’ of the game itself. He was worried that talking about Mark Noble’s red card and the frustration of Leicester’s late equaliser would seem crass and insensitive in the circumstances.

However, I don’t think that Mr Srivaddhanaprabha would have minded us discussing the game at all. He clearly loved football and Leicester City were much more than just an investment to him. I hope that his family can take some small comfort from the fact that his last emotion was happiness and elation as his team scored with only a minute left on the clock. Reflecting on the game itself is to discuss something that was very important to him and there’s nothing disrespectful in that.

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While the world of football reels with shock and Leicester fans are stricken with grief, I think the one positive thing that I can find to say about the tragic loss of Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha is that it has helped me to put modern football into perspective in a unique and optimistic way.

Ordinarily I would be reflecting on how ugly and ridiculous the professional game has become in commercial terms and just how unimportant it all is in the face of mortality and grief. Except the story of the commercialisation of Leicester City isn’t ugly or ridiculous. The thread running through every news report that’s emerged from this tragedy is how universally loved Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha was by Leicester fans and this was because he invested so much more than just money into the club. It’s evident that he was a kind, humble and generous man who, despite being from a vastly different culture, had managed to maintain an old-fashioned family ethos at an English football club while leading them to commercial success. I doubt the words ‘commercial success’ were on his mind or that of any Leicester fan on that wonderful day in May 2016 though; I’m sure that all they felt was the elation of sharing that magical moment with their extended football family. Their story has given us all hope that money and integrity are not mutually exclusive in modern professional football.

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Ironically, while I was typing this piece my finger slipped on the keyboard and I accidently typed Kind Power. I stopped to look at it for a moment before I corrected it and I thought to myself “yes, that’s exactly what Leicester City had.” Thank you Mr Srivaddhanaprabha, your legacy was to bring something beautiful back into the game. May you and those who died with you rest in peace.


Parish Notice

Calling all book loving West Ham fans!

It’s hard to believe that over two and a half years have passed since we left Upton Park and anyone who’s visited the area since will tell you that a certain part of Green Street sadly looks very different these days.

While some local businesses didn’t survive the exodus of West Ham United one very tenacious enterprise that enjoyed a longstanding relationship with the club and our fans is still hanging in there just around the corner in the Barking Road.

Newham Bookshop celebrated its 40th birthday this year, which is no mean feat in the current literary climate; sadly over half of independent bookshops in the UK have closed in the last 12 years due to the growing competition from supermarkets and online booksellers. The bookshop was originally established by a group of local parents to provide an educational resource in the area and today it is a non-profit organisation owned by an educational charity and has a very strong relationship with the local schools. It was founded as a community bookshop and obviously a huge part of that community for 38 years were the fans, players and staff of West Ham United.

Over the decades Newham Bookshop has hosted many West Ham players, managers and related authors at events and signings to promote their books. The list includes the illustrious (and not so illustrious) names of Geoff Hurst, Martin Peters, Danny Dyer, Steve Bacon, Brian Williams, Jeremy Nicholas, Robert Banks, Iain Dale, Cass Pennant, Tina Moore, Brian Belton and Pete May. I’m sure that many of you have queued outside for the chance to meet one of your West Ham idols and to read the tales of their exploits and achievements; while for other bibliophilic Hammers browsing the overflowing bookshelves was no doubt a part of your match day routine.

During a recent interview for an article on The Spitalfields Life blog to celebrate the bookshop’s 40th year Vivian Archer, the shop’s manager for the past 33 years, said:

“When the West Ham ground was across the road, it was rammed here on a Saturday afternoon with football fans before and after the match. You couldn’t move in the shop for about two hours and we always did big signing sessions with footballers like Geoff Hurst and Trevor Brooking. Five hundred people came for Clyde Best last year.”

In May 2016 Pete May also interviewed Viv for his Hammers in the Heart blog for her views on West Ham’s departure from Green Street and what it would mean for Newham Bookshop. Viv recalled:

“The biggest signing was John Lyall just after they failed to renew his contract. They were hanging off the ceiling and he was a really nice man. Trevor Brooking spoke to everybody. Jimmy Greaves was lovely, but we had more Spurs fans than West Ham. The most unusual was Frank McAvennie before a Millwall game on a Sunday. He was a little late as he’d been out the night before, but it was a good signing even if it was a bit hairy because it was Millwall.”

Inevitably the shop has really missed our custom since we left Upton Park but evidence of the link between us is still there on the shelves as even now the sports section is heavily weighted with claret and blue tomes. There’s even a ‘timely’ clue that Upton Park was once the home of the Hammers above the till in the children’s section of the shop.

By now I’m sure you’re wondering where this article is leading. My reason for writing is to ask West Ham fans for your support for Newham Bookshop’s ‘Two Doors Down’ fundraising campaign. The adults’ section of the bookshop currently occupies 747 Barking Road and the landlord of that part of the premises is developing the flats above the shop and part of the shop itself into offices. This would mean that Newham Bookshop would lose one third of their space and it would cause huge disruption.

Fortunately serendipity stepped in when number 743, the shop adjacent to the other side of the children’s section, became available and the adults’ section of Newham Bookshop is now going to be relocated two doors down and relaunched this Christmas. However, before that can happen they need to raise £25,000 to cover the refurbishment and fitting costs because the empty shop is in a poor state of repair.

As I’m sure you can appreciate, this is a huge sum of money for a charitable organisation to find, so on Sunday evening the ‘Two Doors Down’ fund raising campaign was launched with a book auction at The Wanstead Tap in Forest Gate. The book lots were generously donated by authors and publishers and many of them were signed copies, including a copy of the recently published ‘An Irrational Hatred of Everything’ by Robert Banks which contained the signatures of all but two of the 1980 FA Cup winning West Ham squad. The auction raised over £3,000 for the cause, which was a great start but there’s still a long way to go.

In addition to the auction a Crowdfunder page went live on Sunday night so I’m appealing to those of you who used to frequent Newham Bookshop on match days and all the other book lovers among you to consider making a donation to an organisation which served our community for 4 decades. If you’re feeling especially generous there’s an opportunity to have a shelf dedicated in your name, which would mean that you would be immortalised in Upton Park just a football’s throw from the statue of our 1966 World Cup Heroes ….. not bad company to keep.

You can find the link to the Crowdfunder page here:

Newham Bookshop ‘Two Doors Down’

Thanks for reading.

Lids x


Guest Post

Showcase of WHTID Photographer Dawud Marsh

Guest Post by Dawud Marsh

Photography is my passion outside of following West Ham and I thought I’d share some of the photographs I have taken from our first season at the London Stadium. I actually really like the stadium because it offers such strong visual lines for someone like myself especially in the setting of the Olympic Park, which is actually really well planned and laid out. Even if the stadium lacks the same planning and careful thought as a venue for football you can always take a great photo.

I am happy for everyone here to share my images – as long as you credit me. If anyone would like a print I am happy to send a copy at cost price – framed or unframed just email me at dawudtmarsh@gmail.com.

If you’re interested in my photography – I am currently doing a lot of floral photos at the moment – you can pop over HERE

Hope you enjoy the photos.

Dawud


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