I was recently contacted by a West Ham fan who wanted me to tell his story and in a way use it to help others that may feel trapped and alone. I have changed the name of the fan to protect him from unnecessary embarrassment or shame.
My name is Trevor,,,,,,, and,,,,,,,,,,,,, I’m a West ham-a-holic.
It’s been all of 7 days since my last game. It all started as a kid. My uncle introduced me to it. I was so young that I can’t even remember the first time. It’s as if all my life it’s been there. I never saw it being a problem, I mean have always gone West Ham, at first it was exciting being in the crowd with like-minded people. I had it under control. I could take it or leave it. I worked hard and was entitled to unwind in the company of like-minded friend’s, I enjoyed a good night game, and away days could be even better. Pretty soon it was evident that it was out of control, though not to me. My wife complained that I was always going to West Ham and didn’t spend enough time with her. That in turn led to many arguments. She just didn’t understand that when I was at football, I came out of myself. The highs were unexplainable, though too few or often and in the end I was just going to blot out the rest of my life. The trouble is in recent years I could find nothing to blot out the West Ham. My friends at first were sympathetic but then one by one, as their clubs became successful or won trophies, they questioned why I continued down the path I was going. It is not the misery of supporting West Ham that gets you in you the end, it’s the hope, the hope that they will win today, or even score a goal. Yet they never do.
I have been suffering for many years now from the addiction. It seems there was no-where to turn, no help for me. But at last, it does seem that there is hope for me. This week I attended West Ham—a-holics anonymous, a group of like-minded West Ham fans, who, through regular meetings, help others afflicted with this debilitating illness. They have put in place a 10 point programme that all sufferers should follow to help them through and if like me you too are brave enough to admit you are a West ham-a-holic.
1. Cultivate continued acceptance that your choice is between being unhappy watching West Ham or being happy without West Ham.
2. Accept as being normal that for a time, perhaps a long time, you will recurringly experience
A. The nagging craving to watch West Ham
B. The sudden impulse to go, West Ham,
C. The craving, perhaps not for West Ham, but for the warm fuzzy glow going West Ham gave you.
3. Remember that the times you didn’t go West Ham, normally called “Post Season” and use that thought to build up the strength to not go West Ham when you feel the urge taking over.
4. Develop and rehearse daily a plan of thinking and acting by which you will live each day without West Ham, regardless of how hard the urge to go West Ham may hit you.
5. Don’t allow yourself to either think or talk about any real or imagined pleasure you got from watching West Ham. Chances are it wasn’t real.
6. Don’t think for a second that “isn’t it a pity I can’t go, West Ham, like the normal fans, can do
7. Don’t permit yourself to think “one more game won’t hurt” or “just let me go to one more game and I will be able to stop.” You won’t. Just one more game will make it worse.
8. Cultivate and woo the enjoyment and freedom of not going West Ham.
A. How good is it to be free of the shame and guilt of supporting West Ham,
B. How good is it to be free of the consequences of being a West Ham fan, the misery of that feeling when you wake up on a Sunday morning after going to West Ham,
C. How good is it to be free of what fans of other clubs have been thinking and whispering about you, and their mingled pity with contempt?
D. See how good it is to be free of the fear of defeat.
9. Cultivate a helpful association of ideas.
A. Associate being a West Ham fan with the single cause of misery, shame and fear you have ever known
B. Associate being a West Ham fan as the only thing that can destroy your new found happiness, and take away your self-respect and full possession of your faculties.
10. Cultivate Gratitude:
A. Gratitude that so much can be yours for not paying the price of that ticket
B. Gratitude that you can trade going West Ham for all the happiness that brings
C. Gratitude that West Ham-a-holics exist and that you found them
D. Gratitude that you are a West Ham-a-holic, you’re not a bad or wicked person, just you have been in the grip of a compulsion.
E. Gratitude that since others have done it, you in time will learn to live without West Ham
If you like Trevor you recognise the systems and think you need help as well,
We all have our heroes, probably those we loved watching as a kid when football is such an easy game to watch. In later years we marvel at the players that may give their heart to the cause but maybe never get the glory – our heroes are our personal choices, many though are shared by us all. Billy Bonds, Trevor Brooking, Bobby Moore must make the top 3 of our all-time greats, but that reason is because those of us alive witnessed them, worshipped them, adored them. Even if we couldn’t get to the game or were born years after they played, they were in the TV era so we can always see just how the great they were. But what of the players that came before? Should they not be recognised in some way as, without the players that came before, we may not have had the Bonds, Devonshire’s or Pop Robson’s come and join us? Just imagine if the club had not been promoted in 1958 with the goals of Vic Keeble. Would we have progressed to the point where six years later the club embarked on the most trophy-laden period in its history?
Every Cup West Ham has won was won in just a 16 year period. If you through the prism of achieving our highest league standing then its 22 years, a period though that defines this club still today, and made a majority of the players from that time, not just heroes, but legends.
So what can be done to honour all our players that have contributed to the history of this great club? Well, we’ve had the failed museum but we know there is nowhere at the athletics stadium to house another. The club has taken to putting up history boards around the ground but the problem with that is, they are all temporary as they have to be removed when athletics take the stadium and if you can’t get to all parts of the stadium you are stuck at looking at just the piece you see every game.
For me the answer is simple, THEWESTHAMUNITEDHALL OF FAME.
When you look at other clubs and see how they revere their history and not just the successful era’s but their whole history, all the players that have played for them, not just the clubs chosen few, and to that end a dedicated hall of fame that inducts players from all eras that have contributed to the success of the club, as without Keeble’s goals, Bobby Moore may not have played top flight football for West Ham. Without the saves of Ernie Gregory, the goals of Vic Keeble would not have made the difference.
West Ham is approaching 125 years of existence if you include the Ironworks era. According to the West Ham Stats website this equates us to using 1233 players and yet we are invariably asked to choose our top 11. So much of our history is now unknown or not spoken about. Players that did so much for the club are ignored now and I believe a hall of fame will bring much of that back into life.
The way I see it working is somehow we draw up a short list of inductees from each decade of the club’s history. Players that played in more than one decade would be put into the decade they made most appearances. Each player would have a bio as to why it’s believed they should be added to the Hall of Fame. That shortlist is then put to the public vote. They would vote one player from each decade into the hall of fame. Naturally, the 60s & 70s and 80s may need to have more than one inductee every year, but it would allow the unrecognised or unknown players from the past that all contributed to the club being what it is today getting recognised. The hall of fame would then have a permanent home on a website so everyone could then see and read the stories that make up the legends of our past.
There is already a national hall of fame for football, which has a permanent home at the National Football Museum in Manchester and I have found that some other premier league clubs have their own hall of fame as well. I must admit the Everton hall of fame I came across is the one that I liked the most when researching this article.
So what do you think you good folk of WHTID world? Shall we give it or go, or is the past as they say, best left where it is?
This week sees the anniversaries of two of the most important games in my West Ham attending history – Liverpool at Upton Park in 1978 and Ipswich Town’s visit in that never to be forgotten night, back in 1986. The two games had the most extreme outcomes when compared. One game relegated the club after the longest period of top-flight service West Ham had ever had, the other left us on the brink of the elusive title win in a never to be repeated season of overachievement. I hope you enjoy reading my memories of both games.
29/04/1978 WHU V LIVERPOOL
That season was the first season of my regular attendance of WHU home games, one that still persists 42 years later. It started with 4 defeats – where have we heard that stat before? Though the first game I remember was losing to Man City at home. I think perhaps looking back that being 7 years old I was too young to really appreciate how lucky I was to be not only living in the long shadow of the ground, but also going to games. I was taken by my uncle. My own dad wasn’t a) a football fan or b) in my life at that time. I didn’t get to every home game but with every game the enjoyment of going grew. Looking back now, it wasn’t the greatest of seasons. The FA cup win of 1975 was now a distant memory and the club was in free fall. Only one win in the opening 12 games had us hanging around the relegation area most of the season, but in typical West Ham style they rallied late in the season – six wins from our last nine games left us needing to win our last game of the season, at home to the reigning European Champions who would retain the trophy again that year, Liverpool.
It was a hot day, the sun was out and I was collected by my uncle. He drove the short distance from Canning Town to park his VW Beetle in the car park above Queens Road market. The queue stretched down the ramp and in those days you paid the man in the hut at the top of the ramp. My uncle was not a patient man, so he drove up the down ramp. The man jumped out of the hut to stop him, but upon seeing it was my uncle, he obviously knew him, he waved him up and actually showed him where to park his car.
We walked down Green Street from the market up to and through the gates onto the forecourt. Now this was the forecourt long before the portacabins were shops and so many people were standing around queueing to get into the biggest game of our season, my uncle took me to the ticket collection office, manned by a man called Dick, whose job was to distribute the players tickets to their families and issue the press tickets. I was collected sometime later and we were in to take our seats West stand upper, Block A tight in the corner looking down onto the Southbank. Madly we had had Liverpool fans sitting around us but there was no hint of trouble that might occur these days in the ground when opposition fans sit in the home end. In fact, the Liverpool fans added to the day for me, displaying good humour and laughing at my attempts to cheer on the Hammers.
Alas though, it was to be one game too far for my heroes. Brooking & Bonds failed to drive us on as Robson failed to pop one in. I suppose it was always a tall order but 8-year-old Nigel never thought of that, in fact, I had no idea of what relegation actually meant, all I was concerned about was watching the game.
As the final whistle condemned the Hammers, the fans instead of jeering or booing, applauded the teams, but as was the tradition back then, the team, instead of walking down the tunnel they turned & walked out to the middle to wave to all four stands to thank the fans for our efforts for the season. The fans responded in cheering them off the pitch. I don’t remember hearing any criticism insults or booing just the cheers.
The history books show we lost 2-0 and were to be relegated into Division 2, but what the history books don’t reveal is that one game was the real start of the obsessive love affair with this 8-year-old boy. Of course, in 1978 we didn’t know the great days that lay ahead, but I for one couldn’t wait till August to get back to my own theatre of dreams.
30/04/1986 WHU V IPSWICHTOWN
I don’t think I can do it justice in trying to set the scene for this night of nights, but i’ll try.
I had an after-school job at Duthie Hart & Duthie solicitors based across the road from the Green Gate pub on the Barking road. I don’t think I franked the post that day quicker than I had ever done. I deposited it over to the Post office across the road. I then ran (yes people, I could run back then) the short journey up the Barking Road to the ground. I got to the forecourt to see the queue for my stand of choice back then, the North Bank, snaking its way nearly back to the gates. This was a full hour before the turnstiles opened around half six. Now I must admit, I had a dilemma anyway and upon seeing the queue my mind was made up. I wasn’t going to risk queuing to be disappointed. I found my Uncle out-side the ground and he gave me a seat for the West Lower, Row T, which was back row on the lower West I think, and great view as I was sitting just above the tunnel, right on the halfway line.
I’m now 16, and with older age comes the nervousness of understanding what football means and what rests on the outcome of this game. Victory would leave us on the cusp of perhaps the greatest prize in English football: Champions of England – a trophy harder to win than any other trophy in football for me.
As the late spring sun gave way, so the floodlights illuminated for me the greatest of nights on that ground up until possibly the last night. Ipswich needed points to avoid, funnily enough, being relegated, and the game would be a battle of nerves for different reasons for both teams and fans.
Perhaps the fact we went behind made is so special, perhaps it was the late soft penalty decision that gave us the victory that made is even sweeter, but for me, what makes it one of, if not THE, greatest night at The Boleyn Ground, was the fact after the whistle confirmed our win, the massed army of West Ham fans piled onto the pitch to celebrate, not only the win but without doubt, the greatest season, in my opinion, the club has ever had.
To stand on the pitch and sing, “we’re going to win the league, we’re going to win the league, & now your going to believe us, & now your going to believe us, & now your going to believe usssssssssssss, we’re going to win the league ” and actually believe it that we’re finally, after 86 years of being in existence, we were going to do it. It seems like we were on the pitch for hours, and I couldn’t actually say how long we were there but my memory of that night does not fade.
If I was ever given the option of jumping in the Tardis and returning back to just one game to relive again, not change anything, but just live that day/night again the choice would be tough between the above two games, but at a push, it would be the Ipswich game. While the Liverpool game was the start of the love affair as such, nothing will ever beat that night after that season, after that game and the shared celebrations with thousands on the pitch that I didn’t know but loved as well.
Extra game added
02/05/1981 WHU V WREXHAM
Purely by coincidence in researching pictures for this article I came across pictures from the day I was the mascot. I’m adding this game in, onto the end of the Article purely as it’s 38 years ago this very day.
I don’t think I slept very much the night before, I was too excited. I had known since January that this game was to be the day I got to walk out with my heroes. To get dressed I wore my West Ham tracksuit over my West Ham kit. I remember my mum saying to me that they were giving me a kit as part of the package but I was insistent on wearing it.
My mum was taking me to the game, and luckily she got to park in the player’s car park or the St Edwards playground as we knew it. Walking in through the players door just to the right of Dick’s ticket box my usual hangout, there was a small reception area with a door that led into a tight tunnel, I was shown into John Lyall’s office to get changed, not that I needed to as I had my kit on already.
Lyall came in and sat at his desk and chatted to me as if he had known me for years, asked me if I had enjoyed the season and was I excited to be leading the team out. My mum gave me one of her looks when I had said the wrong thing. All I said was I thought Clive Thomas was a cheat & he was out of order for sending Lyall Off. Lyall laughed it off as nothing and said Thomas had every right to do that as Lyall had let his emotions get the best of him. Best left alone.
Lyall took me then to meet the players in the dressing room. The main memory was Ray Stewart walking in late and giving an excuse that I understood not one word of as his accent was as thick Scottish as you can get.
Wrexham formed a guard of honour as we walked on the pitch & Dai Davis their keeper stuck his hand out and shook mine. “Well done son,” he said, though to be honest I was more in awe of the fact my other hand was being held by Billy Bonds as we marched to the middle of the pitch to wave to all four corners of the ground, as was the tradition for the last home game of the season.
They used a 10p coin for the toss-up to kick off, and off I ran across the pitch and back down the tunnel, quickly change into my tracksuit then back up to my usual seat, Block A still in the West upper but now we had managed to get to Row L. My uncle was waiting for me. He hadn’t been allowed pitch side and all the regulars we sat with made a fuss of me.
38 years and yet it is like the two games above, burned into the memory banks of my mind. I might not be able to remember the vegetables I am supposed to pick up from the supermarket but i’ll never forget even the smallest of details from those happy days of supporting West Ham as a child.
Perhaps in the comments below, if you could jump into the Tardis and revisit your one game, let us know what game it would be. Not to change the outcome but just to watch and revisit the great memories we all hold.
Just when you think you know what you’re going to write for your weekly column, something comes up unexpectedly and makes you rip that up and start again.
I had no plans to cover this again, so soon but after reading the Paul Walker article on KUMB on WHUISA & the OSB meetings taking place Saturday and then some of the inaccuracies being put out there as if they are the fact I feel I’m left with no choice.
I get nothing here for lying so what I’m putting down here is how things panned out from mine, & Sean’s point of view in regards our membership of the WHUISA committee last year.
Firstly, at the moment this is difficult to prove as the 2018 committee election results were never publicly published. I was told after the election that I had polled more votes than any other candidate, second was Sean & together our votes were more than the other members received combined.
Now to me, that is a huge mandate from WHUISA members and the direction it should take, as both Sean or I could not be classed as Lefties as WHUISA had been (unfairly in my view) tainted.
WHUISA committee generally communicates via Whatsapp groups or email and it didn’t take long for Sean & I to notice that things were happening that we didn’t seem to know about in advance. We believed, and rightly so, we were being excluded from decisions by a section of the committee who didn’t trust SW and by association, me, from being part of the decision making process. Some love to point out that WHUISA is the only democratically elected fan group out there, yet here we are being actively excluded, the two people who got more votes in that democratic election. Time & time again we found out what WHUISA was doing via the KUMB forum not via the official committee channels.
Allied to that, WHUISA was asked about joining the OSB as a group, a very short email exchange happened where the decision was taken by some on the committee to reject joining the clubs board.
Now I admit I thought WHUISA should have joined, after all, when you’re a fan representative group if don’t talk to those with the real power you’re just wasting your time. Yet I also believed that should have been a members decision, not the committees to make.
I get that committees are elected to run the show but some things are so important, especially this issue being the biggest WHUISA had to make, it should have gone to the members to decide.
The press statement that WHUISA then put out, stunned me for its rudeness. I’m no board lover, but, again, if you are a fan representative organization trying to make fans’ lives better, you have to hold your nose, & tongue at times, and step inside their tent. Standing outside waving a placard or a flag may give you satisfaction, but really, what does it achieve?
Add to that that the first time I read the statement was after it was released officially, it hadn’t been circulated in advance and only highlighted the fact some in the committee didn’t want any input from two of the elected committee members
Both Sean & I spoke about resigning as it was obvious what was going on. Sean resigned first & with WHUISA in a panic I was spoken to by a let us say, more sympathetic member of the committee who asked me not go, to stick with them and help make the changes for the better. I thought about it and agreed to not go, to see if Sean’s resignation would help. A small aside to this, half an hour after Sean resigned it was announced on the WHUISA twitter feed, and an article appeared on KUMB.
Over half of the elected committee from 2018 has resigned, Sean, Mark Sandell, George Mann, me & Sue Watson. Paul Turner who was co-opted onto the committee but not announced has since, I’m told, resigned as well. Only one resignation was announced the same day.
The truth about Mark Sandall leaving has never been explained. He just basically disappeared off the scene. He’s a busy man, but no explanation from him that I saw or anyone else. It wasn’t announced straight away. One rule for one it seems but not for the rest.
The Foodbank campaign was a mistaken – ot one I supported, as it is for individual fans to make that contribution, not an official group. It played into the hands of those that saw WHUISA as a playground of the left wing. It did go to members to vote, but only at a public meeting attended by around 25 fans. Considering WHUISA membership is worldwide, and it has invested in survey technology to ask fans easily questions to be debated, to allow just a vote of less than 1% make policy was wrong. At the meeting I spoke out against the foodbank campaign as best I could but the vote was carried.
The final straw for me was walking into a game just before kick off the chairman, who was not at this game, wanted to discuss something with the group before going public with it. I can’t remember what it was but, it was rare for him not to be at the game, by the end of the game on WHUISA’s twitter feed a statement was put out. Done & dusted by the chairman during the game, while the rest of us were watching the game. How can you make policy during a game and then announce it without allowing the committee to comment?
Enough was enough. I walked out then and there.
All of the above embarrasses WHUISA,. It also does me no credit, to be honest, and frankly, it is shameful in that fans trusted people to do the right thing but sadly like the ownership the fan group has failed the fans.
WHUISA though can be changed, as with elections if the right people can be found then with a new broom it can all be swept away and cleaned up.
I believe wholeheartedly in the concept of WHUISA and why it was set up, just somewhere along the way it floundered & frankly, played into the hands of those that unfairly tainted it.
My hope for the future is that WHUISA can with a new committee remember that’s its there to represent fans in trying to make their matchday better, yes to call the club to book when it is wrong but to do it in a way that means they work with you to change not against you.
Hammers United should also be a port of call, sit down with them to find common ground as when the fanbase is UNITED then and only then can proper meaningful change happen.
Saturday, at last, sees the result of a long campaign by the club to improve the stadium, to make it look & feel more like the home the fans deserved when the move was first planned way back in 2010.
Karren Brady, at last, will be able to write in her Sun column the wonderful thing she has finally achieved and has delivered on her promise – a home fit for heroes.
I can feel the excitement bubbling away in you all, and how will we all feel when we finally lay our eyes on that most wondrous of changes, the Claret Carpet.
‘F*****G underwhelmed’ will be my response. Should we really be that bothered about it? Does it really improve anything? Not for me it doesn’t.
It is just a different carpet. But how did we get to this point and why should actually we be questioning Brady of Kensington on the mess in the first place. So sit back and let us all take a trip back into mists of time and the sorry saga of the London stadium carpet.
2013 SAB meeting, Boleyn ground
The club makes a presentation to the SAB of their new Olympic stadium bid plans, with images of the ground showing the (non) retractable seating pushed forward with the football pitch outlined. In between the seating and the pitch was to be a green cover over the track which would serve two purposes.
1. To hide the fact the seating didn’t cover the tracking but just moved up to it
2. It was to be green so to convince the eye that the distance between seats and pitch wasn’t as bad as the moaners were saying, so it would look seamless.
OK, they probably weren’t the two examples the club would have used but let’s face it, they are both correct, but it is not like the club were ever going to admit the above was true.
Now the club from day one wanted green carpet and that’s what they got, & remember that was planned way before any company was chosen to manage the stadium or pick up the bill. The club wanted green carpet & as Karren was in charge of the move KARENBRADYWANTEDGREENCARPET. [No need to shout, Nigel – ed]
So let’s jump forward to 2017, and after a not so great start to season two in the new place Slaven Bilic came out after the Brighton defeat and said…
It is impossible to bring the crowd closer but we can improve things by changing the perspective. Imagine you are a player, you are running back to defend or you are joining the attack – you look up and it is not easy, because everything is green ahead of you, to appreciate exactly where is the end of the pitch and that can psychologically affect your willingness to do it.
Now why I find that strange is because if you’re a professional player it’s surely up to you to know where the pitch starts and stops, or basically, where the white lines are.
The linesman will not be running up and down on a different floor, they will be running up the side of the touchline, not on the pitch but off it, so how does changing the surrounding help when you will still have about 6ft of grass for the linesmen to run around on?
Not only that but as both sides have to use the same pitch, why is it being used as an excuse by the manager of the team that plays every other game on it & not the visitor who gets too confused? By it just once.
Billic also added though…
We have done everything we can to receive permission to do this, especially our vice-chairman Karren Brady.
He then praises the work Brady has been doing in trying to get this changed. OH, you mean the same Karen Brady WHOWANTEDGREENCARPET, in 2013. As excuses for losing a football pitch go, that is pitiful, but then in his praise of Brady does that allude to something else.
The club was under pressure not only because of the poor start but many fans were not happy with the stadium and were being vocal about it.
Bear with me here but I have a what if… what if Karren Brady had asked Billic to say that to so she could use it to put leverage on LS185, stadium controllers, in her bid to try to appease the fans and West Hammify the stadium a bit more? I know that sounds far fetched and perhaps my utter distrust of the woman means if she claimed West Ham wore claret & blue, I’d want to double check that fact.
Poor old Slav, he didn’t last much longer, sacked after losing to Liverpool 4-1 though how losing to Liverpool 4-1 is deemed worse than losing to Brighton at home 3-0 I’m not sure, but anyway that’s not part of this story.
The stadium owners at first disagreed, as they were in dispute with West Ham over many things. Then the owners agreed but only if the carpet was dark blue to match London Stadium’s own brand colour. Surely for the sake of the players’ eyesight and the fact the green carpet was detrimental to their playing ability KB would agree.
Oh no, she said, cant have dark blue, that’s Tottenham’s colour. Now while she may be right on that, surely if it saved the club paying, as blue would have done, & if it benefitted the team’s performance as the green carpet was so detrimental they claimed, & it could have been claimed it was the Thames Ironworks 1st colour, (missed a marketing trick there KB) then they would have agreed. But no, she didn’t agree.
Perhaps if we had had Blue carpet then we might not have lost those goals to Burnley that caused the fans to demonstrate and show the owners what they really thought of them.
Mmmm, thank god she didn’t go for the blue then.
We can now jump forward to this year, & West Ham successfully win their case against the stadium owners in that the stadium wasn’t exactly what they wanted (or something like that) and as crowning glory the LLDC, who have kicked out LS185 and taken over the stadium, have agreed to allow Karren her Claret Carpet, and was she happy. She said…
This is wonderful and long-awaited news for the football club and our supporters. In the aftermath of the expert determination, myself and the Board worked extremely hard to progress this because we knew how important it was to our fans. London Stadium is globally recognised as the home of West Ham United, and therefore it is only right that our traditional club colours are in prominent and key areas of the playing arena.
So now a carpet that KARENBRADYWANTEDGREEN in 2013 will be claret and she has the cheek to extoll how hard she had worked. Surely if the green carpet had been a contributing factor to the players not performing well enough at home in securing us the victories we should have got, then she shouldn’t be back slapped, but sacked. After all, she signed off on the deal and was paid a bonus of £1 million for doing that & part of that deal was the green carpet. But then I’m drawn to my conspiracy theory because if that was a clever ruse used by KB to put leverage on the owners to get her the claret carpet, she could then use that as an example of the board working hard to making progress on the West Hamification of the stadium.
It’s no JFK moment that’s for sure, but it certainly made me think.
There is a rule of thumb I use with West Ham and the off-field board shenanigans we see: THETRUTH IS ALWAYSSTRANGERTHANTHEFICTION.