Guest Post by Steve from Rugby
When I was younger West Ham were everyone’s second favourite team due to the ’66 three. Over the years we have lost that title but in recent times it is going the other way. There are now plenty of reasons to dislike us , Allardyce, the owners, Brady, the OS, taxpayers money, media blah blah etc.
But West Ham is my club , and despite the above , I want my club , my choice, and my way of life, to be respected if not liked. So how do I change the general perception and who to?
Well firstly I’m not that bothered with general opinion because the media dictate that. I want to change football’s opinion and primarily other football fans. Why, because I want people to enjoy coming to the OS, so much more than they do any other away game. Why, because we need their support in numbers and their respect to a point. Now for lots of reasons this is already a toughie. In the main I don’t know what it will be like myself. What I do know is there are no good pubs, the food and drinks at the stadium will be corporate shite, and it’s a complete unknown for away fans.
So, and this is where I get mullered, can we make Upton Park more welcoming for away fans in what will be their last visit to the Boleyn ever, as well? The Boleyn is no more the intimidating fortress it ever was, hooliganism isn’t as mainstream, respect amongst fans against money in football is shared, and ultimately they love their team like we do. Now for Spurs and Millwall, I make the exception, but the rest are Premiership clubs. They suffer like we do and no team is like they were and fans have moved on too. I don’t expect the Queens or Boleyn welcoming committees to agree, as the pubs are full anyway, but the long walk down Green Street will be their last time too.
What I think the club does, however, is the crux of my thinking. After all, it’s the club that makes the money not us. So what are my thoughts? I’d like to go back to simple things that can be shared by the fans. Players who have played for both clubs being introduced to both sets of fans in the corner of the chicken run and north bank and not the halfway line, so both sets of fans can join together in homage! A mutual bonding. I could also suggest Crossbar challenges, penalty shootouts, kids or girls five a sides at half time, even dare I say it , a commemorative flag, or badge of the Boleyn just for away fans. These fans get ripped off enough watching their team at our place, a small goodwill momento , may make them want to come to the OS with a little more respect and fondness for West Ham United. A small investment for a long term commitment.
To prove I haven’t completely lost it, any team that takes points away from us, their fans should be held back for fifteen minutes, just to ensure they are back of the queue for the tube. Only fair!
I want my club to liked and respected again, not because of the amount of money any of the owners plough in, but by the way we supporters treat each other, the style of football and the shared love of the game. I’m likely to know more Leicester supporters, for the seasons opener, than I do West Ham fans, and will travel back with them back to the Midlands. I hope they lose, enjoy their last visit otherwise and want to come to the OS (if they stay up). I really do. I do however expect the club to have not given it a second’s thought. I hope I’m wrong. Now Dan Coker where’s that list!!