Talking Point

Guest Post by Gary Hyams

This is my first article, so it seems logical, before criticising the football, I should commentate on the fans.

‘Fortune always hiding, I’ve looked everywhere.’ Surely, no football club in the world has an anthem which sums up its club so well. Week after week we go, knowing we could be subjected to severe psychological damage, but dreaming of and craving that rush of adrenalin when we score and the ecstasy of a win. But often, it is, ‘Then, like my dreams, they fade and die.’

Why do we do it? The logical approach would be to pick a team with the most resources behind it and support them. Is it because a lot of us were born in the East End? We withstood the Blitz, so we can put up with the occasional loss of a football game? Or we are stoic and can endure pain without showing our feelings or complaining. No, we are cockneys, who have spread into large parts of Essex, but retain the moral courage which defines us. We’re not going to give up our side because of the occasional setback.
And we have an ability to laugh at ourselves when things go wrong. You know, if I turned my back on the football and listened to the fans, I could probably get as much entertainment as watching the game.

Players come and go, but the fans go on and on. West Ham United is not the property of its owners, it is a community and the owners have bought the privilege of running this community for the benefit of the fans. And it is right they should hold the owners to high standards. The money that flows into the club from television rights and gate receipts is owed to the community.

The fans will not put up with lies. The fans I listen to every game are sophisticated. They expect to and should be treated with respect. We know we have been sold a dead duck of a stadium. It is ridiculous that we are only paying £2.5 million for the rights to use the stadium, when Spurs are paying up to one billion pounds for their new ground. And the Government body, the LLDC, are losing £20 million a year, largely due to the complete cock-up with regards to taking out and putting back the lower seating. Worst of all, the freeholders and leaseholders are in dispute, spending thousands of pounds on legal fees.

And when we go to a game, we become a community. I take my grandson. I passed on my love of the club to my three sons. My grandfather travelled with the team and I was brought up on stories about the white horse at Wembley. As a community, we share our joy and our grief.

So, what do I want to see for West Ham fans? I want to be able to view every away game on my TV and I don’t mind paying for the privilege. I want there to be Wi Fi in the stadium. I want to be able to watch replays on the big screens – I am not interested in adverts. I want better entertainment before a game starts. And I want to see commitment from our players, each of whom has the privilege to play for West Ham.