Tonight marks the last competitive game to be played at Upton Park/The Boleyn Ground, as West Ham host Manchester United. As a West Ham fan myself a mixture of emotions strike me today – heartache, sadness but most of all expectation.
Sky Sports News carried out a stellar job yesterday interviewing some key figures from West Ham’s past and present whilst also taking a look at the Hammers new home for next season. The Olympic Stadium is starting to take shape with claret and blue seats being placed inside the stadium along with 10 foot shirts of the clubs past Hammer of the Year’s being constructed.
It was also announced that the first game to be played on the new turf would be against Italian Champions Juventus. This is an exciting time for West Ham fans to move to a new stadium and try to push the club on to be competitively and consistently challenging for European competition year after year. David Sullivan was interviewed yesterday and stated that the club were in the process of making two bids for well-known strikers in excess of £25 million each. That is a massive statement from the club and proves that they want to continue to take the club forward and are not seeing this just as an opportunity to fill their already hefty pockets.
That is all in the future however, tonight is about reminiscing and remembering some of the fantastic matches and moments at the Boleyn Ground.
At the grand old age of 25 my memory only spans from around 1995 until present so I apologise if I have missed out any moments that occurred beforehand that I have not read or seen.
5. West Ham 1-0 Spurs – Wednesday 2nd March 2016
A personal and sentimental memory to start proceedings. This was the last time I entered Upton Park and it was for a huge derby against our local rivals who were challenging for the Premier League title. It wasn’t just our job, it was our duty to beat Spurs that night and our 11 warriors duly obliged. Michail Antonio rose highest in the box to steer in a powerful header past Hugo Lloris after just 7 minutes and the Hammers never looked back. The first half was the best I have ever seen a West Ham side play against a top side. We were dominant and created chance after chance. When the final whistle blew jubilation rang around the old ground as we knew that them lot from North London wouldn’t be the last team to beat us at home and we had stunted their title charge.
4.West Ham 2-1 Wimbledon – Sunday 26th March 2000
No words are necessary for this. A picture tells a thousand words:
3.West Ham 2-2 Everton (9-8 pens) – Tuesday 13th January 2015
What a night this was!
A game that literally had everything. Great goals, comebacks, a red card and a goalkeeper scoring the winning penalty. After Lukaku had equalised in the final knockings at Goodison Park a few weeks earlier, the reply rolled on to Upton Park and a memorable cup night for all Hammers fans. A poor first half was immediately forgotten after Enner Valencia had struck to put us 1-0 up. Irish winger Aiden McGeady needlessly picked up a second booking minutes later to send the Toffees down to ten men and facing a stiff up-hill task to get through to the next round.
Kevin Mirallas struck ten minutes from time to send the tie into extra-time. The Belgian beast Lukaku then struck to remarkably send Everton into the lead with only 20 minutes left. However, the script had already been written with fan favourite Carlton Cole notching an equaliser and sending the tie to a nervous penalty shoot-out. Penalties were scored and missed which brought us to an 8-8 scoreline with the keepers next on the list to take their chance from 12 yards. Everton goalkeeper, Joel, stepped up first and released a thunderbolt from his right boot only for it to clatter from the under-side of the cross bar and come back out. Advantage West Ham. Adrian stepped up, removed his brightly coloured goalkeeper gloves, and tucked his penalty to the left hand corner sending Joel the wrong way. The Spanish stopper slid to the Betway Stand – arms out in pure ecstasy. We were into the next round!
2.West Ham 4-0 Manchester United – Tuesday 30th November 2010
Another cup tie, another unforgettable night at Upton Park.
Manchester United rocked up to East London top of the league and brimming with confidence. Even when the teamsheets came out and the majority of the team were classed as ‘reserves‘, Manchester Utd were still heavy favourites to knock us out quite comfortably.
Jonathon Spector and Carlton Cole had other ideas.
If you had completed a survey prior to the game and asked every West Ham fan who the worst two players in the first team were, 99% would have replied with ‘Spector and Cole’ in a heartbeat. Both had become unpopular to West Ham fans with numerous poor displays but as the snow came down something had changed. Jonathon Spector had never previously scored in 97 appearances in English football (and has only scored once since that night) bagged a brace in the first half to send us into a winter wonderland. Carlton Cole then added a further two brilliant goals to ensure we progressed to the Semi-Finals of the League Cup.
1. West Ham 2-0 Ipswich Town (2-1 agg)– Tuesday 18th May 2004
West Ham came into the game trailing 1-0 after Darren Bent had netted the winner at Portman Road a few days earlier. The pressure was on Alan Pardew’s men to perform. What occurred in those 90 minutes will live with everyone who was there forever. The atmosphere that was generated that night paid homage to the saying “Under the lights at Upton Park!” Matty Etherington opened the scoring with an absolute peach of a strike with that wand of a left foot that left Kelvin Davis grasping at thin air! And then of all people Christian Dailly popped up with the winner that not only took us to the Millennium Stadium for the Play-off Final, it also caused a near earth quake on Green Street.
In the pre-match programme Christian Dailey had asked the supporters to be the 12th man and my word we were!
Also – Argentina 2-1 Croatia – Wednesday 12th November 2014
This moment was special for me as it gave many English fans the chance to see one of the greatest players to ever lace up a pair of football boots – Lionel Messi. Many greats have graced the Upton Park turf but other than West Ham legends he is right up there, if not at the summit. The little magician did not disappoint either cooly slotting away his 57th minute penalty, to the delight of the thousands of people who captured the moment on their phones. The game also marked the return of former players Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano.