West Ham fans – including myself – bid farewell to their beloved Boleyn Ground in its final Premier League game against Manchester United.
It’s difficult to imagine a life away from Upton Park, where legends like Paolo Di Canio, Carlos Tevez, John Moncur, Julian Dicks and Tony Cottee graced the pitch in the infamous claret and blue.
Hammers fans will always treasure their memories of classic and heartbreaking moments, whether it’s being part of the celebrations when Tevez scored a beautifully curled free kick against Spurs only to end up losing, or just purely witnessing a Julian Dicks penalty.
Personally, my first ever real experience of falling in love with West Ham was that Di Canio goal against Wimbledon. I remember it was just me and my Dad watching the game in the living room, I must have been 9 or 10 years old. Eight minutes in, Trevor Sinclair whips in a cross from the right for Paolo to blast the ball past the keeper with an unbelievable scissor kick. You could just imagine the Alan Partridge “Did you see that?! He must have a foot like a traction engine!” We ended up winning 2-1, although it was overshadowed by how we were still in awe over the wonder goal.
Still, there have been so many memorable matches there, 2006’s 1-0 win over a hard-working Arsenal, 2010’s 4-0 Carling Cup victory over Manchester United and, of course, 2000’s 5-4 win over Bradford – a game where we saw both the insanity and genius of Di Canio.
I’m lucky to have witnessed everything I have at Upton Park, but I wish I could have been a part of what it was like before my time. Still saved, from about two years ago, to my Sky+ box is an interview with Tony Cottee and Frank McAvennie talking about “The Boys of ’86“. Scoring 54 goals between them, they practically carried West Ham to their highest ever league position – incredible. But I missed it.
Although we have seen so much to cherish at West Ham, there have been many soul-destroying and mad moments. Ignoring the relegations, which of course are hard to forget, we’ve had situations like the classic Tevez saga which, as you may already know, revolved around the many confusing actions of Eggert Magnusson and his Icelandic bank consortium.
To add to the list of perplexing transfers, West Ham have signed the likes of Nigel Quashie, Don Hutchinson (twice), Roger Johnson, Marco Boogers, Savio and of course Carlton Cole (also twice).
But now, away from the past madness and into the future. Hammers have a huge future to look forward to. Moving to a stadium that’s been built to hold 54,000 of the some of the best fans in the world who will take their memories, passion and new legends with them.
And so, as West Ham’s time comes to an end at Upton Park, I’d like to say goodbye and thank you for the best memories many football fans can only ever dream of.