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Blog: A Trip To West Ham

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Myself and The Players On My Pitch went to see West Ham on Saturday. Ever since the Olympic... sorry, "London" Stadium re-opened we've been talking about getting tickets to see a game, just so we could see what it's like in the aforesaid stadium, so when "Community Tickets" were offered (part of the ongoing campaign by West Ham to get its new neighbours to like them!) we SNAPPED them up.

I was a bit worried on the way there about getting in and it all being All Right. I, of course, am a hard-nosed TOUGH GUY but I did not like the idea of The Illustrations On My Antique Bookmark being exposed to ROUGHNESS and uncouth behaviour as it is not what she is used to hem hem. Also, to be honest, I was worried about the PROCESS of getting in - would there be big police checks? A hierachy of entrance? Something else common at Premiership grounds that I was unaware of?

As it turned out everything was, of course, FINE. We got swallowed up in the big crowd stomping through the park towards the ground and everyone was happy, getting audibly more excited the closer we got, and once inside it was the standard THRONGING to our seats. We were sat up in the second tier, which was actually really nice - very close to where we sat when we went to the Olympics, in fact. It LOOKED just like other big grounds I'd been in, and the gap between crowd and pitch that people had talked about so much wasn't really noticeable. It felt, as The Managers In My Area pointed out, really COSY. You could see everyone else around the whole ground, so it felt very friendly.

The game itself was EXTREMELY enjoyable. For most of the first half West Ham were really good - in the nicest possible way, and with full respect to Posh, it was not the sort of thing I was used to. HOWEVER, towards the end of the second half this changed, as Watford scored Against The Run Of Play and then, just before the break, scored AGANE as a result of a RIDICULOUS cock-up by defenders. I began to almost feel at home!

Shortly after that the half ended and the teams left, with some West Ham fans BOOING. I have to say I was a bit surprised by that - yes, the end had been rubbish, but GOODNESS ME the rest of the half had been good, and this was only the SECOND home game of the season. I don't think you should NEVER boo your team, but crikey, it's a bit early in the season to be doing THAT, especially when you've spent the preceding 45 minutes singing about how much you LOVE them.

The crowd, by the way, were a) mostly perfectly delightful b) STANDARD in many ways but c) surprisingly diverse. When I go to see Posh it's NOTICEABLE how overwhelmingly white everyone is, but where I was sitting there was a proper East London MIX of people, including lots of women and kids too. Also the HUMOUR was GOOD - when West Ham moved to The Olympics I was worried there would be TROUBLE, but actually it's been FINE, and it seemed to be that way inside the stadium too. We DID see a bit of a kerfuffle at one point when some fans were arguing with each other, but it was nothing more than that, so I was VERY surprised later in the evening to see it reported as "unsavoury scenes" and "rioting".

There were also the usual NUTTERS - Guy Who Thinks He's Leading The Singing was sat behind us for a while, Inexplicably Furious Man was in front of us too, but they left during the break, I guess to go behind the goals to join in with the mass Shouting behind the goalposts.

Unfortunately for home fans there was to be SIGNIFICANTLY LESS singing and shouting in the second half, as Watford amazingly scored two more times and a GREAT QUIET fell around the ground. The turnaround was quite astonishing, as the team that had been RAMPANT earlier on basically CAPITULATED. We watched the small, yellow, group of Watford fans leaping around for JOY over on the far side, but felt that it would have been impolite to join in. It would have been nice to SEE the extra goals, but the BIG SCREENS rather pointedly didn't show them, which I thought was a bit rude. They were disappointing all round actually, those big screens. I'd expected them to show close-ups and replays, but they spent most of their time showing A LOT of adverts!

Watford had a FIFTH goal disallowed as offside, which seemed to be a signal for everyone to LEAVE - I think several people thought it WAS 5-2 so got up in DISGUST, then couldn't really go back to their seat when it wasn't. Over the last ten minutes huge SWATHES of the ground cleared, it was REMARKABLE. I haven't seen that happen to that extent at Posh, but then i guess you need SWATHES of the ground to be FULL in the first place!

It always seems a bit OFF to me to leave early, especially, as I say, when you've spent most of the afternoon shouting about how you love the club through thick and thin, but then I've never had a season ticket and so have never a) known I'll be back in a few days b) felt the need to protest particularly. Reading the reports later on there does seem to be quite a bit of unhappiness amongst fans about their new home, especially RE: seating allocations, which I can well understand. If you've sat in the same seat your whole life, with the same group of people around you, it's going to be UPSETTING to say the least to have everything changed. I mean, yes, the club HAS been basically GIVEN a mega-stadium, but that's not necessarily to the benefit of the actual supporters.

Anyway, we DID stay to the end and thus found that getting out was PEASY! Everything about the day HAD been nice and easy, in fact, and despite the above apparent discontent we'd had a LOVELY time. I hope the club and the supporters do manage to get themselves sorted out quickly, if they do they'll have a GRATE ground to enjoy, even if the actual football is not always of the same standard!
Big screem - adverts, no Watford goals.
posted 12/9/2016 by MJ Hibbett

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My lad and I were there with the Watford fans. It was an odd experience, with olde-fashioned football fighting, but between the home fans only. The lack of replays was something that WH carried over from the Boleyn, as it is all about them. Made MotD seem even better! You picked a right good game, though!
posted 12/9/2016 by Mike Cresswell

As a Man City fan, I know never to leave before the end - imagine if I'd have done that and missed that AgŁeroooo moment in 2012? Glad the two of you enjoyed it - might have to give it a blast myself sometime, maybe a League Cup game or something.
posted 13/9/2016 by Warren

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