“I am loving 2016 already”

Last weekend, January 2nd, 2016 has seen West Ham beat Liverpool 2-0 at home, completing the double over the Scousers – for the first time since 1964! We couldn’t have asked for a bettter start to 2016. “I am loving 2016 already”, West Ham Vice-Chair(wo)man Karren Brady tweeted after the game. And that summed up what West Ham’s fans felt that afternoon. Besides, also the last year had ended on the up for the Hammers with another home win over Southampton in the last game of 2015.

As 2016 being the last year the Hammers play at the Boleyn Ground before they move to the Olympic Stadium at the beginning of the next season, BT Sport ran a heart-warming documentation “West Ham say good-bye to the Boleyn Ground” ( https://youtu.be/jYRlQuBDrnE ). And similarly heart-warming and making every West Ham supporter proud is the following Guest Post by Russ from the blog “West Ham till I die” ( https://www.westhamtillidie.com/posts/2016/01/04/the-west-ham-experience-through-the-eyes-of-a-kentish-scouse ). Here are some quotes from this blog post in which the author describes the West Ham Experience Through The Eyes Of A Kentish Scouse:

“I drove to the game as always and we arrived around 10.15 and in plenty of time. The pubs weren’t open yet so we wandered down and circled the ground before going round to the club store. He loved the feel of it as soon as we got out of the car and walked the local streets, fans were already starting to gather and as we entered Green Street he said he could already feel the buzz. He loved the smell of the burgers and ribs and the program and Over Land and Sea sellers could be heard along the road.

“We picked up a burger and wandered down to the stadium and stood outside the store exit next to the car park steps to take it all in. We stood there for five minutes and David Sullivan turned up, walking from his car he bade us good morning. My mate couldn’t believe it, one of the owners actually spoke to us!! He was most impressed, apparently it would just never happen at any of the big clubs and certainly not Liverpool. We wandered into the Club Store which was bigger than he expected and had a much larger range of clothing (non football kit).

“As we came out of the shop back to the bottom of the car park steps David Gold wandered over from his car, he asked how we were and hoped we would have a good day. By this time he was shaking his head in disbelief and then to top it all Trevor Brooking arrived (in my mates eyes the best West Ham player of all time), and he also came over and spoke to us, shook hands and had a selfie as he passed. At this point I know its starting to sound like a Forrest Gump story and its never happened to me before, however the timing was great and my mate was almost speechless.

“[He liked the] view down Green Street with the growing numbers of fans and of course we had to visit the statue (not to fight). Into the Boleyn Pub for a couple a pints he was delighted at the friendly, easy atmosphere, he chatted to a couple of fans standing next to us telling them who he had met (didn’t tell them he was red scouse).

“So, into the stadium for the match, I couldn’t get him a ticket in the East Stand with me so he was on his own in the Bobby Moore Upper. He had a great view and loved the tightness of the ground. He had obviously heard Bubbles watching games on the TV but thought it was unbelievable to hear it ring around the ground live and he was staggered by the reception for Payet, said he had never witnessed anything like that in all the years he had been going to games. Seems he chatted to the people in the seats next to him and was very impressed with the friendliness and openness of the people he met.

“In a nutshell, he absolutely loved it, in his words, the best match day experience he has had in 20 years. He didn’t stop talking about it the whole way home, the fact [Liverpool] lost was almost irrelevant, he thought we deserved to win but he viewed it over the whole day and not just the 90 minutes of football and it was totally memorable.

“At the end of the day I felt really proud, of the club, the team, the fans, the owners everything about us. We can all get excited about becoming a big club and everything that includes, but don’t disregard the quality of what we have and who we are now. I think it’s a good lesson to us all not to take what we have for granted, to understand the uniqueness of it and cherish every opportunity we have to take it in before its gone forever, I know I will.”

I couldn’t have described a match day at the Boleyn in east London better than Russ and his friend. I hope I will be able to experience this atmosphere one more time this year before West Ham leaves this ground for the OS. They  have played there since 1904.

When we move to the new Olympic Stadium of course this will be another step forward for West Ham, but we just can hope that the atmosphere at the new Stadium will be as heart-warming as it has been at the Boleyn for 112 years.

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