By what name do you call our beloved West Ham? Do you call them the Irons or the Hammers? What about the ground, do you say you are going to Upton Park or to the Boleyn Ground? Personally, I believe it is an age thing with the younger supporters using the “Hammers” as the nickname and Upton Park for the name of the ground. I would not be surprised if there are younger fans that would not associate the Boleyn Ground as being where their team plays its matches.
When I was a kid, the name “Hammers” was associated with the West Ham speedway team that held their meeting at a track in Custom House. Greyhound racing also took place at the Custom House stadium. The “Irons” was always the nickname for the football team. Of course, we all know where the name “Irons” originated. It came about as the team started life in 1895 as a firm’s team called Thames Ironworks FC before changing their name to West Ham United in 1900.
It is obvious that the nickname the “Irons” originated from the team’s name, Thames Ironworks. The nickname the “Hammers” came from the club badge that proudly displayed two crossed rivet hammers and not as a derivation of West Ham United, as many people erroneously believe.
Myself, I prefer the “Irons” and I still get goose pimples when the crowd roar on the team with “Come on You Irons.” Only the crowd singing, “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles” before and during a game can top this.
How many younger supporters actually know we play at the Boleyn Ground and not Upton Park? Upton Park is the district, the Boleyn is the name of the ground. The ground took its name from the building next door known locally as the Boleyn Castle – real name Green Street House. An image of the Boleyn Castle was added to the club badge around 1904/05.
The media is responsible for how people refer to the ground. You only have to read a West Ham match report or watch one of their matches on television and you will read, “Reporting from Upton Park” or hear, “commentating from Upton Park.”
Because of the media, I doubt if many non-supporters are aware West Ham play their matches at the Boleyn Ground, most would say they play at Upton Park. I am a traditionalist and firmly believe we should call the ground by its correct name. However, this could be academic if we get approval to move to the Olympic Stadium. Will the media then say, “Tonight’s game between West Ham and Manchester United comes live from the Olympic Stadium.” This does have a certain ring about it, don’t you think?
I believe it would be fascinating to run a poll to see what the majority of people’s nickname for the team is and what they call the ground. I think the results would be polarised with the majority of younger supporters opting for “Hammers and Upton Park” whilst the older supporters going for “Irons and Boleyn Ground.” In the meantime, it will be good to hear from our readers on the names they use.