In this week’s edition of our weekly Throwback segment, we speak to Bert, 50 and a lifelong Hammer about an exciting Division Two encounter in the late 1980’s.
“Born in the famous Footballing year of 1966, I was destined to be a Football fan and coming from the East-End, guaranteed to be a Hammer. I was in my early teens when I first trod the terraces at The Boleyn Ground in a game that I’ve never forgotten.
It was Saturday the 10th February 1979 and my usual weekend agenda was awaiting the start of Grandstand and World of Sport on ITV, to hear of any goals going in during the afternoon fixtures. To my absolute amazement, my Dad came into the room and announced that we were going to Upton Park to see our beloved West Ham for the very first time.
Sunderland were our opponents in this particular occasion. We were in Division Two but challenging for promotion and sitting in fourth place, two points behind 2nd and 3rd with a game in hand. The Rokerites, as they were called due to their olds ground being Roker Park, were right on our heels in 5th and on the same points tally of 29. This game was a very important match in our season and had the makings of a classic encounter. We met other members of our family outside the famous Chicken Run and then queued towards the turnstiles. As we inched our way slowly and excitedly nearer to the entrance, my heart was racing at the thought of my first experience of professional Football.
Once inside, I felt a sudden and growing intensity of something very special. My favourite player at the time was Mervyn Day, our young goalkeeper. Little did I know that it would be his last home game as a regular due to the future arrival of Hammers legend Phil Parkes from Q.P.R. The crowd being packed in and standing tight to the pitch made for an atmospheric afternoon on the terraces and the game did not disappoint. The play ebbed and flowed throughout, with a bucketful of goals as well.
We went behind early, but David (Psycho) Cross equalised with a full-length dive that ended a fine move. Another goal for the visitors and a notch from Pop Robson for us saw the score-line at 2-2. David Cross the netted his second of the afternoon to give us a likely winner. However, it wasn’t to be, as the North-East outfit scored a late leveller to deny us a pivotal win. It could have ended differently with the away side threatening towards the end and missing reasonable chances, but we held on for the point.
We came away with the draw from my first game but I was buzzing after the experience, and couldn’t wait until I was able to witness more excitement like that at my home of Football.