In this week’s edition of our weekly throwback segment we speak to Bobby (15), a West Ham season ticket holder about his first Hammers game.
“My first ever West Ham game was on Saturday 19th April 2008 against a struggling Derby County, you never forget dates like that in your life. I remember parking up outside green gates in the streets around The Boleyn, roughly three hours before kickoff. My dad and my brother went off to collect a match day programme which had a prepared looking Matthew Upson on the front. Me and my mum stayed in the car devouring soup (from a flask) and sandwiches, all made the night before.
My brother and my dad returned to the car allowing conversations about the game to begin. I remember my brother saying to my dad “If it’s 0-4 to Derby are we going to leave early”. My dad replied with a laugh “That’s not going to happen”. He said a risky thing to say before a game like that. I only now realise why what my brother said was so funny because Derby County only managed to collect 8 points from the 2007/08 campaign.
35 minutes before kickoff and we embarked on our 15 minute walk to the famous Upton Park. Suddenly, we were confronted with huge terraces that seemed to reach the sky and loud chanting. We had reached the ground. After queuing for 10 minutes we arrived at the turnstiles, my brother and I were transfixed by the sheer amount of people dressed in Claret and Blue. As we approached the click of the turnstiles we were searched by a hefty steward, the sort of man who would always be willing to share Football banter as he searched you. A few turnstile clicks and we were in. As we approached our seats I realised we were smack, bang in line with the half way line, a perfect view, from the Chicken Run.
I still get that same feeling of tension and excitement every time I step into a stadium, even today. As the game edged closer I came to the realisation that tensions were running high, we didn’t want to lose to such unlikely underdogs. Bubbles began and we sang to the top of our voices as the beautiful sound rang around the ground. The moment when everyone fell silent and sang “Fortunes always hiding” was the most special moment I had ever encountered. To this day, the beautiful sound of thousands of fans singing the famous Hammers anthem, is still my favourite ever thing.
The referee blew his whistle and the game was underway, my first ever West Ham game. I was transfixed by the football, the atmosphere, the ground and most importantly West Ham United. The game went on as young Freddie Sears made his full home debut, Bobby Zamora opened the scoring with a 20th minute header, we all jumped up in a chorus of joy. The atmosphere quickly tightened up as ex-Hammer Tyrone Mears equalised for the Rams early in the second half. A roar of discontent went up as Sears was taken off as a substation for Carlton Cole about 15 minutes from time. However, ironically Cole would score the winning goal as we went mental, in the 77th minute. We nervously held out for the 3 points.
It wasn’t the most convincing win, considering Derby were rock bottom, but I learned that the 3 points mattered more than the performance. A huge roar went up as the referee blew his final whistle as we all began to spill out into the streets of East London. After the game ended the day felt like a dream come true and after that I just craved more and more. I had no other choice in life than to be a West Ham fan and that is something that could never change, and something that I will carry on to my kids when I grow up.
My first game is something that I will never forget and the love and passion for West ham is something that is in the blood of my family. My dad grew up in the glory days of West Ham, watching players like Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters; this resulted in me being named after the greatest man to ever wear the shirt, Bobby Moore”.