In this week’s edition of our weekly Throwback segment, we hear from Bret,18 and a lifelong Hammer about his first experience of East London on a magically festive night at Upton Park.
“Born in Melbourne, Australia in 1998, I was brought up to a life of West Ham United and sunshine, a combination that rarely exists in my country of origin.
Although my whole family are avid Hammers, living over 10,000 miles from the East End means that it is near impossible to experience my Claret & Blue heroes in person.
However, this was all to change in December 2010, when fate finally landed me at the famous Upton Park.
My Grandad, who swapped the bustling Cockney streets for the golden Aussie sands back in the 1950’s, managed to contact his brother in Newham and suddenly I was making my first trip back to the UK.
I didn’t really know what to expect from this new country, as all I had to go on was the videos of the mighty Hammers under Avram Grant that I had been watching all season, the football was awful and played under grey skies.
Upon arriving at a gloomy but festive Gatwick Airport, I was greeted by a very unfamiliar sight, lifeless, bare and decrepit skeleton like Trees that cut creepy figures in the driving rain. But, the gloomy weather did little to deter me from embracing my spiritual home.
A couple of days into my short visit, my Uncle burst into the door and gleefully announced, with a twinkle in his eye, that he had managed to secure tickets for the Carling Cup visit of Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United.
The news was incredible and it felt like a dream come true, I just couldn’t believe that I was going to my first Hammers game, but little did I know that the encounter would be one of the greatest nights in West Ham United history.
On the day of the encounter, I had another first to contend with and that was Snow, as tonnes of white flakes rained down on E13 making for a night of defensive slip and slide.
However, such was the might of the wintry weather that the tie was reportedly close to being postponed which would have been a disaster with my return Down Under looming.
But, the game went ahead as planned thanks to a valiant effort from the ground staff to sweep the ice up against the advertising hoardings.
Green Street under the lights was a truly spectacular place and inside the ground, an electric atmosphere bounced off all four corners of East London as the fans were treated to something very special on the pitch.
American international Jonathan Spector quickly put us two to the good in the first-half with an incredible double. Carlton Cole would emulate that double just after the break to stun the visitors into a 4-0 defeat.
To have beaten such an opposition in such a way was simply incredible anyway, but for the occasion to be my first ever game at Upton Park was just beyond words and left me champing at the bit for more.
Unfortunately, I have not had the chance to return to the site of my Cockney heritage since, but long for the day when I can finally check out the new London Stadium”.