In this week’s edition of our weekly Throwback segment, we hear from Tom, 17 and a West Ham United Season Ticket holder about a very wintry night at Upton Park.
“Born in East London at the turn of the Century, my parents moved me down to Kent when I was young for a quitter upbringing from the City that they had endured for their entire lives.
But, one thing that remained in me and something that was passed down from generation to generation by my family was my Claret & Blue blood and shared devotion to the Hammers.
Living a one hour and 30-minute drive from E13, trips to see our beloved team were a rare commodity, and by the winter of 2011, I had only visited the Boleyn Ground on three previous occasions.
However, one day, my Dad surprised me and my younger brother, whilst on our way home from School, with tickets for the Carling Cup clash with Manchester United.
We were mesmerised by the notion of setting off to see our Claret & Blue starts and it promised to be a night to remember, that’s if we ever made it there of course.
The clash was to be played on the last day of November, and in the days leading up, snow fell across Britain, placing our trip to East London in jeopardy.
On the South-East Coast, our main route to the rest of the Country is a Motorway called the M20, renowned for being treacherous in extreme winter weather.
On the day, a Wednesday, I watched in anguish out of the window of my Classroom as the snow fell, anxiously waiting for the moment of truth which was set to arrive at 3:10 PM.
As me and my brother left School, our Dad greeted us at the gate and with a smile on his face, stated, “we are going to try our best to get to the game tonight”.
This was met by ecstatic reactions and one slippery trip up the Motorway later, we had joined Barking Road, where the conditions weren’t as bad as we were expecting.
Another thing that would simply knock our expectations for six was the incredible clash that followed.
The Hammers, under Avram Grant, had made a forgettable start to the season and by this point, sat 20th in the Table, despite a victory at home to Sunderland last time out.
In contrast, United, under Legendary Boss Sir Alex Ferguson, had just risen to first place in the Premier League Standings, doing so with an astounding 7-1 home triumph over Blackburn Rovers, I remember expecting a similar thrashing for us that evening.
However, things would be different, so very, very different, it was just one of those nights in East London, you could feel the excitement in the air amongst the snowflakes and the atmosphere was something to remember.
It had that quality, the Boleyn Ground, an ability to seemingly pluck results out of the air and make them happen, the fans lifting the team to greatness from nowhere.
This was exactly what occurred on that very night, as white speckles fell from the sky, a Christmas miracle arrived on the pitch, less than a month away from the festive period.
As we watched on from the bottom tier of the West Stand, the night would belong to American right-back Jonathan Spector, who scored the opening two goals against his former club.
Cult Hero Carlton Cole would add two more late on to cap off a magical win, as we progressed to the Semi-Finals, eventually losing out to Birmingham City in dramatic circumstances.
But, there is no doubt in my mind that I will remember that fairytale evening, the fact that it took hours to even get out of East London, did nothing to flatten our joy.
After that, not even distance could keep us away from our second home of Upton Park, bracing those journeys time and time again as me and my brother grey fonder and fonder of watching matches live.
Nowadays, we all have Season Tickets and are seasoned veterans of both Upton Park and the London Stadium, however, in my eyes, nothing will ever be able to beat that night under the lights”.