In this week’s edition of our weekly throwback segment, we speak to Edward, 16, a West Ham season ticket holder on his special memories of the Boleyn.
“It was Christmas day 2010 when I opened three very strange looking envelopes, that contained just three very small pieces of paper. The first informed me that I would have the latest West Ham kit. I looked at my Dad and he said “Well it’s on order”. I was a bit disappointed, but there was to be more surprises around the corner. The second piece of paper revealed that I was going to the League cup semi-final, West Ham vs Birmingham City, 11th January 2011. I was now jumping for joy. Dad again said that the tickets were in the post. The third and last of the unusual envelopes would leave me speechless.
It said on the piece of paper that I was going to be a match day mascot for the Birmingham game. It took a while to sink in; all I was thinking about was walking out in front of 35,000 fans with one of my Hammers idols by my side. At the age of ten, I just wanted Christmas to be over and for it to be the 11th January. Finally, the day came. I could hardly concentrate on school work and I had special permission to leave early so we could make the 90 minute journey to East London. Even more exciting was the fact that the game was going to be televised live.
We arrived early, ensuring that we wouldn’t be caught up in traffic. We embarked on the club shop to buy the new home kit then we had to wait to be let in. I could feel the buzz of the excitement as fans arrived and waited to catch a glimpse of the players turning up in their luxury cars. We were escorted into the lobby of the club hotel and then up in a lift to the corporate hospitality area, where I and the other mascots would change to begin our amazing adventure. We were given the match day programmes then taken down to the player’s dressing room.
We stood in a line as all of the first team filed past, exchanging chat and shaking hands, whilst signing our programmes. I felt like I was dreaming as my heroes asked me questions and had banter amongst themselves; it made me feel like I was part of the squad. Next, we were taken onto the hallowed Upton Park pitch for some drills and ball skills. Running around on that turf was just mesmerising. The ground was starting to fill up, I looked up and Robert Green was running towards me doing his pre-match routine, I felt like a young professional. At last it was time to line up in the tunnel and wait for the team. As they came towards us I was craning my neck and counting players to see who I would go out with. My player was Mark Noble who chatted to me. I felt confident enough to ask him whether he thought he was going to score tonight to which he replied: “I hope so mate”. We then heard Bubbles start to play and we walked out to an enormous cheer with me proudly striding out in front of the cameras and the huge crowd. We had our photos taken with the captains (Matt Upson and Stephan Carr) and the referee, Phil Dowd.
After making a dash back into the West Stand, we took our seats in time to witness the action. The atmosphere was crackling as the game begun. Amazingly enough, Mark Noble opened the scoring, I like to think he thought of my words as he put us ahead, I also like to think my question gave him good luck. Liam Ridgewell spoiled the party by equalising for the Midlands club, before Victor Obinna was sent off just after the break. It was a nervous last 30 minutes but we managed to find a winner with substitute Carlton Cole popping up with ten minutes to go, we just about held out for the win with ten men. My incredible night was over, but it is something that I will never forget or ever take for granted.”