In this week’s edition of our weekly throwback feature, we hear from Danny, 42 and a lifelong West Ham United Season Ticket holder about his first experience of the place that we now call home.
“Explaining to my two young sons, 6 and 7, and Hammers mad that we would never be going back to our beloved Upton Park to watch our Claret & Blue stars again was difficult.
At that stage, I had barely managed to get my head around it personally over that dull summer when The Premier League was on holiday.
The final game at The Boleyn was a sensational experience for us all and like so many others, I was reluctant to swap E13 for E20, but believed it was the best thing for us as a club and tried to advocate that to my confused boys.
The one immediate positive of the move that came to my mind was the fact that The Stadium would be geographically closer to our family home in Kent, without a need to contend with the bustling Barking Road.
But, I could not think of many others, until I saw the magnificent London Stadium for the first time.
I had desperately tried to get to the first game in Stratford, a Europa League Qualifier at home to NK Domzale of Slovenia, having renewed our Season Tickets at the first opportunity, but unfortunately, work commitments meant that we were unable to attend.
However, I made sure that I was able to make it to the fixture that would officially the former Olympic Stadium as the home of West Ham United, a marquee friendly at home to one of Europe’s finest Footballing outfits, Serie A’s Juventus.
Everything about that day, a Sunday afternoon, was truly magical, not less the fact that names that were all too familiar to my sons, such as Gigi Buffon, Paulo Dybala and one of the World most expensive Footballers at the time in the form of Gonzalo Higuain, who had just been purchased from Napoli for a fee of £90 million.
The sun was shining brightly in East London and there was that feeling in the air, anticipation, and excitement at its finest, and the moment that we entered the turnstiles and feasted our eyes upon our new home was just incredible.
My two young sons stood in awe at the enormity of the arena, “Is this Wembley Stadium”, Jack uttered “No, it’s our Stadium”, I replied, “Wow Dad”.
A spectacular opening ceremony was held just prior to kick-off as dancers presented large banners of both team’s badges and the words “Thank You Founders”, it was genius and the game that followed matched up to it in every way.
An incredible amount of talent was on display from both sides as the visitors raced ahead with two goals, and an Andy Carroll double squared things back, before Simone Zaza ironically fired the winner, meaning that The Old lady lifted The Betway Cup.
This mattered little to us, as the opening of the Stadium had been a resounding success, looking magnificent, it was surely a day that I and my sons will never forget and the car journey home was shorter.
Joking aside, the Stadium move hasn’t quite panned out as we expected it to so far, but fellow fans need to put its qualms aside and realise that with support, we can make it a fortress, one just as mighty as The Boleyn was back in the day”.