In this week’s edition of our weekly Throwback segment, we hear from Bob, 20 and a lifelong Hammer about the magical night that a Claret & Blue star was born.
“I will never forget the West Ham first game that I took my girlfriend, Samantha, to and I am eternally grateful that she got a taste of a “proper” Upton Park atmosphere before our move to Stratford.
It was late December 2015 and our Hammers were enjoying a magnificent season, challenging for The Champions League, although we had not won in eight heading into the tie as injuries struck.
Absentees from the starting Xl included the likes of star man Dimitri Payet, Manuel Lanzini and Winston Reid, but that would not matter in the end.
After explaining the Offside rule to my girlfriend half, a dozen times, we were ready to set off on a cold Monday night as my Dad let Sam take his Season Ticket for the game.
We arrived at the very top of Green Street adjacent The Boleyn Pub after walking from the Car, parked closely and she was amazed by the hordes of Hammers and the fierce chants.
When we finally got into the Ground, sitting in The Bobby Moore stands lower, as usual, my girlfriend pondered every question possible from “Why are the Saints wearing red and white”, to “why is the Linesman skipping like that”.
As the game finally begun with an electric chorus of “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles”, my biggest ponder to Sam was whether she would frantically celebrate like the other 35,000 fans inside The Stadium, to which she replied “No”.
However, we eventually agreed that she would awkwardly stand if such an event occurred to avoid looking like an away fan, although I’m relieved that she didn’t when a Hammers player put the ball in the back of the net on 13 minutes.
Because, this was, of course, Carl Jenkinson scoring an own goal under pressure from Dusan Tadic to give the visitors an early lead.
The away side would control the game for the next hour or so, much to the displeasure of the Upton Park faithful, but we would finally draw level on 69 minutes.
Michail Antonio, now a household Hammers name, but only making his second home start at that point, wondrously cut in from the left side, leaving several defenders for dead but what happened from there would defy gravity.
Antonio stumbled to the ground with what seemed like the whole of East London appealing for a penalty, meanwhile, the ball was somehow soring over Maarten Stekelenburg’s head and into the back of the net.
The goal particularly fascinated my girlfriend due to the fact that there was no correlation between the way the ball ricocheted off the England winger’s head and looped so high into the net.
Nevertheless, it stood and Antonio would go on to assist Andy Carroll for our winner, this time, she did celebrate in a frenzy like the rest of the Ground.
That win would trigger a superb run that would almost see us into the top four for the first time in the modern era, but perhaps more importantly for me, a love affair between my favourite person and my favourite Football club.
Nowadays, she is a Season ticket holder with me in The London Stadium and all because of that magical winter’s night under the lights in what will always be our favourite Football Stadium”.