Dublin Hammers Day Trip - Sunderland - Saturday 27th February 2016

West Ham 1 vs Sunderland 0

The sleepy eyed gang of Dublin Hammers gathered in the airport bar for the 8.20 flight to London Stansted. Pints were taken and we were warming up nicely when we realised we had better go and get on the flight! Before we knew it we were at Stansted, we flew through the airport and joined the queue for the National Express coach to Stratford. Thankfully we didn’t have too long to wait as a chilly wind blew the last of the cobwebs away.

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Once at Stratford one “splinter group” headed off in search of breakfast, while my myself and JC, JC’s daughter Grainne (on her first trip over to see the hammers) navigated our way through the maze that is Stratford station and got the tube to Upton Park.

Splinter group? (or clique)… this was a running theme throughout the day between the owner and president concerning who had or hadn’t been invited along to the evening gathering upon our return to Dublin. Needless to say it provided plenty of amusement for all concerned.

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So back at Upton park tube station we took photos standing next to the tube sign (along with many others it has to be said) and made our way down to the ground. The famous gates were adorned with scarves and pictures commemorating the recent anniversary of Bobby Moores passing.

I headed into the shop… I’ve never seen it so busy, a queue to get in and no room to move once inside? I breathed a sigh of relief as I left clutching my 1960s Bobby Moore replica shirt! On special offer, again due to Bobby Moore’s anniversary.

Due to the early KO time there was no time for pints so we entered the ground. A quick balti pie before kick off, well I say quick, not really sure how West Ham recruit the staff they have working in the food outlets within the ground… “must be slow witted, snail paced, hard of hearing and behave as if you have just smoked several large joints”.

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All week the media had been asking if we would boo Big Sam upon his return… well… a report I read said “West ham fans gave BFS the silent treatment” and that, from what I could see, was about right. The game sprung into life when Nobles powerful shot came down off the bar and was somehow saved by the Sunderland keeper. Not long after that, Byram sent a lovely curving ball (in fact it looked to be going out, the crowd groaned… then bent back in… the crowd cheered) down the wing and Antonio cut inside and unleashed a shot which flew in at the far post. One nil… it was then that issues were resolved with BFS… choruses of “we are West Ham, we play on the floor”, “we are Saven Bilic’s claret and blue army” and the amusing “we’re deluded and we talk bollocks” were sung loudly by the Bobby Moore lower!

The second half was scrappy to say the least, they had 2 great chances to equalise, but thankfully didn’t, substitute Andy Carroll’s volley rattled the underside of the bar before being cleared. Not much else to say! Not a great game, happy with the result and just to be at West Ham!

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The Presidents View... Average game. Early kick off? Bumpy pitch.? Will take the three points which is better than having the opposing manager smiling at the end. S.A.S. (Smile Against Sam)

The final whistle went and I stayed behind to watch Upton Park empty and take some photos (for old times sake), then after a chilli chicken kebab from my favourite outlet in Green Street I walked and then hopped on a bus up to Stratford where I met up with the rest of the crew in the Golden Grove… £2 for a pint of Magners… now that’s more like it. I can see that being the drinking venue of choice next season.

A relaxed couple of hours were spent chatting and joking, then we wrapped up against the cold wind and made our way to get the coach. No problems and we walked into a busy Stanstead Airport. We were queuing to go through security when Tommy adorned the now famous Big Sam mask and a couple of us started to take photos… “excuse me, you are not allowed to take photographs” said one of the female staff in heavily accented english “you will have to delete those photographs”… WTF? we looked at each other, smiled, then pretended to delete the photos. The owner was involved with some light banter with her, but nothing very serious, but she obviously took exception when as we went through she was overheard to say to one of her colleagues “yes, that’s him… the troublemaker” and pointed to the owner… oh how we laughed.

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Met up with Dave R in the lounge and more drinks were consumed as we watched the closing stages of the rugby international between England and Ireland, but in truth none were really interested and then suddenly it was time to board the plane… we made our way “at the double” down to the boarding gate.

Back in Dublin, those that HAD been invited headed into town, while the rest headed home!

By 10.30pm I was sitting on the sofa at home watching MOTD (somewhat worse for wear it has to be said) unable to quite believe that I had just been over to watch West Ham, over and back in a day… my first day trip… but not my last I think!

Great day, great company as always… bring on the Arsenal trip!

Report by Paul Smith

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