A View from the Bobby Moore Lower - Season 2016-2017

West Ham United 3 vs Crystal Palace 0 - Saturday 14th January 2017

By 7.30am a band of Dublin Hammers had gathered at the airport bar and were talking through the events of the past week (concerning a certain french player) while warming up with a few pints. Flight was uneventful, most of us snoozed through it. At Stansted we boarded the National Express and were in Stratford in record time! Most of us managed to jump onto the first coach, the rest got the following coach and arrived in Stratford 15 mins after us!

In ”Stratfords Best Cafe” large breakfasts (aka soakage) were consumed amid the usual banter and then it was time to hit the Black Bull where we stayed to enjoy the match build-up not to mention several pints. 2.15pm arrived and we made our way to the stadium.

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The first half was instantly forgettable but for 2 things… a bad miss by ex-hammer James Tomkins and the continual singing of Bilic’s name by the hammers faithful. A show of solidarity behind the manager for outing the disgraceful behaviour by ‘arch villain' Dimitri Payet during the week.

Now the second half… and I have to say after the dross we’ve been dished up this season, I didn’t see this coming, but come it did and was it welcome or what! Byram came on and we went to a straight 4-4-2. This brought better rewards and we came close a couple times.

With the pressure slowly building and the crowd now right behind the team, Antonio got the ball in the box and his shot was turned into the goal by Fegouli. Sweet stuff. Then came a moment that I’m sure will stay in the memories of all those who witnessed it for many years to come… Antonio crossed and from the edge of the box Carroll unleashed an unstoppable overhead shot that screamed past the despairing Palace keeper into the back of the net. Que total mayhem, I nearly went over the seats in front!

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And it got better still… as Palace pressed, Antonio broke with the ball and his inch perfect ball put Lanzini clear… with 2 Palace defenders closing, he finished with a sublime chip sending us all into raptures for the second time!

Bilic’s name reverberated around the London Stadium, now in full voice and for the first time it really felt like the support were all together… fuck Payet… we are West Ham United, no one player is bigger than our club. Could it be that Payets’ actions have pulled us all together, uniting us against a common cause?… I hope so.

In the dying minutes Palace pressed and were denied a penalty (much to the disgust of Billy who had 3-1 hammers to win at 17-1). The final whistle blew and as the ground emptied it was great to see everyone smiling and in good spirits.

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Back to the pub for some celebratory pinty-poos before catching the 7pm bus to Stanstead. More pints in the airport and once on the plane most of us passed-out for an hour! As we walked through Dublin Airport at the end of a long but great day, the owner turned to me and said… “if Carlsburg did Dublin Hammers day trips…”

Words and photos Paul.

West Ham United 1 vs Bournemouth 0 - Sunday 21st August 2016

The first Premier League home game at the London Stadium saw a quartet of Dublin Hammers (Paul, Liam, Billy & Rene) gather in the airport bar, an hour delay to the flight meant we had 3 pints instead of 2… bad start, no wait, maybe it was a good start! The flight went well as the stewardess asked if I wanted to sit in the seats next to the emergency exit, the ones with the extra leg room. Not a problem and before long I was joined by my fellow travellers, except Rene who was doing his impression of Sleeping Beauty!

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Straight onto the coach at Stanstead and an hour later we were firmly ensconced in the Golden Grove beer garden enjoying more refreshments, enjoying the hot sunshine and company of “friends of the Dublin Hammers”.

With 2 hours to go before kick-off, Billy, Liam and myself made our way through the shopping centre and towards the new stadium and the club shop, sorry… Store! We had to queue to get in, but the wait was not long and before long we entered an “Aladins Cave” of West ham gear, could very easily have spent a fortune, and from what was going on around me, some people were. (Please note: If you are using a season ticket, you are entitled to 10% discount in the store… ALSO… for those who are interested in buying the new kit, wait until you fly out… £10 cheaper in JD Sports at Stansted!).

We entered the ground and headed to the bar. Another thing to note here is that the gates open 2 hours before kick-off, at present, all drinks are half price for the first hour, however if you don’t ask for the discount, they somehow forget to mention it… so ask! The owner surely did and clutching numerous pints we enjoyed the building atmosphere.

Then it was time to go in… what a stadium! The seats we had were great, and when you hear 57,000 people belting out Bubbles… don’t have the words!

With no Carroll or Payet on top of our other injuries, the team lacked bite and the first half was instantly forgettable. Second half continued in the same vain until a sending off for Bournemouth saw Valencia subbed. What started as a generous round of applause soon turned to anger as he left the pitch at a snails pace.

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That wasn’t the end of the anger as a confrontation between stewards and fans over standing up started to the left of us. A rousing rendition of “we are West Ham United, we stand when we want” echoed around the stadium. Reference to the clubs official line that standing is not allowed and the threat of revoking the season ticket of those caught standing. I’ve always preferred standing, that getting up and down again everytime we attack is ridiculous. Personally I hope it will hasten the option of safe standing at the London Stadium, now back to the match…

On came the new Argie striker and then the young lad Fletcher, who both offered more than the departed Valencia. We started to up the tempo, the cross came in from Tore and Antonio headed the first goal at the London Stadium. Adrian pulled off a stunning save with seconds remaining to secure the win. A poor game but a win is a win and most of the 57,000 people went home happy.

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Now that the match description is over, what about our new home? I thought it was great. I overheard someone say that it was like “going to Wembley, only we are at home” I could relate to that! When everyone sang together the noise was awesome, one particular rendition of COYIs sticks in the mind, if you are a player in the middle it must be something else! Facilities were great, access was great, however the concourse food and drink is expensive. Overall excellent and I for one can’t wait to go again!

We left and caught the coach back to the airport where food and more (in the words of the owner) “pinty poos” were consumed while we waited for the flight home. I got in at 1.30am Monday morning, having left at 5am Sunday! A long but very enjoyable day! Great company and a West Ham win!

Words and photos by Paul & Liam.