These are our halcyon days

I think there is no doubt that, in years to come, all us proud West Ham United fans will look back on the days and weeks which form this period of the club’s history – shall we say the last season and a quarter at least (because things may yet get even better!) - and regard them, with great fondness it has to be said, as ‘halcyon days’.

All you youngsters out there must, and I mean must, treasure these moments. Hold them close to your hearts; savour them to the full; feel the joy of walking in to work, or indeed school or college or university, knowing that you can hold your head up high and smile benevolently at those poor misguided souls who support other, lesser clubs in London. And we shall mention no names here but I trust you all know exactly who I am referring to.

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I was eleven years old when West Ham became the focus of my footballing adoration and I have never wavered in the ensuing fifty-two years. Once a Hammer; always a Hammer. There have been some good times in that span of years but, and you all know this without me having to tell you, there have been some very dark days as well. Highs and lows – but it seems to me, and I make no bones about the fact that I am, and always have been, a ‘glass half empty’, sort of person, that the lows outnumber the highs by some considerable margin. And yet we have endured; we have taken the endless ribbing and unpleasant jibes from those who have, and still mistakenly do, consider themselves above us in the hierarchy of football supporters.

There is an old adage my now departed dad used to quote to me when I was impatient for something to arrive or happen and it was this: ‘Good things come to those who wait patiently.’ Well, us Hammers have waited long and, mostly but not always, patiently and I have a sense that things are really changing now. There is a different feel to all things West Ham at the moment and it is making me feel a whole lot better about how I approach each successive West Ham fixture.

I know the footballing gods are, at best, fickle so I am under no illusion about the, possibly, transitory nature of our current success. But I don’t care; I really don’t. I am just happy to turn up at the London Stadium with my youngest son and sit next to some very good friends we have made and enjoy being entertained by a group of players who seem to have no sense of what it means to be beaten. Not just the ‘first eleven’ either. Every single member of the squad seems to have absorbed David Moyes’ message of endeavour and team spirit what may perhaps be best expressed, and most eloquently, as ‘esprit do corps’. ‘All for one and one for all!’; ‘never say die’; ‘fight to the last man!’ - well, perhaps that last one is a little too dramatic; but you get where I’m going here!

Things are, without a doubt, looking up!

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I was not at London Stadium for last Wednesday night’s hugely emotional success in the Carabao Cup against Manchester City. I had bought a ticket for the game but was unable to attend due to ill health. It would be easy, and untruthful, for me to say that it did not matter. It most certainly did matter. I was immensely disappointed not to be there to savour the atmosphere and emotion of such a dramatic night.

I can tell you that there was no lack of emotion for me as I sat in front of my computer screen nervously twitching as I kicked every ball and made every clearance as the minutes ticked away towards full time. But there is nothing to beat the joy of being part of something so special, and so uplifting, in such and all encompassing yet strangely intimate way. I missed the surging highs and lows of the emotional roller-coaster that are the lot of any football supporter who attends a game.

I so wanted to be there to shout myself hoarse in support of those players whom I admire so very much. I wanted to share in the joy as each successive West Ham penalty kick found its unerring way into the back of the net. I wanted to watch as Said Benrahma wheeled away in absolute joyous delight as he realised he had scored and thus secured an historic win for his team. Instead I struggled to hold back my tears of joy in the solitary seclusion of my living room as I witnessed, via the magic of the internet, something very, very special.

I want to say just this to David Moyes and all his coaching staff and to every member of the West Ham playing staff: Thank you so very, very much for the joy you are giving to every West Ham fan everywhere. These days will never be forgotten; YOU ALL will never be forgotten. These are matches, and results, and moments that we can treasure. Thank you!

Oh, and by the way, it has been a bloody long time coming!

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