Thursday, 21st September 2017
27 years and out
Filed: Monday, 5th June 2017
Author: Neil Willis
First and foremost, I would like to explain that I'm not a fairweather supporter who throws his toys out of the pram when things don't go West Ham's way. I have experienced many highs and even more lows since my first game on New Year's Day 1983, when a certain Tony Cottee scored.
Anyway, to get back on track, the question posed on Twitter by @kumbdotcom was: "What is it about the OS that made you not renew after 27 years as a season ticket holder?"
I would like it to be know that from the start I was against any move from Upton Park (sorry it will always be that to me and not the Boleyn) as it was home and was where my Dad started my football education of pain and suffering. However, following the truly magnificent experience of London2012, I foolishly changed my views and backed the plan.
I suppose I might have been drawn into what the board was promising us ie. a state of the art footballing arena; no more standing outside in the rain waiting to get onto the platform; a new dawn for the club; a visual wrap going around the arena; an amazing atmosphere; a ground to be proud of; easy access to all amenities outside the ground/surrounding area etc. I could go on and on.
The last game at Upton Park came and went and i was actually looking forward to stepping foot in the new home of West Ham Utd London. When I stepped into the arena it was one of those "wow!" moments, like when I entered Cardiff and Wembley stadiums for the first time.
Then i looked down to see the gaping space between the stands and the pitch - although my seat is ok, a Band 4 which my friends reluctantly agree it's better than their Band 1 seats. It's so vast I swear I actually saw a mass migration of wilderbeast at one game.
This has to have an impact on the players, especially coming from such a close-knit ground where in the good old days the opposition would be pulled into the crowd when taking a throw in. Unfortunately this will not change for one simple reason - it is not a football stadium.
It made me laugh when the Board made a major fuss about the arena being nominated as Stadium of the Year. This was followed by loads of told-you-so tweets and other messages on social media. Though there was one key word missing - "FOOTBALL" stadium.
There has been more atmosphere in the Emirates - and as you know, that's saying something. Unfortunately this has not improved during the whole season, singing Bubbles at the start of the game doesn't count. Though im reliably informed that there was a good atmosphere at the Spurs game.
It soon became apparent that the club was doing everything on the cheap. For example my friend tried to get a hot dog, only to be told "we have no hot dog rolls, do you still want it?" Who on earth buys more dogs than rolls?
Then there were the obvious security issues. This was highlighted by the mindless "buy one, get two free" Founders system, where non fans would get priority over real fans. This was highlighted by the fact that these founders either hadn't attended a match before or hadn't for some time.
The reason behind is simple... they acted like a scene out of The Firm (not the Tom Cruise film, but the Gary Oldman one). It was then I started to feel that this was not the club it once was. This then continued and I stopped going.
I understand that the club needed to move on to grow. But is has been fuelled by lies. Can't extend Upton Park because of the bus garage? Fib. The infrastructure will be second to none? A bigger fib as it's worse than Upton Park. The digital wrap will go around the whole ground? What a whopper. Fans consulted on the new badge? I must have missed that one as well.
I will always be a fan of WHU - not WHU London - but no longer class myself as a supporter and I'm looking forward spending my Saturdays watching a bit of non-league football to try and rekindle my love for the game.
One thing is for certain - I will not be stepping foot inside the multi-purpose sporting arena again.