Exclusive chapter from 'Mr Moon'

Last week, West Ham United's match day announcer Jeremy Nicholas released his latest book entitled 'Mr Moon Has Left The Stadium'.

The book is the story of a lifelong football fan who landed his dream job when he was asked to become his team's stadium announcer. It contains a collection of funny stories and humourous anecdotes gathered by Jeremy during his 13 years working for the club.

Thanks to Jem, we are delighted to be able to bring you an exclusive chapter from 'Mr Moon' that you won't find anywhere else apart from the book itself (see below).

In the meantime, you may purchase a copy of Mr Moon Has Left The Stadium here on KUMB via the following link.

And once you've read the following extract, why not visit www.mrmoonhasleftthestadium.com to see Jeremy read another chapter from the book.

Hammers or Irons?
by Jeremy Nicholas

OK, fingers on buzzers and no conferring. You're in a pub quiz and you're asked the nickname of West Ham United. What do you say? Well you don't say anything, because it's no conferring, but the chances are you'd write down 'The Hammers'.

Hang on what's the buzzer for, if we're writing things down?

I don't know but everyone knows 'The Hammers' is the correct answer. The papers always call us 'The Hammers'. Except it's not the only answer; among the family of West Ham fans it's much more likely that we'll call ourselves 'The Irons'.

On a match day you'll always hear, 'Come on you Irons!' It's very rare to hear, 'Up the Hammers' outside of an episode of alleged TV sitcom Till Death us do Part. I didn't much care for the show about Alf Garnett the racist West Ham fan. He was played by Warren Mitchell, a Jewish Spurs fan, so not exactly made for the part of an East London bigot.

The show was meant to poke fun at intolerance, but many people who watched it were cheering for Alf rather than laughing at his ridiculous views. Alf Garnett was a disgrace to the claret and blue scarf he wore.

I appear to have climbed on a soap box. I'm not sure who left it there. The point is the nickname we're given, isn't the one that we tend to use ourselves. It's like the royal family calling someone Bertie, when they're really called George, or because they've forgotten their name, but know it has a number at the end.

Lots of teams have more than one nickname. Bolton are known the world over as Wanderers, but their own fans call them Trotters. West Bromwich Albion might officially be the Throstles, but they're more commonly the Baggies, after the baggy trousers worn by their supporters coming straight from the factories.

Gooners used to be a derisory term used for Arsenal instead of the Gunners. Now the term Gooners is used by their own fans as a nickname. Older football fans always call them The Arsenal from the days when they were the works team for the Royal Arsenal at Woolwich.

So why are we 'The Hammers' as well as 'The Irons'? The neutral fan often thinks the name Hammers comes from the Ham of West Ham, but it's from the riveting hammers used at Thames Ironworks, as featured on the club badge. The shipbuilding firm is also the source of The Irons name.

The big old hammers were used to whack the rivets into the iron cladding on the ships. After a hard week of whacking it was great to relax by watching your football team. It was the most natural thing in the world to support them with songs about your favourite tool. The same principle applies today when Manchester United fans sing about Wayne Rooney.

I suspect the more common usage of Hammers by the press in particular is down to its suitability in headlines. If we win big the headline is likely to be 'A Right Hammering'. When we lose it's often 'Hammered'.

'A Right Ironing' doesn't have the same ring to it. 'West Ham Well and Truly Ironed!' A big result in football has little in common with starching your shirt collars. The club itself also leans towards Hammers rather than Irons. The club match day programme has been called Hammer and more recently Hammers.

There's perhaps another reason why we've been branded as Hammers rather than Irons. In cockney rhyming slang 'Iron' is used as a term for homosexual; Iron hoof meaning poof. It shouldn't be a problem in these liberal times, but there's always been a bit of a time lag between football supporters and the rest of the world.

Just ask Brighton fans, many of whom are probably not gay, yet they are continually subjected to chants of 'does your boyfriend know you're here?' It's all because they come from a town with a larger than average gay population. It really is the last resort.

There's another naming question that splits West Ham fans, and it crops up in a recurring dream that I've had many times. I'm a guest on the quiz show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? It's more of a nightmare really, because I end up losing a million pounds. The million pound question is 'What's the name of West Ham United's home ground?'

'The Boleyn Ground,' I say, quickly adding, 'Final answer.'

Chris Tarrant says that's the wrong answer, looks sad and the lights come on and the crowd groan. Chris reveals the correct answer is 'Upton Park' and then I wake up screaming. Sometimes I argue with him for a bit that Boleyn Ground is the true name of the ground, but he never hands over the cheque. Once I yelled at him that Upton Park is a tube station, but he was already on the fastest finger first round to find the next contestant.

Of course there are a number of inaccuracies in the dream, not least the fact that Boleyn Ground would presumably not be one of the four displayed options if Upton Park was also there. Also the dream bears more than a passing resemblance to an episode of Only Fools and Horses. Rodney is Del's 'phone a friend' on a quiz show, correctly answers 'Ravel' to a classical music question, but is incorrectly told the answer is wrong. Del chastises him with the line, 'Everyone knows Ravel make shoes!'

In real life I don't have a problem with calling the ground Upton Park, in the same way as I interchange 'The Hammers' with 'The Irons'. I prefer Boleyn Ground if I'm honest, as that is the ground's actual name. Upton Park is the area, but because of common usage it's perfectly acceptable as well.

The one thing I am a bit picky about is the dropping of the 'the'. I don't like it when people say Hammers have taken the lead. We're not called Hammers, we're 'The Hammers'. However, I've no problem with the dropping of the 'H'. I realise I'm one of the few supporters who pronounce it in our nickname or proper name, but I wouldn't 'ave 'ad much work on the BBC if I'd started dropping my 'H's now would I? Oh, and while we're at it, there's no 'H' in the pronunciation of 'H'. It's 'aitch' not 'haitch'.

Right let's get out of here before I fall over, there's soapboxes springing up everywhere.

* Once again, you may purchase a copy of 'Mr Moon Has Left The Stadium' here on KUMB from just ?7.99 via the following link.

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