This is how it goes

It always felt like a season of transition. No sooner had the corks opened in Prague than it was announced our talismanic captain was soon to be departing. Despite the euphoria, the seeds of discontent had been sown through a string of underwhelming league performances.

New faces came in. Promise was shown before, in time honoured West Ham tradition, post-Christmas we seemed to down tools in every competition that didn’t have the word Europa in its title. All of which culminated to where we are today. In possession of a Spanish Head Coach, linked with a string of promising Brazilian talent but still wildly uncertain of our footballing outlook.


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It's a squad needing urgent remedial work at the back and augmenting in terms of depth. Not as urgent an issue given our passports have temporarily been placed back in the draw, but if the ambition really is to push forwards then running a small squad into oblivion isn’t wise.

Not only was it a transitional period for the club as a whole, but also on a personal level. For the first time since we upped stocks to Stratford, I changed from my usual seat in Block 148 to the rear of Block 147 as a wheelchair user totally dependent on others to attend football matches. And huge thanks go to my son and friends for keeping the claret and blue rollercoaster in my life.

Now I’m finally aware many others have had to do this for a long while, but as someone experiencing it for the first time it’s been an eye-opening period. There have been positives, negatives and moments of downright disbelief.

The positives? My new position is great. Easy to access, a great view and not wholly dissimilar to my spots at the Boleyn. My new footballing neighbours have all been friendly. The disability stewards at the club are a credit to them; a couple in particular go above and beyond to help. Also I’ve had the fortune to speak to some members of this website at games, which has always been positive and helps put a smile on my face.

Negatives do occur, though. Transportation is still a major issue. We all know the frustrations with the walk, the stop/go signs. Trust me, it gets exacerbated when you have an issue with mobility.


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People sitting in the disabled sections is commonplace. They’re great for photo opportunities and saving a walk to your seat. But it’s tiresome asking and explaining that it’s my season ticket spot. Plus the way social interaction has worsened, some aren’t receptive to being asked to go to the seat they actually are allocated to.

Logistically, there’s not much help in terms of accessing food, drink and being able to transport to somewhere where you can comfortably consume it. I’m now in a position I can’t realistically utilise local businesses and hostelries so as a captive audience member I’m not finding things easy.

What else has been evident is how people's attitudes have changed. There’s been looks of disdain, muttering of discontent and general ignorance. Walking or running directly across my path was commonplace. No-one asks to be in this situation. While it’s been only in the minority, these little things make people who are in a state of self conscious anxiety feel a lot worse.

As I say, it’s a minority of people doing this. The majority have been great. Those I knew before know that deep down I’m the same Rio, just with technical difficulties. Those who I’ve met over the last year, the kind words and taking time out to talk West Ham is appreciated.

For home games, a new routine has began to emerge. Now it’s time to get back on the away game trail. Fingers crossed I can get the confidence and logistics in balance so I can watch the Lopetegui era across the country.

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