It’s here!  January 1st 2015 means I can start my new sports related blog!  I’ve watched 1 football and 2 rugby matches since I had my plan to track my year in black and white (or whatever colour the blog turns out to be!)  It’s been hard not to write about them here, but they weren’t in 2015!  So not applicable!  I’ve gone with Event in the title rather than Day, or Part because I’ll have more than one match/day to go to some days -I really am that keen!

So to the matter in hand – West Ham United v West Bromwich Albion – my year started how it finished with the round ball game.  And this is where I am going to have to confess – I am a fan of football, just not a fan of some of the antics both on and off the pitch at times.

A bit of background to West Ham and I – my family are life long supporters; my Granddad was born near the ground and grew up a Hammer, my Dad and both my brothers are claret and blue too.  I don’t recall being taken to football as a child so was lured away to North London when I was about 15 to stand on the terraces at Spurs (please don’t leave now!).

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In more recent years however I’ve tended to head to Upton Park if the timing of a game coincides with a free day.  I’ve always found the atmosphere great, it’s not too far from home and Premier League football is on offer.  This season has been slightly different for a team that’s struggled in recent years; they’ve been riding high and before today sat in 6th spot.

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My aim with this blog isn’t to write a match report, more to write about the day, the experience if you like.  I travelled to the game by train; driving to Shenfield, I’m sometimes a bit loathe to park in the car park as it’s a bit dark and feels dangerous, but got a spot near the entrance and paid a mere £2.50 for the pleasure.  The journey’s very straightforward from Shenfield, 1 stop to Stratford, change to the Jubilee, one stop to West Ham, before a change to the District Line and a couple of steps to Upton Park.  My journey was enhanced by chatting to long time Hammers James and his Dad – they were a pleasure to speak to.

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Jumping on the Jubilee train a group of lads got on at the last minute – and the words – ‘Hello Miss’ were heard.  It’s a good job the lads at my day job know I’m sports mad, so they weren’t too surprised to see me going to the game.  it was great to see a group of 15/16 years olds making their way to West Ham – more lifelong habits being formed.

A real highlight of my day was meeting Florence as I walked out of the station; she’d been watching West Ham for at least 60 years and was thrilled to be going; not so thrilled about the move to Stratford in spite of the fact the journey will be easier for her.  I imagine it’ll be a great move for the club!

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Once I got the the ground I had what was really quite a surreal experience, I’d been contacted by  West Ham via Twitter about an interview.  I imagined maybe they were interviewing a few people and would as a question or two and take a photo – but a video camera it was!  And I didn’t brush my hair!  Schoolgirl error!  I was then whisked up to my seat in a lift which was good on the needing oxygen after climbing lots of stairs front!

I have to say, my seat had to be one of the best in the ground, it was literally on the halfway line!  An amazing view!  And I was surrounded by people who were passionate, knew their stuff and were desperate to see another win.

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West Brom came to Upton Park with a point to prove to their new Head Coach Tony Pulis; who was sitting in the stands, not too far away from where I was sitting as it goes.  They were never going to be an easy team to beat under those circumstances.

One of the things I love about going to West Ham is simply – Bubbles – as in

I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles, Pretty Bubbles in the Air

They Fly so High, Nearly Reach the Sky

Then Like my Dreams They Fade and Die

That really is one of those hairs rising on the back of the neck experiences – especially when the crowd carry on the song without the music!  It really is a great sound – I belted it out with the rest.

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There was a goal apiece in the first half as Diafra Sakho scored a well taken goal for the home team followed by a break away move by West Brom who scored through Saiso Berahino.  For me the best moment of the match was an intuitive save by West Ham keeper Adrian (he seems to only have one name??)

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The 2nd half was a bit of  stalemate; I’m not a huge expert on football, but I’d say that if a team’s pressing to win a game they really need not to leave 6 men in their own half when they’re attacking?  The match finished on West Ham 1 West Brom 1 – not a thriller.  But I for one enjoyed the game.

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The atmosphere was good, there was an odd swear word thrown around as fans got frustrated with their team, but nothing awful.  What was clear is that the football bug is generally a life long one; once you find your team they’re yours for life.  Both West Ham and West Brom have had chequered times over the years but still there were people around me who’d been fans for over 60 years.  That has to be admired.

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I’m going to try to post a few common, useful pieces of information for each venue I visit – so here goes.

  • Cost of Ticket                                                        – £62.00
  • Beer – Carlsberg – 500ml bottles                       – £4.40
  • Soft Drinks – Coke etc – 500ml                          – £2.30
  • Bottle of Water – 500ml                                      – £2.10
  • Hot Drinks                                                             – £2.20
  • Pukka Pie, Crisps, Soft Drink/Beer Meal        – £6.30/£8.40
  • Burger, Crisps, Soft Drink/Beer                        – £7.00/£9.00
  • Hot Dog, Crisps, Soft Drink/Beer                     – £7.20/£9.30
  • Ladies Loos – an odd one I know – but bear with – Claret and Blue of course!  A good number, clean, plenty of toilet paper and dryers that worked!  These things are important to us ladies!
  • How safe did I feel as a lady alone?  Totally secure all day, travelling, during the game and travelling home.
  • Nicest moment of the day – meeting Florence – what a star!
  • Best moment of the game – the man with one name’s save – Adrian.

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As an overall experience I’d recommend a trip to West Ham –  I only felt the need to shout out ‘You cheat’ once as a West Brom man threw himself to the floor.  Compared to rugby players, it has to be said footballers can appear a bit delicate at times.  The ref booked 2 West Ham players, the 1st actually didn’t look like a foul at all and the 2nd was something and nothing; so yes, I did shout at the ref a bit too!

I managed to reconfirm how much I personally hate shopping when I called into Westfield on the way home – 1 shop and I was out of there!  Give me live sport every day!  Event 1 done and dusted I’m already looking forward to Event 2!

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