The FA Cup meant I had to buy a ticket for my seat rather than use my season ticket, I thought I’d bought a ticket on the lower tier near the Bobby Moore stand, but no, I’d bought a seat in Block 112 one of the areas close to the away fans, an area I’d seen stewards intervention in from afar. Not the best piece of work by me, but, when I got to my seat I was 8 rows from the front in a great spot. I just needed those around me to stay sitting in their seats so I could see the football. (I’m not the tallest)
I had a mix of people around me, there were people who were clearly once off visitors as well as lots of young lads, children really, I believe it was kids for a quid, a great initiative. I had 3 long term Hammers fans next to me and asked one how he was feeling about the stadium having been a season ticket holder for 20 years. In his words “I’m back in love” his passion for the club was clear to see. We spoke a little about the whole standing thing and his preference was to stand, I had a bit more of an understanding of that viewpoint by the end of the game.
To say things didn’t go well for West Ham would be a total understatement, they were competitive for the first 30 minutes although Adrian made several superb saves. Another dubious refereeing decision saw Manchester City awarded a penalty on 31 minutes, it was hard to see from where I was sitting if it was a nailed on penalty but having watched a highlights replay it was to say the least a ‘soft’ penalty as Ogbonna barely touched Zabaleta in fact the Man City player looked slightly surprised himself. Yaya Toure – who looked like a giant on the pitch scored the penalty and City were ahead.
Feghouli had a chance at the other end after a good run by Antonio whose shot was parried to Feghouli’s feet, he directed the bat straight back to the keeper and was bundled into the goal by the City defender, he really should have made a better job of his shot.
At 40 minutes and the score on West Ham 0 Man City 1 the game felt as if it still had possibilities for the home team. Manchester City soared up the pitch as Hammers failed to capitalise on a well won corner, a superb pass into the box from Sagna saw Nordtveit under pressure from Raheem Sterling kick the ball past his goalkeeper for an own goal. Sterling provided the pass for David Silva to score the visitors 3rd goal, I’d never seen the young England player I’ve before, he’s fast and strong, difficult to bully off the ball, he gave his shirt to a young fan at the end of the match, he clearly spends a fair amount of time in the gym.
With the score on West Ham 0 Manchester City 3 at half time, the 3 long term fans sitting next to me left for home, I understand seeing your team losing is hard, I don’t understand not staying until the end. I had a great view from my seat, but a rendition of “If you love West Ham Stand Up” meant I had to spend at least 20 minutes of the first half standing up, not such a good view and nowhere near as easy to take photos. The vast majority of the fans in Block 113 spent the entire game standing and after much aggro caused around the stadium over standing I can see why some want to do so. I feel differently about it, the best option would be to make sections such as 113 standing areas, but turn them into that rather than have people standing with seats. I don’t want to stand up watching the game for 90 minutes, my knees won’t allow but I can see why some want to. I’d also suggest that tickets shouldn’t be sold to children in that area, I can honestly say I’ve never heard the C Word shouted out as many times in 90 minutes. I can see the passion I can’t see the need for continually calling officials and away fans foul names.
The Manchester City fans – who to a man as with most of the away fans I’d seen were standing, just to add insult to injury for the home fans, enjoyed their evening, and were quite entertaining. The London Stadium and West Ham seem to have sorted out the problems around the 2 sets of fans mixing.
The lead up to Citys’ 4th goal caused many C words to be shouted when Aguero hand balled in a pretty blatant way in the Hammers Penalty Area, right in front of the linesman/Assistant Referee, he was clearly in need of glasses and all sorts of swear words too. The ball ended up out for a corner and Aguero himself slotted the ball in for goal 4. Cue lots of West Ham fans heading for the exit. John Stones put the icing on the cake with a 5th goal, a strong header which was judged to be over the line by technology and Manchester City had thrashed West Ham 5 nil.
It was good to see the City players applauding their fans at the end of the match and as mentioned Sterling turned back and handed his shirt to an excited young fan, 5 goals and his idols shirt, what a night to remember! In spite of so many fans leaving early there was still a long queue to get to the train, I met 3 little lads from Wickford with their Mum and Dad, all Hammers fans and still smiling in spite of the result.