Filed: Monday, 7th March 2016
By: Paul Walker
Right, isnít it about time our club made a decision about our farewell to the Boleyn celebrations, and stuck to it come what may?
The last home game before our departure to the Olympic Stadium was set-up from the moment the fixtures for this season were announced, as the match with Swansea on May 7. Anyone with only a handful of brain cells could have worked out that all sorts of problems were likely to kill off that idea.
Fixture congestion, ours as well as various opponents, was likely to see a late fixture shoehorned into the last week of the season. Unfortunately for us, itís 99 per cent certain now to be a home match with Manchester United on May 10th or 11th.
So the carefully laid plans for the previous weekend are scuppered. But does it matter, does it have to be like that.
Leaving the Boleyn is a fiercely personal thing for many, many of us. And it is us, West Ham fans, who matter most.
Now those who know me realise that I am not allowed an opinion on anything in my own home--Iím sure you understand! But occasionally when I am out of range of my good ladyís hearing, I can speak my mind.
So why not just stick to the original plan? The last game, the last ball being kicked on the Boleyn pitch is actually not that important in the great scheme of things. Letís face it, our beloved leaders have every intention of organising some corporate junket anyway so some rich sod from the city will be the last person to kick a ball on our beloved pitch, and at vast expense.
Or is that just a little too cynical, and the reason our owners donít want any hint of a pitch invasion of punters with ideas of taking a bit of the pitch home with them.
We are already having to compromise. It has already been made clear that carefully laid plans for pre-and-post match celebrations at the Swansea match will now be severely curtailed if they are switched to a night game.
They are not possible for a midweek match and all the hassle night games, transport, rush hour etc, entail. So in the end, we all miss out on a memorable occasion.
Many fans have already latched onto the Mark Noble testimonial match on Easter Monday as a way for us to have a very private, personal farewell party. The game is already a 35,000 sell-out and there will not be a hint of an away fan in the place.
And the fact that Noble has got a vast array of former heroes involved in the match, from Paolo to Payet, Bowyer to Bellamy, Deano to Dicks, Rio to Ravel, Collison to ColeÖand even a hint of TevezÖwill make that event very special.
A chance to see heroes of three decades or more, a really perfect occasion to celebrate our history and a new dawn. That game, more than any other, will mark a very poignant end to our famous old stadium.
The Swansea game can be used for a proper, daylight, celebration, and whenever the Manchester United game is, well that can be the final curtain call. What is wrong will that?
Our leaving of the Boleyn should not be rushed, it should be savoured because as the Eagles once sung, Ď we wonít be here again.í
I recall politely asking the clubís media boys about rumours a few weeks ago that Sky wanted to shift the Swansea game to the Monday so they could dictate when the lights go out at the Boleyn.
The club came back with an equally polite answer that nothing had been decided and the Swansea game was at the centre of their plans still.
But the fact that our Cup run has caused fixture problems, has meant the last game will have to be midweek. And that is despite all my misgivings of how unfair that will be on thousands of kids on a school day, and the countless fans who travel long distances for matches and have difficult arrangements over last trains and needing the take time off work etc.
Now we have no choice over that last game. The club have been carefully saying now that Manchester United would be a fitting final game, our owners and Slaven have gone on record with that one. But they have to say that.
Manchester United will take their full 4,000 allocation, and couldnít give a monkeys about what we are doing, in fact, they may well take great delight in joyfully disrupting any speeches, parades that we may be planning.
And any thought of the sort of police presence we had for the Spurs game--Green Street looked like a war zone as we headed for the Tube, and the Barking Road statue had to be boarded-up---does not bear thinking about.
No, our departure to Stratford is for our fans to commemorate, in their own way, in daylight and with more time to take it all in with respect rather than that last minute rush to get to Upton Park tube before the usual crush.
Our club should now stick with the elaborate plans they have made already, and it does not matter a jot that the Mancs will be coming our way a couple of days later.
The Swansea game may still be moved to the Sunday, or lunch time Saturday, for TV, but then the disruption to fansí plans is minimal. I really donít want to saw goodbye to the Boleyn to a backdrop of police sirens and police dogs barking into the night.
Letís take back control of our own farewell and not be dependant on anyone else, whatever Manchester UnitedĎs European involvement is.. I am sure that the police would prefer a much more orderly event rather than a visit from our good friends from Manchester, or Winchester, or Chelmsford or wherever their fans live these days.
Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.
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