Filed: Thursday, 22nd December 2016
By: Paul Walker
I have agonised over this article for a while, not sure whether it was just going to be about me, me, me (and nobody cares about that) or whether it was going to be about the West Ham family.
I have listened, argued, felt let-down and sensed my match going Ďexperienceí with my friends was about to disintegrate. Was it just me who refused to allow my lifelong love for West Ham United to be destroyed because of how a pile of concrete, metal, plastic and glass is configured into a stadium?
And, more importantly, how the club is run by people whose credibility with their fan base is at an all-time low, if that is possible.
But now I have seen the very impressive, emotional video by true fans Rob Williams and Jonny Madderson Ö now being aired not only by ourselves at KUMB but the other two main West Ham fansí websites as wellÖI sense that I am not alone.
Now before we go any further, I am not daring to ask people to ímove oní from the Boleyn, or is this anything to do with the young guys I watch West Ham alongside, true, loyal fans to the core, but with all the anger and misgivings about the move to Stratford and the board that have taken us there.
I wonít move on. I watch the excellent Boleyn Boys website every day, set up to remember the old days, to keep the memories alive. I watched West Ham for 60 years at the Boleyn, I think I understand!
But I sense that it is now about a large body of fans who are realistic, hate plenty of what has happened, but who know there is no turning back (the board have sold it, and itís being pulled down) and believe that continued attrition is damaging the team. Our team.
It does bother me that I see some fans, you can find them on all the forums, who would actually want to see this move to the Olympic Stadium fail, just to get back at the Davids and Karren, and to force them out. Do they actually want relegation?
Even after the two scrappy, very dodgy wins over Burnley and Hull, we may be 13th but we need 21 points from 21 games to reach the supposed safety margin (yes, I remember 2003) of 40 points to ensure we stay up. There is a long way to go yet.
It can, and has been less than 40. But I defy anyone to convince me that if we do go down it wonít be a total financial disaster and we would end up like Leeds.
Some of us feel that we have been conned, sold a pup. Sold a new home that is not fit for purpose. That has been an embarrassment. Just like David Gold on TV this week saying that ďthere will always be a minorityĒ who will complain. Patronising nonsense, pal, come and sit with the plebs and see just how much of a minority it is.
But so many of the problems are not just the Boardís fault. Poor stewarding, rubbish segregation, heavy-handed snatch squads, rude and insulting staff. Then thereís the shocking lack of policing and the constant problems in and around the Olympic Park. Again, thatís not our fault. Itís the fault of the owners, not the club.
Even the lack of retractable seating is at the door of the owners, not us. But we all know the board have closed their eyes to much of this, to have failed to insist on safety from the start and that our fans are treated with respect. There is a smell, even stench of money about the place and that shows the board for what they are.
Money men, money accumulators, money inspired. ItĎs what they do. Itís what their business plan is all about, whatever their end game is. Rake it in, spend nought.
Itís what we are lumbered with. And the choice is to stay or to go. Nothing else. Many folk on websites are saying that we are here for 99 years, itís not perfect (heaven forbid) but itís what we are left with.
Is that enough to walk away? Not for me. I have seen a few boards, directors, owners, chancers, and chairman not to know I will be there longer than they are. We are West Ham, we are our culture, not the Davids and Karren.
One from Wales, another from north London, this club wasnít even their first football love. Only Gold--born in Stepney and once a Green Street resident--has an understanding of who and what we are.
But that is all about something we cannot change. I have heard noises about AFC West Ham, and there is a hugely laudable West Ham Independent Supporters Association being formed. I wish them every success possible.
But it has taken me a while to realise that nothing will shake my support for this club, the club of my father, my brother, my grandfather, our uncles, my son. We go back 100 years.
And seeing the video, an open letter to our board, convinced me to come out, as they say. That video explained it all.
We, as fans, are world class, the stadium certainly isnít, the team is struggling, and the board--to take us forward--has to show itself to be world class. To lead, to back our fans rather than see them banned, to show some class, quality and integrity.
There is much that is wrong. But there is a big proportion of fans now who want the bickering and moaning to end, for us to come together as a family to support our team, the team and club of our forefathers.
It may hurt many to put aside their feelings of anger at how we have been mugged. But it has to be said that we have 20,000 new fans now and I doubt they feel like the old hands do. Many have been on the waiting list for years and can now have their tickets and bring their kids--the future generation of fans.
I donít want this to sound like a capitulation, or giving up. Or forgetting the Boleyn. I have argued the case on this site long and hard against the ruthlessness of the owners and their contempt for the loyal fans.
But we ainít going to change it now. We can batter away at the powers that be to make the OS a home for all of us, not just the rich lot in the posh seats and lounges that only seem to bother Karren.
But we have to unite as a family, to support our team. Because that is what it is. The Davids and Karren think they own it, but we know it is our heritage, our club. They will be gone one day, sold out or sold on, whatever.
But we must not let all this break our spirit. I will be here next season, and after that. West Ham has been my life for 60 years or so; what would I do without them now?
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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