Filed: Thursday, 8th December 2016
By: Belgian Iron
Like a lot of you, I was at the Arsenal home game on Saturday.
Unlike many of you though, it was my first competitive game at our new ground. I attended the Juventus game as well, which was played in a... erm... typical Ďfriendlyí atmosphere, but so was the feeling for a friendly game at the Old Lady.
I have been going to West Ham games since 1999 when I turned 12 years old. The first 50 or so as a teenager. I eagerly anticipated every match I went to from weeks before. That feeling when I was so excited to make the journey, over land and sea, to see my beloved West Ham.
When you turn a bit older, you get used to visiting games, driving from minaland Europe to the UK and back again in your own car or with the coach. The exciting times before you left was not weeks any more, but days.
But still, you look forward to it. Some times more than other times, depending on the importance of the game, venue or company youíre with. Youíre watching more West Ham-related Youtube clips than other times, just to get into it.
Last week though, a few days before I left, I experienced none of this. I was scared. Scared about the feeling I would get in our new ground. I was even thinking about cancelling the journey, but still decided to go ahead.
Saturday arrived and we left Belgium at 7am. 10-odd hours later, I was sitting in the so-called London Stadium.
It's difficult to describe the emotion, but I was feeling empty inside. Empty because it felt like I lost a piece of my life come the end of May 2016. And the reality struck. There's no need to tell you why I feel like this, you all will understand and it has been discussed countless times already.
The result and lacklustre performance on Saturday certainly didn't help me feel a bit better, nor did the people around me who were questioning why some were still standing up next to us, not singing along when there was an opportunity to.
The Arsenal fan who was sitting two rows in front of me was not helping, either. But the result did not really influence my feelings. We couldíve won 5-1 and I would still be empty inside.
Thatís why I have decided that I will not go to any West Ham home games anymore in the next few years. And that decision was made after the first 20 minutes or so on Saturday. The day out is not worth the 24-hour round trip and hundreds of pounds any more. My season ticket will not be renewed.
Will I still support West Ham? Of course I will, I could not imagine my life without them. But times have changed. I will try make the odd away game, but no homes games for me for some time.
The way the board is handling its Ďcustomersí (which we are, face it) is appalling and does not help my feelings. Charging £50 for your life-long seat at the BG, banning fans for whatever reason. And the way they are treating the foreign fans is nothing short of disrespectful.
The days when the club went the extra mile for us - like we do for West Ham - to minimise our losses when games were moved to a Monday night, for example, have long gone. And thatís not me pointing the finger to the people of the ticket office, but to Karren Brady.
I had a brief chat with the daughter of a good friend (and a former respected club employee) before the game on Saturday and she confirmed nothing is the same at the club anymore.
Thatís the sort of loyalty you can expect from this Board, after travelling to and from Belgium with 60-odd people every fortnight since the 1990s and during our stints in the second tier of English football.
I do realise things could not have been contrasted more with the season we had last year. I was lucky enough to attend the home games against Liverpool, Tottenham and Man Utd last season which was one of the best in my previous 17 years; so emotional too.
I also realise that we had some shit games and occasionally a shit atmosphere at the Boleyn Ground as well.
I still remember coming home at 5am after we drew 0-0 with Walsall in the Fizzy Pop. Or coming home after our heartbreaking FA Cup Final defeat to Liverpool, or the semi final away leg at Birmingham when we threw away a Wembley appearance in true West Ham fashion (on my birthday, to make things worse).
Those were hard times. But thatís life as a football supporter. You have highs, and you have lows. Itís the rollercoaster feeling football fans are supposed to have. (To be fair: we as West Ham fans have had more rollercoasters than a season ticket holder in an amusement park...)
What football fans should NOT have to endure though is what we are going through right now, ie. changing grounds and searching for some new identity.
There are many fellow Hammers with similar feelings, just as there are many entirely happy with the way things have transpired. But despite all thism we should stick together. i Just wanted to write this down in a bid to process the sorrow.
Thanks for reading.
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.
12:14PM 28th Jul 2009
''Nice to read a bit of positivity instead of all the doom and gloom merchants, well done!
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