One thing West Ham fans have been regularly associated with is the ability to create an amazing atmosphere both home and away but historically Upton Park was a ground that was intimidating for both travelling supporters and teams alike.
The closeness of the old West Stand and the famous Chicken Run meant that every defender and winger could virtually hear every comment so the fans really did become the so called “12th man.” On the long train journey back to Dorset after the Southampton match I was in a joyous but reflective mood. I had a great day once more but certainly football is now a totally different experience from when I started going in the late 1970’s. Some of these changes are certainly for the better and anyone who watched the images unfold at either Hillsborough or Bradford could never argue the fact even though I miss the surging crowds on the North Bank terrace.
Let me talk about the Southampton match in isolation. The first half was very non- eventful yet the travelling Saints fans were in full voice while we responded with the odd half hearted rendition of “Bubbles.”
In the main, it was largely a quiet half both on and off the pitch. Of course a great start to the second half changed everything and quietened those away fans for good but once the goal celebrations were over it was pretty much back to the same as the first half. I really don’t see why we can’t be up for it all the time, not just saving ourselves for the big occasions. We do not want to be likened to the library at The Emirates or the prawn sandwich brigade at Old Trafford.
Is the “kids for a quid” a major contributor to this? I think so, although when my three-year-old son George starts to come with me in a couple of years I am sure that I will be grateful of the financial benefit. Perhaps the majority of younger supporters only experience home matches so “Bubbles”, “Who Are Ya”, “One nil, to the cockney boys” etc are the only songs they know. Away from home the West Ham fans are standing throughout and in full voice usually from start to finish, win or lose.
There is much more variety in song with added humour along with a few more expletives. The singing is more intense and passionate and it certainly seems to be appreciated by the players. Now I know that we cannot stand all the way through a home match but we have had one of our best starts to a Premier League season and I feel that we need to make teams think twice when they visit rather than enjoying the game.
I know singing passionately from a seating position is not ideal but we can do it and have done it before. Thanks for letting me get that off my chest and would love to hear anyone else’s thoughts.