#9: Kings Lynn Irons Club

This month Blowing Bubbles caught up with King’s Lynn Irons Club secretary Mark Steele as the supporters’ club gears up to celebrate its 10th anniversary

When, how and why was group founded?

I guess the foundations for what became KLIC came about after I discovered that I wasn’t the only Hammer in King’s Lynn when I started to work on the railways in 1977 and with ‘free travel’, I was able to make the 200-mile plus round trip to Upton Park on a regular basis. But it wasn’t until the arrival of mass football coverage by Sky that my friends and I realised just how many more there were in the pub each time. They also always knew of other friends or friends of friends that were Hammers. It was also at this time that I subconsciously started a campaign to recruit a new generation of Hammers.

From the moment my daughter Lauren started at school and made lots of new friends, they were treated to ‘kids for a quid matches’ and cheap train trips to Upton Park, some of their parents were converted too. In Lauren’s last year at primary school, I discovered one of her teachers was a lifelong Hammer. This was Tony Cudworth who is a valued friend and Chairman of KLIC. It was during our 2006 FA Cup run I resolved to use my organisational skills to good effect and KLIC was officially born.

How many members are there in your group today?

Season after season our membership has steadily grown and through this many new and valued friendships have been forged. The aim of the King’s Lynn Irons has always been to bring together West Ham supporters of all ages, and to make it possible and more affordable for them to attend matches in these times of austerity. Each season sees increasing numbers of our members travelling to more matches, not just at home but also away.

To date we have more than 130 members on the register. Of these, 100 are fully paid up members. These range from season ticket holders to our ‘armchair pensioner supporters’. In the past three months we have also seen our two main season ticket groups attend appointments at the Reservation Centre in Stratford to select our seats for the Olympic Stadium.

We have a group in the ‘East Stand Kop’ of around 25 and another group of around 20 in the upper tier behind the goal at the North End. KLIC now has members as far afield as Suffolk, Essex, Cambridgeshire, Nottinghamshire, London, Bristol and Australia.

What have been your most memorable days as a supporters’ club?

We have had some really memorable adventures with Blackpool away a few seasons ago being a highlight. We’ve also had some we would rather forget. Birmingham in the Carling Cup semi final where we were kettled by the West Midlands Police, Stoke in the FA Cup quarter final in 2011 where overzealous police hijacked our minibus, and Wigan in our last match of 2010/2011, where our hopes were lifted before being crushed. The following season, KLIC was able to achieve the magnificent result of getting 60 members tickets for the play-off semi final home leg against Cardiff City.

KLIC was also proud to be one of the first supporters’ clubs to become an official affiliated supporters club and we are one of, if not the largest, West Ham supporters club outside of London.

What are the benefits of being part of your group?

We are very proud of our social scene with our Christmas and end of season events now cater for upwards of 60 guests. We have also been very privileged to have some true West Ham legends attend as our guests. Our Christmas dinner 2014 saw Ronnie ‘Ticker’ Boyce as our guest of honour and at our end of season dinner, we welcomed Brian Dear. For our Christmas meal at the start of December this year we welcomed Alan Taylor as our special guest, some 40 years after he made history in our 1975 FA Cup triumph.

KLIC can even boast its own pub. Lifelong friend and Hammers fan, Daran Kerr is the landlord of The Bentinck Tavern in King’s Lynn and whenever matches are televised, The Bentinck is the place to go.

How can people get in touch with your club?

For more information see our website www. kingslynnirons.com or email secretary@kingslynnirons.com

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