As anyone who has been married will know, the honeymoon is the time when aft er months of hard work and stress, the newlyweds can finally look forward to a bit of time together; just the two of us, with no-one and nothing else to think about. So an extra person muscling into the picture makes things decidedly awkward — let alone 11 strangers. But that is what happened when Canadian newlywed — and now, new West Ham fan — John Quinn came to London with his new bride Sarah.
‘I made the mistake of researching our stay in London when I’d had a few beers, and being a big sports fan, of course that was one of the things that I was interested in,’ the 29-year-old from New Brunswick said. ‘Before I knew what I was doing, I’d bought myself a ticket for West Ham v Norwich — just the one, I could only find single seats — and I was ready for my first English football game. Without really knowing much about the game. Or West Ham. And without my wife.’
As you do when in a position of complete ignorance, John turned to the internet — more specifically, Reddit, with JULIAN SHEA @juliansheasport Love of our lives: What else would you rather do on honeymoon than hang out with these guys? a post entitled ‘I’m on honeymoon and ditching my wife to go to my first football match. I’m from Canada and know nothing. Please help’. Fortunately the West Ham cyberfamily were welcoming, with some advice on how to get the best out of his day out in the East End.
‘Before this, my football background was quite limited,’ John explained. ‘Ice hockey will always be number one in Canada — I’m a big Montreal Canadiens fan, and in fact I proposed to Sarah during a match. ‘I’m also a Toronto Bluejays baseball fan, so Sarah’s used to my obsession with sport. When I saw West Ham were playing when I was in London, it was a no-brainer.’
After a wedding described as a ’48-hour party in a rustic cabin rather than anything more formal’, the new Mr and Mrs Quinn spent their honeymoon touring Scotland, Ireland and England together before going their separate ways — just for the one afternoon .
‘As it was such short notice, I could only get the one ticket, but I figured after six days she’d be sick of me anyway by then, and fortunately she was very understanding about it’, said John. ‘We’d been planning our trip for a year in advance, and she knew I wanted to see a football match, but I had zero idea about how to go arrange it — fortunately, five days before we were heading off, I found West Ham were playing and so that made my mind up.
Armed with his Reddit advice, such as learn Bubbles, when he arrived at the ground, the first-timer had at least a clue what to expect. ‘The atmosphere outside got me straight away,’ he said. ‘The Boleyn reminded me of some of the old-school hockey arenas, and when I found out this is the last season, that made it feel extra special. When I told them my situation, the guys sitting near me were extremely welcoming and they were very impressed that I knew Bubbles.
John’s outsider status made him notice things which would totally bypass Upton Park regulars. ‘When Norwich scored, their fans made a lot of noise but West Ham were straight back at them, and some of the chants were hilarious,’ he said. ‘There are nowhere near as many away fans in Canadian sport, so that made for a really different atmosphere, and fantastic noise. They say the Canadiens are hockey’s loudest, most passionate fans — West Ham are certainly up there with them!’
Having arrived as an intrigued outsider, soon John was fully sucked in. ‘I found myself shouting my head off at players whose names I’d only just learned!’, he said. ‘Towards the end there were lots of near misses, then when West Ham equalised I was leaping around and shouting just like everyone else. That was when I realised: I’m a West Ham fan for life now!’