Please, join me. I’m standing outside the London Stadium in the pouring rain waiting to be searched.
I can see the white canopies that are keeping the security staff relatively dry but, despite the increasing number of calls from frustrated supporters to get a move on, they aren’t getting any closer.
I re-zip my coat in a futile attempt to keep out the cold and feel the anger rising within me. The images being fl ashed up on the big screen above my head don’t help.
It’s too soon after the humiliation at the hands of humble Wigan, and the footage of underperforming players in arrogant poses looking down on fans who are being doused from a dizzy height in more ways than one makes me wonder just what happened to the club I once loved with all my heart.
Two hours later, having been allowed to take my seat for the encounter with Crystal Palace once it was established I wasn’t carrying an explosive device nor a deadly weapon, I begin the slow, damp trudge back to the station.
Around me, the consensus appears to be that people are happy with the point. Contented with a 1-1 draw at home to Palace? Hardly the next level, is it?
Still, at least no one wearing a claret and blue shirt felt the need to shame the entire club by spitting at an opponent on this occasion.
Fast forward a few days, and I am getting wet once more. This time I’m standing in the rain waiting to take my place on the platform at Falmer station having just watched West Ham lose 3-1 to Brighton and Hove Albion.
It’s a long wait, which gives me unwanted time to think. For the second time that week, I ask myself whether my devotion to the club is being reciprocated by the people who own it.
The January transfer window is now closed. We’ve banked more than £30m after offloading André Ayew and Diafra Sakho while spending £10m on a Championship striker called Jordan Hugill (Who-gill?) and acquiring the services of João Mário on loan.
Oh yeah, and there’s that bloke from mighty Solihull Moors. What level are they?
Disappointing though the lack of big name signings was, it is nowhere near as disappointing as the conduct of the man who was supposed to be masterminding those signings.
Head of recruitment Tony Henry has been sacked for telling the Daily Mail that West Ham were no longer interested in players of African descent because, in his words, they cause mayhem when they’re not in the team.
Shuffling forward slowly and taking a quiet nip from the hipflask that is providing some small consolation on a desperately disappointing day I ask myself if Mr Henry was merely expressing his own opinion, or had there been guidance from above about African players?
It’s hard to see how one man could take a decision like that without the owners knowing about it. But I guess we’ll never know.
Corporate racism?; chronic underfunding; unfulfilled promises: oh, West Ham – how did we sink so low? And what can we, as supporters, do about it?
Many believed that the answer lay in a protest march organised by the so-called Real West Ham Fans’ Action Group, which was scheduled to take place before the Burnley game on March 10. But that was called off when the organisers believed they had secured the concessions they were seeking.
The Action Group had a catch-all demand: ‘A stadium fit for football – an experience fit for fans’.
It’s a snappy phrase – but what does it mean? More to the point, how can we bring about an ‘experience fit for fans’?
For some diehards, the solution is simple. ‘Sack the board’ is a chant that has been heard at more than one away game this season.
The problem, of course, is that this requires the owners to dismiss themselves, which seems unlikely.
A more accurate chant might be ‘Sell the club’, but that too is a long-shot as things stand because there are a series of penalty clause built in to any sale before August 2027.
In fact, it’s hard to see anything changing until the owners believe they are faced with a united opposition. Many of the people who wanted to register their unhappiness about what has happened to our club since leaving the Boleyn Ground feel badly let down by the Action Group, claiming they sold out in return for a few meaningless promises and a donation from the club to the fund set up to help little Isla Caton in her battle with cancer.
Shouldn’t the club have donated to the fund anyway and not waited until they were faced with a mass demonstration before putting their hands in a very well-lined pocket?
I have no doubt the organisers set out with the best of intentions. But, inadvertently, they have left supporters more divided than ever.
It is not enough to simply protest about the status quo without having a coherent idea of what you want to see as an alternative – especially when so many of the people you claim to speak for have different views about what ‘change’ should bring about.
What needs to happen now is for all the supporter groups to come together as one organisation, elect some credible leaders – preferably people with no connection to the ICF – and then devise a prioritised plan that the majority of fans can get behind.
We all know we’ll never return to Upton Park. But, if West Ham fans can unite behind elected representatives who know they have our undivided support when they are negotiating with the owners, we might just get our club back.
Brian Williams is the author of Nearly Reach The Sky – A Farewell to Upton Park. His brilliant new book, Home From Home, charts the move from the Boleyn Ground to Stratford.