So, when did it become socially acceptable to leave at 80 mins?

Grounds are now almost empty at full -time, even when their team is winning

There was a time when fans would be nailed to the spot for 90 minutes. The only way of shifting an Irons fan from their seat was when we were 2-0 down with 20 minutes left.

I can remember the old West Stand at Upton Park emptying when that fatal second goal went in. But now fans routinely leave with 10 minutes remaining whatever the scoreline.

I would guess around 10,000 fans missed Michail Antonio’s late goal in our 3-1 victory over Fulham.

Of course people want to avoid the crush and get on a train; many have long journeys to make. I’ve been guilty of it myself particularly if it’s freezing cold and we’re getting soundly beaten.

Having a season ticket is a privilege and luxury; we smugly dismiss a dull game, certain in the knowledge our seat is guaranteed for the next fixture.

But is the rush to catch a train the main reason, or are we convinced nothing significant will happen in the last five minutes?

Having visited other stadiums, I concede it happens at most clubs to a certain extent. But none seem to match the exodus of almost biblical proportions at West Ham.

Are the dying minutes generally falling victim to game management? What do we typically see: pointless substitutions, players wrestling at the corner flag and managers arguing with the fourth official, all to run down the clock down; it’s hardly edge of the seat stuff.

So you make a decision to go for an early dart, still listening for the crowd’s reaction on the way. A roar goes up and you think have we scored? And then you can’t get a signal on the mobile either.

Drowning in an ocean of uncertainty should I have stayed to the bitter end? After 44 years of watching West Ham play I know the percentages, and like many fans have an instinct for how a game will end.

That’s not to say nothing ever happens. But real drama is less likely, and West Ham’s penchant for leaking avoidable goals often makes the closing stages a torturous process.

In 19 home games in the 2017/18 season, West Ham scored in the last five minutes on four occasions. Only twice did it alter the outcome with Diafra Sakho’s last minute winner against Swansea and Andy Carroll’s late strike to salvage a point against Stoke.

Reece Burke’s extra time winner against Shrewsbury in the Cup also deserves a mention. And Reece, if you’re reading this, I missed your only goal for the club.

I’m really sorry but I am guilty as charged; 90 minutes of turgid football in sub-zero temperatures was more than I could stand.

Last season it happened twice in our first 14 home games, and neither affected the result. I purposely exclude opposition goals from the discussion; there is no pleasure in witnessing defensive incompetence.

Going to a game used to be something sacred; a unique experience shared among a select band of supporters. Before saturating TV coverage became the norm, it was frequently the only way of seeing a game.

If the BBC or ITV chose not to cover a game that was it; you would not have seen it unless you were there.

The sense of exclusivity has been lost and fans will drift away early because they know highlights will be available on their mobile, tablet or that old contraption called television.

To qualify my devotion in such terms might be sacrilege to some. I’m claret and blue to the core but not a diehard who feels the need to see absolutely every second of every match.

And that’s the essential difference in modern football; a season ticket and Sky Sports package will satisfy our appetite for live football, so we really don’t mind missing the odd goal here and there.

But witnessing a Noble or Rice goal at any time, is a story for the grandchildren.

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