The Ex Files: Losing the routine of going to football has been hard to take

West Ham United FC vs Reading FC Barclays Premier League 19/05/2013 Carlton Cole applauds the fans.

What a year 2020 has been and not for particularly good reasons, other than West Ham’s improved performance.

One of the biggest disappointments for me is losing my weekend routine especially if West Ham are playing at home.

I used to prepare our pre-match events, have the pre-match event, go to the game, go to the pub and come home and watch the extended highlights on Sky.

This was my sanity, my break from the stresses of life. It is arguably the events, however, that I have missed the most.  

Those of you who follow me on social media will know that we host a pre-match event before every weekend home game.

It was £25, all you can drink, we had West Ham DVDs shown, West Ham-related music, raffles and most importantly a Q and A with one of the boys from ’86 Mark Ward and another ex player (or two) as the guest.

These events were originally hosted at the East Ham Working Man’s club by the remains of Upton Park and when that was demolished, we moved to O’Neills in Leytonstone. 

The buzz and the feedback we used to get from each event was brilliant and we cannot wait to get them back on again. To be honest I can’t see them happening this season but I hope to God they can resume for the next.  

The events have provided me, and the newly formed friends who attend them, a chance to meet and speak to so many of our heroes.

Our first ever one was with Frank McAvennie, who ironically scored the first ever goal for West Ham that I saw live! 

In true Frank style he was the most drunk person there and was telling some classic stories from his time and the chemistry he had with Wardy was the same as they had on the pitch and it made a great first event. 

We have also had Frank back for his 60th birthday and it was an early one because we were playing Spurs. He hadn’t been to bed the night before.

The next player we had was Stuart Slater, my first ever favourite player, who told me off for chatting to the Hammerettes during his Q and A. We had Alvin Martin after that who is like a stand up comedian and you could listen to for hours. His scouse wit gave Wardy a run for his money.

We have had so many guests now that it is impossible to list them all but there are some that stand out.

Martin Allen was as mad as you are led to believe. With all the guests waiting for the Q and A to start he just went and took his chair right to the front of the stage, sat on it and stared at the audience for a good five minutes.  

I went up to him and asked: ‘Martin, are you ok?’ and he ignored me.

So I tried a different technique: ‘Martin can I get you a drink or something?’ but still got no response.  

 I just left him to it whilst the audience looked as confused as I did. Eventually Wardy springs to life and the Q and A starts and Martin howls like a dog, sits down and begins answering the questions in a truly hilarious and dark way. 

He later told me that he needs to get into the zone before any public appearance. It was also a Q and A I will never forget, it is also worth mentioning that we usually ask the guests to donate a prize to the raffle.

It is usually something from their career like a shirt or boots. Martin forgot to bring anything and instead popped out to the local shop and bought a Watermelon that he then signed.

This was chosen as the first prize in the draw ahead of the traditional event prizes which include a copy of Wardy’s autobiography.  

Another funny memory was when we had Carlton Cole. There is always an element of fear in mine and Dave’s mind before each event that the guest won’t show up for some reason.

Thankfully that has never happened but the closest we got was when Carlton Cole was our guest.

It was about 10  minutes after the guests usually arrive and I said to Dave I hope he is still coming, so I decided to call him to check on his progress and was told by Carlton that he had forgotten about the event and he was really sorry but he won’t be making it.

Now this was a sell-out and we had a rammed working man’s club and my immediate reaction was to go into panic mode.

I resisted swearing at Carlton and quickly got off the phone and ran to Dave to ask what we should do. 

Just as we started to plan for us interviewing Wardy as a last minute replacement, I looked at my phone and there was a text from Carlton saying look where I am.

There he was in the lobby of the venue, he had done it to wind us all up. Looking back it was very funny but I didn’t think that for those 10 minutes or so when I didn’t know he was on his way.

There are so many stories that we could tell from the events and one day we have said we will write a book on them but until then we pray we can start them again as soon as possible.

Our patreon subscribers get so much for the £5 membership and one perk is 25% off event tickets.

Perks also include the full podcast and extra time show, and so far we have interviewed Matthew Etherington, Tony Carr, Mark Ward and Frank McAvennie.We have monthly prize draws, polls, quizzes and many other ideas in the pipeline. To sign up please use this link: patreon.com/thewesthamway

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