‘Supporting West Ham comes with some suffering – but some days are good’

Visiting sides from the North East dominate Danny’s favourite and worst moments at Upton Park

There are games that will be among the favourites for most West Ham fans who were around to see it.

There’s the final game at Upton Park – you may have heard that I’ve written a book about that – the play-off final wins and cup victories. 

However, there are matches that are incredibly special for some while being completely forgettable for others.

For me, one of those matches was our 2-0 win against Newcastle United in the 2015/16 season. 

The reason being that it’s the very first West Ham game my nephew, Bobby, had ever had the chance to see. 

To this day, I remember my feelings first walking into the Boleyn Ground and how magical it was, so it was an incredible experience to give that moment to him.

We’d actually lost the two previous home games – against Leicester City and Bournemouth – and while a loss in my first game hadn’t detracted from the experience, I just hoped he’d be luckier.

No matter what, it was going to be a memorable night for him, so we got the train to the game after he’d finished school, we got some food outside the ground, I bought him a shirt with Payet on the back and went up to our seats. 

I’ll never forget Bobby’s face when we emerged from the concourse into the aisle as he looked around and said: ‘Wow’, taking in the pitch and all of those seats.

There was a reason he’d chosen to get Payet on the back of his shirt, and our talisman showed just why that is during this match, scoring both of our goals. 

The Frenchman had effortlessly side-footed the ball into the back of the net from outside the box within nine minutes.

Just after half-time, Victor Moses had raced pretty much the entire length of the pitch, only managing to hit the bar. 

The ball soared up into the air, but Payet was waiting when it dropped and volleyed it into the back of the net – right in front of the Bobby Moore Stand, where we were sitting. 

Of all the times I’ve watched football with my nephew, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen him quite as excited and overwhelmed as his first game at Upton Park.

This also turned out to be a monumental game in our historic season, as it started an unbeaten home run in the league that only ended in the penultimate home match of the campaign, against Swansea City.

Not knowing that, it was still a magnificent match for Bobby to witness, and even though I’d lived it with him, he recounted so much of that evening back to me on the train home. 

You only get to experience your first game once, and allowing my nephew to do that at our club’s spiritual home is probably up there with the memorable things I’ve done as his uncle.

But it’s safe to say that being a West Ham supporter comes with many highs, there’s also some suffering. 

I’ve not been around as long as many Hammers fans, but I’ve seen a few shockers in my time. 

It’s difficult to put my finger on one specific game as the worst: seeing someone from my school score against us in a 1-1 draw against Watford was infuriating, I hated watching what unfolded during our 3-0 loss against Burnley, while our losses against Astra Giurgiu were embarrassing and frustrating in equal measure.

However, none of these are my worst, because at least I felt something on these occasions – even if they’re not the emotions you get into football waiting for. 

I felt nothing when we lost 3-0 against Sunderland on the final day of the 2010/11 campaign.

Some celebrate the Boleyn Ground atmosphere and long for it, while others claim it is overrated. 

Whatever people say, there was never a game there where I felt completely flat. Well, apart from this one time.

Under Avram Grant, we finished bottom of the league in a torturous campaign in which it felt like Scott Parker was doing it on his own most of the time. 

Considering the entire season was one long laborious series of disappointments aside from a couple of good games, I didn’t expect a lot coming into our curtain closer against Sunderland.

I was still disappointed, though, as there was a strange feeling around the stadium that I’d never felt before – or had even fathomed could exist. 

A goal for the Hammers could have potentially lifted it a little, but it was Boudewijn Zenden who opened the scoring after 17 minutes.

The men in claret and blue hadn’t won in any of the last eight Premier League games, so it seemed unlikely that there was going to be a comeback to end a miserable season with some honour. 

Enter Stephane Sessegnon, who made that even more of a pipedream, as he doubled the Black Cats’ lead in the 51st minute.

My dad had asked about five times whether I wanted to leave early. There is something inside me that has never wanted to leave games before the final whistle, so I declined each time, probably to his frustration.

So, what was my reward? A goal from Victor Obinna or Thomas Hitzlsperger? Nope. Cristian Riveros added to the numbness with a final blow in the 93rd minute. 

As I got on the train, I felt as though I shouldn’t have bothered going in the first place – and I never felt like that, even if I left the stadium ranting and raving. 

Forget the 15 minutes dad had tried saving, that whole day was a waste of time. 

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