‘When Bobby scored, nine-year-old me held onto my seat for dear life!’

Jake Gill looks back almost 17 years to one of his early football memories supporting West Ham

From a young age, I’ve had to learn to ride the highs and lows of life as a Hammer. 

Over the years, we’ve experienced an assortment of extraordinary victories and devastating defeats, and while truly memorable classics have come few and far between during my lifetime, there is a selection of stand-out performances that I have been lucky enough to witness. 

It’s not often that we get special occasions to look forward to at West Ham, but they feel all the more exciting when they do eventually come around.

I’ll never forget my one — and so far, only — trip to Wembley with the club to see the 2012 Play-off Final triumph against Blackpool, a momentous occasion which saw an 88th minute winner from Ricardo Vaz Te thrust the club back into the Premier League. 

Our spine-tingling win against six-time Europa League champions Sevilla will also go down in club history, not least for the electric atmosphere that gripped the London Stadium and had fans rocking non-stop for 120 minutes. 

Play-off Final, 2005

One match stands out in my mind more than any other, however — the 2005 Play-off Final victory against Preston North End. A sea of claret and blue filled the walkway towards the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff as flags waved in the air and fans sang along to Bubbles, dreaming of a return to the top-flight.

As I strolled towards the ground, I prayed that we’d make up for our defeat to Crystal Palace in the final of the play-offs during the previous season. As a nine-year-old, I’d spent almost the entire game stood on my seat just to see over the top of everyone’s heads, so when Bobby Zamora dashed into the box to meet Matty Etherington’s cross in the 57th minute, I had to grab hold of the back of my chair for dear life — it was all I could do to not get thrown into the madness of the celebrations around me. 

My heart was in my mouth for the rest of the game, but the roar of the West Ham faithful at full-time was deafening as it signaled our promotion back to the big time. It was the first major victory I’d witnessed as a fan of the club and I was thrilled at the prospect of watching the team come up against some of the best in the country once again.

Looking forward, I’m hopeful that under Moyes, we will have a few more memories to make in the next few seasons.

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