Our European adventure continues, and to me, it’s more than just football. I will forever be grateful for meeting new people, creating new friendships and, most importantly, being able to experience it with my Dad, Trevor.
I can’t put into words how much I am cherishing these moments with him. It all started with my Nanny Peg growing up in Plaistow and West Ham being her local club. It didn’t take her long to convince my Grandad Graham to come and support West Ham.
This was probably one of the best decisions they made, as my Dad, and I get to follow West Ham over land and sea. Our travels started last April when we headed to Lyon on the day trip. By a country mile, this was the best day of my life.
Everything about the day was perfect, from the weather to the locals of Lyon to the final score. All West Ham fans were based in a little strip where we were drowning our nerves with beers and singing songs.
We experienced a funny encounter with some of the local teenagers where they had Lyon scarves, and tops and were chanting to us from across the road. All were very friendly and up for a bit of banter. We headed to the game, and the nerves going into the stadium hit an all-time new record for me.
Once we found our seats, I couldn’t quite believe how far away we were from the pitch. Looking back at the whole day, I remember little things but I don’t actually remember the whole day. My adrenaline took over my whole body and I just felt like I was on cloud 9.
We got stuck inside the stadium for a couple of hours which I didn’t care about. Noble, Rice, Dawson and Johnson came out and started joining in with songs and everyone was just in the best spirits.
We then headed to Frankfurt for the semi final where my brother George joined us. I might blame him for the loss out there. We travelled on Thursday morning and ended up in the square for lunch time. It was a really good atmosphere round there with Tony Cottee starting off chants, footballs being kicked in the air and weddings happening in the altar.
Taking away the fact we lost out in Germany, Frankfurt was definitely not a place I’m in a rush to go back too. It seemed quite rundown. That was such a sad day and I don’t think I can forgive Cresswell for his sending off because don’t forget, he got sent off against Lyon too.
The first time is a mistake, the second time is just stupidity. Anyway, we move on and we have qualified for the Conference League. The adventure has not stopped there and we headed to Bucharest which is a place I would never thought I’d visit.
I had such an amazing time because we knew we had already qualified for the next round. It was actually one of my favourite trips as it was cheap out there and I don’t think I slept for longer than four hours a night.
My Dad and brother came out which was amazing to experience another win and country with my favourite boys. Cyprus didn’t disappoint either. Fifty pound return flights each for me and Dad was just the bargain we wanted.
We were able to soak in the sun and watch West Ham together. Life doesn’t get much better than that. The ‘West Ham’ pub was located on the beach front. I mean you can’t ask for much more than that can you?
We actually were able to steal one of the match balls from the stadium which we then had to go and get deflated the next day to get it back home. Cyprus was a luxury for us West Ham fans as I don’t think we will get a beach location any time soon.
When we got relegated back in 2011, I remember crying at the bottom of the stairs saying I can’t do this any more and my Dad’s words to me were: ‘Stick with it we will be back’. From him saying that 10 years ago to looking at where we are now, ignoring us being in a relegation battle, we’ve come very far.
I never thought the tears I cried 10 years ago would turn into tears of joy watching us beat Seville and Lyon in the Europa League. I wouldn’t want to experience this journey with anyone else other than my Dad and my brother.
If you travel abroad to watch West Ham with your family or even friends cherish these moments because these memories will last a lifetime. Thank you Dad for making me support West Ham because this wouldn’t ever be possible without you!