‘This projects shows what can be achieved when fans band together’

Despite train strikes, Rik Moran wasn’t going to miss a memorable occasion in the history of our club

I had been looking forward to September 30 for some time, and not just for the football match with Sheffield United. Like most of us, I was comfortable thinking that the three points would be coming our way, but what I was mostly looking forward to on this day, was the unveiling of the West Ham United crest that had been rescued and restored thanks to efforts from Hammers United.

Now I don’t know the intrinsic details of the restoration of the crest – there are others who were far more involved and with a great deal more knowledge to cover that. I’ve only been involved with Hammers United over the last couple of months, so I’m very much still the new boy.

But as many of you will know, the crest used to sit above the turnstiles in the Bobby Moore Stand at the Boleyn Ground. The huge crest, which is more than three metres tall, was thought to have been lost following the demolition of our famous ground back in 2016, but thanks to the efforts of fans it was located, refurbished and returned to E13.

It now resides on the side of the old supporters club in Castle Street opposite where the Bobby Moore stand stood. Hammers United led fundraising efforts to buy the crest from its owner, for almost £9,000, and covered additional renovation costs and planning permission fees.

Hammers United chair Paul Colborne told me: “We wrote to the club explaining an important part of West Ham had been found and asked – did they want it? We hoped they would buy it. They replied saying it wasn’t possible. So the fans raised the money instead. Now, it’s going to stand about 40 yards from where it originally was. You could fall out of the supporters club and straight into the turnstiles of Boleyn Ground – that’s how close it now is to its spiritual home.”

Many of us braved the train strike and made the effort to travel to our old home for this unveiling. For me, what should have been a journey of just over an hour turned into over three hours and there was a point where I thought I wasn’t going to make it in time, but thankfully I did. The last time I was in the area, the Boleyn Stadium was still being torn down, so this visit was certainly something that was somewhat bittersweet.

Getting off the tube at Upton Park and walking down Green Street was like countless times before over the years, but where you would come to the stadium, it was just flats and for me, not particularly nice ones either, maybe the interiors’ have something more to offer than the bland outside. The Old Supporters Club building looked just how I remembered it, aside from the Gym signing on it, and of course it now has the West Ham Crest.

Former Academy Director Tony Carr was the guest of honour, both Tony and Paul Colborne addressed the crowd of around 150 West Ham fans with committee members of Hammers United and the West Ham Official Supporters Club also present. Paul explained how a team of local volunteers and West Ham United fans led the restoration of the crest, and he was proud of what they achieved.

He paid special mention to Terry Jewel, Ben and Jason Hayes, Sanjai and Avani Patel, Paul Christmas, Kaz and Iqbal, Garry Hutchinson, Sean Burke, Steve Lowley and the committee of Hammers United. Following the speeches, the crowd belted out Blowing Bubbles before heading off to do whatever they were doing next. Some went to the Boleyn pub, which I did for a quick drink before popping by a friend’s in the area to say a quick hello to their new dog before going over to the London Stadium.

This visit to the London Stadium gave me a chance to try out the new Robin’s Pie & Mash pop up stand by the Orbit and I will give it a big thumbs up, I will certainly be returning for more on match days. As for the game itself, it was a bit lacklustre, we did what we needed to do and got the three points, so once it was over it was time to make the trip home, and blimey this was even more difficult than the way up. The train strikes really don’t consider us football fans at all do they?

But I wasn’t going to miss the crest being unveiled. It’s a piece of club history and it’s great to see it displayed for everyone to see. It’s a great testament not only to Hammers United for all the work they did in rescuing and restoring the crest but to us, those wonderful West Ham fans that love this club. It shows what can be achieved when we band together to do something.

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