Monday, 9 May 2016

Fortune's always hiding

As we were walking back to the station after the 4-1 debacle at home to Swansea last Saturday, we bumped into my old friend Mick, also heading for Plaistow tube station. Which is incidentally the nearest tube station to where I was born, in Plaistow hospital maternity unit. In a strange parallel, the unit is being converted into a housing development, the original Victorian buildings torn down, to profit some developer and their hangers-on, which of course includes, in a "crumbs from your table way", me.

I asked Mick if he'd heard that the club were selling us our actual seats for £50. "All my memories are in my head" he replied, echoing my own sentiments. So tomorrow I will be at the Boleyn Ground for one final time, moaning about this and that, enjoying some of it, shouting a bit, and maybe shedding one or two tears for the final time as we concede a hatful of goals in injury time.

And then they'll turn it into a housing development, and the crumbs from the table will be Dimitri Payet scoring a goal in the distance, at a shiny, new taxpayer-funded stadium. For a couple of seasons at least. It all seems a long way from 25th September 1971. Jumpers for goalposts, holding my Dad's hand in case I get lost, oh the good old days.

I could get all maudlin and sad about it, cynical and angry, or look back with rose-tinted spectacles and marvel about what a wonderful place it has been to watch football. But none of it would make a difference. And apart from the friendships I have, the sense of belonging, the weird set of common values and experiences I have gained, the atmosphere of a set of people who go for more than just the glory, the genuine "West Ham way" of playing football, that means we can beat the League leaders one day, and lose 4-1 at home the next, all while trying to play attractive football, well what have the Irons ever done for me?

So in all this, what is most important about tomorrow night, the final match? Do you really need me to answer that question?

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