The Boleyn Ground, Upton Park…the first time I saw it as a 12-year-old child, my heart whispered ‘that’s the one’.
Now, almost 40 years later, on Tuesday evening, West Ham United will play Manchester United in the last ever game at the famous venue before moving into their new 60,000 all-seater home at The Olympic Stadium in Stratford in August 2016, just a stone’s throw from Upton Park.
After the final match, the curtain will close on 112 years of footballing history at this wonderful old stadium, this cauldron of East End tribalism.
In doing so, a new world record will in all likelihood be set for the most grown men crying in one place at any one time!
It’s hard to believe that this day has finally come. A day all West Ham United fans have been dreading, it’s time to say goodbye.
Goodbye to Green Street, goodbye to the Barking Road, goodbye to Nathan’s Pie & Mash shop, to Ken’s Café, and to The Boleyn Pub, goodbye to the ghosts of departed friends and family with whom we shared so many match days, so much joy and disappointment in equal measure, goodbye to everything we know and love about a match day in London E13, goodbye to The Boleyn.
For me, supporting West Ham United has been and continues to be a way of life. It’s my passion, it’s my love.
I have made some wonderful friends supporting West Ham United here in Dubai and with some of the 500 members of the ‘Dubai Hammers’, the Official West Ham United Supporters Club of the UAE, attending West Ham United matches at ‘Nelson’s’, Media Rotana in Tecom every week.
My family support West Ham United, my two sons support them and despite being in Dubai for almost eight years, I still have a season ticket for The Boleyn Ground, I just couldn’t let it go, it’s a part of me you see, it’s my seat, sitting there with the same faces for years and years, seeing those people, they are a family to me. That is what is so special about West Ham United and The Boleyn Ground.
But, sadly, and with tears in my eyes, the time has come for the builder’s wrecking ball to swing into The Boleyn.
Perhaps Bruce Springsteen was right when he sang that one day ‘….all our little victories and glories turn into parking lots’?
I truly believe that the move to The Olympic Stadium is for the betterment of the club, we need to move.
We have out-grown The Boleyn and we need the extra capacity and the financial rewards it will bring, and who knows, maybe, just maybe, we can dare to dream of better things for West Ham United, and for my club.
Or as our song goes will it be a case of ‘Fortunes Always Hiding’?
I don’t know, but either way, as I once heard, ‘you can change your wife, your husband, your girlfriend or boyfriend, but you can never change your football team, it stays with you for life’.
So our journey will continue onto The Olympic Stadium …..but rest assured, we will never forget our home, The Boleyn Ground….Goodbye, my dear friend, you have been truly loved.
‘Come on you Irons’ !.
Dominic Hoey is from the Dubai Hammers, the Official West Ham United Supporters Club of the UAE.
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