Just off to see West Ham’s final game at the Boleyn Ground. Ben got us tickets, miraculously. (They’re like gold. I’ve already been offered £1000 for mine.) The best birthday present I’ve ever had. My mind goes back to all those times I got cross with him as a boy for one reason or another. Oh the guilt…
It will be an emotional occasion. I’ve been going to matches there for sixty years – more than half its history. All of us Hammers love the old ground. Slap in the middle of the East End of London, that wonderful walk up Green Street from the Tube Station, the smell of meat pies, eels and chips all along, the police horses (just in case), claret and blue bunting, ‘I’m for ever blowing bubbles’ being belted out from a thousand beery throats…. And then into the ground, very cosy, spectators pressing right up to the pitch, clouds of soap bubbles floating over, terrific atmosphere, ghostly memories of Moore, Hurst and Peters (who, as you’ll be aware, won the 1966 world cup on their own), lots of humour… (I liked it when they played Spurs recently. Spurs are associated with the Jewish population of Tottenham. The police warned the West Ham fans not to shout anti-semitic slogans. When the game started the Spurs fans started shouting ‘Come on you Yids!’, to which the Hammers fans responded, pointing over to them: ‘Racists! Racists! Terrific.) – Of course it won’t be the same at the bloody Olympic Stadium!
I can’t write more. My eyes are filling with tears. And as one has just been operated on – which is why I’ve not posted anything recently – it’s hard to for me see and write. I have a black patch over that eye, which I’m hoping will frighten the Manchester United hooligans off. When I get back to blogging, it may be about the social and economic significance of the move from Upton Park to Stratford East, and what that says about modern-day capitalism. (Which is quite a lot, actually.)
In the meantime, COYI ! (Come On You Irons!)