Tomorrow morning, a morning like many others, I’ll wake up at ungodly o’clock to watch my beloved West Ham United. Tomorrow morning, unlike any other, the result isn’t the most important thing.
For 90 (and a few additional) glorious minutes, the Boleyn Ground will be the centre of the football universe, and not just the centre of my football universe.
Sadly, when the final whistle blows, a reality that has been looming large for the last three years will hit home – West Ham United will no longer call Upton Park home.
The prospect of the Olympic Stadium being mere months away is exciting, it offers the club a world of potential, a fitting reward for a club who have offered me more despair than happiness.
I started writing this piece after the 3-3 draw with Arsenal. For years I have battled with the emotions of knowing I was never going to set foot inside Upton Park. The reality has been broken countless times by dreams of winning the lotto and making a mad dash across the ocean to have my dreams come true. Alas.
I’ve penned the story of becoming a West Ham fan on many an occasion and it doesn’t need to be repeated here. The sadness I feel is driven further by the sadness my dad, the man responsible for this character building experience, will also never get to grace the highlight of East London. Today we’re figured out that between the two of us we’ve supported the club for sixty-five years. The dream to see a West Ham game together is still alive, just with a new venue in mind, and getting to the Olympic Stadium has taken the lead on my bucket list.
This season has been a season of mixed emotions. On the field they’ve given me more than they ever have, off it, this day has drawn closer and closer. With every game that passes the knot in my stomach tightens.
I’ve always loved the emotions the club have made me feel. The lost sleep, the tears, the looking blankly into the world because other fans just don’t understand. The emotional connection to Upton Park is the same and I can’t wait to build that with the Olympic Stadium.
Over the last few weeks there are periods where I’ve stopped writing this in a desperate attempt to slow the time down, it hasn’t worked, so here I sit, less than ten hours from the final kick-off, hammering away.
The emotions seem more fitting for the loss of a Cup Final, Play-Off Final or one of our once in a generation players (all very real experiences I’ve had) rather than the loss of a big box of plastic seats. But that’s the thing about sport, it makes you feel things you can’t feel anywhere else.
I’ve choked up (and a little more) a few times already, and I expect a repeat tomorrow. I want a win tomorrow, but more than that I want every member of the capacity crowd singing their lungs out for 90 minutes for those of us who wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in the world.
West Ham United are a family. Families grow. Let’s give our spiritual home the party it deserves tomorrow and embark on the next big task – Becoming the club we have always shown glimpses of being.
I’ve looked everywhere.
Come On You Irons.