Return of a Hammer

Going back more than 20 years now, I used to stand with the same little group of people on the Boleyn Ground‘s (in)famous Chicken Run Terrace. Four of us were season ticket holders there for several years, covering the time when the terracing was converted to seating in the mid-90’s. We all arranged our season tickets to ensure we were all sat together after the transition. But ticket prices began to rise sharply, and that meant two of our group had to give up their seats.

That just left Clive and me to carry on. When the new West Stand opened and the pitch was moved across to that side of the stadium, we decided to relocate to the Lower West. For me, this was kind of completing a circle, as the old West Side was where I’d spent my first few seasons as a regular at the Boleyn. When that was converted to seating in 1981, I moved to the Chicken Run via a season on the North Bank. For both of us, it meant leaving behind some great memories of the Run, but hoping to gain some new ones on the West Side. Of course, in typical West Ham fashion, they promptly got relegated! But the promotion campaigns of the next two seasons gave us some more memories to treasure, notably the first play-off semi final against Ipswich – what a cracking night that was – and the second play-off final.

This was followed by the FA Cup run to the Final the following season, although we lost it was still a day to be a proud Hammer. I dropped Clive off on the way home after the game, fully expecting to see him the next season in his usual seat. But come the first game, he wasn’t there. Nor was he there for the next few games. Eventually I found out that the pressures of supporting a growing family had meant that he’d had to give up his ticket. I know he was choked by this decision, but of course it was the right one for him to make.

So from then until now, I’ve been “on my own” – though of course I’ve got to know some of the regulars around me well over the years. Then just before the recent season drew to a close, I heard from Clive that he was considering a return and hoping to bring his son as well. He wanted to know if there were a couple of free seats close to me that he might be able to snap up for next season.

Well as it happened, his old seat had been free for almost every game since he’d had to give it up (which kinda makes me wonder how the club can claim sell-outs!), so that was one seat possibly sorted. On the other side of my seat from Clive’s old one, the guy who had sat there for many years had moved away from London and as a result was giving up his season ticket. I was able to sort things so that it might be possible to arrange a transfer of the ticket to Clive.

Knowing West Ham, they would probably find a way of making things difficult, but I heard from a very happy Clive a couple of days ago that he’d managed to sort the tickets for the seats either side of me. So Clive will be back next season, along with his boy.

Thanks for making all this happen should go to Mike who agreed to transfer his ticket, Barry for passing on my contact details to Mike, West Ham’s ticket office for allowing it to happen, and especially to Mrs Clive for financing the ticket purchases [and letting him off the leash for 20-odd times during the season 🙂 ].

Look forward to seeing you again, mate.


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