Thursday, 30 September 2010
West Ham United - A Family At War But A Family Regardless.
We don’t always see eye to eye on here but John’s story shows the human side of being a West Ham fan and an Eastender. As Fareham says, it is in the blood and though we may fight from time to time, we are one big family with a fascinating heritage!
Initially I lived with my mom, dad and sister over the top of my grandfather's pub in Burdett Road, then due to my father's work we moved, when I was three, to Bradford. I go back to the War and certain memories will never be forgotten: the gas mask in a case, windows taped in diamonds, air raid shelters, enormous water containers, the German bomber brought down in Heaton Woods, the unexploded bomb in Norhcliffe playing fields, being taken out of bed to sleep under the table when the sirens came on. Corned beef, grey bread, potatoes, rice. No fruit, no sweets, no crisps, no toys, very little heat, damp walls. Which all drove me with my limited talent to end up living in a large house sitting in 15 acres of land on the edge of a very pleasant village in N. Essex called Great Bardfield.
It never ceases to amaze me how many people in that era out of East London ended up doing ok for themselves. When we returned to the south east in 49 we lived in Manor Park for a bit then the old man bought a little end terraced house in Hornchurch. I, like a lot of others, gradually moved (or was driven) farther and farther out until reaching Bardfield.
From the age of 24 I have always been running my own business which was hectic and demanding and basically needed 24 hour concentration, hence other than business I don't remember a lot.
I used to go to home games and meet up with a load of mates in the centre of the chicken run. The comments were like a comedy show, and I was left either feeling elated or depressed by the results, but business then ruled the emotions. In 1988 I suffered from growths in my head above the left eye and had three major ops and nine hours of anaesthetic which messed up my brain. From being able to add up pages of figures in my head, suddenly trying to add up half a dozen cheques would put me to sleep. I couldn't concentrate adequately to even read a column in a newspaper let alone a book, but over the years it got better until 2001 when I was diagnosed as having prostate cancer and had to have another long operation after which they gave me 18 months to two years to live. I shot off to Switzerland for three weeks of cancer treatment and here I still am. Lots of major happenings but I can only tie them in with loss of memory.
I remember vividly a Harry Redknapp goal but not the date or who we were playing. (he only scored 8 goals in his whole West Ham career mate so there’s not many to pick from!) I remember seeing Boyce scoring a beauty from the half way line against Man U at Sheffield Wednesday’s ground - probably a cup semi final but I can't remember what date or how we did after that. (It was actually against Man City at Maine Road in the league mate. It was Jimmy Greaves’s first game for the club after the transfer of Peters to Tottenham. We won 5-1! But Boyce did score twice in the 3-1 semi final win against the Mancs in 64. The match was played in an absolute mud bath and, by the end, you couldn’t see one kit from the other! The old leather ball was sodden and must have felt like it was made of lead. Bloody superman wouldn’t have scored from the half way line in that game! Your memory has conflated two games that were 6 or 7 years apart!)
I met an Italian who was even more fanatical about West Ham than I was and we used to meet in a restaurant called the Spartacus in Romford in which I met and chatted to a couple of West Ham players. Now you would think, of all names, I would remember theirs but I don't. The crazy thing is I do remember one of them left the Hammers and went to Norwich. He was married to a Norwich beauty queen, and sadly I remember reading he died quite recently. But his name escapes me and it is bloody frustrating. (It was Graham Paddon, one of my favourite ever Hammers. He, Bonds and Brooking made up a fantastic West Ham midfield!)
I am making the long trip on Saturday with my brother so hope the team keep up the good work. Surprising what a difference it makes when 11 players all try their hardest!
Other players' names have come back into focus. The other guy I met was Pat Holland, another very friendly guy. I also met John Sissons once. I was visiting a friend who lived on the County Park Estate in Hornchurch and John Sissons lived a couple of doors away on the other side of the road. I was just leaving when we both saw a woman backing her car out of her drive a small child on a trike had stopped on the pavement right behind where her car was coming out. Sissons leapt over two fences at an amazing speed and snatched the kid away from the wheels in the nick of time! The speed of the man was amazing and I had to go over and congratulate him.
From the age of 20 to 24 I worked as a property negotiator for Robert Carter Estate Agents who had branches in Barking, Seven Kings and Hornchurch. I became the manager at Hornchurch and once took Ken Brown's details. He was one of my favourite players of all time and was looking for property in the expensive, aloof, Emerson Park area of Hornchurch. Geof Hurst, Martin Peters and the goalkeeper they had at that time also called into the office. I can't remember his name. He was very good but didn't stay long. You will probably remember him because he played county cricket but not for Essex. Isn't it amazing that I can remember that, but not his name! (Jim Standen I think mate.) I think at that time we had just won the European Cup Winners Cup and all the players were flush with a bit of dosh and were investing it in property. I never found anything for them though.
You mentioning Billy Bonds reminds me of one of the best football duals between two players I have ever seen. It was a summer’s evening game at Upton Park. We were playing Southampton who at that time had Kevin Keegan playing for them and him and Bondsie had a right old tussle. The skill and experience of those two players pitted against each other was a match to be savoured and not forgotten. I have not got a clue what the score was though! Lost in the fog of time!
Posted by Hammersfan at 20:06