So this is going to be different to my usual type of column as I just want to concentrate on the match rather than much else.
I have started to get into quite a routine at West Ham, meet up with a few mates and then go for some beers and arrive to the ground about twenty minutes before the match. I then catch up with all the friends who sit with me and it feels like an exciting day out. I prefer this to Upton Park where you couldn’t meet anywhere as all the pubs were rammed and I always had to drive to the matches as the trains were so poor.
The match started well. The first thirty minutes were amazing and the atmosphere was spot on. The team looked on fire and I could see nothing but a big win coming, oh how wrong I was. Terrible defending by Byram and a combination of Collins and Adrian meant they were back in the game before half time which was ridiculous. This is where the fun of the day started to decline.
I went to the toilets, as always the prematch beers never give my bladder an easy ride! As you go to the toilets in the East Stand there is no proper queuing system because people filter in from all angles. A couple of old boys took offence to the younger lads pushing in and asked them to go to the back of the line. I used to see this a bit at Upton Park and usually the accused would go to the back reluctantly. In this case both of the people asked swore and called the old men a word beginning with C and it wasn’t carrot. I went outside to the food kiosks and bought a chicken burger and a coke as I hadn’t had any lunch, setting me back £10. In some ways this is nice to be able to step outside and use the outside facilities but in some ways it is worrying because any one could get in without ticket as there are no checks going back in.
I got back to the seat and the team just looked like another team in the second half. No effort, terrible defending again and little attacking threat. It was in the second half where the atmosphere started to turn to a horrible vibe. Where I am sat I could see fights breaking out to the left of me, to the right of me and where the away fans met the stewards. The stewards do not do anything, they stand there and watch. It is their job to make sure the supporters behave. The problem is they are all young kids used to dealing with athletics and concerts they are not trained. They need to be put amongst experienced and loyal stewards from Upton Park. They also have no police presence backing them up. Why are the police not in the stadium?? I just do not understand this. Apparently they have to be called in if something serious happens. Thankfully the club have now insisted that E20 have a police presence and this should help with the situation. The police will deter people from fighting and deal with it quickly if they do.
Considering every home game now I have been asked if I have been searched and said yes and got through every time, it will not be long before something serious does happen. What worries me even more is that we have only played Bournemouth and Watford, teams I considered us to be friendly with. I dread to think what happens when we play Spurs or Chelsea. The club have again made it very clear to E20 that this is not acceptable and that the stewards need further training.
One thing that has to be said though is that the fans part in this cannot be excused. Yes it was a poor result, yes some fans are clearly wound up about the standing and sitting but you don’t need to turn to violence. You cannot excuse someone who comes to a game and fights with his fellow fans regardless of any other factor. Yes I believe this is happening more because of the terrible stewarding but nonetheless these people need bans immediately. I will not be taking my kids to the new stadium (something I had planned to do) until this is sorted out.
The performances on the pitch do not help the situation. Had we won that game we probably wouldn’t be talking about all the fights now that we are. I think I would make three or four big changes for the WBA game. I think Ogbonna must play. At the moment I would say instead of Reid but Collins hasn’t exactly been on form this season either so I am not overly fussed which one goes but Ogbonna must start. I think we need to get Arbeola fit ASAP as Byram was very exposed at right back and I think we need someone experienced there to come in. I would also think about dropping Adrian for Randolph. I think Adrian has been weak on a number of goals this season already whereas Darren hasn’t let us down although of course this is a bit of a kneejerk reaction.
The stadium problems surprise me because the club had brought in Angus Kinnear from Arsenal and a few other directors to oversee our move to the London stadium, like they had with Arsenal. They set up supporter advisory boards dedicated to this and then quickly disbanded them. It baffles me that no family section has been arranged or agreed before and that fans were not suggested seats depending on whether they wanted to sing or not. These are things that I believe we could have controlled. Things that I cannot understand not being organised beforehand when families were choosing their tickets. The club have now agreed to relocate these families which is a positive step but one that shouldn’t have had to happen because it should have been sorted before the season.
The stewards are controlled by the Olympic committee and unfortunately we do not have much say over them. The club had a big meeting today and have lobbied the E20 for many changes in security and all for the better. Things should improve.
As for the stadium, I understand people missing Upton Park, I do! I have struggled to look at pictures of it recently because I miss going to the games there. I was very pro the move however and whilst the stadium issues have dampened my enthusiasm I think it is important to accept that there were always going to be teething problems. I also think that like anything it takes a while to get used to something new. If you have lived in a house for 26 years (like I have had a season ticket) moving somewhere new always takes a long time to feel like home especially when the landlord is not doing their job properly. The bottom line is we cannot turn back and once the results start to pick up on the pitch it will feel better. It felt good for the first 30 minutes against Watford.
I think we have to wait until the end of the season before we can fully judge the stadium. I understand the board’s decision to move to the stadium and do not hold any negativity towards them because I know this move was done with the club’s best interest at heart or so they believed. I think mistakes have been made but thankfully we look like addressing them now. When the team’s performances pick up and we are at the end of the season, then is the time to reflect back accurately on the success of the move.
I will bring more news in my next column but I wanted to have my say on the issue. If you wish to vote for myself https://t.co/hZ7oo7IzFU , the site or the podcast (see the West Ham Way Twitter Account) in the upcoming FBAs any vote will be greatly received.
Fully agree. As a retired cop I have seen more aggro in 2 games than I did in last 10 or so years at The Boleyn. You have highlighted a significant weakness in search procedures. If you can get back into the ground after going outside at half time then anyone can …and given the current terrorist climate that is a real concern and needs to be addressed urgently.
The behaviour of the few has taken the gloss off what was to be an exciting season. After 20 years as a season ticket holder and supported the hammers for 50 years I am not sure if I will renew my ticket next year which will be a shame. I spoke to a female business colleague who took a small child to the game Saturday. She was near away fans and she states she was absolutely petrified. Bottles being thrown yobs jumping over the youngster to land punches on another supporter! Not good
Always good to reflect when given time to think
I agree standing sitting was always going to be and issue and should have been done better but we need to look forward not backwards.
Fans need to remember we are WestHam not Millwall no matter how you feel you have been wronged do not fight each other and don’t spit at the directors have some self respect.
The club needs to carry out a survey of all supporters who have attended a game over the last few seasons and this season to find out what the split is for standing and sitting then allocate areas where standing will be tolerated allow season ticket holders in those areas who want to sit to move and replace them with those who want to stand them ban people who stand in the sitting areas.
As for away support needs to be partitioned properly as it was at Upton Park if this needs more money spent then such is life.
I would suggest that Event company managing the stadium have proven themselves not fit for purpose and should be replaced by West Ham who should be made responsible for managing the stadium this would allow the board to have control and responsibility which should resolve the finger pointing Before someone gets seriously injured and Brand West Ham becomes toxic.
As for the move to the new stadium if Westham wish to be a Premiership club they needed a bigger stadium either someone was going to build one or we moved to the running track stadium. We didn’t have enough money to build one so we got the running track.
Any one that wants to watch lower league football in an old stadium can always go to Orient I suppose.
COYI win or lose.
I think it’s the sadest thing at all. Took my boy to the Boleyn be loved it, never any bother. Took him to the last few games at the new gaff, again he loved it and I comfortable.
His mates at school now telling him not to go as it’s to dangerous as he will be beaten up.
Great article Ex. Really nice to see someone finally understand where the blame needs to lie for these issues as many fans just don’t seem to have a good grasp on the situation. The only question I’ve got is how you could possibly continue to see Collins as a better first option than Reid!
I have the same concerns re security particularly entering and re entering the stadium. I was unexpectedly given a ticket for the opening game but was carrying JJs large kit bag containing his charity stuff so had to take the bag in with me. In the bag was a large heavy box containing JJs replica Jules Rimet which was also wrapped in loads of bubble wrap. Security asked ‘What’s in the bag’ and I replied ‘A Jules Rimet’ he just laughed and waved me through without checking. Scary times.
I agree it’s all about segregation – I like atmosphere, singing and shouting (!) but I’m surrounded by families so I’ve kept my mouth shut for the opening games – it’s spoilt the game for me. Not segregating fans based on whether they are a family, atmosphere fan, budget fan etc. Is negligent by West Ham. They need to find a solution this season and offer swaps. I have written to the club but been told it will be next season – they need to offer it now – I see in the news yesterday they might be looking to change this season which would help massively.
Totally agree…I have been a season ticket holder for many years and tbh, West Han are my life (as well as my family)
I didn’t want to go to the LS as I’m a traditionalist at heart but there’s nothing we can do about it so you have to go with it.
The stadium is magnificent and I do think we are lucky to have it but it’s the organisation.I am in block 204 and we don not have a steward present at all. There was a disagreement between 2 fans on Saturday and we were lucky that it defused. Saturday was the first time I had thought, i am not enjoying it here…but what can you do though? I cannot even imagine giving up my season ticket…it’s the club I support but the stadium and would watch them wherever they play.
As fans, I really don’t think we are listened to, they need to get feedback from the diehard fans, the open minded ones who understand that we can’t go back to Upton Park and we need to adapt to the new stadium but we are the ones who are seeing the problems. It’s not that we are being negative, we want this to work for our club. We don’t want to be a laughing stock, we want to be proud!!
I also think that if we had won on Saturday, half of this trouble wouldn’t have happened.
The allowing of fans out in the east stand st half time is one of the better things going on- for gawsh sake don’t complain about that ?! The area is controlled by screens/ barriers at each end so no one can sneak in . Other clubs do it west brom, Derby , Stoke being better examples .
This simply isn’t true, on Saturday it was open to the outside world. Following the recent incidents in Europe and with so many people together, it is a real concern in London. We currently sit at a ‘severe’ level of threat regarding international terrorism meaning an attack is highly likely. I hate to say it but the LS was highly insecure on Saturday which presented an easy target. Fortunately it seems that lessons have been learnt before tradegy.
Agree with this. Of all the issues – The lack of Police is the biggest by far. Police have huge experience in football crowds and were a major part of the huge reduction in crowd trouble at football. Arrests will mean bans for those responsible for violence and be a serious deterrent. I understand people want to stand but the issue isn’t coming from BM lower which is already evolving into a standing area with those at the front seated. It is pockets of 1-5 people standing where others are sitting, usually drunk. People wanting to stand but who were in areas of Upton Park where most sat (about 85% of the ground) used to sit down, behave and hope to get a ticket in Bobby Moore lower or chat corner. As for this nonsense about plastic fans etc. – ignorance pure and simple, just because someone enjoys their footballs in a different way does not make them any less passionate about the team, I used to love the terraces but not everyone did. I saw people Saturday who were more interested in standing up facing away from pitch and making a point than in watching the game they claim to support so passionately.
Drop Reid before Collins? No, no, no! Collins is awful, a mistake waiting to happen and he made plenty on Saturday. He must never wear a West Ham shirt again. Too many mistakes in too many games. And Randolph isn’t without his faults – he constantly flaps at crosses and that cost us at least two goals last season, (just as many as Adrian cost us.) You’re right about needing Arbeloa fit – Byram may well be a PL full-back one day, but he’s clearly not ready yet. Another reason we shouldn’t have sold Tomkins.
Big problems with the stadium no family seating areas also the 2 plus scheme where you could invite 2 friends on your season ticket getting a choice before other season ticket holders leaking roof seats missing stewards with no experience of hooligans no police presence beer readily available where as at UP you would be lucky to get one all adds up to a total disaster and possible serious injury when we play Spurs Chelsea or God forbid millwall in the cup.the board need to act quickly.
On the pitch for a long while now our defence has been a problem if you bet on BTTS you would have a fortune last year and this already Adrian distribution is awful from hand and foot decision making is also not the best and it’s time to stop be blinded by passion and play DR Reids confidence is shot he doesn’t want the ball when he does panics and hoofs it and has times when he just switches off,playing on the left of Collins just doesn’t suit his natural game where it does Ogbonna. Byrams inexperience showed massively for the first goal and was easy prey for Watford there after just when you need an experienced head to put a arm around him the experience head was part gifting the 2nd goal along with Adrian. On top of that the defence had no cover in front of them everyone was going gun Ho. Still loads of positives with Dimi, Zaza and lanzinni starting and for 30 minutes we were world beaters, for me it all boils down to confidence which we need to build on quickly to avoid disaster, gone off on one a bit but there you go
The poor performance by the team ensured tempers were short both in the ground and at the station where fans are herded like cattle on the longest route possible around the underground passages and things made worse when trains do not come often enough or have enough carriages or are already full so we are rammed in. Hardly a pleasant day out! Now there will be engineering works on the line – just perfect! The team however, was abysmal. Time and time again whoever plays up front is isolated and it breaks down, Saturday Nobes played behind Lanzini consequently Watford played through the midfield and we never got enough men in their box so ‘most’ crosses are easily cleared. Its been the same in every single game – pretty in midfield but no penetration! Byram gets the blame for Watford’s first and third goal but be fair, Antonia as the midfield player playing in front of him failed to get back to help him. Byram should have roasted Antonio for leaving him isolated like that. So, players isolated up front, isolated at the back, what does that tell you about team work!
A good common sense article regarding the new stadium which was never going to produce the same atmosphere as Upton Park. What we did not foresee was the problem with the seating and steward situation which must be addressed. The team situation is different .It seems to me that in a well meant intent to make WHU an attractive side the emphasis has been on attack and little attention to defence. All well and good, but many teams have struggled when just trying to outscore the opposition regardless of how many they concede .Evidence of this is in the signings made ,especially in the lack of full back cover .Losing Tomkins was sad ,but you can understand his reasons for wanting to move on. Sam Byram looked to have matured a little during the pre season and Euro Matches but still looks exposed in PL Games. He has now been booked three times in the last 3 out of 4 matches and is looking down the barrel of a ban before Christmas.Abeloa may be an improvement but, that remains to be seen.
IN my view the club should take a more balanced view of what is required and avoid unnecessary loan signings like Tore who I always believed was not needed,. Of course this surely all comes back to the great making Antonio a full back saga which was a grave error of judgement.
I highlighted on another site some of the same issues you have raised Ex, there are a number of niggling issues, you have a cross section of our support who never want to leave UP who are not only unhappy with the new stadium they feel has been forced upon them, they in some cases have a completely different view surrounded by a different set of fans that might not share their views or desires to stand/sit, so you have an air of toxicity to begin with. We then have stewards that are not West Ham and by some accounts one even cheered when Watford scored…, so there is no family feeling from familiar stewards that share the same interest as the home support, there is no Police presence and with a set of stewards incapable for the most part of taking any positive actions if troubles arise leading some supporters to think it is ok to act like animals and they have nothing to fear from the stewards, in addition the lack of segregation inside the stadium and the open doors at half time which is a serious security breach, the inconsistency of stewards at the gate in searching, the whole thing leaves most sensible supporters realising that the place is a powder keg which leads them to be on edge, finally if the score starts to go against us then aggravation can quickly escalate into some idiots throwing their fists either at their own support, the stewards or the away fans.
I suggested on the other site that the club should send out an email to all ST holders and offer them a refund on the remaining games of their ST’s, they should rescind the +2 or make it a +1, they should put a physical barrier to segregate home and away support including on the concourses, they should also have a control centre with Police and Paramedics on hand to react to incidents in the stadium, finally they should make TB lower and away support safe standing and mabe BM lower also.
Generally agree with your sentiments but pre match for me is now non existent. Yet to find a decent pub & not happy with catering prices or choice, just need £4 greasy burger. Of course as a supporter for over 50 years change is never easy for us older fans, but I love the stadium & my seats are fine but to me it feels like I am going to a concert & not supporting my team. But like all things we move on trust the board & Bilic to sort out problems on pitch & in stadium.0
Always enjoy your articles Ex keep up the good work, It still baffles me why the segregation/family section/stewarding issues where not addressed prior or during the move. I feel let down as this has so far ruined our 1st season which should have like the last season at UP been one to remember for everyone. I keep wondering if it was the intention to scatter singers/Standers/Families around the stadium & their thinking was to create a family atmosphere throughout the ground rather than a section of it or am I thinking to much into it? My only hope is that this situation is treated with the utmost urgency as promised.
Back to the important issue & the poor state of affairs on the pitch, Yes we are only 4 games into the season but not one game have we consistently performed well yet, like a couple of seasons ago when we were great 1st half poor the 2nd or poor the 1st & great the 2nd
So far we haven’t been even that good.
Yes we have had Chelsea & City away which are always tough if Antonio hadn’t snatched victory in the dying moments of the Bournemouth game we could effectively be sitting ROCK bottom.
My worry is if we do not sort out the problems on the pitch like the stadium issues quickly ‘It’s only been 4 games’ turns into 5,6,7,8,9….Christmas & we all know the problem if we are anywhere near the foot of the table at Christmas.
Having said that a couple of good results over the next few games should do wonders for everyone’s confidence.
Results on the pitch will without doubt lift the mood in the stands.
A lot what you have put is right but I think we have been sold the river by the three of them,it’s not a football ground and not fit for purpose.ive been a season ticket holder for years and was told my seat will be the same distance from the pitch and when I got there I’m a lot of the way back sorry but my thoughts are not going to change about the three in charge they to me do not care about the real surporters of West Ham all they are are business people in it for what they can make.
Good and informative column, on the team selection issue, I would go for Randolph at the moment, Arbeloa (if fit) and Ogbona for Collins.
Byram just doesn’t look a Premier League defender and needs time to mature – he is going to be exposed a lot if played.
Looking forward to Cresswell coming back and hoping Arthur has a right foot – maybe he could be switched to the right at times.