Written by @ryanleaver_
I woke up at 6 on Saturday morning and with no chance of returning to sleep I decided to watch the second half of an Aussie Rules match whilst I laid in bed. The dockers got up over the dees in a thriller for those interested.
I’m over from Australia and after having had a few trips here in the past with my family, this is my first overseas venture solo. And therefore Saturday was my first West Ham game without my dad.
Despite his jealousy of my trip ad subsequent trips to the London Stadium and other various stadiums, I knew he’d be up late watching the Hammers from the other side of the world.
So back to the day. Staying with family in Middlesbrough meant that I couldn’t miss the chance to jump on the train and catch the irons up against Jermain Defoe and his Sunderland teammates.
Of course with Sunderland’s poor recent record, I was worried like most that they’d click into gear against us, but overall I was pretty confident we’d come away with the 3 points (my mistake).
My travels commenced that morning when I jumped on the bus and took the 20 minute trip to the Boro Bus Station. And following a 15 minute walk I was at the Train Station and eager to get on board.
The train trip flew by as I flicked through the latest FourFourTwo whilst listening to the Football Ramble podcast. Upon arrival I headed to nearby Burger King to jump on their free wifi. Ah, the first-world troubles of a traveller.
Next up was a self-guided tour of the hub of Sunderland which was highlighted by my misguided confidence seeing me slap a £5 bet on Lanzini to score and West Ham to win 1-0, 2-0 or 2-1. I thought I was pretty much stealing 50 pounds from Coral at the time.
With my lack of internet coverage, I had no way of finding a pub that would have some fellow hammers so after scoping out the location of the ground I hoped into a nearby one for a drink. After the initial shock of much cheaper a pint was than in Melbourne I smashed it down and headed over to the Stadium of Light.
Having not been to an away game since I was about 6 I didn’t really know what to expect but as soon as I got through the turnstiles I was in love. I climbed up the stairs to the sounds of ‘Ain’t Nobody Like Lanzini’ and ‘Super Slav’ and my excitement somehow doubled.
A few songs and beers later and after a disappointing Spurs result on the TV I headed into the stand to find my seat. And what an experience being amongst it all was.
Despite the disappointing result, being in a West Ham away end is something you can’t truly understand until you’ve experienced it.
Although the game was quite lacklustre for long periods, we never stopped drowning out the Sunderland fans and really couldn’t have done much much to spur our boys on.
A personal highlight was when there was a pause in the game due to injury and all of the players’ individual songs we sang resulting in a smile and wave from a few crowd favourites.
All in all if was an awesome day marred only by the poor showing from the team. I can’t wait to get along to another game soon, be it home or away and get around the boys for a win.