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An insight into a West Ham fan's psyche

Joe Cole in his West Ham days

Joe Cole in his West Ham days

Why are West Ham fans so ungrateful?

Now, I have never met an Indian Hammers fan, but once as a delegate to a foreign trip, I met a West Ham fan from the West End. Danny Jones, an Australian immigrant, had moved to London at the age of 3 and was a season ticket holder for Upton Park. The man had seen many a big matches. Being a 65-year old, he could recall legendary fixtures we only dreamt about. He had seen Bobby Moore in his prime, he was even at the old Wembley when England lifted the cup under Alf Ramsey.

He was there when Bobby Moore saved a penalty against Stoke, and had swore at Lampard when he had left the Hammers. One thing that always amazed me was the reception former West Ham players got, be it Carrick, Lampard, Ferdinand or even the player of the year from a relegated team, Scott Parker.

Being a United fan, I was used to warm adulation and reception for homecoming greats and even those who had not been as great, received judicious receptions; never were they booed unnecessarily and never hated like at Upton Park. Lampard famously criticised the Upton Park faithful, while claiming that Joe Cole is the only player to have received something of a decent reception when coming back. Well, in all fairness, whenever he went there, he went in a Chelsea shirt, with crowd target Lampard. As alleged by West Ham fans, it is only Cole who left the club with regret and pain. The rest left for more pounds.

Before the Bosman ruling, Bobby Moore, the most famous West Ham player, wanted to leave the club, but was not allowed to. He struggled for three years but never could. Michael Carrick went down with the club when they got relegated, stayed with the club a season but when they could not get promoted, he had to leave. He is still booed from the terraces of East London.

Scott Parker looked to be single-handedly keeping the Hammers afloat, but could not. He became the only player to be part of relegated team and get a player of the year award.

As I asked him these questions, the previously calm guy turned into something of an angry Steve McMahon and spoke so animatedly in an accent so thick that I had trouble hanging onto his words. This is what I remember of the conversation, “At West Ham, we love our players and keep them at the front of our minds, we never booed Little Joe, ‘cuz he loved the club. As he left he had tears in his eyes, the club had to sell him. He did not even want to leave.”

When I asked him about Lampard and Parker, he said, “Look, for Parker, I feel that the anger is a bit unfair. But yes, he too wanted to escape. I can understand that it was the last big contract of his life but I can’t stop hating him. Lampard was a heart-breaker, many West Ham fans still feel that he got preferential treatment and he may have become a legend somewhere else. I liked him but he was never good enough for Upton Park.”

The chat with him showed me how much an emotional contact with the club can charge up a fan. How the fan psychology dominates players, most importantly, it was a pleasure too see a true fan who had actually been a regular part of the beautiful game.

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