“I bet you see a lot of the country with what you do”
“Mate, all I see is motorways and non-league football grounds.”
This is a commonplace conversation between myself, colleagues, friends, family and my bank manager. Well maybe not the last one!
I’m sure they probably think I have a drink problem, with the amount of pubs that appear on my statement each month.
I imagine this is also a frequent conversation with any football fan who follows the women’s game. To follow the beautiful game, we do go to some far flung places.
I have been football mad since I was 7. I have a hazy memory of holding my father’s hand on a crowed tube going to Wembley, (Old Wembley with the two towers out front and seats you could barely get an ant between.
If I close my eyes I can still hear the chatter of the other fans.
“This will be our year, I can feel it.”
“We’ve had a good season, this will just cap it off.”
“If he plays two up front, we are golden.”
Many things still ring out as odd in this picture.
Firstly, that it was my dad taking me (he hates football, rugby is definitely his sport. Because, and I quote, ‘none of this falling over malarkey’).
More importantly there was the strange occurrence of optimistic Dagenham and Redbridge fans.
The match was the Ryman’s Premier League play off to go into the top flight. The heady heights of the Football Conference.
Woking vs Dagenham
CLASH OF THE TITANS
I had my half and half scarf and I was ready to cheer my little heart out. Surely, they were going to win. I mean the man on the train said they would
1-0. Slowly we trudged back to Dagenham on the tube
But from that moment I was hooked. I also started to learn the heartbreak of following team that wasn’t in the top 6.
I say it was unusual for my dad to take me to a match but that was an understatement.
If you really pushed him, he would tell you he liked Bobby Moore, like a good East London boy of his generation should. But he is more likely to tell you about James Hunt, Team Lotus or the Wasps team of 1977.
Okay so I don’t actually know if he could do this. It just sounds like something he would say.
It is mum that is the provider of all that is football. Having been a season ticket holder at the club in the east from her teens till she married my dad, there was only ONE team I could support.
Now, dear reader, we come my deepest darkest secret.
*Pauses for dramatic effect*
I am a West Ham fan. A mad West Ham fan. An all-consuming, eat, sleep, breathe all things Claret and Blue fan.
Ok, so I am guessing you figured that out by the colour scheme. If anyone guessed Aston Villa or Burnley, please leave. Nice knowing you.
Don’t judge me. Blame my mother. It was she who gave me the love of a team who have broken my heart many, many, did I say many, many times over the last 21 years.
Also her (and we can add some blame to dad with this) decision to move to Manchester gave me my current reputation as the ‘away’ home fan.
Having moved up North many moons ago, following the Claret and Blue Army got increasingly hard.
Particularly the new love of my life, the newly formed women’s team.
So that is what this blog is about.
It’s not to talk about the West Ham men’s team or really the men’s game at all. They get enough column inches as it is.
I also have nothing particularly innovative to add to the conversation about the Gold-Sullivan-Brady saga, nor on how much Declan Rice should be paid, nor whether Anderson is a waste of money or what the hell we were thinking with Payet!
No, this will be about my travels as a West Ham Women fan who has to get up at 5am for any home game. Rush Green is a bitch to get to and I have seen far more of the M6 than anyone should reasonably be able to claim to have seen.
I guess I am fairly unique in that I am an ‘away’ home fan and I hope my blog will give you an insight into the anecdotes, conversations and of course football matches that make that 5am alarm and frequent coach journeys worthwhile.
And whilst perhaps not innovative, I have lots and I mean LOTS of thoughts about the women’s game. And quite frankly I have run out of people to bore them with.
I’ll also be blogging about the upcoming summer in France for the Women’s World Cup, the history of the women’s game, where it’s going (in my humble opinion) and its superstars.
So, sit back and enjoy the ramblings of this ‘away’ home fan.