Farewell Upton Park!

By on May 11, 2016

“I’m forever blowing bubbles, Pretty bubbles in the air, They fly so high, nearly reach the sky, Then like my dreams they fade and die…”

The chant was belted out by both West Ham United fans and Cockney Rejects alike for the final time at Upton Park, an emotional occasion Tuesday night. The Hammers’ home since 1904 saw its last competitive game played out under the floodlights against Manchester United and what a climax it was at the old East End ground.

A repeat of this year’s FA Cup quarter-final, the occasion had all the drama on and off the Boleyn pitch fitting for an episode of EastEnders, dealing a decisive blow to United’s Champions League hopes.

West Ham begin their homecoming at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Stadium against Serie A champions Juventus over the summer, where club owners David Sullivan and David Gold will hope to pack in 60,000 fans for the high profile friendly. Sullivan has already confirmed the Hammers have submitted a £24 million bid for an unnamed player, rumoured to be Marseille forward Michy Batshuayi.

There is also talk of a move for Liverpool striker Christian Benteke, which would again cost the club north of £20 million.

Talking of top transfers, Manchester United lost out on the bid for Renato Sanches, who signed for Bayern Munich along with Mats Hummels. German defender Hummels arrived from Borussia Dortmund and eighteen-year-old midfielder Sanches signed from Benfica. Carlo Ancelotti is already reshaping a world class squad in Munich and Pep Guardiola has not even touched down in Manchester yet!

Unsavory start on the Coach Trip from Hell!

The occasion was somewhat stained with some unsavory and unwelcome scenes that delayed kickoff, as Manchester United’s team coach was attacked on its way into Upton Park; violence for which true Hammers’ fans wouldn’t want Boleyn Ground to be remembered by.

Visiting captain Wayne Rooney reported that “it wasn’t nice, the coach got smashed up” and winger Jesse Lingard’s amateur video showed the Red Devils’ squad hiding on the coach floor while bottles and other projectiles were thrown at the vehicle.

West Ham chairman David Sullivan noted that the clash between the United bus and West Ham supporters might have been avoided had the Old Trafford club arrived earlier, although later redacting his claims.

Regardless, Van Gaal obviously hasn’t heard the phrase “the early bird catches the worm” or has misunderstood the concept of ‘Fergie Time’ – instead of scoring the winner in 90th minute, the team arrives to the stadium then!

A Noble effort from the players to restore the night!

Despite the unwanted events off the pitch, the match a perfect send off for Upton Park. The encounter ended 3-2 to Slaven Bilic’s side, denting Van Gaal’s hopes of his team piping cross-town rivals Man City to fourth place on the final day of the season.

Hammers captain Mark Noble was named man-of-the-match, fitting for a local lad to receive the accolade on his last appearance at the place the midfielder has called home since he was a kid.

The same day, England manager Roy Hodgson postponed the naming of his England squad for Euro 2016 for four days to next Monday, and many may feel Noble deserves a shot in the Three Lions shirt. However, at the age of twenty-nine, it seems unlikely Noble will get a surprise call-up; like former East London hero Billy Bonds, he may never get the chance to replicate his club form for the national side.

After the final whistle, past club legends, such as Sir Trevor Brooking, graced the pitch for a celebratory lap of honor, and when Noble retires, he is likely to be regarded in the same light when he retires from playing at the Olympic Park.  At the age of just twenty-nine, though, he still has years left to give to the club.

Reid All About It!

New Zealand defender Winston Reid won the climatic event with a decisive header in the eightieth minute to keep the three points in London. Diafra Sakho got the five-goal thriller under way in E13, but the 2016 Young Player of the Year winner at the Football Facebook Awards in London* – Anthony Martial – scored an impressive brace for the FA Cup finalists.

However, Martial’s double was soon cancelled out by strikes from Michail Antonio and the towering Reid to seal victory for Bilic’s men.  For all of Martial’s talent, this was West Ham’s night and United now need to beat Bournemouth at home on Sunday and hope Manuel Pellegrini loses his last game in charge of Manchester City against Swansea City to maintain any hopes of playing Champions League football next year.

*West Ham’s Dimitri Payet was also nominated for the 2016 Facebook Football Awards Player of the Year, but lost out to Leicester City’s Riyad Mahrez, with social media fans voting to hand the award to the Algerian winger and current PFA Player of the Year.

Upton Park or Uptown Funk?

As a fitting tribute to the famous English ground, I have written a parody version of the 2015 hit Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars song (not Alex Song!): Uptown Funk.

This is the first three verses of Upton Park:

This fit
That player sold
Slaven Bilic
That David Gold
This one, for them Hammers fans
Them Hammers fans
Straight masterpieces
Stylin’, while in
Livin’ it up in the capital city
Got Chucks on with Sakho and Adrian
Got kiss myself I’m so Payet

I’m too hot
Called a police van and a fireman fan
I’m too hot
Make Craig Bellamy wanna retire man
I’m too hot
Say my name you know who I am
I’m too hot
Am I bad ’bout that money
Break it down

Goals hit your hallelujah
Goals hit your hallelujah
Goals hit your hallelujah
‘Cause Upton Park gon’ give it to you
‘Cause Upton Park gon’ give it to you
‘Cause Upton Park gon’ give it to you
Saturday night and we on the spot
Don’t believe me just watch
Don’t believe me just watch
Don’t believe me just watch
Don’t believe me just watch
Don’t believe me just watch
Don’t believe me just watch
Hey, hey, hey, oh!

By Richard Lewis feat. Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars

About Richard Lewis

Richard Lewis can relate almost anything to football and quite often does! You may have seen Richard's previous ideas and work in the BBC Match of the Day Magazine, from 2011 to present. He is a Manchester United and England fan, but has gone to see Leyton Orient play with his O's season ticket in the 2013/14 campaign. Aside from football, Richard has written articles on Doctor Who and studies English Language and Linguistics at the University of Westminster. Aspiring sports journalist.