THE BOLEYN REMEMBERED

Upton Park, The Boleyn
Home.
Through good times and bad
So many memories
A stadium we owned
But sadly it’s gone
Now we’re renting in Stratford
A much bigger ground
But made for athletics, will that ever be home?

Alight here for West Ham1

Exit onto Green Street
Sights, sounds and smells cried – Football
The fans and the locals
I’ll buy any spares
The horse shit, fried onions
But never again2

The side entrance redundant
Now crowds are no more3

The Queens, with its dark bar
From whence on occasions
A special welcome awaited
For Spurs or Millwall4

Time for a burger
Thanks for the custom
Not wanted at Stratford
No room for the little man on the corporate Park
There big firms pay high rents
Burger prices to match5

Ken’s café where fans met
Talked over fry ups
Moaned of failed managers, hopeless players, bad owners and refs6

A pint in the Boleyn
Perhaps two, three or more
Strains of Bubbles float through the door
A home of West Ham7

Part of East End history
But will she survive?8

Wear your colours they once said
Now it’s scarves, half and half
Souvenier of the Boleyn
Or just laugh at Spurs
All consigned to the past
Just the club’s shop at Stratford
You won’t see me in there9

Jugs of beer on the tables
Sky TV in the corner
Still dominos played
All ages met here, but much to their shame, West Ham didn’t care
West Ham moved to Stratford
Supporters Club left behind10

A statute to heroes
Abandoned
T’was a place where we gathered
Focal point for the fans
What is there at Stratford?
M&S ain’t the same11

And so to the ground
Home of West Ham United12

The MDF towers
Naff, yes we agreed
But at least they were ours
And based on tradition, not corporate greed
The gates, they were famous
But now hidden away
No room in the Park for the West Ham way13
Ticket Office where we queued, with mounting frustration
But left clutching a ticket, relief or elation?

Priory Road, where as boys
We queued for the North Bank
Big games, would we get in?
The new stand, not the same, but still with a view
Built for football not just for Seb Coe15

Cheap tickets for Stratford
But Brady didn’t tell
That they were far from the pitch
Or that for a view
We’d pay just as much
As we had at the Boleyn
Before ‘history began’16

It wasn’t the South Bank
But no fights any more
Not the same as a terrace
But we still loved the Bobby17

No queue at the turnstiles
Fans still in the pubs
Roll out for the kick off
Just walk a few yards
Not a march to the stadium
No Stop Go boards here18

Fans met on the concourse
The beer wasn’t cheap
Songs sung at half time
The atmosphere warm
No cold winds like at Stratford
The bogs overflowed, but they were ours, so who cared?19

Not the same since the seats came
But good all the same
A ground built for football
Fans close to the pitch
The East Side a gap
Supposed to be temporary
A new stand to go there
But Gold, Sullivan & Brady
Saw more money elsewhere20

The Chicken Run
Ok not the real one
But the one most of us knew
Not the same with the seats in
Too far from the pitch
But much closer than Stratford
And with a spirit here too
Banter and laughter
We don’t hear any more21

The West Stand
The club named it by sponsors but nobody cared
To us it was The Rio, paid for by his sale
The transfer that signalled we’d never win leagues22

The Bobby Moore Lower
Here most of the fans
Were in 40s & 50s
Had stood on the North Bank, the South or the West
Or moved from the Chicken Run
We knew all the songs
The traditions, the history
We shouted at players, at refs and at ‘keepers
They heard us, reacted
Too far away now
If Brady had asked us, most here would have said stay
But these fans weren’t important
We don’t get a say23

Floodlights on the roof
Not iconic but worked
Except just that once versus Palace
When Frank Lampard had scored
Bets made in the Far East, were ready to win
Someone pulled the plug out
The match was abandoned
The crowd were sent home
Fat Frank’s goal erased
But we won next time round24

Fans stood at the Boleyn25

Or sat, if they preferred26

Choice for all
Sit or stand as you wish
We knew what was what
But those were the days
Before Brady decided
That fans who stand up
Don’t buy enough popcorn
So wanted us out27

A stand named after the master
There was only one
Trevor Brooking
Walks on water, or so we once sang.28

And in 2016, our club captain looked thoughtful
Mark Noble
He’s West Ham through and through
But did he really want to go?29

The flag’s dropped to half mast
It knows that we’re sad30

If only, if only31

And the saddest sight of all
Bulldozers are coming
Is it progress or not?
Teething problems at Stratford
Will it ever be right?
Perhaps for the new fans, with face paint and popcorn
Sad to leave our Boleyn
But the hurt would be lessened, for a real football ground32

If only they listened
We wanted a poll
Brady said that she’d hold one
But not if she might lose
And not ‘til the deal signed
Even then she rigged it
So we’ll never no
Did most want to stay, or did more want to go?

33

Peter Caton
www.petercatonbooks.co.uk
November 2016