So here it goes – maybe an explanation for why I’ve been so fixated on a foreign team, in a foreign league, playing what to us is a foreign sport.
For anyone who follows my personal Social Media accounts, my writing about West Ham United has been constant, if not annoying. But, for me the Premier League is something that is hard to explain – a sort of cultural tide that grabbed me and pulled me out to sea. As those close to me know, I am an avid Toronto Maple Leafs, Blue Jays, and Minnesota Vikings fan (I’m coming around on the Raptors too). What West Ham is for me has turned into a bizarre obsession, on a different level than my other North American teams. So let me try and explain why.
Waking up from a crippling hangover at the hands of my two University roommates, I had just enough energy to get my bedding into the washing machine before collapsing back on my bare mattress to comfortably regret the night before. From a previous Leaf game, my television was on a local sports station and when turned on was showing the walk outs of West Ham hosting Hull City.
Due to my condition I couldn’t reach the remote to change to something soft and soothing, so I instead doubled down on the game – winner was my team. West Ham comfortably cruised to a 3-0 win on January 15th, 2015 and I was hooked.
Since that day I haven’t missed many matches, a strong feat considering the very limited T.V. coverage in Canada, but I made it my mission. I went all in on West Ham United, and I have no intention of dropping the shield with the crossed hammers – my promise to never drink again that I made that same morning has not been kept.
A history lover by choice and educational trade means two things: I currently don’t work in my field, and that I dove headlong into the annals of West Ham history. This only fueled my love for the team further. Learning of the Thames Iron Works origins of the team, and the blue collar attitude that grew from that tradition made me even more content in my decision to support the team.
West Ham were an oxymoron to me; Playing the gentleman’s game, with crunching tackles and an unapologetic attitude to get physical, win the ball, and put in a shift.
The team’s rich history of varied players was also an attractive feature. England and West Ham captain Bobby Moore is synonymous with the club, and his international career and composure he added an elegance to East London. Then you get the likes of Julian Dicks – The Terminator. The man, often possessed in competition, would put body on the line and smash the opposition in order to win.
For me, having visited East London recently for my first ever match, it is now a life long commitment. Is it easy? For love of the team yes, for access to streams and broadcasts, maybe not. Is it worth it? Undoubtedly. Community is something to be valued, and despite how the current situation of the club may taint things, the West Ham family is still strong, and I am proud to be a part of it.
Come On You Irons!