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Understanding The West Ham Family: My Interview with Dave Walker

Few have been more involved in the West Ham fan community than Dave Walker. Creator of the online Fanzine Sex Drugs & Carlton Cole, host of The West Ham Way Podcast, Co Creator of the West Ham Way pre-match Events and ever-present Twitter personality, Dave Walker is the perfect candidate to interview to get his views on the West Ham Family, personal history with the Club, and get a better understanding of how international Hammers are perceived. So I did!

Enjoy my chat with Dave Walker:

What is your family’s connection to West Ham?

Like many fans, I was born into it. My Dad grew up in New City Road, a 5 minute walk from the Boleyn Ground. Like my Grandad, he was a proper East End boy and loved West Ham. My Mum grew up just off the Kings Road in Chelsea but eventually left West London and moved next door to my Dad, which is how they met.

The two families became close and aside from the football, Upton Park became a big part of their life. They all worked locally which included one of my Nan`s working in Nathan`s Pie and Mash shop with the other one working as a cook in The Boleyn Pub.

When I was born, I was immediately put into a West Ham baby grow. I was inherently
passionate about this club as a kid and used to spend hours and hours with a ball at my feet recreating classic games and goals that I had studied on VHS. The 85/86 season was my main addiction.

I`ll never forget my first game. I remember holding my Dads hand walking through the crowds, being transfixed by the atmosphere and the smell of the burger vans around the ground. It was so raw, so intense, almost overwhelming. I remember feeling that I was suddenly part of something special, something I hadn’t experienced before. That feeling was like a drug.

That game was against Hull City in October 1990, I was nearly seven years old. We won 7-1 and on the way home I thought we were world beaters! My passion for West Ham soon turned into an obsession and I have never looked back.

Who was your favourite player at West Ham?\

I have two because I can`t choose between them! They are Julian Dicks and Paolo Di Canio. Julian gave everything for West Ham and demanded the same from others around him, he was a leader, a warrior and the closest thing I experienced to Billy Bonds. He wasn’t just a hard man, he was a quality player too and how he didn’t played for England I will never know.

Paolo was just poetry in motion and was another player that gave you his heart. You could literally feel his energy on a Saturday afternoon. His class, swagger, aggression, passion and quality on the ball will be remembered forever. Both Paolo and Julian are two of the best players to ever wear the shirt in my opinion.

What is the most entertaining game you’ve seen West Ham play?

If it`s based based on pure entertainment and not importance, then I would have to say the 5-4 win over Bradford City. That game had absolutely everything and in my opinion, for different reasons will always belong to Paolo Di Canio.

Whilst you receive a lot of positivity on social media, at times you also receive some negativity, does this ever affect you or your love for the club?

Absolutely not. Love me or hate me, one thing I have always done and will always do is stay true to myself and speak from the heart. Whilst I genuinely appreciate the positive attention I receive and love meeting and interacting with the people that give it, unlike some I don`t judge myself by the number of followers I have, I judge myself on what my family and closest friends think of me, as they know me better than anyone. Everything that I am lucky enough to do in the name of West Ham is out of pure love for the club and nothing could ever change that.

Is David Moyes the right man for the job at West Ham?

It’s a difficult question. When David was first appointed, the majority of fans kicked up a shit storm on Twitter but I was one of a select few who thought it was a good appointment and went public with that opinion on the podcast. Since then, I think he`s done a very good job. He has succeeded where Slaven was failing in terms of discipline, structure, organisation, fitness and more importantly, results. As content as I was with the appointment, I did also say that I only wanted him until the end of the season, at which point I would want to replace him with a top European Manager. Ideally that would still be the case, however as it stands I don`t honestly know who the person should be.

There is also a strong argument that with the right level of investment in the transfer market, David deserves more time at West Ham. Ultimately, I think it would be logical to revisit this question in the summer.

What are your views on West Ham Supporters outside of England, and how would you put the club into perspective for new and potential supporters?

Wherever you are in the world, if you support West Ham United then you`re one of us. We are all part of the same family, it`s as simple as that. I also believe that supporters from overseas play an important role in establishing the club on a global scale and this shouldn’t be underestimated or under appreciated.

If I was to put the club into perspective for new or potential overseas fans, I would say that West Ham are a very special club but if you are looking to support a club that will be littered with success then West Ham isn’t for you! In fact I’m still waiting to see us win a major trophy and I`m 34 years old! You support West Ham because of everything the club represents. The history, character, passion, loyalty, love, dedication, humour and an undying enthusiasm that one day we will achieve great things.

Is Mark Noble a “Next Level” player?

I love Mark Noble and what he has given to this football club will be remembered forever. He is still capable of doing a job for West Ham and continues to prove people wrong in that respect but is he my definition of a “next level” player? No he isn’t. Sorry Nobes!

Based on the season so far, who is your Hammer of the Year?

Arnautovic hands down. Not just for what he`s done going forward this season but for his work rate and determination, which has been exceptional. He has given us the one thing Stoke fans said he wouldn’t, which is consistency and if he can maintain that level of consistency not only will he win the Hammer of the year award but he could also be on his way to becoming a cult hero at West Ham.

I also think Ogbonna deserves a mention, he would be my runner up based on the season so far. He was losing his way under Bilic but has found his form again under Moyes and has been outstanding at times (which David has to take a lot of credit for).

Where do you see West Ham finishing this season?
It’s a strange season with such a fine margin between success and failure. First and foremost, I have absolutely no doubt that we will stay up, which after the challenges we’ve faced this season is the main objective for me. My prediction is that we’ll finish between 12th-15th. If you want a
specific league finish, I’ll say 13th .
So there it is – the voice of the West Ham Way Podcast, co-creator of the West Ham Way Pre Match Events and the online Fanzine Sex, Drugs & Carlton Cole, Dave Walker. I couldn’t say enough about how much of a fan he is based off of this conversation with him. From what he said, he encompasses what the West Ham family is.

As defined by Dave, West Ham is a special connection for those who support the club. Whether you’re born into it, or have made a lifelong decision to follow West Ham, this club is a unique, shared aspect of all hammers. Possibly now more than ever the supporters need to show their togetherness and bond together over the common happiness and excitement a blowing bubble can bring to our faces.
Come On You Irons!
-Adam

 

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Avid fan of West Ham United, Toronto Maple Leafs, Minnesota Vikings, and Toronto Blue Jays. Involved in all things sports from playing (poorly) to tracking on twitter, my love for the teams I support tends to bleed into all aspects of my life!

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