I am now 71 and my dad started taking me to watch the Hammers in about 1947/48. I lived in Forest Gate and from 48 onwards was a pupil at Plaistow Grammar School.
It was at about that time, during the summer holidays, that I looked out of my bedroom window and saw a group of 5 or 6 men in the garden next door. They were digging out a second world war air raid shelter, dug deep below the surface. When I took a closer look I suddenly began to recognise some of the men as regular first team players from WHU. I rushed down into the garden, jumped up on a box and had a close up view. The group included Dickie Walker, the then captain, Ernie Gregory, our long serving goalie and Ernie Devlin, who played as a full back. I can no longer remember who the others were, but they were all very friendly and enjoyed chatting with this very young supporter. This was an era when players wages were very low and almost non existent during the summer months, so they had to take on labouring work to keep the wolf from the door. How times have changed!
Whilst at Plaistow Grammar School, we often used to walk down to the chippie at the end of Prince Regent Lane and would bump into Terry Woodgate and Ken Tucker, both of whom were wingers playing in the first team at that time and who lived nearby. These men were all my heroes and any time they nodded a glance of recognition in our direction it was considered a red letter day.
I was a season ticket holder for many years. I saw the 66 World Cup trio grow through the youth team and reserves into the very fine players they ultimately became. Sadly I no longer visit regularly, but follow them with great passion via the internet and web sites such as your own. Keep up the good work.