Shane Loses His West Ham Virginity


Today I am taking my good friend Shane Greer (who is my deputy at Total Politics Magazine, and who you may have seen on TV a bit – he’s the one with the funny accent) to a football match first time. And where better than Upton Park? Whenever I take someone to West Ham for the first time, I behave like an evangelist. I am so desperate for them to enjoy themselves and want to come back. In short, I try to indoctrinate them into the footballing religion that calls itself West Ham-ism. I try to radicalise them. Today I shall start things gently, by visiting the West Ham Madrassa that goes under the name of Ken’s Cafe. I reckon that if Phill Jupitus is there again, Shane will be so star struck that he will be wearing the Claret & Blue forever.

Shane’s last experience of a football match was as a fourteen year old, when he was a ball boy at a match in Northern Ireland. It wasn’t a happy experience, apparently. The loyalists thought he was nationalist, and vice versa. “Oh, it’s much calmer at West Ham,” I reassured him. “You wouldn’t get any of that in the chicken run,” I said, as my nose grew longer by the minute.

The only person who has resisted the West Ham charm school is my partner, John. When we first met, in 1995, he came to about a dozen games and at first he affected to enjoy it. I hadn’t realised how little he knew about football. It became apparent when he cheered when Southampton scored a goal just after half time. I look daggers at him. “But West Ham have scored,” he said. “No,” I said. “They changed ends at half time”. I fully expect to have a similar experience this afternoon. When John started bleating about the cold and asked why people had to swear so much, I knew it was pointless. Even the attraction of staring at Steve Potts for 90 minutes had an increasingly limited appeal for him.

So, any tips on what I should tell Shane about how best to behave at West Ham? I am sure he would appreciate the benefit of your knowledge.

And if you’d like to teach him yourself, we will be in Ken’s Cafe from about 1.45 to 2.30.


15 Responses to Shane Loses His West Ham Virginity

  1. Gav Hammer says:

    where do you sit Iain … in true style we always go in at about 1.30 for a couple of pints and a bet so will miss you in the caf

  2. Iain Dale says:

    I sit in the West Stand lower, Row X 203. fairly near the half way line towards the Centenary Stand.

  3. Gav Hammer says:

    OK … Bobby moore upper directly behind the goal …. Whenever I take friends or colleagues to games the one thing they all comment on is the singing of Bubbles as the teams come out & the crowd throughout the game … I hope we are near full & it is a good game for your colleague to enjoy. Any updates on the takeover ???

  4. Ghammer says:

    simple get your arse out of the boring west stand and into the booby moore then you will sing all the way through, he will look in wonderment, job done

  5. Gav Hammer says:

    have to agree, I ha=ve sat all over the ground & bobby moore is the best atmosphere by far …

  6. Tevezgate says:

    nice one gav, I sit in the wheelchair enclosure in the BMU, near the corner to the left of the goal… check out this youtube link, you might be on it! πŸ™‚

  7. Tevezgate says:

    So, any tips on what I should tell Shane about how best to behave at West Ham? I am sure he would appreciate the benefit of your knowledge.

    When the first boro player falls over following an innocuous challange from Parker or Noble, the best thing to shout is “Get up, you TART…!” always makes me chuckle when I hear that πŸ™‚

  8. LJ says:

    I love your story about John not understanding the half-time switch. But did he think everybody had a sudden costume change or had he forgotten who was wearing what?

    I’d have hoped that gay men who weren’t into the football might at least have picked up on the outfits!

    I have a similar problem trying to persuade my Brazilian husband of the merits of a cold afternoon at Upton Park- but that is weather related.

    My planned remedy for that is to, one day, drag him to Hibernian, my distant second East End club. That should show him- the sleet comes in at you horizontally!

    One of the interesting things I find about the cup games is that you get to change your seat if you like!


  9. eleeNYC says:

    you’re so lucky that you get to go to so many West Ham games. Too bad there wasn’t a special leaving from New York to London. Better your friend is introduced to footy with West Ham rather than a top four club.

    I think the loyalty of the supporters will lure him. Even just a little tug in our direction and that’s it. West Ham til he dies


    How does everyon feel about this Terry Dixon kid?

  10. Tevezgate says:

    After Parker’s new deal, this was the best news of the week imo eleeNYC. If the medical team have really got his knee fixed up properly this kid could be anything… and how good would it be for us to pick up a Spurs reject on a free and turn him into the next Rooney?!

    I can honestly say that the club seem to be doing everything just how I would hope them to at the moment… long may it continue, I haven’t felt this good since 1986 πŸ˜€

  11. colney says:

    my late dad who new nothing about football whatso ever got us tickets for west ham v utd in there main stand,as usuall we were 2 down at the time and he stood up and in a very non football shout..cried “come on west ham” !!!,now the 50 or so mancs sitting around us didnt take to kindly to this so a quick grab ov his coat and a sit down ya muppet i buried my head waiting for the smack.luckily,and i say this tounge in cheek,utd scored again so we survived.lesson ian….dont let them standup or shout anything,even if they think it will help! from that moment on when ever i take a first timer,when they stand up im straight on it.once bitten an all that !!

  12. Phil says:

    One small piece of advice as a result of taking my 9 year old Godson to football (I take my religious duties seriously). Get him to check with you before he repeats any chants as my Godson asked his teacher on the following Monday morning why the crowd kept calling the referee a “banker”. Given the current credit crisis he was spot on in hindsight!!!

  13. LondonLaurie says:

    I am not sure of the ethics around posting other peoples blogs on your blog but this contri from Russel Brand describes in gory detail how he went about the same challenge.

    Dont know how you feel about Mr Brand, to be honest I am not sure how I feel about him.. dont think Id want to get stuck in a lift in his company. But he is a Hammer and what else do you need to know? Its a brilliant post.

    Just seen that LBM has made the starting eleven. Which wont help your cause.

  14. Gavva says:

    Yeah the whole West Ham Utd indoctrination thing huh? I am currently running the “program” with my six year old son, having relocated to Australia some 20 months ago. I never had a choice, so I don’t see why he should!. He is now up to speed on the players, via playing fifa football on the wii. Uncannily accurate. I know he’s banged in a few goals of late, but Cole is as infuriating as he ever was on he Wii! However YouTube was the the real winner. I spent one afternoon showing him West Ham’s cup successes over the years. Ronnie Boyce, “Sparrer” Taylor Tricky Trev ‘n’ all, but what really sealed it was showing him Carlos Tevez’s exploits in the claret ‘n’ blue. Having noted him playing for Man Utd on the Wii, my little one seemed in awe when told that he had played for the mighty Irons. He loved seeing the free kick against Spurs with the subsequent removal of shirt and launching into the crowd. However what really won him over was the footage of Tevez returning to Upton Park as a Man U player and making the “crossed hammers” sign to the Hammers supporters. “That’s really sad dad” “I know son” “I love Carlos for doing that” said my son with his eyes filling up with tears. “So do we son” The indoctrination was complete. Fly away little bird!!

  15. peter.g says:

    iain, i travel from dublin about 4 times per season and last wk i took my 24yr old son (who is a manure fan)2 the game, after d game we went 2 d wakefield pub nd had a few beers with a few diehards, on d way home on monday he told me he enjoyed d hole experience better than old traff and wants 2 go back.theres deffo somtin in the air around the boleyn ground.. COYI

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