I got am email over the weekend from a reader, Roy Young, who had just been reading Brian Belton’s book, BLACK HAMMERS. I thought I’d share it with you.
I am 44 now and West Ham has been a major part of my life it’s also proudly on my birth certificate as I was born in Forest Gate Hospital in December 1964 and instead of now being known as the borough of Newham back then as you will now it was the borough of West Ham !! (sounds much better) !!
I am the first son of an English women (June) and a Jamaican father (Roy) who came direct from Kingston Jamaica has a ‘stowaway’ so his first port of call was Brixton Prison he was also a professional boxer.
We grew up in Bow and my first recollection of Upton Park was going with my dad aged around 3 / 4 so around the ’67/’68 season, my brother had to wait and instead settle for going to Roman Rd market with mum 🙂
I will always remember those days and the magic feeling I had being in Upton Park with all the claret & blue !! I do remember snidy racist remarks but always felt safe with my dad ‘the boxer from the tough streets of Kingston Jamaica 🙂 Of course for obvious reasons my hero was Clyde Best they were all my heros but here was this man who had to put up with abuse just because he happened to be black and he never showed it bothered him at all indeed he rose above it that taught me a lot !
When my brother reached an appropriate age we included him in on the fortnightly journey from Bow Rd to Upton park ! So now there were 2 brown kids with big afros alongside our ‘minder’ and dad !! We were a rarity indeed I never recall seeing other people of colour at Upton Park them days apart from Clyde and Ade !!
So we were regulars at Upton Park from ’67 to ’74 when unfortunately my mum had to run away with us due to the violent nature of my father we ended up in Bristol via various women’s aid refuges or as they were called back then battered wives homes.
On subsequent visits I have had to endure racism one time in particular stands out to me whereby I got in late for some match and somehow found myself in front of thousands of fans doing the monkey chant I just remember smiling !! They will never ever put me off of supporting my club !!
I remember us watching the ’75 cup final in Bristol with our claret & blue uniforms on !! We were also both top footballers and are well known throughout Bristol as the 2 ‘Ammers Roy and Barry !! We have remained passionate about West Ham and has you rightly say it’s something your born West Ham I cannot explain why this West Ham burns so bright in my soul but it’s lovely !!
Roy has promised to update his story from 1975 to the present.