365 Days A Hammer

It was a dreary, drizzly day last year on the day I decided to become a West Ham fan.  For the full story on that, check out this blog.  Today is my West Hammiversary (sorry, I’m a sucker for terrible puns) so I thought I’d reflect a bit on the past year and my journey as a new Hammer.

Starting out, I knew basically nothing about the official rules, the workings of English football leagues, or how much this all would effect my life.

YouTube has been a great resource. I watched quite a few videos on the team’s history, highlights of classic moments, and West Ham-related channels.  The first I subscribed to included Spencer Owen and Hammer & Talk.  I find Spencer to be rather charismatic and knowledgeable, with impressive video quality, but I could really care less for the video game ones and those seem to make up 75% of his content.  Hammer & Talk I find very entertaining, and he’s helped me expand my UK/football lingo, slang and profanity (who doesn’t want more creative ways to swear?).  My subscription list has been steadily growing, and guys like Spencer and Jay inspire me to get more involved in social media.  Even Mark the Rib Man on Twitter has been entertaining to follow as well as encouraging with his tweet responsiveness (he’s good for more than just giving you his meat).  Maybe one day I’ll become Twitter-popular enough that some of those guys will follow me back on Twitter.  Fingers crossed.

Speaking of Twitter… I started off following the team and maybe a dozen other relevant accounts like West Ham Central, Social and Photos.  Last month I took the leap and switched from using my normal Twitter handle to a new West Ham handle.  I’m maybe a little…enthusiastic about following anyone and everyone that expresses interest in West Ham, but my followers have been steadily increasing and I think I’ll pass my first 1,000 followers tonight (that’s exciting for me).  I’m making Hammer friends all over the place–I even found a new one in Kansas City today (that’s pretty rare)!  I even got trolled by my first Millwall fan after the FA Cup replay with Man United.

One of the problems of being 6 hours behind London time is at night when I’m spending the most time browsing the interwebs, almost all other Hammers are asleep. I even celebrate the start of match day on BST, because why the hell not? It doesn’t make sense to delay the joy of match day; I want to celebrate when everyone else is! It was an interesting change on Tuesday night when people couldn’t sleep after the Man Utd game. I had so many people to chat with!

On the other side, when I wake up, there a whole cache of West Ham news to catch up on.  I use one of those websites that collects all the West Ham headlines so I can read them all from one place.  In regards to this, If you know of a news collection site that will let me filter out the obnoxious amount of unsubstantiated transfer rumors, please let me know!  I personally don’t need to hear about someone almost changing teams until they have come over for the physical or have actually signed something (and posted a picture “signing” a blank piece of paper).

Also, I always skip past articles about projected line-ups for matches.  I’ll make the occasional comment about how I wish they wouldn’t start Antonio at RB–AGAIN–but I don’t get the point in reading articles where the whole of their content is just a guess of what team Bilić is going to play.

Question: if Payet just signed a new contract supposedly keeping him at West Ham until 2021, how come people are worried about other clubs signing him this summer?  How does this work?  What is the point of a contract if they don’t seem like they have any actual power to keep someone with the club they signed with?  I really need to sit down and do some research on this topic, I suppose.

I’m sure some of the aspects I find odd or have difficulty understanding has to do with the ocean rift between myself and the BPL.  I’m just a Yank after all, and I’ve never been sports-smart in general.  I’m amazed at things like away fans having a strictly designated section at stadiums and how general ticket sales are only a few weeks before matches.  That last one made it terribly difficult to make travel plans when I decided I needed to make a journey to Upton Park before the end of the season.  I ended up playing it safe and going Mark Noble’s Testimonial, as tickets were available 6 weeks beforehand and I could be reasonably certain they wouldn’t change the date. I’d been considering the Watford game in March which got moved due to the FA Cup match, and not just by a few days, but weeks!  I can only imagine how disappointed I’d be had I gambled with that game. But, the Testimonial worked out to be a great birthday trip for myself.  I was able to get a stadium tour and while Noble almost passed me by in the crowd of autograph seekers after the match, when I pleaded that it was my birthday, he came back, signed my program and wished me a happy birthday.  If I already didn’t think Nobes was a great guy, I’d have been instantly sold.  I’m a Noble fan for life.  I wish I’d have heard Baz serenading Noble at the time because I would’ve joined in and sung the shit out of that.

And then there was yesterday.  Yesterday they announced 2 games to be played in the US in July.  I was working and on a training call when I read the news, and I’m immeasurably glad my phone was already on mute because I legitimately squealed.  Now I’m excited to connect with the network of overseas Hammers I’ve connected with on social media.  My husband is also happy because we’ll get to go to a Mariners game in Seattle as well, crossing off another stadium from the list of baseball stadiums he has yet to visit (He supports my support of West Ham, but he’s really a baseball guy).  I am stoked about the Seattle game, a little less so about this random North Carolina team.  I still think they should’ve planned a match with Sporting Kansas City due to it’s MLS status, stadium size, atmosphere, central location in the country, but what can ya do…

Also on the subject of Sporting Kansas City, my love for West Ham and consequent learning of the rules has given me a greater appreciation for my local team.  I casually followed them before because of the aforementioned great atmosphere at the games, but now I really get into the game itself.  And if I can’t be at…well, basically any West Ham games in person, I can have a good footy day out from time to time.  It does help.

Something Mark Noble said during the Farewell Boleyn festivities the other night really stuck with me.  He said the fans were his family, and though it may just have been my empathy to his visible emotion, it struck a chord.  These other Hammers I’ve met at the Testimonial and (mostly) social media have been remarkably accepting and welcoming me into the supportership (¿is that a word?) family of West Ham United.  I love it.  It’s been a great year and I’m looking forward to everything to come.  Maybe I wasn’t born into it, but I’m definitely West Ham Till I Die.

I’m celebrating the end of my first year as a Hammer by planning my trip to Seattle.  Maybe for my next Hammiversary I’ll celebrate with a tattoo, what do you think?

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