West Ham For Beginners

I put this together for my Brother-in-law who wanted to go with us to Mark Noble’s Testimonial despite not being a West Ham fan, and not knowing/caring much about sports in general….

West Ham United Football Club was formed in 1895 by employees of the Thames Ironworks shipyard.  The team was initially called Thames Ironworks FC, then reformed in 1900 as West Ham United.  They retain their connection to the ironworks through their badge (a pair of crossed riveting hammers) and their nicknames (“The Hammers” and “The Irons”).CrestsYou’ll see fans crossing their arms to emulate the crossed hammers.  A common chant heard at the stadium is “Come on you Irons”, and sometimes seen in acronym as “COYI”.

Since 1904, the team has played at Boleyn Ground in East London.  The stadium sits on the grounds of the Boleyn Castle, which is represented in some versions of the team’s crest.  The stadium is also referred to as Upton Park, after the neighborhood in which it is located.West Ham United v Manchester City - Premier LeagueIn 2011, West Ham United was selected as the preferred club to move into the Olympic Stadium after the 2012 Games, and in March 2013 the team signed a 99-year lease.  They plan to move into the Stadium before the start of the 2016–17 season.OlympicStadiumThe team’s anthem is “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles“, a song adopted by the team in the mid-1920’s.  Actual bubbles are blown at the stadium at the start of each half and when goals are scored.11416429743_90fffcc417_bThe team’s glory years are the mid-1960’s.  In 1965 they won the FA Cup, and in 1966 several members of West Ham were key players on the England team that won the World Cup.  There is a “Champions” statue near the stadium commemorating West Ham’s “three sons” who helped England win their only World Cup: Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters along with Everton’s Ray Wilson.  Bobby Moore played for the Hammers for 16 years, captained the team for more than ten years and was captain of the England team that won the World Cup.  He is widely regarded as one of the greatest defenders of all time.  He passed away in 1993 after a short battle with cancer, and the team has retired his number 6.

The team has had ups and downs in the years since.  They won the FA Cup in 1975 and 1980, but they have never won their regular season League championship.  They primarily play in the Premier League, which is the highest level in the leagues on English football, but have been relegated from and promoted back to the Premier League several times over the years.  For more detail on the League format, Relegation/Promotion, and Cups, watch this video.

Most recently, when they were relegated in 2011, a new manager was hired.  Sam Allardyce (aka “Big Sam”)  succeeded in getting the team promoted back to the Premier League the following season.  The next few seasons were less certain, with the Hammers floundering amid injuries, suspensions and criticisms of Sam by supporters relating to his perceived negative playing tactics.  Minutes after the last game of the season in May 2015, the club announced that Allardyce’s contract would not be renewed and that they were seeking a new manager.  He may not have been a popular figure among the fanbase–not that he seemed to care–but his job was to get the Hammers into the Premier League and keep them there, which, strictly speaking, he did. For that he deserves respect and credit, though some fans still have mixed feelings about the former manager.Sam-AllardyceBubblesIn June 2015, former West Ham player Slaven Bilić was appointed as manager.   In the start of his first Premier League season, West Ham beat Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City, 3 of the top-performing teams of the league.  In January 2016, the Hammers beat Liverpool twice in one season for the first time in 60 years.  As of March 5, 2016, the Hammers are in 5th place and have already achieved more points than they had at the end of the season in 2015 (and there are still 9 games left in the season).  They have also made it to the quarter-finals of the FA cup for the first time since 2006.  Many fans consider Bilić to be the best thing to happen to West Ham in decades.

The current captain of the Hammers is Mark Noble. Destined to be the longest serving one-club man at some point as he is considerably younger (28) than his rivals and his importance to West Ham is growing by the season. Noble is a combative midfield player who can win his duels, but is also good on the ball as a springboard for attacks. He was captain of England Under 21s when they lost the final of the 2009 European Championship to Germany, but has never been called up to the England team–a fact that baffles many fans and critics.

In December 2015, Noble was granted a testimonial match by West Ham following his long service to the club.  The game, to be played on 28 March 2016 is planned to be between the current team and a West Ham United all-stars team made up of former players, with all proceeds going to charity. It will also be the final testimonial match at West Ham’s stadium Upton Park, before their move to the Olympic Stadium in August 2016.

Players on the current team

Dimitri Payet is a current fan favorite.  “We’ve got Payet” is a chant heard frequently during games.  Payet has scored more goals and assists than any other Hammer this season, even having been out injured for 2 months mid-season.

Michail Antonio is quickly becoming the best celebrator in the Premier League. After scoring recently, he did an ode to Homer Simpson and on scoring again the very next game, he broke out The Carlton.

West Ham have had a fantastic year, and many are hopeful this marks the beginning of a new era for the team.  With a great group of players who work very well together, and their upcoming move to the Olympic Stadium (which has already sold more season tickets than the current stadium has total capacity) it’s a great time to be a Hammer.

Spencer FC’s “Why I Love West Ham”

“Proper Men” like West Ham in The IT Crowd