West Ham United

Boleyn Ground

Capacity: 35,333 (all seated)
Address: Green St, Upton Park, London, E13 9AZ
Telephone: 020 8548 2748
Fax: 020 8548 2758
Ticket Office: 0871 222 2700
Pitch Size: 110 x 70 yards
Club Nickname: The Hammers or Irons
Year Ground Opened: 1904
Shirt Sponsors: alpari
Kit Manufacturer: Adidas
Home Kit: Claret & Blue
Away Kit: Sky Blue With Blue Sash

External View
External View
West Stand
West Stand
Bobby Moore Stand
Bobby Moore Stand
Trevor Brooking Stand
Trevor Brooking Stand
East Stand
East Stand
World Cup Winners Statue
World Cup Winners Statue

On the whole the stadium is an impressive one, being of a good size and having three modern stands. On one side of the ground is the impressive looking West Stand that was opened in 2001. This large two tiered stand (which is reputedly the largest league ground stand in London), has a capacity of 15,000. Located between the tiers are two rows of corporate executive boxes. Opposite is the East Stand, which was opened in 1969. This stand in comparison, although two tiered, is rather on the small side and looks somewhat out of place compared to its larger shiny neighbours. Both ends are large, smart, two tiered stands. In the North East and South West corners there are video screens installed as well as an electronic score board in the South West corner. Also in the South West corner is a large image of Booby Moore who overlooks the ground. 

Probably the most striking feature of the stadium can only be seen externally, where an elaborate facade comprising of two castle turrets has been built around the reception area entrance. The turrets have been modeled on those appearing on the club crest. It is nice to see a Club actually trying to instill some character into a new stand. Just outside the ground near the Boleyn Pub, is the handsome statue of England Captain Bobby Moore, holding aloft the World Cup Trophy which England won in 1966. The statue shows Moore being hoisted aloft by fellow West Ham players Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters with Everton defender Ray Wilson.

After a long drawn out process West Ham have finally been confirmed as the new tenants of the London Olympic Stadium in Stratford, East London. Work will begin this year on a £154m re-structure of the stadium, which will see its capacity reduced from 80,000 to 54,000. The roof will be extended to cover all of the seating areas and will form the largest cantilevered roof in the world. Retractable seating will also be brought in to cover the athletics track. The stadium is situated around four miles away from the Boleyn Ground, which will be sold for redevelopment. The Club have signed a 99 year lease and it is now anticipated that the Club will be kicking of in its new home for the beginning of the 2016/17 season.

 

Away fans are housed in one end, in the lower tier of the relatively modern Sir Trevor Brooking Stand. The usual allocation for away supporters is 2,200, but if demand requires, away fans can be allocated the whole of the lower tier of the North Stand, where up to 3,600 supporters can be accommodated. The ground is compact, with the fans are seated close to the pitch. This coupled with the passionate support of the West Ham faithful can make for a vibrant atmosphere. However this can be intimidating for away supporters, so exercise caution around the ground. If you find yourself seated on the far left of the away section (towards the East Stand) then as the pitch is situated towards the West Stand, you may experience some sight difficulties of the action going on, in and around the corner on the other side.

I personally enjoyed my visit and it is certainly not as bad as it was a few years ago and the West Ham fans can still give rendition of their club anthem 'I'm forever blowing bubbles..' I was though surprised to see the local Metropolitan Police erecting portable metal detectors outside the entrance to the away turnstiles. They then subsequently announced that it was a condition of entry into the stadium to pass through a detector, if instructed to do so by a Police officer. Charming! My mate was convinced that the metal plate in his arm was going to set them off (he had a bad accident some years ago), but alas the officers waved us by without going through them. The turnstiles do not have human operators, so entrance is gained by putting your ticket into a bar code reader.

Inside the ground the stewards were fine, however the concourse is somewhat cramped, which leads to somewhat of a scrum at half time. There are flat screen tv's on the concourse to keep fans entertained. Food on offer includes a range of Peter's Pies; Chicken Curry, Steak, Meat and Potato, Cheese and Onion Pastie and large Sausage Rolls (all £3.30). Burgers and Herta Hot Dogs are also available (£3.80). Alcohol is also served but is rather pricey and no draught is available, so it is either cans or plastic bottles; Carlsberg £4 (500ml bottle), Tetley's Bitter £4 (440ml can), Magners Cider £4.20 (330ml bottle), Guinness £4.20 (520ml can) and Red or White wine (187ml) £4.

Kevin Hosking informs me; 'Probably the best option for away fans is the Wetherspoon outlet called Millers Well which is opposite East Ham Town Hall. It is though about a twenty minute walk away along Barking Road (although it may be an idea to travel to East Ham tube station before the game, go to the pub and then walk on to the stadium). Another good option is the Denmark Arms also on the Barking Road near the East Ham Town Hall; this is a large pub which shows all live football games'.  

Peter Bennett a visiting Newcastle fan adds; 'We had a drink in safety in the Queens on Green Street'. This pub is also near to Upton Park Underground Station (as you come out of the station turn right and the pub is down on the right).

Most of the other pubs around the ground are very partisan, and are for home supporters only. The Boleyn Pub on the corner near to the ground, plus the Greengate, Wine Bar and Village pubs all on Barking Road should all be given a wide berth by away fans. 

Directions from the M25:

Travel to M25 Junction 27, and go on to the M11 southbound. Follow the M11 south until it divides to join the A406 (North Circular Road). Take the Left Hand fork signposted A406 South. Do not follow the signs for the City.

The end of the motorway joins the A406 from the left, creating a 4 lane road for a short distance. You need to be in one of the outside 2 lanes (this can be tricky if traffic is heavy). Proceed south (dual carriageway with slip roads) passing the junctions for Redbridge, and Ilford.

Leave the A406 at the Barking junction. At the roundabout at the bottom of the slip road, turn right, taking the 3rd exit towards East Ham (Barking Road). Proceed West along Barking Road through several sets of traffic lights until you have passed the lights at East Ham Town Hall (big red Victorian building on the left just before the lights). 3/4 mile further, you pass the ground on your right (behind a parade of shops, including the Hammers Shop). At the next lights (Boleyn Arms Pub on right hand corner), turn right into Green Street. The main entrance to the ground is 200 yards on your right. Thanks to Gareth Howell for providing the directions.

On Saturday matchdays, parking is very restricted with little or no off-road parking. The best areas to look for spaces are roads left off Barking Road, once you are past the lights at East Ham Town Hall. Andy Wright suggests; 'You can park at Newham General Hospital, where there is a pay and display car park, which costs £2 for three hours, or £4 for six. To find the hospital; From Barking Road, passing the ground on your right, after a few traffic lights turn left into Prince Regent Lane (Newham General is signposted at the lights), the hospital is just up this road and is about a 15 minute stroll away from the ground'.

Rob Wells adds; 'As a season ticket holder who travels to home games from Nottingham I can offer an alternative route from the M11 to avoid the nightmare of Barking Road on a Saturday. After leaving the M11 on the A406 take the exit for A12 signposted Stratford. Stay on this road taking the underpass to the Green Man roundabout, which is a major junction. Then take the A11, again signposted Stratford. After about three miles turn left onto the A112 signposted East Ham, through Plaistow. Carry on over the junction with Barking Road (A124). Third left after this junction is Glen Road, which takes you to the aforementioned Newham Hospital for parking. I find this journey a lot easier, although not recommended for midweek matches as the traffic gets too heavy'.

Whilst Alex Stewart suggests an alternative route; 'come off the M25 at J29 and take the A127 to Upminster. Park at Upminster tube station (£2 for the day)  and you can get a return ticket to Upton Park which will get you there in less than 25 minutes' (Cost £8 return adults, under 16's go free). Chris Ackrill agrees; 'I've experimented over several years with various routes to the stadium, and my conclusion is that it saves time and frustration by parking well in the suburbs and getting a tube. Getting anywhere near the ground by road can easily add on an hour, and it'll be the hardest hour's drive you've ever had. Things are no better on Sundays either'.

Post Code for SAT NAV: E13 9AZ

The nearest tube station is Upton Park which is on the District, plus the Hammersmith & City Lines. The station is a short walk from the ground. Please note that West Ham tube station is nowhere near the ground. Steve Cook adds; 'the queue at Upton Park tube station after the game can be horrendous. You are better off going for a couple of pints and letting the queues die down. There are plenty of pubs along Plaistow High Road which are only a 5-10 minute walk from the stadium and as long as visitors are 'well behaved' they are more than made welcome'. Adam Long a visiting Reading fan informs me; 'After the game you are probably best to walk up to East Ham, which will at least mean you will get a seat, before everyone else gets on at Upton Park'. Craig Belcher a visiting West Brom fan adds; 'Rather than face the long queues at Upton Park, we walked down to the next station on the line, Plaistow, which is only a ten minute walk away from Upton Park. We managed to get on a tube okay, as apparently according to station staff the tubes are not filled to full capacity on leaving Upton Park''. Just turn left after Upton Park station, into Harold Road. Walk down to the end of this road (it becomes Terrace Road) and then bear left into Pelly Road/Clegg St. At the bottom of Clegg Street is a T-junction with Plaistow High Street. Turn right into the High Street and Plaistow station is further down on the left.

Whilst Andrew Saffrey suggests; 'Forest Gate station is about 25 minutes walk from Upton Park, and it's much less busy than Upton Park Station after the final whistle. It is served by local Great Eastern trains from Liverpool Street. Turn right out of the station, then left at the corner next to the pizza shop into Hampton Road. Walking down Hampton Road, turn first right into Richmond Road, a small street with traffic calming and lots of roundabouts. Go straight down this road and this eventually becomes Green Street. Then for the long walk down Green Street which has lots of shops and takeaways, before arriving at Upton Park'. 

For travelling across London by public transport I recommend planning your journey ahead with the use of the Travel For London Plan your journey website.

Remember if travelling by train then you can save on the cost of fares by booking in advance.

Visit the the trainline website to see how much you can normally save.

Click on the trainline logo below:

Official Programme: £3.50
On The Terrace Fanzine: £2
Over Land And Sea: £2.50

Common with most Clubs, West Ham operate a category system (A+, A & B) for matches whereby tickets cost more for the most popular games. Category A+ game prices are shown below with Category A & B prices shown in brackets:

Away Fans: Sir Trevor Brooking Stand (Lower Tier): Adults £57 (A £52) (B £42) Concessions £34 (A £29) (B £24)

In addition ticket prices are sometimes further reduced for cup ties and for some games Under 16's are admitted for £1 when accompanied by a paying adult.

 

Chelsea, Millwall and Tottenham.

Record Attendance:
42,322 v Tottenham Hotspur
Division One, October 17th 1970.

Modern All Seated Attendance Record:
35,050 v Manchester City
Premier League, September 21st, 2002.

Average Attendance:
2013-2014: 34,197 (Premier League)
2012-2013: 34,720 (Premier League)
2011-2012: 30,931 (Championship League)

For details of disabled facilities and club contact at the ground please visit the relevant page on the Level Playing Field website.

West Ham United fixture list (takes you to the BBC Sports Website).

If you require hotel accommodation in the area then first try a hotel booking service provided by Late Rooms. They have a huge choice of places to stay and their booking facility is straightforward to use. Yes this site will earn a small commission if you book through them, but it will go to help with the running costs of keeping the Guide going. Hotels are listed giving details of their distance from the Boleyn Ground. 

Access their West Ham and Central London Hotels and Guest Houses page.

Remember that you can use the above link or panel below to book any other hotels that you may need for business or leisure, either in the UK or abroad.

Thanks to Owen Pavey for providing the ground layout diagram.

Thanks to Haydn Gleed for providing the YouTube video of the Boleyn Ground.

West Ham United v Southampton
Premier League
Saturday, February 22nd 2014, 3pm
Steve Malloch (Southampton fan)

1. Why you were looking forward to going to the ground (or not as the case may be):

I was looking forward to visiting the ground because of the great reputation of West Ham fans, in terms of generating a good atmosphere. Also this was the first Southampton away game I had been to in many years.

2. How easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking?

I now live in North London so I just hopped on the underground. The grounds closest tube station is Upton Park (five minute walk and well sign posted from the station) but it was incredibly busy when I arrive. 

3. What you did before the game pub/chippy.... home fans friendly?

We went to a chippy on Green Street before the game. Green street gets very congested so it wasn’t too fun trying to eat while weaving in and out of people. Home fans are friendly enough, but I wouldn’t mouth off too much!

4. What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end then other sides of the ground? 

The ground is squeezed into a tight area, as many inner city grounds are. The size of the concourse for the away section concourse is tiny to be honest. Only one drinks/food outlet, so I didn't even bother trying to get anything, the game may well be over before you get to the front! But quite a few toilets, which is a plus, especially at half time. The away section of the ground was quite good I thought. Apart from being on the bottom tier of the stand, meaning that West Ham fans are above looking down on you, which is intimidating for some people. 

5. Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, facilities etc..

The atmosphere was fairly non-existent until West Ham scored. Before that it was the away fans manking all the noise. I was seated very close to the boundary with the home supporters. I spent most of my time there laughing at the banter between the fans, and not concentrating on the game. The stewards/police warned a few blokes about winding people up, nothing too serious though. 

6. Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:

Wouldn’t bother with Upton Park station after the game, we left 5 minutes early and still found ourselves at the back of thousands of people. Do yourself a favour and walk the 10 minutes to another tube station. East Ham was our choice. 

7. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

Good day despite the result. The grounds worth a visit, but wouldn’t say the West Ham fans weren't as particularly as loud as I had expected. 

West Ham United v Newcastle United
Premier League
Saturday, January 18th 2014, 3pm
Diane Pringle (Newcastle United fan)

West Ham has always been a club I wanted to visit, and with the move to the Olympic Stadium on the cards I decided to take my teenagers to the Boleyn ground before they leave.

Arriving at Kings Cross from Newcastle we managed to get to Upton Park without incident on the Tube. Both Newcastle and West Ham fans were mingling on the tube with no problems.

Green Street is something else. A complete multi-cultural melting pot, there are Sari shops next to kebab shops next to an Iceland.

We tried to get into the Duke of Edinburgh pub, but it was packed with Newcastle fans, spilling out onto the pavement. So we wandered along Green Street towards the stadium.

It's great to see a ground smack bang in the middle of a community. The Boleyn ground is right on Green Street with a primary school next to it. Wandering around the area we saw a queue for a pie and mash shop that actually made us double take! People queuing up the street for pies!

The ground is a proper old school one. The visitors entrance is down a residential street and round the back. There are about 4 or 5 turnstiles for away fans. Inside, the concourse is tiny! And I mean tiny! You cannot move for fans, we took 3000+ and it was elbow room only.

View From The Away Stand

View from the away section


The seating area is shabby, but even half way up the stand you are so close to the pitch and that is fantastic. There is also not much slope to the stand, you are literally on top of each other, which was fun when we scored, with fans almost piling on top of each other. We won the game 3-1, with two Cabaye goals and one from Remy. 

We came out the ground and the fans were definitely less friendly than they had been before the game. There were a number of abusive shouts aimed in our direction and offers to take my teenage daughters and I out for a fight from grown men meant it's an intimidating experience.

The queue for the tube at Upton Park is crazy. Don't even bother. Walk along to either Plaistow or East Ham to get on.

A great day really and even the threats of a fight didn't dampen a great day out. 

West Ham United v  West Bromwich Albion
Premier League
Saturday, December 28th 2013, 12.45pm
Stuart Hollis (West Brom fan)

1. Why were you looking forward to the game?

For me and my two sons Josh (15) and Jake (12), this was to be our first away game of the season and our first ever in London. I had heard that West Ham have passionate support so was looking forward to the day.

2. Travel and finding the stadium:

After getting a National Express coach from Birmingham to London Victoria, we got on the Underground line direct to Upton Park station. As expected the train got very busy as we got nearer the ground. On arriving there was quite a queue waiting to exit the station, but it moved quickly and then it was just a case of following the crowd for the short walk to the stadium.

3. Before the game

We arrived about 35 minutes before the kick off, so just walked straight to the ground. A few people had told me beforehand that the West Ham fans were not the most welcoming but we saw no evidence of this and felt safe at all times.

We were slightly disappointed that we didn't get to see much of the ground from the outside because of the way the away fans enter it, but that's hardly a big deal. The concourse was slightly cramped and the prices for food and drink were about what you would expect really for London i.e. expensive!. The ground itself though is impressive to look at inside and the views of the playing action were good. We were sat very close to the home fans in the East Stand so there was plenty of singing and chanting at each other before the game. 

4. The Game itself

This was a big game for both teams as we were both near the relegation zone. My eldest was expecting a cagey 0-0 but it was a great game to watch which ended 3-3 with both teams leading at one point and both having late chances to win. The banter between the fans was great and always friendly.

5. After the game

We had decided to stay in London overnight so were not in any rush after the game but within 20 minutes we were back on a tube train from Upton Park station. The queue was big but moved very quickly, was very impressed with the speed in which we got away.

6. Overall

We had a great day out and Upton Park is somewhere I would go back to again.The West Ham fans are very passionate but we saw no trouble at all in or around the ground, there was good banter between the fans which was given and taken in a good manner, this is the way football should be. 

West Ham United v Chelsea
Premier League
Saturday, December 1st 2012, 3pm
By Joe Fowler (Chelsea fan)

1. Why you were looking forward to going to the ground (or not as the case may be):

I had never been to Upton Park before, so when the fixture list was published, I made sure that I would be free on the weekend of the match.

2. How easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking?

Getting there was easy. Tube to Tower Hill, then to Upton Park. However, our tube broke down, and took 20 minutes to get going again.

3. What you did before the game pub/chippy.... home fans friendly?

We went to a pub at Tower Hill called Liberty Bounds. This wasn’t overly crowded, and had plenty of Chelsea supporters in there. We didn’t sample the food, but the menus looked decent - your usual pub-grub. Home fans seemed okay, and there was a bit of friendly banter on the way down Green Street to the ground.

4. What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end then other sides of the ground?

We arrived at the away end just as the match was kicking off. Despite jogging through the concourse (we were at the furthest end), I noticed how old and compact it was. We took our seats – about 15 rows up behind the goals, great seats. The stands opposite and to the right of us looked fairly good, but ours, and the one to our left were shockingly dated. 

5. Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, facilities etc..

We got off to a flyer, taking the lead through a good goal from Mata. We could have put the game to bed at the end of the first half, but some good defending and a great save prevented it. Half time was mental. The concourse was jam-packed with Chelsea fans jumping up and down and chanting. We finally got to the front of the queue. The burger was terrible (£4), but the Carlsberg (£3.80) was ice cold. We joined in with some songs, and made our way back to our seats. 

The second half was shocking, with the match finishing 3-1 to West Ham.  The atmosphere was very good throughout the second half from West Ham. Probably, man for man, the loudest I’ve heard all season. 

6. Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:

We exited the ground, and the police did a good job of keeping (most of) the supporters apart. We joined a ridiculously long queue for the tube, and eventually, headed back home.

7. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

All in all, a ground that must be visited by traditional football fans. No thrills, just a ground that has a good atmosphere, and a good old fashioned stadium. Not one of my favourite away days, but definitely somewhere worth re-visiting. 

West Ham United v Chelsea
Premier League
Saturday, December 1st 2012, 3pm
By Daniel Gosbee (Chelsea fan)

1. Why you were looking forward to going to the ground (or not as the case may be):

I was looking forward to going to see Chelsea play at West Ham because it was a big London Derby, East V West, Blue v Claret & Blue and also I have heard good and promising things about the Boleyn Ground via this website and from Aston Villa fans that went earlier this season. Also this could be the last time that Chelsea play at the Boleyn Ground as West Ham are wanting to move to the Olympic Stadium. 

2. How easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking?

I live just outside of London so I got the train to King's Cross. From Kings Cross it was easy finding the tube station and getting onto the Hammersmith & City line. It was the case of getting onto that one train and getting off at Upton Park station. At the tube station there are signs showing which exit to use for going to Boleyn Ground and also there are plenty of signs showing the direction of the ground. 

On arriving at the stadium the stewards told us that you have to walk along Tudor Road and go behind the stadium for the away fans turnstiles. This was awkward and there were no signs telling away fans where to go, usually you would expect this seeing as away fans have probably never been to the stadium.

3. What you did before the game pub/chippy.... home fans friendly?

Before the game I didn't go to the pub or a chippy because I couldn't find any. I did see one pub but it was full of West Ham fans singing bubbles and it didn't look very welcoming for Chelsea fans. I must say the home supporters were very friendly, I certainly found this out after the game when talking to West Ham fans. 

4. What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end then other sides of the ground?

The exterior of the main entrance of the ground is incredibly unique. It is two castle turrets. The exterior of the away end is not at all impressive, there are about 4 or 5 turnstiles that are like walking through an old fashioned doorway, the concourse behind the stand is incredibly tight and very dull. However, I like how there is a programme seller there as there are no programme stalls outside the ground. The programme was actually well worth the £3.50. 

The view from the away end is rather impressive. The stand to the right is large and so is the 2 tier Bobby Moore Stand opposite. The stand to the left of the away stand is not impressive. It is very tiny and very old fashioned. Walking out at the Boleyn Ground feels like walking into a time machine.

5. Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, facilities etc..

When I purchased the ticket our manager was Di Matteo but for the game our manager was the unpopular Rafa Benitez. The first half was all Chelsea and we went in at half time 1-0 up, but the second half it all fell apart. Benitez took off both Hazard and Moses, our best two players and we lost 3-1. The atmosphere was excellent if you don't mind strong language. West Ham fans were mocking us and we were mocking them too. Chelsea fans would all go "shhhhhhh" and then chant "Upton Park is so quiet". The home fans atmosphere was really poor, but the stand to the left of us was by far the loudest. Stewards were pleasant. 

6. Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:

I found getting away from the ground was very very easy, just a walk to the tube station. At the tube station the staff were constantly saying "move to the end of the platform, don't stop moving" but to be honest with you, I didn't like being herded about, its common sense to walk to the end of the platform. At King's Cross I went to the pub at the station and met some nice Chelsea fans and also some West Ham fans. It was actually a nice pub. And on the train I got chatting to a West Ham fan who was very nice.

7. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

It was an excellent day, despite the result. I met some very nice people and Boleyn Ground isn't bad. It is one of those grounds that doesn't look that impressive but you have to feel it before you can comment. It could be the last time Chelsea play at the Boleyn Ground, but I would love to go again sometime.

West Ham United v Stoke City
Premier League
Monday, November 19th 2012, 8pm
By John Rogers (Stoke City fan)

1. Why you were looking forward to going to the ground (or not as the case may be):
 
I was in London on business and had the opportunity to meet up with a colleague to take in a game.

2. How easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking?
 
Finding the ground was easy - Upton Park tube station is conveniently situated around 10 minutes walk from the ground. Upon exiting, just follow the crowds.

3. What you did before the game pub/chippy.... home fans friendly?
 
Plenty of stalls, vans and takeaways selling traditional 'football fare'. Personally, I'm not a lover of pies, burgers or hot dogs...but you can't beat the smell - it's all part and parcel of the build up to a game.
 
The handful of home fans I spoke to were friendly enough...but the significant influx of eastern Europeans was very apparent - English was the second language for all those I decided to speak to.

4. What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end then other sides of the ground?
 
The facade of the Main Stand, as seen from the roadside, is the single most impressive feature of the stadium. When I think of my favourite grounds they all have a special quality that sets them apart from the proliferation of homogeneous creations that clubs now seem to occupy. West Ham's is a twin towered frontage that mirrors the club badge and frames the main entrance.
 
Inside, the Main Stand is equally impressive and dwarfs the old East Stand opposite. I was seated in the upper tier of the Sir Trevor Brooking (Family) stand - quite steeply raked but an excellent view and more than adequate leg room.

5. Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, facilities etc..
 
The game was a mediocre 1-1 draw. The home fans' rendition of 'Bubbles' was pretty stirring, but for a full house I found the atmosphere during the rest of the game strangely subdued. Worth mentioning that West Ham have an affordable pricing policy for televised games as this one was - my ticket was just £20 for a good seat behind the goal.

6. Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:
 
I had been warned of the congestion at Upton Park tube station, but wasn't too concerned as I was staying in Stratford and was in no rush. Just as well, as I boarded my train 45 minutes after the game had ended. Those in a hurry could leave the game early or walk to another station.

7. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:
 
Enjoyed the evening; felt perfectly safe, with low-key policing and stewarding. I suspect that the experience would have probably seemed a little different if West Ham had been playing another London club though.

West Ham United v Aston Villa
Premier League
Saturday, August 18th 2012, 3pm
By Mike Miles (Neutral fan)

1. Why you were looking forward to going to the ground (or not as the case may be):

I live in London so there are a large number of football clubs in easy travelling distance. I have enjoyed my visits to Upton Park over the years as, despite the ground changes in recent years, it is still an old-fashioned ground with the fans close to the pitch. Plus in a few years I could be travelling to the Olympic Stadium to watch the Hammers.

2. How easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking?

The last time I went to Upton Park Transport for London were carrying out track improvements over parts of the District Line, so it was a long and circuitous journey. It would appear these have been put on ice until after the Olympics, so today’s was a straightforward trip from West to East London.

3. What you did before the game itself: pub/chippy….home fans friendly?

I’d bought a sandwich with me, which I ate at the back of the East Stand before I went in. I noticed that stewards were confiscating bottle tops, though whether this was a case of keeping out offensive weapons or forcing fans to buy inside I couldn’t be sure. Aston Villa coaches were parked behind the same stand so there were plenty of Villa fans milling about which no home fan seemed to pay much attention to. It will probably be different when Chelsea or Tottenham come calling….

4. What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end then other sides of the ground?

Upton Park has been extensively refurbished in recent years, but the walk to the ground from the Tube Station is still reminiscent of many past visits. There is a hot dog stall whose aroma hits you thirty yards away and is a sure sign that you are nearing the stadium. I was sitting in the East Stand which now looks out of proportion to the rest of the ground.

5. Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, facilities, etc…

This was West Hams first game in the Premiership after a year away. Villa were also new stewardship after the disaster of Alex McLeish’s grim reign. The game was played in the highest temperatures of the summer, but this could not excuse the lack of sustained decent football. The Hammers just about deserved to edge it 1 – 0.  The home fans seemed satisfied and the away ones could at least sing “We’re passing the ball” in mock disbelief.

6.Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:

The fan I was say next to kindly offered me a lift to East Ham Station after the game so I was spared the normal long crawl into Upton Park station.

7. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

It certainly didn’t feel right to be watching football under such high temperatures, but weather aside, it was a very enjoyable re-introduction to football. Saturday afternoons now have a reason again….. 

West Ham United v Doncaster Rovers
Championship League
Saturday, March 10th 2012, 3pm
By Ben Stott (Doncaster Rovers fan)

1. Why you were looking forward to going to the ground (or not as the case may be):

I was really looking forward to this game for many reasons and as soon as the fixtures came out I looked straight away for this game. West Ham being a big club is something Doncaster don't get to visit that often and the stadium also looked very nice so I was really excited about going there.

2. How easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking?

We took the train from Doncaster to Kings Cross which took just under two hours. We then took the tube on the Hammersmith and City line from Kings Cross straight to Upton Park, which was pretty straightforward.

3. What you did before the game pub/chippy.... home fans friendly?

As we arrived fairly early in Kings Cross we stopped off at a Burger King across the road. I can't really comment on the home fans as I just kept to myself and I didn't have my colours on show and experienced no problems walking with the West Ham fans. I would say that if you had any so called history with them, then to exercise caution when walking about the area. 

4. What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end then other sides of the ground?

My first impressions on seeing the ground were good. The West Stand which was the first one I saw from the outside, was very impressive with the turrets standing out from the rest of the stadium. I had a little walk up to the statue of some of the 1966 England squad which was impressive too. The away end when we eventually found it was ok but as we brought a decent following of about 1700 it was quite cramped as the concourse was very narrow. Just a shame about the East Stand though which looked out of proportion to the rest of the stadium. 

5. Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, facilities etc..

I didn't have any food or use the facilities so can't comment on them. The stewards though were very helpful and friendly. When we walked up the steps we were greeted and shown to our seats which was nice. The atmosphere though was to be honest appalling from the West Ham fans. Apart from singing the famous 'Forever Blowing Bubbles' when the teams walked out, the only noise they made was when they scored. Donny on the other hand were singing non stop from about 2:30pm and I was pretty much deaf by the end of it after we scored and at the end of the match which finished 1-1 which is a great result for us.

6. Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:

We stayed after the game for about 10 minutes cheering and applauding the team. Once left we walked back up to Upton Park station to see a massive winding queue going on for what seemed miles. We joined the back but surprisingly quickly we were at the front and in the station. Weirdly once on the platform it seemed almost deserted, hardly anyone was about so we boarded the train back to Kings Cross.

7. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

Overall it was a brilliant day out, stress free and enjoyable, would recommend to anyone who is thinking about doing it.

West Ham United v  Ipswich Town
Championship League
Tuesday September 27th 2011, 7.45pm
By Tim Sansom (Ipswich Town fan)

1. Why were you looking forward to going to the ground?

For a variety of reasons, I was looking forward to visiting Upton Park on this Tuesday evening. I had finally got the opportunity to look at Ipswich with all of their various new players that had been signed in the summer. I wanted to see a game at a ground, where I knew that there would be some atmosphere, a fan base that would be passionate about their football, and try to introduce a work colleague and an old university mate about the Ipswich Town FC side of my life. 

Both of these colleagues were West Ham friends. The work colleague spent a large period of his life in east London, whilst a certain part of the university mate’s life was spent along the Thames Estuary in West Ham territory. The university mate is also a spitting image of West Ham legend, Alan Devonshire, which makes a more convincing look when he wears his West Ham shirts. Both colleagues knew their football although had the facial expressions of accepting that ‘Tim was going off on one,’ as I was becoming increasing excited on our never ending District Line journey into east London. 
  
2. How easy was your journey/ finding the ground/ car parking?
  
... and it really did seem to be never ending on this underground line. I had the mistaken impression that Upton Park would only be a couple of stops along from Aldgate East. There would be no need to take advantage of the increasingly available seats as passengers trudged away into the station dusk. However, more stations seemed to come and go. At one point I whimpered whether we could walk from Bromley by Bow to Upton Park. Abrupt and despairing shakes of the heads, was the response. The September sun set and after a number of unannounced stops in gloomy embankments, we arrived at Upton Park station.

The station platform was crammed with West Ham fans. In a very British manner, we trooped into the outside streets where a mass of people seemed to be going in a mass of different directions. The streets were mostly lined with takeaways, barber shops, corner shops, and impromptu fast food vans flipping burgers and tossing chips in bubbling fat. It was the most atmospheric entrance to a football ground that I have encountered for many a year. However, the fans were mostly home fans. I was not wearing my team colours and I do not think that Ipswich have a particular potent history with West Ham anyway. If you following a club that has had some notable ‘history’ at Upton Park, I would suggest that you exercise some caution.  

As we walked toward the ground, I sense that my colleagues were becoming misty eyed about the area. It felt as if I was filming a Who do you think you are? Documentary, and that we were on a spiritual ‘journey’ back to their childhood. I was desperate to find some Ipswich fans and the away end entrance to enter the ground and get a sense of the Upton Park atmosphere. We ended up at the front of the stadium surrounded by endless walking queues of West Ham fans, a TV truck, and a Metropolitan police lorry that housed some majestic, although slightly bored, horses. There was still no sign of the away end. I also have no idea where you could park, if you were coming to Upton Park by car. I would recommend some sort of park and ride arrangement at a key station around East London such as Upminster, but I did start to wonder whether Upton Park was easily accessible for the sheer numbers of demanding football fans in 2011. 

After consultation with a helpful steward, we had to turn back on ourselves and head back towards the Upton Park underground station. We had to head down Tudor Road, past some houses whose seemed resigned to the fact that it was another match day. After turning right at the bottom of the road, and following a rather eerie footpath to some tower blocks, you come across the away end surrounded by friendly stewards, but uncompromising in their approach.  I had a bag search and a general search of my body, which seems to becoming increasingly common at football matches, making me feel that it was 1981 or 1971, rather than 2011. The game had started by the time that we had taken our seats virtually behind the goal line, and to the left of the standard TV shot of the Upton Park pitch. 

3. What did you think when seeing the ground/ first impressions of away end then other sides of the ground?

Like most grounds that I have visited, Upton Park seemed to be a lot bigger in ‘real life’ rather than via the lens of the TV camera. The atmosphere was certainly there, although my West Ham colleagues suggested that it seemed quieter compared to their previous visits. By being in direct line of the goal meant that some of my view was covered by goal nets. 

I was also beside the branded covering that separated the Town fans with the home support. There was a long line of the police officers and stewards, who were carefully watching every single move of both sets of supporters. In some ways, it seemed a bit excessive, although I suppose that I was thankful for their presence at the end when a number of home fans seemed to be spoiling for a fight at the end of the game. However, as an away fan at Upton Park, you will be extremely close to the action, and when the ball comes at you from a wayward shot, you will soon get to know when you should duck.
   
4. Comment on the game itself

This game appeared to be one of the key Championship games on that Tuesday night, and if you read the post-match reaction, you could be forgiven for thinking that it was a comprehensive Ipswich victory. I would love to believe that this was the case, but in many ways, Ipswich were playing their ‘classic’ passing game across the pitch. It was easy on the eye, but there was not much of a final product. 

West Ham played very full on style of football that created some chances that were particularly evident in the first half. The Hammers seemed to loose a bit of fire as the second half of the game, and were felled by a last minute goal by Lee Bowyer. The general noise around the away end meant that I did not hear the various boos and cat calls that were being directed at the man from Canning Town. Ipswich fans vented their anger at Robert Green, who seemed in control of the Hammer’s goal, despite the various cat calls and boos behind his goal. There was an interesting sub plot when Green ran out of water. A servant from the bench ran around the water to give Green’s desired H20, much to the merriment of the Ipswich faithful. 

The tale of Green’s water enlivened a generally dull second half, where I began to be more interested in the adverts that were being projected on to the stadium screens. The general line, which is often said about the Championship, is that the league is unpredictable and very difficult to get out of. That might be the case but the football is often not especially easy on the eye, and increasingly frustrating on certain occasions. With the lack of a real final Ipswich product for most of the game until the 89th minute, and West Ham’s endeavour but lack of variety, it was not the greatest game that I have ever watched in my life. However, three points did drop into the lap of my beloved team, so I guess that I can not complain. 

5. Comment on getting away from the ground

I needed to go through a period of gloating, much to the anger of my two colleagues. The university mate was particularly frustrated with the end result, and I was trying to provide suitable rational therapy with a croaky voice, but a smile on my face. I could not entirely argue with what my friend was saying, but facts were facts. Underneath, I was desiring to say ‘we won live with it,’ but in the spirit of friendship, I found myself trying to behave like a UN diplomat. However, when I proclaimed that the ‘next step was the Premiership,’ the statement was met with icy silence.

Soon our attention turned to how we were going to get back into central London, and the streets had turned into their random state of affairs, with people swarming in all direction like demented bees. The away support had generally disappeared into thin air, and a long and snaking queue had built up outside Upton Park underground station. The queue seemed to go on for ever, and it was difficult to wonder whether you would reach an underground train before Tuesday turned into Wednesday. 

A collective decision, and a bit of mobile phone GPS, caused us to walk to Plaistow underground station, which is the next stop along the line from Upton Park towards London. There was a fair amount of people who had done the same, but if you walk to the end of the platform at Plaistow, it is probable that you will find some space on the train. You need to know where you are going because many roads around this part of London, seemed to look the same. However, try and keep the underground line on the right hand side of you then you have a sporting chance to find this station, which seems like a village halt, amongst the urban sprawl. We found ourselves at Victoria within about fifteen to twenty minutes, but the whole ‘getting away’ experience had taken about an hour and twenty minutes. 
 
6. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

I enjoyed my visit to Upton Park. Brought up in Essex meant that I met a number of West Ham fans during my schooling. A warm fuzzy mix of 1966, Bobby Moore, Brooking, Dicks, Moncur, Di Canio, Redknapp ,mixed with a bit of Steptoe and Son, meant that I have always had a positive attitude to West Ham. Tables do not lie, but it is a shame to see West Ham in the Championship at this present time, at a stadium that is steeped in memories and character. 

Upton Park is a welcome antidote to the identikit concrete bowls that have begun to dominate towns and cities up and down the country. A bit more signage, and a transport system that could control the amount of fans that come to games could improve a trip into East London, but time moves on, and new stadiums are being built. Whatever happens in the future, I would hope that the West Ham passion and footballing endeavour does not collapse when the bricks are demolished on this stadium with character.

Updated 30th November 2014

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