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Boleyn Ground
West Ham United
Aston Villa
  Saturday, August 18th 2012, 3pm
  Premier League
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.
And in a couple of 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….. 

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