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Football is my favourite sport in the world so when I can I love to go and watch it live with a friend of mine who supports Nottingham Forest.
This season I went to my first game ever at Upton Park I thought it might be nice to share my experiences and what I found when I was there.
~~ Who are West Ham United? ~~
West Ham United are perhaps one of the biggest clubs in the United Kingdom who believe playing football on the floor rather than kicking it in the air all the time is the best route to success.
They have won some FA Cup trophies but never anything major in Europe which is a huge shame for such a big team. In the past West Ham have had legendary footballers who have played for them such as Bobby Moore, Trevor Brooking, Geoff Hurst, Paolo Di Canio and more.
They have a superb youth development system which has developed huge stars in the past that play for England currently. They are known for being very loud as supporters and they have got a reputation unfortunately for being a wild bunch as well.
~~ Getting There and Parking ~~
Upton park is situated in the East End of London and to get there is pretty simple really just following signs or a Sat Nav will get you there with little fuss and if you have to go there during the daytime you can avoid the congestion charge as well.
The directions get you to Upton Park but it never reveals how bad traffic is when you are there. The problem is the road is a single file road and no carriageway at all so you're left to wait your turn and with constant traffic coming through all directions it can be nerve wrecking.
There is no car parking at the stadium available unfortunately so this is perhaps the biggest worry for fans. I was told there is parking at a local hospital which is not to badly priced but you run the risk your car could potentially be fined or clamped because you're not visiting the hospital.
I and my friend had to go online and seek car parking alternatives and the best option was paying to park in someone's drive way which was actually only £5 and it was next to the stadium so this is one option open to everyone.
If you want to travel by the tube it is a good option as well prices I am unsure about because there is a few stations around Upton Park which are easy to get to after the match and before the game. This option is used by plenty of fans but again after a match the congestion is massive.
I like the fact you can avoid the congestion charge if you went during the week and also the fact you can get there in many ways such as the tube or via car journey as well.
~~ The Stadium and Eating ~~
The stadium in my view looks superb as you enter the main entrance you're greeted with these huge towers and the stadium just looks amazing. As you walk around you see the stadium store which is there and on match day this place was packed to the rim.
You had the executive section where fans were allowed to go and see the owners show up in there rather posh Bentley's so it was a nice touch as you enter the stadium. The ticket office was a bit poor to be honest very outdated in appearance.
The turnstiles are very modern you just use the barcode on your ticket to enter and this opens the gate, you're unable to take bottle lids inside with you which annoyed me slightly. You had to unscrew the top and leave it outside on the pathway which was cleaned up later on.
The inside of the stadium was clean and very good at making you want to buy product they had television show west ham united television and it was a good place in terms of how modern it was.
The eating part inside the stadium was poor outside the stadium you have places all around Upton Park which do food such as burger joints, chicken areas and I even saw places doing pizza and it was a great place to find places to eat.
I think the stadium offered very little but they did sell pies and it was also selling other items like burgers and chips and stuff so overall it some items there but not much inside the stadium.
The stadium when sitting down had lovely seats and plenty of leg room, we were sitting in the corner of the Bobby Moore Stand and the seats were compact and close together but the leg room was much better than some stadiums I had visited in the past.
~~ Atmosphere, Staff and Store ~~
The atmosphere was amazing it was perhaps the loudest and most energetic fans I have encountered anywhere. From the moment the players came out to warm up until the final whistle they were vocal.
We never heard any violent chants or nasty ones aimed at the opposition it was a peaceful game which was full of emotional moments for the home fans. When it came to singing there theme song which is 'I'm forever blowing bubbles' they were outstanding.
I would say that at the start of the game a player in the youth ranks had been diagnosed with cancer and they had a minute to applaud him and wish him well which was received well by both fans which was a nice sight.
The staff were very good at assisting people not once did they seem angry if you were asking them even the basic of questions. I saw people who were struggling to find their seats and the staff walked them to the seats and they even drew some people little maps of where the nearest toilets were.
I think the stadium store was big but overwhelming how many people were in there. My friend and I popped inside for a feeling of what it was like and it was so packed you could hardly see any of the items for sale or where the tills were to pay. I think it was a bit over the top in my view they should have so many people in at once for a 5 minute period then allow more in as others leave.
~~ My Visit ~~
We set out pretty early for the game as we knew Kick off was 3pm and we left our homes at 10am hoping to avoid the traffic on the roads and it took us an hour to get there so we had plenty of time to waste in theory.
We explored the local area and found the destination to park our car which we found online and the man whose car park space we took came out to greet us and made sure we were okay. We go to the game and stadium about 1.30 and we noticed how busy it was.
The back of the stadium which is where we parked was full of police vans and horses and it was quite overwhelming as they were literally making sure fans behaved got to the stadium and if they were not going to the game they were moved on so instantly we knew it was a place where police do not mess around.
The stadium on the outside is gigantic it just appears so huge when you are up close and you cannot really see it until your near it on the roads. We arrived got through the turnstiles area and we managed to find some rather nice toilets which were everywhere it seemed.
We were taken to our seats as our tickets were confusing for us as it seemed someone had added an extra letter onto it accidentally so we had to find our seats which were very easy to find with the assistance given to us by the staff who were everywhere.
We saw the great mascot West Ham have which dances around the stadium and he is quite fun to watch and then the game began but we had to stand for the majority of the 45 mins as everyone was trying to keep an eye on the action in a very close game.
At half time there was no real action taking place we kept an eye on the two huge screens they have on each side of the stadium for highlights from the first half and also goals from the season and it was it, so half time the stadium was poor.
As the game continued the atmosphere grew with intensity and singing and the stadium about the 92nd minute was when people got up to leave. Leaving the stadium was hell it was bad because there was no sense of direction from people.
The roads were packed with fans running in front of cars to get to the tube stations and with all the police in your faces it felt very odd that they seemed to enjoy getting in the way. We got to the car and it took us nearly 3 hours to get home due to the constant traffic and that is a bad point.
If you leave via car you're going to need to be prepared for huge traffic jams which were unfortunate for us to say the least.
I enjoyed the view we had which was good providing we stood up fortunately the second half people sat down but I have never encountered such passionate fans they were intense throughout the match which made the atmosphere that much more impressive.
~~ Final Thoughts ~~
I love the venue I cannot argue how loud and vibrant the stadium was and how modern it appeared. I think the team gets a bad reputation due to past issues but I was not witnessing any problems if anything they are just passionate about their team.
I found the police presence over the top because in the past visiting many stadiums this was the highest turnout for staff in terms of police that I have ever seen and in my view it was unnecessary and made me feel uneasy. You suspected something might erupt due to how many there were.
The staff were extremely pleasant and helpful and that makes you appreciate them more when they ask you to do something. I never saw any problems with the staff for any situation you could approach them and they would assist you immediately.
There were a few issues the first for me was the parking situation. You're not told on the website when ordered tickets about any problems with the parking and that is bad. I had to ring them up asking how much it was but they informed me even disabled parking had a waiting list which was shocking for a team so big. I would love to see somewhere they had some sort of parking taking place to assist fans.
After the game you're best waiting around for a while because the chances of you leaving are zero. You have to wait in heavy queues and with traffic at 5pm on a Saturday as well in London to deal with on top of that it was chaos. I am not sure if the tube station was any better as perhaps 75% of fans took that route home so it might have been pretty packed as well.
Food and drink outside the stadium was easy to get hold off due to how many places there were to eat and drink and to me that was excellent.
~~ Team Information ~~
Ticket office: 0871 222 2700
Address: Boleyn Ground, Green Street, Upton Park, London E13 9AZ
Upton Park or the Boleyn Ground? Before my visit I was completely oblivious to the ground being called the Boleyn Ground as most people and the media call it Upton Park. After leaving the train station you can see the ground is located in a fairly run down area of London with a lot of small shops. The walk to the away end was particularly unpleasant, where we were sent down some small alleyway by the police, good job it was the middle of the day. Outside the ground it is a decent space with there being just about enough room for a few key facilities inside. There were enough pubs around for both sets of fans to be selective and be under control and happy.
The away stand was well kept and gave us a respectable view of the game and we were relatively close to the pitch. We were able to generate a good atmosphere even at 3-0 down on a blazing hot day and were rewarded with a little moment to shout about with Michael Owen getting a late consolation, for a bit some of us actually believed!
There wasn't too much noise from the home fans but they seemed like a decent set of supporters who obviously love their club. One of the home stands was an absolute mile away from the pitch, the pitch dimensions must have been made smaller somewhere down the line. On the whole though it is a decent size stadium in good nick.
They had a decent system outside the ground for getting back to the station although it did involve walking past all the home fans as you made your way to the back of queue as they celebrated their victory.
Upton Park, did i say Upton Park? I mean the Boleyn Ground gets a slap bang in the middle 3 star rating, mainly let down by location.
Last season grabbing three points away from home was a pipedream. Far from the doom of being a premiership struggler, there was always the FA cup to look forward to. Instead of being drawn against someone from league one or two, we got West Ham away. We had played them the previous season and both times ended in a 1-1 draw. Needless to say I was less than confident on current form that we would get an easy passage through to the next round. Come final whistle we had lost 1-0 to a late Marlon Harewood goal, back we would go to East Anglia with coaches humming with despair.
Anyway at least this a chance to visit Upton Park, a ground I doubt Ill be seeing next season based on current happenings on the pitch.
When I was younger I always though West Ham was in West London. Of course its actually in the East End of the big smoke. We took the club coach to the game and it wasnt a bad journey. This part of London isnt really heaving with some of the traffic flow that you may find in other areas. The ground is clearly visible behind a parade of shops and pubs. Should you be wishing to have a pre match drink or something to east then there are several places within easy walking distance.
The ground has gone through a lot of renovation in recent years. Three sides of the ground are now substantial in size. The East Stand still has to catch up a bit but Id imagine it would be overhauled if West Ham maintained their top-flight status for a few seasons.
There was a decent police presence around the ground and they were helpful when we were looking for where to go. One of the policewomen would have hit me with her truncheon any time!
As away supporters we found ourselves housed in the lower tier of the Centenary Stand. This stand is located behind one of the goals. The views of the pitch were very good and werent obscured in any way. The seats had a good amount of leg room compared to some grounds and the stewarding was relaxed.
Inside the stand is where things take a bit of a downturn. Theres not much open space at the food and drink stand. This means getting a drink can prove to be a bit of a quest. There are also a couple of TV screens in this area, if theres a match on then people will congregate around here and make it more unbearable. We had to retreat to the corridors underneath the terrace for a bit of breathing space.
Atmosphere wise it was merely adequate. At the time we werent doing well and West Ham were in a state of underachievement. The game reflected this with not a lot going on pitch side. It was obviously an FA Cup tie that didnt inspire hammers fans as the attendance was pretty poor and this didnt help.
Cost wise I paid £24 to get in. For a London club this wasnt bad but maybe a lower price may have bought out the crowd and made it a better occasion. Anyway Id definitely go back some time to Upton Park, hopefully it will be in the top flight but for now I look on at them with envious eyes.
Are plans for an 80,000 seater stadium in Stratford really gonna help West Ham reach the holy grail status of becoming one of the 'big 6'? At the moment you couldn't get 800 people to watch that rag-tag bunch of rabble, let alone the projected 80,000. And all so we can help the Great British Olympic Bid for 2000 and something. Let's stay at the Boleyn, with its square pitch and morgue-like atmosphere. So we're having extra tiers put onto one of the stands - big deal, just so another 3,000 fans can pay up to £40 a game and then just sit back mute with their arms folded... Nothing's ever dull at The Hammers though, eh?!?
It's a popular misconception that West Ham United play at Upton Park. Correction due. They play at the Boleyn Ground, which happens to be in Upton Park. It's one of those silly things that annoy me, but it's like people who mis-pronounce names, I can't help but correct them. Upton Park is an area in West Ham, East London. The ground itself is situated just off the Barking High Road or Romford Road, and the main gates are down Green Street. This is the entrance to the West Stand, and the entrance to the East Stand, where the infamous Chicken Run is, can be found after a wander down Priory Road. The ground is definitely due for it's update. The new stand is currently going up, which will raise capacity from 26,000 to 40,000, and should afford some fantastic views. Can't be much fun for the local residents though, it has to be said. The Boleyn at the moment is a bit of a windy dinosaur. Very basic, nothing flash but a good atmosphere makes all the difference. The lower West stand has a lot of the wisecrackers in the crowd. They're near to the away fans part of the ground in the Centenary Stand, and much banter is batted back and forth between the two camps. Most of it is good natured, but it can get a bit fruity, to put it nicely. The Bobby Moore Stand is opposite to the Centenary, and usually produces the bulk of the singing, again usually funny, but always stirring. Now the infamous Chicken Run is where you tend to get your real hard core and very vocal critics. I've read of more than one player who's said how intimidating it is running down the wing, past loads of mouths screaming abuse at them. Well, it works on occassion so it can't be a bad thing in my books! Facilities are okay if you like harking back to the 70's for your comfort, but the Ladies has two loos which are always clean, and the sinks have soap and hand towels, and considering how little thought can go into these amenitie
s (especially as far as Ladies are concerned) then there needs to be a little more forethought for when the new stand is completed. The current general seating arrangement is tight, they'd probably prefer cosy as a description, but it is tight. Just like our Board actually! The Hammerettes entertain the ogling men during half-time, but I'm usually too busy reading the fanzine Over Land And Sea to take much notice. I've seen them do a few cartwheels and back-flips, to which they'll get roars of approval, so I suppose they're worth their appearance money. If you're a bloke that is. Or one of their Mums. The half time refreshments are very popular, but I've never indulged in any more than the occassional coffee. Hubby swears by their Chicken Balti Pies, though! Not expensive, especially not as expensive as the stalls outside the ground (and I wouldn't trust them for food either. A good vet could have had my burger walking again with a bit of work) so don't get tempted. Buy inside the ground. Handy to get to by tube, West Ham underground station is at the top of Green Street, less than 5 minutes walk from the ground. The pubs are always full to brimming on match days before the games, but check which of them will let in away fans. Not many will and certainly the Bolen pub at the corner of Barking High Road and Green Street won't! It's very East End of London. Nothing fancy with frills, but it's the home of some of the most entertaining football in England, even if it doesn't see all that many successes. Not much trouble at all these days, and I've seen none at all this season, so it's a good place to take the kiddies to. The rules in the ground won't allow for racial chants, swearing and alcohol abuse and I've seen more than one guy being chucked out because he's been too offensive. So remember. It's THE BOLEYN in Upton Park, East London. Stump your f
riends at trivia quizzes with it!!
Upton park is in the East end of London and home to West Ham Utd. Not one of the big London teams but this little ground still holds it's own with the big boys. It isn't one of these new stadiums being built which look like lego, it's a an old stadium with plenty of tradition. I have been to Upton Park 3 times now as a Villa Fan. It doesn't look the best ground in the world and like a lot of big city teams is in a run down area. The stands are very close to the pitch which provides a good atmosphere and must be brilliant if you're a West Ham player as it could be quite intimidating for the opposition. That is probably why West Ham have a very good Home record. The facilities are Ok, not the best in the world and not the worst. If you're an away fan you will have an excellent view behind one of the goals. I'd recommend to go to this ground sometime as it's a good little ground with a good atmosphere and before it is knocked down and replaced by the lego stadiums.
Upton Park is centred upon Green Street, a high street that runs north-south between the A118 Romford Road and the A124 Barking Road. Green Street is part of the boundary between the former County Boroughs of East Ham and West Ham and contains a large number of shops, both major chain stores as well as locally-owned shops, Upton Park Library, and Queens Road Market, a covered food and clothing market. Many shops and market stalls specifically cater for east London's large Asian community. Upton Park tube station is also on Green Street, close to the market. Plans to demolish the market and replace it with a large supermarket, luxury apartments and a smaller indoor market have been vigorously resisted by market traders and large sections of the local community through the Friends of Queens Market.