Supporting the Hammers - for a night
"I'm forever blowing bubbles..."
Actually I'm not. I feel like I should admit early that I am not a West Ham fan. My dad, however, is and for his birthday my sister and I had plans to take him to a match. So this evening we wrapped ourselves up, draped ourselves in maroon and sky blue and headed for the site formerly known as the Olympic Stadium.Dad's beloved Hammers were all set for a home replay of their FA Cup 3rd round tie against League One side Shrewsbury Town.
Kate and I thought this was a brilliant choice - surely the Irons (oh yeah, I've got all the nicknames down) would put on a stellar performance to enthral Dad and the other few thousand West Ham fans in attendance.
They did not.
As one chap behind us put it: "Which one is the Premier League side?"
Fortunately after almost 120 minutes of distincly average football West Ham's Reece Burke rifled a shot into the roof of the net to put West Ham through to the next round.
Luckily, Dad has been a West Ham fan for long enough that he does not get his hopes up too high and he was pretty happy with his evening out. The whole experience was enhanced by being in the midst of the regular fans, many of whom seemed to attend many more games than we did. This meant we had useful insights like: "Pablo can't run that fast, he's about 40."
We also got the absolute must-have to any football watching experience, whether live or on TV - armchair punditry and amateur coaching. The moment of the night goes to the man who shouted: "Don't applaud him for hitting a good pass, run and get it you ****"
Special shout-out to the Shrewsbury goalie too who spent most of the match delaying his kicks by cleaning his studs; when they were a goal down with minute to go even his own team looked like they wanted to strangle him.