London Stadium-Name change-AllianzLondon Stadium name change could prove tricky

Photo credit – Sky Sports


The London Stadium has been a point of contention ever since West Ham moved there in the summer of 2016. The Burnley game was a culmination of the bad blood which was boiling over. I understand why the fans ran on the pitch, but it’s unacceptable. What made things worse, was the stewards there on the day. Footage quickly came out of stewards walking round the edge of the pitch as fans that had invaded the pitch ran back to their seats. My dad was at that game and told me of one incident where a fan ran onto the pitch from the Bobby Moore stand. The steward feebly said “you can’t do that” to which the fan then told them to go away in a very rude manner. All in all, the entire incident was dealt with in a shocking manner. In the games I have been to this season, all stewarding and security has been well below par. All of this lead to me being more ashamed of West Ham than I had ever been before. The board were taken away before full time for their own safety and there was the enduring image of Sir Trevor Brooking sat alone as everything fell apart around him.

Jump to two weeks later. The 24th of March. The final score was 24-11 to Saracens over the Harlequins. The stadium was a sea of Sarries flags and contented happy fans, who had just enjoyed an afternoon of entertaining rugby and good cheer. Even the Quins fans were satisfied with their day, despite the loss. It was an enjoyable day all round, with two teams serving up an exciting game. It was worlds apart from when West Ham lost 3-0 at home to Burnley. Fans invading the pitch and the standard of stewarding and overall security meant that things could no longer go on. Investigations and inquests ensued and fans were banned from the ground for life. But at least there were flags in the stadium. These were two teams headed in vastly different directions.

My original aim for this article was to highlight the differences between rugby mode and football mode. And those differences were vast. The security going into the stadium was more trusting for the rugby, a quick search and then entry. For the football, pockets must be emptied and there is the bare minimum of a sweep with a machine. Once inside the stadium, beers were allowed to be taken into the seating area, which is usual for a rugby stadium and stewards were there in case of any trouble. I was in a group of six for the rugby, but we were sat in different rows, so I felt I should go between the two. Now, when I’ve been there for the football, any twitch in your seat is seemingly pounced on by a steward, because standing ruins the experience of a football match. But on this occasion, every time I swapped between rows, I was met with a smile and a nod from the steward. Trust is always a two-way street and knowing this allows a nicer overall experience.

Another difference is where fans are sat. There is no home and away segregation, you just sit amongst fans of either club, but this again is a staple in rugby stadiums. Most of the differences come down to how fans have behaved in recent times. Football will always have that stigma attached to it. One thing that isn’t different because of the fans though, was the pre-match entertainment. Kick-off for the rugby was at 3:00pm but in the build up there was hundreds of dancers and singers lined around the pitch preceded a performance from Tokyo Myers (who returned at half-time) which in my opinion got the fans enjoyment up, which in turn, made for a great atmosphere when the game did kick off. West Ham, or whoever in the LLDC would be fools not to consider some additional pre-match entertainment in future.

The reason why I said my original aim for this article was to highlight differences in the different sports was because the idea came to me before Saturday and the Southampton game. Leading up to that game I was nervous and worried for my beloved West Ham. I’d promised myself that as soon as I was in my seat I would get right behind the team and cheer them on. Before then, I wasn’t going to get my hopes up. The fans had been getting a lot of the blame for some of the performances due to a lack of atmosphere. The fans had been blaming the players for not giving enough to cheer about. More than once, I have sat in the stadium and wondered how nearly 60,000 people can make such little noise. The fault lay on both sides.

In just one week, I went from believing Saracens would have been the perfect tenants for the London Stadium, to then believing West Ham might just be alright there. I miss the Boleyn and the new stadium will never be the same. But, from 3:00pm to 3:50pm for one of the few times this season, the players and fans fed off of each other. The second half was a case of job done and winding up the Southampton players. But for those wonderful 50 minutes, three goals and, finally, some fire in the players bellies made for a great occasion and a terrific atmosphere. And to top it all off, the steward in front of me was a West Ham fan and engaged me in genuine conversation at half time and throughout the match. He was only doing his job, but I know a few others could learn from him with regards to people skills.

In a period of time where West Ham have been more divided than united, the players and the fans finally came together as one and generated the right noise for a change. I was going to write this blog and say rugby is the way forward for the stadium and maybe football wasn’t right. Be it the distance from the pitch or the stewards who can’t be bothered it felt like only a matter of time before someone stepped forward to say, it’s not working. And yes, it would be easy to say, well there we go the stadium works and everything is fine. But it is up to us and all fans to make this the rule not the exception. Rome wasn’t built in a day and whilst we have had nearly two years to build ours, one game won’t fix everything. But it’s a start. I’m no longer ashamed of my club and can be proud of the players for a change. Long may it last.


By Stephen Barrows

Jon Pope

By Jon Pope

Use to sit in the BML for 10 years, been a West Ham fan all my life, and my great grandfather was a founder member of the TIW. I also help run the Hammer Chat website.

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