A fan's thoughts on West Ham's first night at the London Stadium
PUBLISHED: 15:00 05 August 2016 | UPDATED: 16:27 05 August 2016
One West Ham fan shares his first impression of the club's new home.
Any true West Ham fan will admit to feeling extremely nervous at the thought of Thursday night’s game.
It wasn’t just the sentimental side of things - I’ve never known an atmosphere like an Upton Park game under the lights - there was also the very real fact that we faced starting our tenure at the London Stadium in disgrace if we suffered a second successive early Europa League exit.
But any lingering doubts I had about our impressive new home were dispelled within 90 seconds of me taking my seat in the East Stand, when I heard the person sitting behind me say: “Apart from there being no beer, this is much better than I thought it would be.”
If UEFA regulations on alcohol are our biggest worry on the opening night at a 54,000 capacity stadium, we’re probably going to be alright.
The other worry a great deal of us Hammers had was that some integral part of the club’s character would be lost somewhere during the move.
Thursday night did an awful lot to assuage those fears. The hoardings around the ground proudly proclaim our history, from the foundation of Thames Ironworks FC in 1895 to our victory in the 1980 FA Cup.
The club’s owners have also taken pains to ensure the place feels exactly how the fans want it to, like an expanded Upton Park - keeping two stands named after club legends Bobby Moore and Sir Trevor Brooking.
To get to my seat I even had to walk under a giant claret and blue shirt bearing the name and squad number of club captain Mark Noble. You couldn’t have stood in that concourse and thought you were anywhere other than the home of West Ham United.
There were some grumblings during the game that not everyone was rising to their feet every time someone struck up a song, but compared to our Europa League qualifier against FC Lusitanos last year, the atmosphere was positively electric.
The times are defintely changing at West Ham: a new badge, a new stadium and the dismissal of former academy head Tony Carr during the Summer all giving fans cause for concern that some unquantifiable part of our club was being lost.
But having been there on Thursday night, hearing 53,914 fellow Hammers chanting ‘Bubbles’ at the top of their lungs, it’s safe to say our future is bright.
We’ll always remember Upton Park fondly, but there’s no doubt West Ham have just started an exciting new chapter in our 121-year history.