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West Ham United is so much more than a football club

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Any new journey into the unknown can be intimidating especially for a young lad in a new country but my father had the good grace to step into the magic of the West Ham family. He got his first lucky break when he wad hired as a conductor at the Upton Park garage within days of arriving in east London. Little did he anticipate that the first morning he left his aunt’s house in Romford that he would have a new love in his life, West Ham United.

Dad’s first journey as a conductor was the six o’clock early bus to the Fords Works Company in Dagenham. The Ford Company was a massive factory where the Ford cars were produce. It had opened in Dagenham in 1931. At its peak it employed 40,000 people and covered 475 acres in space. The first vehicle out of the plant was a Ford AA light truck. In 1958 the plant was undergoing a 75 million pound redevelopment and that was completed in 1959.

The first customer to get on the bus that morning was a well-built six foot two cockney speaking Londoner. A wise man once said that bad decisions make good stories so my father approached this man for the bus fare. If you can just picture this now for a second. There is a 16-year-old lad over from Ireland looking for a bus fare off a well seasoned, well built, tattooed cockney speaking Londoner.

This man took my father to one side and started to give him some great advice. First off he explained all the stops to my Dad and pointed out a lot to him along the route. The one best piece of knowledge he said to my father was the great football team West Ham United. He spoke of them winning the Second Division Championship in 1957/58 season and how it was an Irish man who was captain, Noel Cantwell. He conveyed that one of the great inside lefts John Dick had scored 21 league goals that season. He disclosed that West Ham had only three wins in their first opening ten games but after September they only lost three games. He mentioned also about Malcolm Allison who had to retire following the removal of a lung because of tuberculosis. The last thing this good man done was paid his fare.

This was some first experience for my father. His mind raced with excitement and wonderment with all the stories about West Ham. He had just arrived in London was taken in by his Auntie, got very lucky to get a job and now was taken under a wing of a cockney and told of the magnitude of West Ham United. As I have started researching this story of my father the one thing that keeps coming back to me is “West Ham United is more than a football club”. As I progress into the story I find this statement to be wholeheartfully true. Little did I know how much of an influence West Ham had on my own family? #westhamfamily.

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