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Hammer is born on shoulders of giant Nigerian

Claret andHugh Facebook Group member tells how he became a Hammer – great story! Such has been the response to this ‘How did you become a Hammer’ fans feature we are increasing it to ttwo a day!


I was born in Harold Wood but, when I was seven years old my father went into the church and became the vicar of St Mary’s, Plaistow where we moved to in 1958.

In those early days, he had a curate, Joseph Adetiloye who had been with him at Wycliffe Hall Oxford.

At some point in 1959 he asked my father if he could take me to see the Hammers and my father agreed.
There were no seats available and he took me into the open end of the West Bank where we were close to an entrance.

I sat on his shoulders for the whole match. I don’t know who we played, what the score was or anything else but never looked back from there.

I look back so fondly of that day over 50 years later but the thought of what we must have looked like then in 50s Britain stays with me now.

I was a small white boy. He was a 6ft plus very black Nigerian. What did people think I wonder.

Joseph went on to become the Archbishop of Nigeria.
A wonderful man and never forgotten.

The first match I went to and actually remember was in 1961 against Burnley, a 1-1 draw with players like Lawrie Leslie, Phil Woosnam and the like. I was immediately behind the goal at the South Bank end.

Happy days.

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About Hugh5outhon1895

Hugh Southon is a lifelong Iron and the founding editor of ClaretandHugh. He is a national newspaper journalist of many years experience and was Bobby Moore's 'ghost' writer during the great man's lifetime. He describes ClaretandHugh as "the Hammers daily newspaper!" Follow on Twitter @hughsouthon

2 comments on “Hammer is born on shoulders of giant Nigerian

  1. My first game and the day I became a Hammer was in 1964 . Not as you might think the cup final but a league game sometime that season . I went with my big brother and we paid our 2 bob to stand in the North Bank . I was 10 years old and I am now told that my first reaction to seeing inside the ground , something I had dreamed of for a long time , was , blimey the pitch is green . I never lived it down . I had never seen live football before , only black and white occasionally on the TV and I was really surprised that the pitch was green and I was shocked that the noise was really deafening , the atmosphere was great and I couldn’t wait to go again .
    My whole family , apart from my mum and nan went to West Ham , we lived in Canning Town and there were 10 of us living in one house , my parents , 7 kids and my nan .
    I never got to go to the cup final that year because of the shortage of tickets . I can remember being at home with my mum trying to watch on the black and white TV and remember jumping up and down when the final whistle went and we had won . It was a far greater achievement in those days than it is now .
    I went to the final of the European Cup Winners Cup the next year at Wembley and I have been to all the finals since .
    I can remember the development of the different parts of The Boleyn , I used to stand in the North or south bank as a kid , usually on the side raised part where many kids used to go . It was the only place where you could get a decent view . I would like to say that the London Stadium is a far better place than the old ground . Every time I go to our new stadium , which is only about 5 times a season now , I think how much better it is than that walk from Upton Park station . Ok the pitch is obviously further away but that is something that can maybe be fixed in the future .
    After my initiation to the Hammers I had a season ticket for 40 years . I went with my dad until he passed away , then I took both my boys for about 10 years , sitting in the family area in the East Stand , then the Bobby Moore stand .
    One of my sons still has a season ticket , and the other would as well if he lived a bit closer . My sister who is getting on a bit now still goes with her husband and she is 75 .
    All in all West Ham has been a family lifetime commitment as I am sure so many east end families have .COYI

  2. What an amazing and beautiful story.

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