By Simon Leyland
Do you remember the Bill Shankly (ask your Grandad) who was responsible for that legendary quote: “ Some people believe football is a matter of life and death. I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that”.
Well, it made me think of a recent article in The Sun , where the people of Plaistow say -their neighbourhood died when West Ham left for Stratford
The people of Plaistow in Newham, once saw bustling trade as thousands of fans descended on the stadium for match days.
However, since we moved from our spiritual home at the Boleyn Ground to London Stadium nearly four miles away, the High street has been hit hard as demand dried up.
The multicultural independent shops that were once the beating heart of the tight-knit community have been ravaged by the move and the knock on effects of Covid.
Mo and Fatima, who run The Greengate Cafe, which has been open for 18 years, explained the biggest, and perhaps worst, change they’ve had to make.
They said: “It used to be a pie and mash shop. But when West Ham moved the pie and mash went completely.
We went from a game day, serving 2,000 to 3,000 pies – and then gone.”
Now, their menu is radically different, with iced coffees and God help them, vegan breakfasts ! on offer as they try to draw in customers from the East End’s younger, trendier demographics.
Fatima added: “The fans brought atmosphere to the area, singing”.
“Sometimes it kicked off and the Old Bill came, but it was all keeping the area alive.”
“Now they have killed it.”
The couple explained: “All along the main road, most of the shops are closed.
“I know the club needed to get bigger but all the businesses here have had to close.”
Despite having to change with times, they were happy to say they do occasionally still sell a crusted slice or two to old customers.
West Ham relocated from Upton Park, which had been their home since 1904, to the much larger London Stadium in 2016.
You have to admit, it is definitely not the same now at Stratford – but such is progress I suppose.
I grew up in Plaistow where my dad had a tailors business at 114 Plashet Road. The family were all WHU supporters and sadly, the move away from the Boleyn was necessary and inevitable for the Club to meet its ambitions – although it would have a detrimental affect on local traders but who would have thought we would have crowds of 60 + thousands every week! As a 76 year old pensioner now living in Cape Town I remain very much an Irons supporter and amazingly can watch every match they play on DSTV! Something I could not do back in the UK. I am hopeful that the Scotsman will keep us up. Best wishes to all WHU fans from Prof Bill Richards in sunny South Africa – it is 30 C in Cape Town today!