It may have gotten off to a proper naughty start, but West Ham’s farewell to Upton Park ended well by coming back from 2–1 down to beat Man United 3–2. The result brought manager Slaven Bilic to tears, but the post-match farewell ceremony was more odd than emotional.
There were fireworks and flames, London taxis driving club legends onto the pitch and a punk band performing a rendition of “Forever Blowing Bubbles.” It was a strange, but fitting send-off for a unique stadium.
And if you’re wondering why such a fuss was made for this particular ground, watch this excellent film from the Guardian that should make clear its special place in the community:
Next season, West Ham will move to the Olympic Stadium, for which they have already sold more than 50,000 season tickets (the Boleyn Ground only has a capacity of 35,000). However Bilic, who has played for West Ham, in addition to managing them, doesn’t think it will be possible to maintain the same atmosphere at the club’s new home.
From the BBC:
“When you played Arsenal at Highbury, it wasn’t dangerous but you felt it,” added Bilic.
“Then we played against them at the Emirates and we enjoyed it; the players were taking selfies.
“The Upton Park stadium was a first home. No matter where you move after that — if you move to a fancy apartment, a big house or to a mansion — your favourite one is always the first.
“You are losing something because it is impossible to make the Olympic Stadium a fortress.”
Regardless of the surroundings, something tells me Bilic won’t be letting his players take too many selfies in the new digs.