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The Importance of West Ham to the people of the East End

John Simkin

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Jimmy Ruffell commented that getting to the 1923 FA Cup Final was very important to the people living in the area: "It seemed like the most wonderful thing anyone had done as far as anything to do with West Ham was concerned... It was a hard time for most people around the East End. That was the best thing about it really; giving people, kids, something to smile about." It has to be remembered that in the 1920s an average of 150 Britons died every day as a consequence of malnutrition. A significant percentage of these people lived in the East End of London.

When the club was established at the end of the 19th century, 55% of the children born in the East End died before they reached the age of 5. It was because of this poverty that West Ham had more trouble attracting spectators than other London clubs. For example, the average gate in the 1899-1900 season was only 3,000. However, the fans seemed to save up for games against Millwall. That season over 12,000 turned up for that game (8,000 watched the game at Millwall).

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