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Brian Belton and West Ham

John Simkin

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Brian Belton has in my opinion produced the best books about West Ham over the years. His books include: The First and Last Englishmen (1998), Days of Iron: West Ham United in the Fifties (1999), Founded on Iron: From Thames Ironworks to West Ham United (2003), The Lads of 1923 (2006), War Hammers: The Story of West Ham United FC During the First World War (2006) and Black Hammers: The Voices of West Ham's Ebony Heroes (2006).

There is a great interview on the web about why he supports West Ham. It includes the following:

"I guess everyone sees this differently, but for me supporting West Ham is something you are born to rather than ‘become’. As a baby my mum sat with me in our yard in Sampson Street, E13 on a spring Saturdays and sang ‘Bubbles’ to me along with the crowd that could easily be heard from where we were. She tells me that when there was a big cheer for a home goal that I’d bounce up and down in my pram and cheer as well. My dad was a goalkeeper in the West Ham Boys side that was coached by Ernie Gregory. Who else was I going to support? Like so many other supporters I ‘am’ West Ham (and West Ham is me). West Ham till I die? West Ham from the moment I was born! But I have good friends who were born from Bangladesh to Trinidad, from Hong Kong to the Falkland Islands whose footballing affinities lie with the inextricable Irons. However, my argument (which they broadly agree with) is that they born to it too. You see there are dozens of East Ends; they exist all over the world. I have a long term pal who was born in the South African East London. His first football shirt put Irons over his heart and there they have stayed (although Orlando Pirates play a surrogate role). Perhaps it is something about being ‘on the edge’, or feeling akin to those who continually punch above their weight or identify with the striving to make something potentially mundane beautiful and exciting. West Ham supporters arise organically but their share a particular 'soul-nature’ (you can recognize it because it’s claret and blue)."

The full article can be found here:


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