Thursday, 27 August 2015

Upton Park was just one of the ground on weekend our hit list

As the first away match of the season for AFCB fans to go to on a the weekend, the West Ham match was the ideal opportunity for me to take my two sons, Robert and Stephen up to the capital and to take in a few sights before heading to the match. We caught the train up to London from Redhill and had the usual standing only place reserved specially for us as we headed up to Victoria station. 
The three amigos looking for an AFCB win - Stephen, Robert and Peter (left to right). 
On the train we met up with quite a few England cricket supporters who were trying to forget about Friday's batting collapse against the Aussies and were hoping that the side would bat all day long on Saturday (nevermind - at least they won the Ashes!). We talked quite a bit about the differences between cricket and football with the sponsorship and how the beers are on tap at the Oval and how we would all do that day under the intense heat that was already racing up in the train carriage - it got up to over 30C on the day.
Victoria station and no other footie fans in sight yet.
Stephen finds the first Chelsea store shut!
We spot the bigger main store at Stamford Bridge!
Once in London it was Stephen's big desire to head to Fulham Broadway as he was keen to see the home of the Premier league Champions. While it was going to mean catching the tube in the opposite direction our main destination of the day we were all rather keen to see what we could look forward to visiting later on in the season when we might not have as much time to get a good look at Stamford Bridge. It was quite a short work from the tube station along the main road to the ground and while Chelsea were playing on the Sunday against West Brom it was a good chance to see what the club shop was like and how big the stands were. Tours were going on all day with prices around £22 for adults and £15 for children under 16, if I remember correctly. We did not really have the time for all that but when we saw they had two club shops we were pleased that just one was open - the big store on two floors.
Stephen eyes up what cups would be better placed in AFCB's trophy cabinet.
Fabio (centre) shows Stephen, Robert and me around the shop.
Peter Osgood - one player Chelsea had that didn't cost £1 million. Weren't the 1970s great!
There we met Fabio who was keen to come right over to us having seen our AFCB shirts. "Welcome to the Premier League," he enthused with a big beaming smile. We told him that we were on a detour to Upton park and  that we didn't want to miss the chance to visit another ground on the way. Chelsea was the ideal choice to put us in the Premier League mood as the home of the champions we explained. The trophy cabinets with replica miniature trophies came under close inspection and we were a bit shocked at the amount of different shirts that were available to buy, let alone the key rings, badges and masks of players and the manager. Fabio explained that the new mega store had only been there a few weeks and was finished in time for the new season. 

Up stairs we saw the European Champions League trophy which I explained to Stephen had been won by Liverpool some five times. I didn't shout that out too loudly! Having talked with Fabio about Jose and what he was really like - friendly and shy and a big family man - we were told! That sounds more like Eddie Howe! Stephen found something to buy and was pleased to get a Chelsea bag. We took a quick photo with Fabio, before telling him AFCB were coming back for three points in December. As we made our way back to the station we went past the Peter Osgood statue and took photos of some of the player posters around the ground. 
Fulham Broadway underground station - waiting for a train.
Having got the bug for visiting grounds we decided that Robert's second club QPR also deserved a visit, so we hopped back on the tube and managed to get to Shepherds Bush by 11am. It was then a walk down the high street in the stifling heat that caused us to stop off for a drink before making our way onto the ground where preparations were already underway for their game against Rotherham Utd. A picture of Stan Bowles was on the front cover of their programme in tribute to him and his battle with Alzheimers. The club wanted to bring awareness to the condition and the need for more research to find a cure. 
Closing in on Loftus Road.
Robert outside QPR's stadium. I'd only been there for a night game
before so it was good to see it in daylight hours.
QPR still have plans for a new stadium but Loftus Road has all the memories.
Sign on top of the club's shop.
Robert stops to get a picture will midfielder Michael Doughty.
The club shop is situated right on the road side and is narrow and quite a different set up to something like Chelsea's grand building. Still it is home to QPR and was no less packed with hooped shirts and goodies for their fans. Robert picked up a wristband - most things were on discount - and we managed to find QPR midfielder Michael Doughty on his way in to the game. He posed with Robert for a photograph and was very pleased to do it even though he had an AFC Bournemouth shirt on.  "What are you doing over here?" he asked. "Your playing West Ham today aren't you?" He soon had a smile on his face when we told him it was Robert's birthday tomorrow and QPR was his second team. 

We should have asked if we could take Charlie Austin back with us to have a chat with Eddie Howe but I think QPR were in need of his services that afternoon and he scored a goal for them of course.

Having had our fill of football grounds for the moment we then decided to head to Kings Cross station and a certain platform in particular - 9 and 3/4. Yes, we were off to see the Harry Potter shop and to work out if we could buy some special wizard spells that we could cast on the West Ham players - 'stupify' should do it. It was a sign of how popular the children's spin-offs for Harry Potter were as we had to queue just to get into the shop! We didn't have that problem at Stamford Bridge or Loftus Road.
Robert checks out the Harry Potter goods.
Stephen couldn't resist getting a packet of Bertie Bott's
every flavour beans - whatever they are?
Come on you two! We have a match to get to.
After a quick bite to eat the time had moved on to 1pm and we needed to get the tube again on the Hammersmith and City line. In our hurry though we sat on a Circle line train (big mistake!) and started chatting to AFCB fans John and Adam who were also going to the game. John was from Blanford Forum and his son was up in London studying and they knew an awful lot about the Cherries with John having sponsored them many years ago. We talked so much that it was a shock that we finally realised we should have changed at Liverpool Street station and had to jump off quick at the Mansion House stop as we had started to head west when we needed to go East! Back on the right train though we soon reached Upton Park tube station by 2pm and passed the Queens Pub nearby, with hundred's of fans of the Irons taking on some liquid refreshment. Along the road there were loads of stalls selling Hammer's merchandise and we decided to follow AFCB fans the back way to the Trevor Brooking Lower stand. 

I just had time to meet my friend Damien Hill and grab the Cherries DVD from last season off of him (I still haven't had time to watch any of it yet) as well as the Liverpool match day programme that he got for me. Then it was a quick interview with a West Ham fan on Chimes' FanCam before making our way inside the ground and finding some shade while taking a few photos of the players on the pitch warming up. It was a great first half for us and the thrill of the first Premier League goal for AFCB was brilliant even though it would have been nicer if it had been up our end though in front of the fans. Two goals to the good at half time was great and I thought going into work Monday morning would be very satisfying with my boss being a West Ham fan.

AFCB players do their warm ups.
Someone does not enjoy our singing very much.

Photos before the start of the match.
Little did I know that West Ham would come storming back and I'd have several panic attacks before the Cherries finally got that all important win 3-4. That was entertainment! What a pleasure it was to be a part of that and to see the players come over and thank the crowd. it was like the Charlton game at the end of last season in terms of celebration all over again.
Robert believed this message was just for
him as it was his birthday on the Sunday.

What a great win!

Having been held back in the ground for some time there was no rush for the tube. We looked around West Ham's shop and the main entrance to get some more photos and to savour the moment of the big win. In the car park we met Marius Rave who reads Cherry chimes over in Norway. He saw 'Afcbchimes' on the back of my shirt and enquired if I was the writer of that blog. It surprises me how far my words and thoughts sometimes travel! But it is great to know that AFCB fans in other countries also follow the blog with such enthusiasm.
Robert in teh Boleyn ground with loads of empty West Ham
seats behind him as they all got let out first.
Gates in front of the main reception - a lick of paint might be required.
Good job they are only here for one more season!
Stephen and me celebrate AFCB's victory - not sure the
West Ham fans were that impressed.
That's it Robert, I think they know who the Cherries are now. 
 Marius and his friend enjoyed AFCB's win and even loves Cherry Chimes! 
Having seen the queue at the Upton Park station going around the block, we walked to the end and then decided to walk on to the next station as it would be quicker than sitting waiting in the hot sun to get on a tube train. We weren't alone. Loads of fans had the same thoughts as us and when your team wins it does not really matter that you are walking through streets full of opposition fans that are just pleased to see you leaving.

You can read my Shoot article that was out yesterday at Wilson shows he is ready for the top level

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