West Ham United had always been a big thing for my family, but going to games was not a frequent occurrence for financial reasons. My dad had taken us to see the Boleyn Ground a few times as at the time the family was still based in the general Green Street area, we would just stand outside it and stare in awe.
So in the summer of 2000 when I was 12, my brother 10, Dad decided to take us to a pre season friendly at Leyton Orient, this is a game that most West Ham fans will have experienced. We met a couple of my Dads friends and played football in a park just round the corner from the ground and then walked down to Brisbane Road. We were in the standing area right behind the goal, which I’m not sure is there anymore?
There are a few things I remember really clearly; firstly, I was a 12 year old girl, so I thought I was in love with Joe Cole, secondly, Dad bought me a hot dog, the ketchup of which I proceeded to spill down my white doc martins away kit (the stain is still there) thirdly, Kanoute managed to clear the cross bar thus kicking the ball straight at us about 5 times, one of which I managed to block from hitting my Dad’s friend Brian’s glasses right off his face.
I also remember that we didn’t play terribly well and when we left I think the score was 2-2. Having been 2-0 up at half time, we had subbed the first team and stuck the kids and reserves on the the second. We left quite early, I think my Dad was worried my brother and I would panic in the crowd, but this turned out to be a blessing in disguise; as we left, the first team coach was also leaving, someone was shouting “OI CHRISTIAN HURRY UP OR YOUR TRAVELLING BACK WITH THE RESERVES!” someone came out
“Nah he’s still in the shower, lets go”. Which they did, not without saying hello and waving at me and my brother as we stood there completely speechless. I always remember Freddie Kanoute sticking his thumb up at us as they drove off and how quickly it made me forget how rubbish I had thought he was half an hour ago.