I love every single sport there is, but I consider soccer my favorite. There’s something about the beautiful game that compels me to watch no matter who is playing. However, I didn’t always feel this way. As a young kid, I was someone who thought soccer was a ridiculous sport. I thought it was boring that nobody scored, and thought all the diving and writhing around in pain was simply stupid. I hated the sport. I simply refused to watch it, which was an issue for my dad. My dad always loved soccer. He coached my brother and I at young ages, and when my brother and I both decided to quit because we hated it, he was disappointed. But he slowly got both of us back into it, and it’s all because of a movie.
In 2009 my dad said he was going to have a bunch of people over and we were going to watch a movie called Green Street Hooligans. I asked what it was about. He replied “soccer fans” and I was immediately disinterested. Then he told me they fought other soccer fans, and my childlike love for violence suddenly became interested again.
Now, I know a hefty majority of West Ham fans do not like this movie, due to Charlie Hunnam’s terrible cockney accent and the portrayal of hooliganism that surrounded the club, but I could not stop watching. I’m aware it wasn’t a “good” movie, but I fell in love with it, kind of like I did with the 1998 Godzilla or any Jurassic Park sequel. They were bad movies, but I simply loved them.
You’ll also know there’s not really a lot of soccer in that movie. They go to one game and that’s about it. But the next day my brother and I decided we were going to go get FIFA 09 from the store. As I said before, I didn’t like soccer, so I knew nothing about it. I knew the Seattle Sounders had just joined MLS because I’m a huge Seahawks fan, but because the game came out before their season began, I couldn’t use them. Therefore there was only one team I knew, and that was West Ham United (and technically Millwall I guess but after watching a movie in which their fans are the bad guys, I’m not going to use them). I fell in love with the West Ham team in FIFA 09. Scott Parker, Carlton Cole, Matthew Upson, Rob Green, and my absolute favorite, Dean Ashton.
Some of my absolute favorite moments in the sport come at the hands of West Ham United. The playoff final with Ricardo Vaz Te scoring the winner at Wembley to get back to the Premier League. The 3-1 win over Chelsea our first season back in the Premier League in 2013. The double over Spurs in the 2013-2014 campaign. The penalty shootout at home against Everton in the FA Cup in 2015. The incredible final match at Upton Park with a come from behind victory over Manchester United. I wouldn’t trade the high points in my West Ham support for the world, and I owe all of it to one movie that most West Ham supporters loathe. But every time I rewatch it, I’m captivated by the first lines of the entire movie.
“I’m West Ham till I die!
I’m West Ham till I die!
I know I am! I’m sure I am!
I’m West Ham till I die!”