If you are a member of any West Ham-related social media circles on any platform, chances are you’ll have heard of the Real West Ham Fan Action Group. They are the fastest growing grassroots organisation that has ever existed in the West Ham community, with over 5,000 members joining in its’ first 24 hours alone. As I write this, they have over 13,000 members and have raised over £25,000 in crowdfunding (The remainder of which that isn’t used will be going to Isla’s Fight, to help the young West Ham fan tragically diagnosed with Neuroblastoma and her family to get treatment in the USA). But just who are they? I spoke to co-founder, and operations manager Andy Swallow to find out more...
First of all, a little bit about yourself. How did you become a West Ham fan?
“I was born near Upton Park in 1960, and lived at the back of the Queens Road Market. I first went to West Ham around 1967, and then around 1973 I started going to away games. By 1975 I never missed home or away games (Until ‘87, then the Acid House scene hit the streets and I became heavily involved in parties etc.) All my family are West Ham fans and I’m still a season ticket holder now.”
How did you meet the other founders of the Real West Ham Fans Action Group?
“I’ve known Micky Morgan since 1976, and Moose (Also known as Mo) I’ve known since primary school, where we met in 1966, and we’ve been friends to this day. I’ve known Bill Gardener since 1978 and Danny Meakin since 1977. As for the others, I have only known them since the group started.”
In short, what message are you trying to send to the West Ham board of directors?
“No more lies, this is our club. Enough is enough”
How are you trying to get this message across?
“We’ve had a couple of meetings [With representatives of the club] and we have laid out to the board 5 things we want to look into changing. They agreed to look into them, but never acted on those 5 points, so we thought ‘what’s the point of talking? It’s time for action!’“
What actions are you taking?
“We have joined up with 63 other groups, and we have arranged a March against the board.”
What are the Real West Ham Fans Action Group’s 3 highest priorities for change around the club?
First, “A stadium fit for football,” secondly, “for our heritage to be recognised”, and thirdly, “the club to be run professionally and with no more lies to those that matter.”
The Real West Ham Fans Action Group has been massively popular within the West Ham fan base compared to other similarly minded groups. Why do you think this is?
“I think it’s because we are an Action Group with some well known West Ham fans leading the group. I think the other groups have jumped on board too, which is good because we need everyone involved.”
What would you say to say to those people who agree with the Real West Ham Fan Action Group’s sentiment but are hesitant to join?
“What have you to lose? We’ve no home of our own, we’ve been told lie after lie, and we’re treated like we don’t matter, we’ve no [honoured] history any more. What have you got to lose?”
Powerful words indeed. The widespread appeal of the Real West Ham Fans Action Group is apparent throughout the generations. I also spoke to Billy, a prominent twitter user in his early twenties who has recently joined the Real West Ham Fans Action Group, and asked him what persuaded him to join...
“My dads a Spurs fan and so growing up he tried his best to make me one too. My cousins were West Ham though, and once they were old enough to go on their own they started taking me to West Ham with them. My first game was against Newcastle at the Boleyn, a 3-2 Win, and from the burger to the programme seller to standing on the seat (being a child I had to) and so on, I was in love. I wanted to go every week.”
“When David Sullivan and David Gold took over I felt there was effort from them to an extent, and at the start I believed them when they said that, as fans, they wanted the best for the club. The love I felt when I first went was still there.”
“What I’ve seen in the past 3 seasons is the death of West Ham United. The love I first felt wasn’t there. I don’t go to games anymore because I have fallen out of love with it. I want that interaction with the programme seller, and the burger, and to stand and chant. Instead, it feels like the polar opposite and it feels a chore. No one is to blame for that but the board, and the only way to fix this is to get this board out. The Real West Ham Fan Action Group are doing the right things to make West Ham feel like West Ham again, and I’m with them 100%.”
The Real West Ham Fans Action Group have organised a peaceful march against the board and their running of the club on the 10th March 2018. Locations will be announced once confirmed with the Police. For more details contact firstname.lastname@example.org
To sign up to the Real West Ham Fans Action Group, send your full name and email address to email@example.com to receive a membership form and a welcome package.
You can join the official Real West Ham Fan Action Group Facebook group by clicking here...
You can donate to the official Real West Ham Fan Action Group Crowdfunding page by clicking here...
Follow Billy on Twitter @Billy_WHUFC