Monday, 2 April 2007

West Ham's In My Blood

The following post is an interview with Perry Fenwick. It is the first in an occasional series about West Ham supporting celebrities.

My Team by Perry Fenwick
Interview by Denis Campbell

West Ham's in my blood. My dad John's been going for over 50 years and he took me to my first game: a 1-0 defeat at Highbury in 1969, when I was seven. I was so little I had to stand on a claret and blue box. West Ham had a goal disallowed for offside but I was too young to know about offside, so I thought we'd drawn.

As a kid I'd either use my dad's season ticket or queue up outside the South Bank from about 10am and, when they opened up at lunchtime, leg it round to the same spot behind the goal. I recently watched a West Ham v Newcastle game from about 30 years ago and, every time the ball came near the South Bank goal, I could see me with my group of little mates - surreal! There's a natural connection between EastEnders and West Ham but a lot of them support other teams. Steve McFadden's Man U, Michael Greco is Chelsea and both Martin Kemp and Tamzin Outhwaite follow Arsenal. Last season Todd Carty and I were at Upton Park when the home fans began chanting 'one Billy Mitchell, there's only one Billy Mitchell', which was blinding, and 'Tucker, Tucker, how's your luck' at Todd. Fans know we're real supporters, so it's a case of 'you're one of us and you're doing alright' rather than 'it's him off the telly larging it.

I've got to know some ex-West Ham players like Frank Lampard senior, Paul Brush and Geoff Pike by playing alongside them in a celebrity West Ham XI with people like Todd, Nick Berry and Ray Winstone. Ray's a really good striker, tough and strong, in the John Hartson mould! I've had some good experiences with acting but nothing's ever got near the feeling of being in the West Ham dressing-room with players you used to collect on football cards, talking tactics with them, 'Bubbles' starting to play, walking down the tunnel with your studs clanking, hearing them say 'it's West Ham United' and then running out on to the pitch. It's the best feeling in the world. If ever a song was right for a club, it's 'Bubbles'. All the words - 'fortune's always hiding... just like my dreams they fade and die' - are so appropriate for West Ham. It always ends in disappointment, like blowing our chance to win the league in 1985-86 or losing all those Cup semi-finals in the early 1990s. But there are occasionally brilliant results, like when Paolo di Canio put Manchester United out of the Cup at Old Trafford two years ago - that's why you go to the other 40-odd games.

Two years ago I was at a game with my dad and Martin Peters asked me for my autograph to give his niece. I said OK, as long as my dad could have his picture taken with them. He's still got it up at home. Geoff Hurst is holding up four fingers, and Martin Peters is holding up two, and my dad's in the middle, being Bobby Moore, with the biggest grin you've ever seen.

I love the fact that West Ham are the only club side ever to win the World Cup. Ray Winstone and I used to chant 'I remember Wembley, West Ham beat West Germany, Martin one and Geoffrey three, and Bobby got the OBE.' And they were the last English team of all English players to win a European trophy, the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1965. We've still got some quality players, like Di Canio and Joe Cole. But the team can be a soft touch. We need a Billy Bonds or Julian Dicks to give us a bit of steel.

My favourite player- It has to be Bobby Moore. Every Sunday morning as a kid I'd go round to Upton Park to get autographs, because the players would come there for treatment, and Bobby would pull up in his red Daimler and pat me on the head. Him dying was like a death in the family, because I loved the man.'

My most memorable match- Being at Wembley in 1980 when we beat Arsenal in the Cup Final. It was great because Arsenal fans were convinced they were going to win - we were in the Second Division then. It was a beautiful summer's day and I remember cursing Willie Young for hacking down Paul Allen in the last minutes and the journey home through the East End, when every road had claret and blue up.

1 comment:

minijonb said...

Nice article. See if you can dig up anything with Billy Bragg... that would be something.


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