Search

West Ham’s Boleyn ground through a camera lens over the years

16:51 20 February 2014

The ashes of the Hammers favourite Johnny

The ashes of the Hammers favourite Johnny 'Budgie' Byrne were buried in the pitch in front of the old South Bank in the eerie silence of the empty stadium. Pic Steve Bacon

Steve Bacon

With the recent announcement that West Ham has sold the Boleyn ground to a property developer it is not surprising that the focus has shifted to the club’s new home, the Olympic Stadium.

The Hammers won 5-1 in the second leg of the European Cup Winners against Castilla of Spain. West Ham were forced to play behind closed doors as punishment following crowd trouble in Madrid.  Pic by Steve BaconThe Hammers won 5-1 in the second leg of the European Cup Winners against Castilla of Spain. West Ham were forced to play behind closed doors as punishment following crowd trouble in Madrid. Pic by Steve Bacon

Although developer Galliard Group has said it will maintain links with the iconic site’s past with a tribute to the legendary Bobby Moore, fans are bound to miss the ground at which 5,000 watched the club play its first home game fifteen weeks after the season began in December 1944 in a roofless stand due to fly-bombing.

For the tens of thousands of die-hard fans that have followed the club’s mixed fortunes over the years, the ground in Upton Park remains hallowed turf steeped in tradition and memories.

Here we take a backward glance, through pictures that catalogue some of the major developments at Upton Park.

The two pictured were taken by our own correspondent Steve Bacon who has been capturing the club and its players and managers on film since the mid-1970s and became the official club photographer in 1980.

Steve said: “Two of the more unusual events I photographed during my long association with the club both involved an empty Boleyn Ground. The first, in October 1980, was the European Cup Winners’ Cup match against Castilla of Spain. The first leg in Madrid had been marred by crowd trouble in the Bernabéu Stadium, so EUFA’s punishment meant that West Ham had to stage the second leg ‘behind closed doors’. As a result, an official attendance of 262 was recorded which included players, coaches, club staff, press and television and I was one of the lucky few! The empty stadium had an eerie atmosphere and you could here the players talking to each other with no crowd to mask the sound. For the record, Hammers won 5-1.

“The second, in November 1999, came after the death of former Hammers favourite Johnny ‘Budgie’ Byrne at his then home in Cape Town, South Africa, the previous month. Byrne’s family had requested that his ashes be scattered at the Boleyn Ground, although they were actually buried in the pitch in front of the old South Bank. Following a home game, when the crowd had long left the stadium, I joined members of Byrne’s family and former team-mates as Club Chaplain the Rev Elwin Cockett offered prayers and gave a short eulogy. Once again the eerie silence of an empty ground was quite chilling, but again I was taking part in a little bit of Boleyn Ground history.”

These are just a few of the tens of thousands of photos taken at Upton Park. If you have photos you would like to share email kay.atwal@archant.co.uk We would also like to hear your stories of your first match at Upton Park.

See next week’s Newham Recorder for more pictures.

0 comments

Latest News Stories

27 minutes ago
Custody Seargeant Raj looks in on an offender

An ashen-faced woman alleged to have slashed her partner with a 10inch serrated knife is led in by two police officers.

Ian Larnder
11:32
Local campaigners Paul Dogan and John Darnell wrote the Standing Room Only report about the busy W19 route that runs thoroug Manor Park (photo: Arnaud Stephenson)

Commuters who regularly battle to board buses on the W19 route have presented a report highlighting the problems to Transport for London and City Hall.

London
10:29
Newham Councillor Terrence Paul with memebers of the Deaf Club at their new location at Stratford Library

A new club has been set up in the borough to help deaf people build their confidence and learn skills thanks to funding.

Newham Council
Yesterday, 17:50
Stratford High Street

Company-owners and traders are hoping the improvement of night-time safety around Stratford High Street through the upcoming Business Improvement District (BID) will mean a boom in visitors to the area.

Most read news

If this adorable thank you card is anything to go by, we can’t wait to see their Christmas card.

Just in case you were wondering, Westminster Cathedral isn’t a mosque.

Vloggers aren’t just being used to sell beauty products anymore, they’re being used to sell universities.

Ashley Roberts says she’s happy for Declan Donnelly after he asked his girlfriend to marry him.

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Newham Recorder e-edition today E-edition