Nostalgia is one of humanity’s default settings. It is a way to drown out those inner critical voices and the tedious daily humdrum in modern-day living whilst attempting to get into some middle class box. The loss of personal bohemia causes nostalgia. Paradoxically, although nostalgia can be mentally draining for its practitioners, it is also part of what attracts the next generation of enthusiasts to a locale.
The streets around Celtic Park is where I feel I grew up. From a very young age, that is where I was on a Saturday — my second home. There is a residence to places and buildings, a definite spirit. Certain places have always triggered activity and emotions. Years of vibrations sent into buildings. That is how I see the streets around that area; which is why I could never accept moving to a new stadium. For me, when I am back at Celtic Park, I feel that homely thing, each street triggering a vivid memory.
Perhaps coming from out of town made the area and the football more of an escape. I was always more looking in, rather than looking out. The City of Glasgow was the birthplace of all the bands I was listening to as a kid, it was almost like a parallel universe with that underground mystique. I liked going there to Celtic, it is a symbol of how things used to be, and still remains. The bug I caught was as much to do with visiting Parkhead as it was to watch Celtic.
I think about the West Ham scenario where they have had to migrate to this new Olympic Stadium eyesore. The fans were sold a false dream, having to move from Upton Park and having the soul ripped out of them. I am by no means an architect, but I would have thought you could have easily built another 10,000 seats there.
A “great business opportunity” moving to the London stadium?
Outside the new ground you can find a van selling Domino’s Pizza, but you won’t find a decent bar. You can, however, purchase a beer in a plastic cup and an overpriced hot dog inside the stadium. All this resembling an American soccer arena. The place is soulless.
I have always had a soft spot for West Ham especially in the ’80s when Frank McAvennie played there. Celtic and West Ham were okay with each other. Their passionate fans, the community club, everyone’s second team. Their support is a mixed bag of cultures and politics but the colours are claret and blue. If there is one set of supporters not compatible with this corporate eyesore, it is West Ham United.
My soft spot for the Hammers has increased in recent times and that is mainly down to compassion for their support. Their club owners polarize everything wrong with modern day football. Mirthless — high on solvency, low on personality. I know a lot of old West Ham diehards that won’t go to the new London stadium. Part of their day out was the area they came from as a club: the streets, the pubs, the pie and mash shops, and the community. Then we have this progressive quote: “but we must move on”. But move onto what?
The fans were sold this London Stadium dream but the club has went backwards since leaving Upton Park. A club like West Ham should never lose its identity. For many of the supporters the club is about the fans. To take them from Upton Park to this “soulless bowl” could only happen with conditions. The support were promised next level football to convince this faithful support to move from their spiritual home. The promise was a world class stadium with a world class team.
When you see this new stadium from the outside it might look impressive but as soon as you set foot inside, it confirms to be an Olympic stadium not suited to football. The atmosphere has gone and the connection is going with it. With this, it seems that around 20,000 old school fans have left since the migration, finding it basically impossible to adjust to.
As I type this, West Ham are on a decent run of results and we can only hope this continues, keeping them above the relegation zone. The protests continue against the current board with the impressive “GSB OUT” banners on display outside most empty stadiums during the Covid-19 pandemic. The owners continue with lie after lie and false promises. They have taken a working class support into an Olympic stadium, where seating is a big distance from the pitch. It is also a significant distance from its spiritual home.
I have joined Hammers United supporters group.
Don’t let then fade and die.