The Pre Match ritual

It was by a bit of good fortune that I went to see the Hammers beat Cardiff 3-0 today. I am not going to Wembley as the family will be abroad in Italy for the final – I have no idea how to get a replay of the match – I am hoping that the Beeb have highlights so that I can video it.

Going the Boleyn for me these days involves a very small but strict ritual. Well, it is so insignificant that many may not think that, but for me this is now standard.

The train/tube is caught from wherever I am in London and then you get off at Upton Park. The first thing that I do is head for Queens Fish Bar on Greeb St. There I order the same pre match grub as i have done for the last 8 years – sausage & chips. Nothing else – well maybe a drink occasionally.

I have diverted from this ritual on a couple of times, but other eateries were quickly dismissed. It got to the stage in the 1997/98 season where I was going so often, the chaps at Queens actually knew what I ordered – so it was just said as “the usual please”….

Once sustenance is procured, then I stand opposite Queens market and marvel at 100 bog rolls being sold for a £5, the different cultures waking by and wonder about the spillage of people for. The Queens pub and if they intend I make the pub or carry on drinking.

Then it is off to the ground. I always walk on the left side pavement. Mainly because it is easier to navigate than the rabble on the opposite side. I think about spending more of my hard earned money on irrelevant merchandise that I do not need, so a visit to the club store is optional.ore so these days is becoming standard – I don’t get to work in the London office that often, so the mad lunchtime dash p the store is not feasible.

Once I have decided not to visit the shop or have bought more tut for no reason, enter the stadium and take the allocated seat.

And that is it.

Nothing more to it. Some may comment that it is quite a daft thing, and not even a ritual. However, I have to follow this – every time, without fail. Even if I am meeting someone, the first part of getting the grub at Queens Fish Bar is a must.

I don’t do this for all sports – I certainly didn’t have a ritual when attending the AFL and for the handful of games I have seen at FC Basel, there is a stall at Aeschenplatz where a kebab an chips is bought as pre match nosh.

It is a funny thing that football supporters do – by diverting from the ritual may not even affect the end result of the game. But it is all part of GOING to the game. And without it, you can’t say that you have properly attended.

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