It wasn't always this way. As with the majority of the country, I used to look quite fondly upon the Hammers. They played some good football and felt like they had some romance and heritage, stemming from the 60s when it supplied some of the key players for the victorious England side in 1966.
Man United might have thrown away the chance to grab the title at Upton Park by drawing 1-1 in 1995, but I didn't blame West Ham for that. I blamed Andy Cole. However, the turn of the century saw a change in my ideals.
First up, West Ham played my second team Preston North End in the play off finals in 2005. North End had already done the double on the not-so happy Hammers (the away leg I was privileged to attend), but the Lillywhites froze (again) at the Millennium Stadium and West Ham won 1-0 and got promoted. Suddenly everyone was a West Ham United supporter. People with a hitherto undeclared love for football were suddenly Claret and Blue crazy. They were everywhere, like an infestation, and they caused your skin to itch, especially as they had been pretty quiet when it looked like they would have to stay in the Championship.
Secondly, they failed to beat Liverpool in the FA Cup final. My dislike of LFC has many levels, and by giving the Pool another trophy, West Ham were given another subconscious black mark.
Last season, for my girlfriend's 30th and mother's 50th, I splashed out on corporate tickets at Old Trafford for the last game of the season. I wanted to see Man United pick up the Premiership trophy (for what feasibly could have been the last time) so I stumped up £600 for four tickets. This was quite a risk as Chelsea were very much still in the title race at the time I had to book the tickets. Fortunately this was not the case come May. Unfortunately the opposition were West Ham, who beat us AGAIN and stayed up as a consequence.
The Hammers beat United again this season. They are a bogey team and I want rid of them. So I will have absolutely no qualms about singing for the Fulham cause tomorrow. West Ham are going to get beaten.
- On a similar note, I have a strange affinity for Watford of all teams - I think it's because they were my first Subbuteo team. The 1985 strip with the red and black stripe across the chest.