People often ask me why you go to the effort of going down to Sydney to watch a game you could see at your local pub. I mean in theory it makes sense I wouldn’t have to catch up as much sleep the next day. I wouldn’t have to pay for transport and I could drink more but you would miss a lot. For a start I wouldn’t get to see some of the sights I see and the people I meet on the way down there from Newcastle. The first thing I would miss would be getting to watch all the people on their way home from a big night out which always gives you a bit of entertainment to pass the time. The next part the most interesting for a football fan are the various supporters you meet and getting to hear their opinions on their club and yours. The fans range from Blackburn fans who want Allardyce back, Manchester United and other ‘bigger’ clubs fans who are perplexed at your choice in clubs, too the most surprising well-wishing Tottenham fan these are just a few examples that I have seen on my travels to and from Sydney.
As the train stops at Strathfield the excitement begins to build there’s only one more stop to go there is a quick check to make sure you’ve got all your stuff the book and iPod go away. Once I’ve reached my destination I fly out of the train doors on my way for the train station exit generally accompanied by a mate or two. Often without fail asked to belt out I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles with an ex-pat ducking and weaving through a sea of soon to be hung over teenagers and lost tourists. Finally in the distance I see the home of the Sydney Hammers the one and only Royal Exhibition. I’m generally there well before kick-off so it’s still reasonably quiet. As soon as I open the doors I see the regular Sydney hammers lads at the regular table discussing the tips for the weekend’s fixtures or who scored for the five a side tournament. This is generally followed by the purchase of one or two refreshments in preparation for the game time moves quickly on from here and before you know we’re not far from kick-off.
By now the West Ham flag is up on the window the people have descended into a tight group a few still stocking up on refreshments. We have generally sung the club anthem I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles as well as a little chant about a stocky ex-Hammer. Now all energy is focused on the match whether it’s the enthusiastic chanting that follows a goal or a close miss, or it’s the willing of the side to claw back a deficit or a late winner there are few dull moments. Half time is a time for reflection on the first 45 and a chance to soothe your throat from the chanting with some refreshments, generally the appeal for free pies also goes up about now. Much the same avid support as the first half here apart from if there is late goal for us then the place goes off. If it’s an early to regular kick-off time the Sydney hammers stick around for a few last refreshments before heading off separate ways.
This doesn’t end my night however as I still have my trip home generally the all stops train arriving at Broadmeadow sometime between 7am and 10am depending on the trip. Most of my mates just go to sleep for the duration but not myself. If we’ve won I find myself going over the goals in my mind as well as the reaction from the Sydney hammers. If we lose it leaves me going over the chances we had or what we need to do next time. It also leaves me waiting anxiously for the next meet when we’ll get the result for sure. The train arrives home and I’m past the point of being tired so instead I grab breakfast and watch the highlights of the match. This is what being a Sydney Hammer means for me I wouldn’t have it any other way.