Many West Ham fans live in East London and find it relatively easy to follow the team. They were born and raised as Hammers’ fans and find accessing the club relatively easy.
But that’s not the case for all West Ham fans. Like most Premier League sides, we have fans living abroad too. People who chose, for different reasons, to become fans of the club.
We’ve spoken to one such supporter, Pablo Bueno, who follows Slaven Bilic’s men from Spain, to see how he became a fan and what it’s like to follow the club from abroad.
How did you first hear about West Ham?
A few years ago, when I was younger, I played console to Pro Evolution Soccer. I started choosing West Ham in 2010 and 2011, before they fell to the Championship. I played with Luis Boa Morte, Mark Noble, Frederic Piquionne, James Tomkins, Rob Green etc.
In 2012 I changed Pro Evolution Soccer for FIFA and I kept choosing the team when they were in Championship. This is when I began to become fond of the team. Time passed and I saw a movie in which West Ham appeared and began to watch the games online. Since 2013, I have been following every match.
It isn’t a story to adapt for screen, but it’s my story!
Can you tell me about your first experience with West Ham?
My first memory of West Ham is the play-off against Blackpool. Unfortunately I couldn’t watch it live, but I watched it a few days later. I will never forget the magic goal of Ricardo Vaz Tê.
Have you ever visited a game at the Boleyn? Or are you planning to?
No, I have never visited the Boleyn. However I have family who live in London, so I’m planning a trip to England’s capital to watch a game at Upton Park before the move to Olympic Stadium takes place. I’m really excited to travel to London this season.
Is there a fan club in your country? If so, what is it like? Are there Meet-ups to watch the game in your town?
No, there isn’t. But I know some friends who are very interested to watch some matches. We will be sure to get together to some pubs this year to enjoy some matches.
How do people experience football in your region/country, and what do you think the big difference is with English football fans?
In Spain, my country, football is loved by many people. In fact, Spanish football is much more popular since 2008 when the national team won the European Championship. I think English football fans are quieter than Spanish fans, although I love them because they are really fanatic about football. I love the ‘Boxing Day’, when many families go to the stadium together.
La Liga is one of the biggest leagues in the world, just like the Barclays Premier League. What about the English league appeals to you?
The English Premier League has a great marketing campaign. The latest developments usually come from the Premier League. It’s a league that has evolved and adapted to changing times.
What do you rate as the biggest difference between La Liga and the Premier League?
Mainly the price of tickets to go to the stadiums. In Spain, the clubs don’t care much about their fans. In La Liga we have stadiums of great capacity, but usually they are not fully filled.
How do you feel about the move from the Boleyn to the Olympic Stadium?
At first, I didn’t want to change our home ground. I was and am in love with the Boleyn Ground, but I understand the change of stadium will be good for the club. It will bring money and the club will be able to sign better players and form a more complete and competitive team.
West Ham are always looking for improvements, is there a specific player (or even better: a talent) from your nation/competition that you think West Ham should sign. If so: why?
Jonny Castro. He is a defender from Celta de Vigo and he can play on both the left and the right. I think he is a player who West Ham need.
What is your favourite West Ham moment? Can you describe it, how it made you feel, what rushed through your mind?
As I said before, the day of the play-off against Blackpool was magical, but there’s a game that I remember with great emotion. This match is against Everton in FA Cup. That was an unforgettable round with an incredible penalty shootout.
In the dying embers of the game, Adrián scored and West Ham eliminated Everton. I remember that day perfectly. I was watching the penalty shootout via an internet stream and the connection had some problems. When it connected again, Joel was saving a penalty. Moments later, he threw off his gloves and scored it majestic penalty!