Mark Solomons

West Ham’s rivals should applaud their Europa Conference League victory

Declan Rice, Captain of West Ham United lifts the UEFA Europa Conference League trophy (Credit: Getty images)

Only the most churlish football fan – and there is a lot of them around these days – would deny West Ham supporters their moment in the sun after last night’s impressive triumph in the bizarrely named Europa Conference League, their first trophy for 43 years.

As a Spurs fan growing up in in the West Ham stronghold of Ilford, and having attended the same secondary school as Trevor Brooking, former Hammers manager John Lyall and the infant school that later produced Paul Ince, it was hard to avoid the Claret and Blue hordes.

For a while in the 60s, when both clubs were at their peak, Bobby Moore lived nearby, in the same road as Terry Venables as it happens. As kids, we would bump into him in Gants Hill.

This was a period when West Ham won the FA Cup, the European Cup Winners Cup and, yawn, the World Cup. It even persuaded my younger brother to support them despite coming from a diehard Spurs family.

Last night was West Ham’s cup final and they won it, an achievement Spurs have not been able to boast about for nigh on two decades

At school, a majority of the boys were West Ham supporters. It was hard to escape and, if truth be told, a lot of us developed a soft spot for the Upton Park mob who played attractive, free flowing football and developed teams packed with homegrown talent. It was a ‘proper’ local team for the East End where most of our families had moved from.

They also had a remarkable record of holding on to managers with just five of them over a period of around 80 years of the last century.

Of course in the heady, violent days of the 70s and 80s there was the occasional friction between the two sets of fans at games.

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