Reality hits home for West Ham fans as club leaves beloved ground this year

Upton Park

West Ham United fans finally have to face up to the reality they will be leaving their beloved Boleyn Ground home THIS year.

For most Hammers fans the prospect of leaving Upton Park is tinged with sadness.

If only the club could have expanded the Boleyn again to build up the chicken run and fill in the corners.

But logistics and planning restrictions always made that dream scenario unlikely.

West Ham will depart the ground that has been graced by the likes of legendary World Cup winning captain Bobby Moore forever more, it's happening in four months... and time is flying.

Olympic Stadium beckons

The 54,000 seater Olympic Stadium, just down the road in Stratford, is their destination.

Well actually at the moment it is officially being referred to by West Ham as the 'former Olympic Stadium at Queen Elizabeth Park' with naming rights in the process of being sold for the ground.

For many of the Upton Park faithful Saturday May 7 had seemed an age away.

But with the turn of the year, that emotional moment is now suddenly crashing towards them like a high speed train.

Just 10 games - notwithstanding progress and home draws in the FA Cup - remain at this British footballing institution.

'A proper football ground'

The self-styled Academy of football has furnished this country with some of its finest players over the years and the stadium itself is considered a favourite of visiting fans and players alike.

Upton Park is a "proper" ground fans often remark.

Video tributes are coming thick and fast, BT the latest to do it justice with its own classy montage aired before West Ham's victory over Liverpool last time out.

The club itself has released its own video, played before matches, which leaves even the biggest, hardest Hammer with a lump in the throat.

Deserved day in the sun lay ahead

But while the thought of leaving the cherished ground behind is somewhat suffocating, Hammers fans should console themselves that some deserved limelight lay ahead.

Increased riches and a stage fit to grace the freeflowing football Slaven Bilic is cultivating on his return to East London are just two of the plus points.

Infinitely better transport links and the ability to attract even better players and keep the ones the club has been so used to losing over the years are others.

Would fans accept a mediocre existence at Upton Park for the next century? That is almost certainly what they would have got had the club remained there with the majority of Premier League clubs having expanded or in the process of doing so.

Optimism, pride and excitement

Instead the West Ham faithful can look ahead with optimism, pride and a genuine sense of excitement albeit tinged with sadness and an element of the unknown.

Players, managers, staff, owners, kits, divisions and even stadiums change at football clubs and always will.

West Ham have their fair share of celebrity fans, some more in touch with the heart of the football club than others.

But celebrity Hammer James Corden has perhaps said it best in his now immortal words in an interview with the club's official website: "We are the only consistent, we're the only thing that doesn't change.. it's up to the fans to make it a home and as soon as we do, it will be."

Farewell Boleyn 

Goodbye Upton Park and thanks for the memories.

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch