Hammer horror for Irons fan

IT'S been a tough week – it often is as a West Ham supporter.The unpredictability of the club keeps things interesting at the Boleyn ground but it certainly isn't good for the blood pressure.

IT'S been a tough week – it often is as a West Ham supporter.

The unpredictability of the club keeps things interesting at the Boleyn ground but it certainly isn't good for the blood pressure.

Last season was the hardest in my 23 years of supporting the club. Seeing the Irons get relegated left me in tears which were only relieved by the support of football fans from across the Capital, where I was living at the time.

Admittedly, I am not a Cockney, nor a Londoner but my family hails from the East End and my father supported the Irons along with his father and grandfather before him.

I'm not sure how far back the family history stretches but I'm pretty sure the Boxells were in East London when the club was formed back in 1900 and probably five years prior to that when our forerunners Thames Ironworks were in action.

Anyway I was living in Chelsea territory last year (which was tough enough) and seeing half of our talent move to the Bridge this season was a painful ordeal.

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Support however, was offered from Arsenal and Charlton supporters who had ruled us too good for relegation. Clearly we weren't.

But arriving here in Ipswich I found the most sympathy – it was hailed as empathy by my boyfriend's friends and family but they didn't really seem to understand.

Anyway, the genuine words of support I got from Town fans, made me warm to Ipswich in a matter of days.

How quick things can change. I expected a bit of rivalry when the clubs were drawn against one another in the play-offs but I wasn't expecting anything on this scale. This week I am an outsider and I have been made to know it.

When I walked into work on Monday morning one of my colleagues insisted he would not speak to me for the remainder of the week.

And as if that wasn't petty enough I was then faced with hisses and boos from my boss.

Imagine how ostracised I am going to be next week when West Ham have successfully defeated Ipswich in the play-off semi final.

I have heard many hopeful whispers around the office that that won't be the case but there doesn't seem to be too much conviction in those voices.

There has been a real buzz of excitement and venom since the weekend and front and back page alike have concentrated on the Town's play-off hopes.

The sports desk has been searching for historic links between the clubs and Paul Goddard's name has been uttered on several occasions but to West Ham supporters the only link between East London and Ipswich is the A12.

There certainly isn't any similarity in the levels of excitement between the two clubs. To me being in the play-offs is actually a little disappointing.

When we went down I remember my boyfriend's remarks that West Ham would walk the first division and I really did believe him so finishing fourth wasn't really good enough.

But these extra few games at the end of the season have kept it a bit more exciting (if the first division can be exciting) and have given the Irons a real chance to gel.

And the clash between Town and United should be a good one – both attacking sides with a history of passing football it should be a reasonably high scoring game. Neither side can really rely on their defence to get them through so it's going to have to be about scoring goals.

When the ball goes into West Ham's half I am usually left holding my breath and it must be worse for Ipswich who have conceded 27 more goals than us this season.

West Ham are the bookies favourites for promotion and if Ipswich's performance against Cardiff is anything to go by then that is understandable. It took Town five attempts before promotion in 2000 so I wouldn't hold out too much hope for the Tractor Boys this time round.

I just hope I am welcome at work when I return from Upton Park next week because as critical as I can be of Ipswich Town, I really do love it here.

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