112 years. Thousands of matches. Countless memories.
After calling Boleyn Ground their home for 122 years, West Ham United play their final match at the legendary park on 10 May, 2016 against Manchester United. The club is permanently moving to the Olympic Stadium this offseason. Below, Steve Rose, Director of Sport Photography at Getty Images — and a lifelong West Ham supporter — shares a few of his lasting memories from the beloved ground.
FA Cup Sixth Round, West Ham United 1 Aston Villa 0, 8 March 1980
Although I was always a West Ham fan, I didn’t attend my first match until 1980. I was 16 years old and still at college. Turns out it was quite a year to start showing up at Boleyn Ground. After victories over West Brom, Orient and Swansea, West Ham faced Aston Villa at home with a trip to the FA Cup Semi Final on the line. At that time, we were a Second Division team and had done well to get to this stage. After 88 scoreless minutes, a late Ray Stewart penalty sealed the victory and the the ground went mad. It was absolute chaos in the West Side terraces.
It was onto a semi-final against First Division Everton at Villa Park. I only just made it to this match as our football special train from Euston broke down at Berkhamsted station and we had to wait for a replacement. The first semi ended as a draw and I missed the replay at Elland Road, as I was actually on holiday in New York. At that time, with no mobiles or internet, I only found out the result of the match from seeing one small score line in the New York Times. The people of New York were slightly bemused watching me jumping around Park Ave shouting “Come on you Irons!”
It was a mad scrum for tickets for the Final which would be at Wembley Stadium and my Mum had to queue outside the Boleyn Ground for six hours to get one for me, as I had to be at college that day. The Final turned out to be an incredible day with a victory over the mighty Arsenal. However it was the scenes the next day, when the Cup was paraded through the streets of West Ham and around the Boleyn Ground, which will stay with me forever.
‘The Goal’ — Premier League, West Ham United 2 Wimbledon 1, 26 March 2000
It wasn’t the most glamorous of matches but it remains truly memorable because of the goal from Di Canio. I was watching from the North Bank that day and will never forget the way he took that goal. It was voted ‘Goal of the Season’ and continues to be regarded as one of the best Premiership goals ever. And it turned Di Canio into a folk hero at the Ground, with his name still chanted by the fans today.
FA Carling Premiership, West Ham United 1 Manchester United, 14 May 1995
I was actually working for Allsport at this match as a photo technician. It was the final match of the season. While our season had fizzled out, Manchester United needed just one win to take the Premiership ahead of Blackburn Rovers. Manchester United threw everything at us – it was like the Alamo in our box, but West Ham held them off to take a point and Blackburn Rovers won the Premiership.
The one thing I will always remember was a moment behind the scenes, in the bowels of the Boleyn Ground, where only ground staff and media were allowed. They had the trophy and Champions Board ready to present to Manchester United, but when it ended in a draw they were hurriedly packed away!
2006 FA Cup Semi-Final, West Ham United vs Middlesbrough
This image was taken by one of our photographers, Stu Forster, at the 2006 FA Cup Semi-Final against Middlesbrough at Villa Park. He spotted me, next to my oldest daughter Alex and her mate Alicia, in the front row cheering the victory.
See more of the beloved Boleyn Ground through the years at Getty Images