Saturday, 26 November 2016

Farewell to Upton Park: The Official Celebration of West Ham's Home 1904-2016 by Andy Hooper & Lee Clayton #bookreview

Book review: When I got "Farewell to Upton Park: The Official Celebration of West Ham's Home 1904-2016" I thought it'd be a collection of iconic moments that have taken place in the stadium. The sort that Karren Brady mentions in her foreword as she talks of Hurst, Peters and Moore's first match back at the stadium after they helped England win the World Cup, how they came onto the pitch before the rest of the team to be serenaded by the fans, and the scissor-kick goal Paolo Di Canio scored versus Wimbledon. Or maybe the sort that Trevor Brooking mentioned in his opening piece entitled "The West Ham Family" when he talked about winning promotion in 1981 with players such as Alvin martin, Billy Bonds and Frank Lampard Snr.

But this book isn't that at all. Instead, it is the third introduction by Lee Clayton which best describes this book. "Over many days in that final, dramatic season... award-winning photographer Andy Hooper captured images of players, legends and supporters, iconic images of a stadium that had been 'home' since 1904." 

These photographs are spread over six chapters: The Fans, Boleyn through the ages, Our Home, Match Day, The Legends of Upton Park, and The Final Game. Of these, my favourite chapter is the shortest, the 11-page "Boleyn through the ages", where there are a handful of historic photos with interesting accompanying captions.

The rest of the book is probably best for people wanting to recapture the atmosphere of going to a match at Upton Park in 2016, or who wanted to relive the fireworks and hullabaloo of the last ever match played there.

True, the photography is of a good quality, and all very arty (see the reflection of Upton Park captured in a bubble on the cover as a case in point) but I would have liked more history to in here, especially given Upton Park was West Ham's home for 112 years.

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