Before the bulldozers rolled in to dismantle the old stadium I took one of my sons on a tour one over cast day in May 2016.
For me, it was an emotional and moving experience but one I needed to take to finally see that we had left the old ground behind and we needed to move on to pastures new.
The old memories flooded back, the sound of the crowd as the tube train pulled into Upton Park Station, waiting on the platform for the crowd to clear to climb the stairs and out onto Green Street, taking in the pre-match colours and songs from the fans as they walked down to the stadium.
The ground was always used for community football once the curtains had drawn on the season and it was great to see teams playing on the green grass of the once great theatre of dreams during our tour.
In my mind I filled the stadium with colour, fans, songs, chants, shouts and cheers as we were taken around the pitch after walking up through the tunnel from the changing rooms. Not much had changed on the face of it, it was as if the stadium was just empty until the next game.
Inside the corridors and rooms you noticed that door handles, name plates and anything else that could have been unscrewed and easily removed were taken down, apparently to stop people from selling these online. But much of the old stadium has been sold online, a profit gained from a memory past.
Interestingly, Jonjo Heuerman has managed to salvage the named bricks that were on one of the outer stadium walls and is trying to reconnect each brick with its owner. An excellent initiative that I’m sure those fans who bought the bricks will very much appreciate.
It was hard to pull myself away in the end, the memories swirled around my head with just one last look before heading off to the Queen’s Fish Bar for a fish and chip lunch before heading back into Upton Park station for what would be the last time. It really did feel like leaving home, bags packed with treasured memories some caught on camera, but many interwoven with the memorabilia gathered over the years.