James Smith takes us on a tour of the former home of West Ham


We're on a quest to explore everything that a football fan would enjoy on game day. For our fourth guide in the 'Home Days' series, we met up with born and bred West Ham fan and musician, James Smith, who showed us around Upton Park, the previous home of West Ham United.

In the southern region of England, London stands out as a prime destination for tourists seeking to experience the excitement of the Premier League. While one might expect the major London-based clubs to dominate the fan scene, it's intriguing how certain football films, like "Green Street" and "Football Factory," have romanticised the hooligan culture associated with clubs such as West Ham and Millwall. As a result, these clubs have gained popularity among tourists, even though, in today's modern game, they are generally known for their friendliness and hospitality.

Before West Ham moved to the Olympic Stadium, their former home was Upton Park, situated in East London. This iconic stadium was nestled amidst a lively high street and rows of terraced houses. Musician James Smith, who grew up in this area, shared his memories with us. His father was a well-known market trader in the renowned market on Green Street. We spent the day reflecting on the significance of West Ham to the local community, where it played an integral role.

Boleyn Pub is one to go see. It actually used to be the palace of Ann Boleyn herself - in Upton Park! Lovely pints and a lot of the West Ham spirit still there - even though we’ve moved stadium now. 

Just outside you can go see the Bobby Moore stand (the world cup sculpture) in East Ham, it’s on Barking Road - super famous statue that’s been on the end of Green Street for years. Consists of Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst, Martin Peters and Ray Wilson. It’s also appeared in pretty much all football hooligan films like ‘Green Street’ and ‘Football Factory’, “Cass’.

If you’re looking to find some real West Ham geezers, I’d recommend going to Billingsgate fish market on the weekend. Prepare to wake up early though (around 5/6am) because all the top chefs will be there getting the best fish first thing! There’s a lovely little cafe in the market which serves all the market lads - and in the cafe is a huge amount of old pictures on the wall of all the local celebrities that have visited throughout the years. 

When you visit the London Stadium, you should go to Hackney Wick first rather than Stratford. In Hackney Wick there are some lovely food stalls - (I’d recommend the pulled pork stall on West Ham games - get a pulled pork sandwich). You can also have a little walk down the river where you can find a pub on the boat and all sorts. 

Also Victoria park is just next door, which is a lovely spot on the weekend to grab a coffee and walk around the ponds!

Find James' music on his Instagram and Spotify.

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