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GALLERY: A simple tribute to West Ham

Mike Fordham documents days supporting his beloved West Ham, warts and all.

Pictures and words by @michaelfordham

Football is more than a game. It’s a cliché to say so these days. The sentiment behind football is used to sell everything from lager, takeaway pizza, gambling, aftershave and moisturiser. You know, all those man things.

I realised just how much football meant to me during the last season at Upton Park. Along with tens of thousands of other men (it IS mostly men), I realised that season that football was really all about place, friendship, family and kin. The football was where so many of us had learned to be the version of the men we had become. It was a place where maleness and blokeitude was for better or worse articulated and negotiated. It was where we took the piss. It was where we had a giggle. It was one of the few places where we were allowed, required even, to engage with our emotions.

That those feelings were often recoded into hatefulness and a ragged sort of swagger doesn’t excuse the excesses. Or perhaps it does. These pictures are a simple tribute to a place, a time, and a whole bunch of men for whom football will never be quite the same.

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