West Ham United The first season: Thames Iron Works FC 1895-96 (The Complete History of West Ham United)

West Ham United The first season: Thames Iron Works FC 1895-96 (The Complete History of West Ham United)

The football team that represented the Thames Iron Works and carried its name was the precursor of West Ham United, a club that was to become one of the most enigmatic of top professional sides in the English game. In fact, it would not be too farfetched to say that West Ham carries, as part of its culture, echoes of the Iron Works it grew out of. If you like, the contemporary business could be thought of as being in part constituted on an archaeological ethos that is grounded in the great ship building company that for a time dominated the district of West Ham as an enterprise, while shaping British and world maritime history.
A great deal of ink has been used on trying to describe the nature of West Ham as a football club. It is said to have a ‘way’, which brings to mind a sort of Zen-like persona. West Ham has been called a ‘family club’ and a ‘community club’, but quite what such expressions mean has never been clearly articulated. Perhaps these titles express something of a sense of ‘belonging’ or a clear ‘identity’ that is imbrued through the club’s location in the East End of London.
However, the deeper, more concrete roots of the sporting institution probably gives us stronger clues about its foundational nature, both its qualities and shortcomings. This pedigree was set in the complexities of Victorian class politics, industrial commercialism, philanthropy, paternalistic entrepreneurialism and the religious and humanitarian conscience of a society premised on the exploitation of the poor by the rich.
This book explores this heritage looking at the very first season in the journey of seasons that brings us to today; the modern ‘Irons’, the London Stadium and the international phenomenon that is West Ham United. But to know today, we need to an idea of what yesterday was like, else our future is destined to be just a shadow of the present. Here, Brian Belton, West Ham’s most prolific and published historian, opens a vista on the start of things for what has become an East London odyssey; the history of the Hammers.

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