That two of the stands at Upton Park were named after a couple of the club’s most famous players – Bobby Moore and Trevor Brooking – gives some indication of the esteem in which former Upton Park was held by West Ham United supporters.
For many years the stands at Upton Park were real living breathing traditional football watching structures. These stands witnessed some of the greatest players English football has ever seen from Frank Lampard through to Paulo Di Canio.
Today still, echos of a number of former West Ham heroes are not that far away.
In 2016 the site of Upton Park was sold for £40m to Barrett Homes after an executive decision was made to move to the former Olympic Stadium in Stratford. On the 14th March of that year the dismantling of the ground began with the removal of the John Lyall gates for transfer and reinstallation at the Olympic Stadium.
The new housing development on the site includes buildings named after a range of famous names from the history of the club. Wally St Pier, John Lyall, Noel Cantwell, John Charles, Charlie Paynter and Alan Sealey are amongst those whose names adorn the new Upton Gardens development in East London.
Academy House, near the housing development, pays reference to the legacy of West Ham United being ‘The Academy of Football’ given West Ham United’s role in producing the 1966 heroes Bobby Moore, Martin Peters and Geoff Hurst.
Founded on 5th July 1900 as West Ham United (previously Thames Ironworks FC) it would be another four years before the new East London professional team found the site of Upton Park in 1904.
West Ham then also rented Green Street House (known locally as Boleyn Castle) from the Roman Catholic Church from around 1912. The building had Tudor origins and had previously been used as a school and operated as the home for a local bowling club in later years.
Green Street House was known locally as Boleyn Castle because of its imposing nature and an association with Anne Boleyn who had either stayed at or, as some believe, owned the house.
Hence the football ground became known as the Boleyn Ground although the name Upton Park was used regularly by supporters and the club alike.
Upton Park is essentially an area of the East London borough of Newham which is centred on Green Street.
Built in 1544 the Boleyn house had prominant turrets – a feature West Ham United FC built into the symbolism of the new West Stand. The castle was removed in the 1950’s.
At the time of the club vacating the stadium Upton Park had four main stands. These were the Sir Trevor Brooking Stand, Bobby Moore Stand, East Stand and Betway Stand.
The Sir Trevor Brooking Stand
Previously cavernous, dark and intimadating the one time North Bank was an unusual construct and had various angled terraced areas through the years. Once redeveloped it was named after the former captain of the club in 2009.
The former North Bank opened in 1995 and opened as the Centenary Stand.
The stand held around 6,000 seats, and had two tiers, with the upper tier the family section. The lower tier behind the goal was split between home and away fans.
The East Stand was the oldest and smallest stand in the stadium, being built in 1969 and held only 5,000 seats due to its narrow width.
In its heyday this stand was regarded as the most notorious and daunting for visiting teams.
When redevelopment did come this proved to be difficult due to the combination of tower block residential property in parkland behind the stand and the yo-yo nature of West Ham United’s presence in the Premier League. Known previously as the ‘Chicken Run’ this standing room only area was surrounded by a similar sort of wire to that used on chicken runs before being demolished in 1969.
The Bobby Moore Stand
Formerly the terraced South Bank which backed onto Castle Street the latest two tier structure was built in 1993 and held up to 9,000 home spectators.
The stand was built originally to comply with all-seater Taylor Report regulations but the name of the stand was decided after the death of the club’s legendary captain.
From Green Street you would walk through a pair of wrought iron gates and for many years the area outside the stand was a clutter of outbuildings and club offices. By 2016 the West Stand was the newest and by far the largest stand inside Upton Park, holding up to 15,000 spectators.
The stand was built in 2001 and brought the stadium capacity up to 35,647.
The West Stand was the main stand in Upton Park as it included two tiers for paying home supporters, separated by two tiers of executive boxes. The stand also hosted all the club’s offices, board rooms, suites, dressing rooms, official club shop, and the West Ham United Hotel.
It was the largest single football stand in London.
The stand’s main feature (paying reference to the former Boyeln Castle) was seen from the exterior of the stadium on Green Street, with two large turrets built onto the stand with the club badge embedded on both turrets.