Cottee Column: The move was right but I will never forget those Upton Park memories

PUBLISHED: 12:00 27 March 2013 | UPDATED: 12:21 27 March 2013

Tony Cottee

Tony Cottee


West Ham legend Tony Cottee is in favour of a move to the Olympic Stadium but it is tinged with sadness

Friday’s decision to make West Ham the anchor tenants at the Olympic Stadium certainly left me with mixed feelings.

I was pleased with the announcement. I think it is the right move for the club, but I can’t say hand on heart that I am happy to leave Upton Park and all its memories.

When I spoke to the club a few months ago about the move I said that I would not back a plan that I didn’t believe in. I had two reservations – the roof, which had to cover every fan in the arena and the running track which we have seen all over Europe can effect the atmosphere in the stadium.

I am one of the few lucky people who has seen the plans and I have to say that my fears have been dispelled on both fronts and I am excited by what I have seen.

Some have said that we will never be able to fill a 54,000 capacity stadium, but I don’t agree with that. If we have a successful side that are up there in the Premier League, or playing FA Cup quarter-finals, then I think 54,000 would not be enough, while David Gold and David Sullivan have already said that they will look to have reduced ticket prices.

Of course I am not happy to be moving from Upton Park. I have so many memories there from when I was a fan and then a player, but I think it is vital.

Making my debut in front of 33,000, the superb atmosphere during the 1986 season when we came so close to winning the league, the great European nights. I will never forget when Dinamo Tbilisi came and played us off the park. They were so good that we applauded them off at the end.

But I want to see a successful West Ham and remember it is 33 years since we last won a trophy. Moving to the Olympic Stadium will enable us to move up and challenge the likes of Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal in London.

Moving worked for Arsenal and Manchester City, while Spurs are also planning a move and Chelsea would jump at the chance.

I was speaking to my twin 15-year-old boys and they were saying they were not sure whether they would like to move from Upton Park. I said to them that when they have sons, the new Stadium will be all they know and they will have their own memories at a new stadium.

Back to the football and Saturday is a vital game for the Hammers against West Brom.

I said after the Stoke victory that it was the most important win of the season, but when it comes to must-win games I think Saturday is vital if we are to avoid going into panic mode for the rest of the campaign.

Obviously avoiding defeat is the priority, but if we can sneak a win, even if it is only an awful 1-0 victory then it will take us to 36 points and almost certain safety.

I will be bolder though and go for a 2-1 win.

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