Tony Cottee Column: We may have done it the hard way, but West Ham are back where we belong

“Saturday was the day out at Wembley that I wanted and the fans deserved.”

Saturday was an incredible day for me as a West Ham fan and as a family man.

I was lucky enough to be able to take my twin sons who are 14 years old and it was an amazing family day out.

I brainwashed them into being Hammers fans and for the past 14 years they must have been wondering why, but the look on their faces when we scored and when we won the game were priceless to me.

I have been harping on all season about what a fantastic day out a play-off final at Wembley would provide for the fans and I was thrilled with how it all panned out.

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From the moment I got off the train at Liverpool Street there was a sea of claret and blue.

The Metropolitan line to Wembley was buzzing and the walk down Wembley Way is something that I will always remember.

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It was the day that I wanted and the day that the fans deserved for their loyal support.

I will be the first to admit that we didn’t play our best football on the day but the result was all that mattered.

The be all and end all is that we won the game and we are now back in the Premier League.

Carlton Cole and Ricardo Vaz Te got the goals, but the England striker really stood out for me.

Cole took his goal really well and showed huge amounts of skill to control Matty Taylor’s cross at full pace before finishing confidently past Matt Gilks.

I am a big fan of Carlton and was so pleased that he proved to be our dangerman on Saturday.

It has since emerged that he took a 50 per cent wage cut to remain at Upton Park following relegation and I think that says a lot about him as a person.

He chose to keep that detail to himself all season and credit to him, he has won the fans over and I believe that he will once again be an important player for us next season.

Vaz Te on the other hand was having one of his quieter games on Saturday, but he was there when it mattered to score the goal that sent the Hammers up.

He now has 12 goals since his January and is looking like the best �500,000 that West Ham have ever spent!

For me, Saturday wasn’t about the club, the manager, the staff or the players, it was about the fans.

I know that West Ham supporters all over the world will remember the day for a long time to come.

The only sour note for me was seeing all the empty seats in the Blackpool end and whoever sorted the ticket allocation needs to take a long, hard look at themselves.

I thought it was an absolute disgrace that there were 10,000 empty seats at Wembley and that the total attendance was just 78,000 in a stadium that holds 90,000.

I was gutted for those West Ham fans that missed out on getting tickets, and I am sure that we could have sold out the entire stadium and still had a waiting list.

But I won’t dwell on that, we are back in the Premier League.

No team has a divine right to be in the top flight, but I feel that our performances over the season have warranted promotion.

Everyone at the club was under pressure to deliver, that has been the case since the beginning of the season, and we can all jointly breathe a huge sigh of relief now that we have been promoted back to the promised land of the Premier League.

It feels great to be able to say that I support a Premier League team again and I look forward to welcoming some of the biggest sides in the top flight back to Upton Park again.

I think there will be an even bigger buzz around the place next season, and it is an exciting time to support the Hammers.

Tony Cottee was talking to Nathaniel John

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