'We all follow the West Ham'

West Ham United are known around the world and have their biggest international fan bases in places like United States of America, Australia and across Asia.

In a small, enclosed part of the Puerto del Carmen old town and harbour on the lovely island of Lanzarote in the Canary Islands is a homely, welcoming sports bar called The Inn Place, which is home to the Lanzarote Hammers.

The man behind the Lanzarote Hammers is former London city worker Rob Shard and his family, who started up their own sports bar when the pub they used to watch the Hammers in closed down.

"My sister and I are both mad Hammers fans," said Shard. "When we first moved out to Lanzarote, we searched out for a bar where they showed the West Ham games live. We found a place and it quickly became our regular local. There we met many fellow West Ham fans that lived out here too and before long, we all became friends.

"Unfortunately, that bar closed down. However, it wasn't long before we opened our own bar and all our fellow West Ham friends started coming down to watch the Hammers at The Inn Place."

Starting up a new business can be difficult in a country with a low economic climate, but for Rob and his sister Jo, it was made easier having a loyal group of customers who shared a common interest in football and in particular, West Ham.

"Jo had worked in bars since her arrival on Lanzarote and realised the fun you could have working a bar here. The atmosphere was completely different to pubs in the UK.

"After working extremely hard for other people for five years and building a loyal base of holiday makers who would come back and see her time after time, year after year, she decided she wanted to own a bar and reap the rewards of all her hard work herself.

"We have many friends who live in Lanzarote who come to the bar to watch their teams. We get a lot of Everton, Liverpool, Aston Villa and Chelsea friends in particular who always watch their teams games in the bar.

"All these people have brought their friends who are on holiday into the bar on match days too and these people, combined with holiday makers who would come in as well, soon led to us having a reputation for showing all the live football in a great friendly atmosphere.

"We get called the West Ham bar in Lanzarote because of my sister and I primarily but also because of all the other West Ham fans who live here and come to watch the games in the bar.

"People sometimes come in just to watch my sister go through the agony and ecstasy of a game. Lets just say that she is very expressive and passionate about West Ham!"

Lanzarote Hammers

The Lanzarote Hammers watch live matches at The Inn Place

The pub has now been running successfully for the past seven years, with supporters from all clubs filling every inch of space of the walls and ceiling with sporting memorabilia, including framed Hammers merchandise.

"The vast amount of memorabilia in the bar has been given to us by our customers and friends. When we opened the bar we had a few West Ham shirts and scarves of our own.

"What happens is when a person comes into the bar, they see the memorabilia we have and say to us about the teams we haven't got on display and would we like a shirt or scarf? Yes please!

"We were showing the Johnstone's Paint Trophy Final between Carlisle and Southampton. We had a group of Carlisle fans that came in for the game and they left us a flag that they all signed and a Carlisle shirt. We had loads of pictures taken with them and all the bars memorabilia.

"Another time, a man had a Liverpool Champions League Final winners picture framed and left it with us for safe keeping on the proviso that if he ever had a baby boy, he'd like it back.

"We are grateful for all the merchandise that is left with us, but as Hammers fans, it's nice to be given another Hammers shirt or scarf to show where our loyalties stand.

"All our memorabilia is pretty much an extension of the bar's customers. If it wasn't for them, we wouldn't be the bar we are today."

*Are you an overseas-based West Ham United supporter or supporters' group? If so, please email [email protected] with your details to arrange an interview.