'We all follow the West Ham'

West Ham United have a global following of fans, with more than 100 affiliated supporters' clubs based everywhere from New Zealand to Norway.

In this week's 'We all follow the West Ham' we caught up with one of the Club's many fan groups in the United States, the Ohio-based Cincinnati Hammers.

Chairman Jack Slagle explained how the 'Cincy Hammers' came into existence in a Midwest city better known for its American Football and Major League Baseball teams, the Bengals and the Reds.

Slagle revealed that the club had actually been born not only outside the city, but outside the State!

"We formed during the 2007/08 season in Covington, Kentucky, just a stone's throw from Cincinnati, across the Ohio River," he explained. "There has always been a consistent group of supporters who would show up to the pub and watch matches since day one but things have really picked up in recent years.

"With football starting to gain more and more attention in the States, we have seen many new faces, young and old, coming in and watching the Hammers with us."

Despite their name, the Cincinnati Hammers continue to meet for matches at Molly Malone's Irish Pub on at 112 East Fourth Street in Covington, just over the Roebling Way suspension bridge from the Bengals' Paul Brown Stadium and Reds' Great American Ball Park.

So, when he is living almost exactly 4,000 miles from the Boleyn Ground, why is Slagle a West Ham supporter?

"I was first introduced to West Ham in 2002 from my mate Graeme Mills, an east London native," he explained. "He would spend summers here in Cincinnati and we both worked at the same summer camp. Later that year I watched the season opener on television, and I was hooked from there on.

"Newcastle won 4-0, and then later we ended up being relegated so it was not exactly the easiest season for a first time fan! Being first introduced in 2002, the resources of watching and listening here in Cincinnati were pretty rare. I would consider the 2005/06 season my first season as a true Hammer."

While the members of many overseas supporters' clubs are forced to set their alarm clocks at all times of day or night to ensure they do not miss kick-off, the Cincinnati Hammers are able to enjoy a mid-morning bite of the Hammers most Saturdays.

"The five-hour difference isn't too hard to work with," he confirmed. "Most matches are played at ten in the morning our, so some bars open up early to show the games and plenty of people come out. I can't think of a better way to spend my morning!

"We go to Molly Mallone's for every match, it's a great place for football, they open up as early at 6.30am for us. The ceiling is adorned with flags and scarves from different clubs around the world. It's the best football pub in America!"

The Cincinnati Hammers enjoyed Saturday's comeback at Stoke

Since forming in 2007, the fanbase has amassed a core following of around 15 regulars and Slagle wants to see this number increase.

"We do have a core group of members that show up on a regular basis. You can always count on seeing Stephen, Scott, Adam, Kailin, John, and myself, but we're always trying to gain more and more members.

"In America there is no shortage of supporters of the 'big club' teams like Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, and Liverpool. One thing I would love to accomplish is to get more West Ham supporters in the Cincinnati area.

"We may not always be the best team on the pitch or have amazing seasons but as a group we always have fun and sing songs. West Ham definitely have the best supporters over land and sea, there's no doubt about it in my mind."

While Slagle watches the vast majority of matches at Molly Malone's he has also ventured to the Boleyn Ground himself. Indeed, his first visit coincided with one of the Hammers' most-famous victories of recent times as they beat Chelsea 3-1 with goals from Carlton Cole, Mohamed Diame and Modibo Maiga in December 2013.

"I made my first real trip to see West Ham two seasons ago. Fellow Cincinnati Hammer Stephen happened to be studying in London and I couldn't pass up the opportunity of staying with him.

"The Chelsea game ended 3-1. That was an unbelievable day. We had tickets in the Bobby Moore Lower directly behind the goal about ten rows up. It was an amazing game of football. If I remember correctly it was the early kick-off, which meant we had a much longer time after the match to celebrate at the Boleyn."

As well as the Chelsea game, Slagle was in attendance of the Hammers next home game as they narrowly lost 3-2 to Liverpool.

"In addition to the two home matches, I went to Manchester United away that same year. I had a great time taking the train up with fellow Hammers, drinking and singing songs the whole way up. While up in Manchester we also got to go through the National Football Museum, which was a great time.

"Robin van Persie scored within the first five minutes, and it ended 1-0 but we still had a great time. We outsung Old Trafford the whole match, and went out on the town all night."

Having had a taste of the atmosphere at the Boleyn, he is trying to find ways to come back to east London.

"I'm trying to work out how I can get a job in London for a few months, as I'd love to come over for an extended period of time to follow West Ham."

Speaking about West Ham more generally, Slagle said Paolo Di Canio was his favourite player of all-time.

"He played with such passion and scored some amazing goals. He was always fun to watch. There was never a dull moment with him on the pitch. Of the current squad my favourite player is Mark Noble. He's been with us so long, he's a true Hammer. His passion for the team translates into the way he performs."

After their fantastic start, Slagle is confident the Hammers are in for a good season and is predicting a top-half finish for his side.

"We have the depth and quality in the squad this year to really make an impact. You can tell we are playing a different attacking game and that is such a big improvement from last season. I see us finishing eighth."

For more information about the Cincinnati Hammers, please click here.