'We all follow the West Ham'

Journalist Reza Khomaini on why West Ham United are so popular in his homeland of Indonesia
Few countries possess fans who are more obsessed with the Barclays Premier League than those living in Indonesia.

Situated in the north east corner of the Indian Ocean, the world’s fourth-largest nation is spread across 17,500 islands spanning both sides of the equator and spread between two continents.

Many of Indonesia’s more than 250 million inhabitants are big football fans, with hundreds of thousands adopting English clubs to support from afar.

West Ham United is among those to attract followers from the Southeast Asian nation, with dozens of supporters’ clubs established across its many cities and regions.

Based on the island of Java are the capital city Jakarta Hammers, Hammers Surabaya, Hammers Indo Bandung, Hammerettes Bandung, Depok City Hammers, Jogja Hammers, Hammers Garut, Hammers Jatinangor, Hammers Tangerang, Amin Hammers, Malang Hammers, Solo City Hammers, Bogor Hammers, Cilegon Hammers, Hammers Karawang, Mojokerto Hammers, Cirebon Hammmers, Banyuwangi Hammers, Bekasi Hammers, Madiun Hammers, The Hammers Sumedang, Rembang Hammers, Mataram Hammers, Hammers Indo Subang, Hammers Indramayu, Hammers Purwokerto, Hammers Sukabumi, Hammers Tasikmalaya and Tasikmalayan Hammers.

Elsewhere, the HammersIndo Lampung, Hammers Medan and Hammers Padang are based on Sumatra, Hammers Samarinda, Bontang Hammers, The Hammers Ketapang and Balikpapan Hammers are on the island of Borneo, while Makassar Hammers are based on South Sulawesi.

Last but not least, Martelu Ganda are based on Ternate in the Maluku Islands, while Hammers Bali come from the island of the same name.
With West Ham matches being shown live on television by BeIN Sport, SCTV and Indosiar, fans living 7,000 miles from the Boleyn Ground can keep in touch with all things Claret and Blue.

Two of those many thousands of Indonesian fans. Austria-based journalist Reza Khomaini and Jakarta native Taufik Juni, visited the Boleyn Ground this week to explain just why the Club is so popular in their homeland.

“A lot of Indonesians have been watching West Ham for a long time, staying up past midnight to watch the games,” explained Khomaini, who is attempting to bring together the many supporters’ clubs under the umbrella of the Indonesian Hammers.

“Indonesia has a lot of big cities and regions like Jakarta, Bandung, Semarang, Surabaya, Makassar and even Bali has a Hammers club, and we’ve tried to galvanise them using social media and the new website www.indonesian-hammers.com.

“Our dream, one day, is that we will be able to watch West Ham play in Indonesia.”

While distance and cost make it difficult for most Indonesian Hammers to make it to the Boleyn Ground in person, Khomaini himself has been lucky enough to see his heroes in action twice in recent years.

He revealed that his love affair with the Club began in December 1999, when Paolo Di Canio scored twice in a 4-2 Premier League defeat by Manchester United.

“It’s like a dream come true being in the locker room, it’s unbelievable for me and I cannot even describe it!” said Khomaini during an impromptu behind-the-scenes tour of the stadium.

“For me, I am West Ham because of Di Canio. I was at high school and Indonesian television showed live coverage of a West Ham match against Manchester United. We lost, but I saw a big spirit.

“West Ham were not a big club in Indonesia, but they showed a passion that made me interested, so I tried to get information about the club, but it was rather difficult in those days before the internet! I used the library and the newspaper and have become really passionate about West Ham.

“I dreamed of watching West Ham and that dream came true in 2012 when West Ham visited Austria and played in Vienna, then I came to the home game against Swansea earlier this season, which was really good!”
Our dream, one day, is that we will be able to watch West Ham play in Indonesia
While they may be on the other side of the world, Khomaini says his fellow countrymen have the same loyalty to the Claret and Blue cause as those living in east London.

“Since the early 2000s, the television has shown a lot of the English Premier League, Italian Serie A and Spanish La LIga, so they are well known in Indonesia,” he said.

“The Premier League is currently at the top of the list, so if you mention Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United there, everybody knows them.

“Indonesian Hammers are no glory hunters – even when West Ham were relegated we still supported them and that’s the difference between us and them!”