Farewell Boleyn Memorial Service

The West Ham United family gathered at the Boleyn Ground on Sunday morning to remember dearly departed loved ones. 

Hundreds of Hammers fans turned out to pay their respects to those whose ashes have been scattered or buried around the Boleyn Ground or in the Memorial Garden down the years, and those whose names are remembered on the Commemorative Bricks. 

The memorial service itself, led by Club Chaplain, Reverend Alan Bolding, culminated in an emotional rendition of Bubbles, before supporters were invited to conduct their own private tributes pitchside. 

Bill Sutherland, whose mother’s ashes rest in the Memorial Garden, was understandably struck by the poignancy of the occasion.       

“I think it’s vital that the people who came here on Sunday could say their goodbyes,” he explained. “That was the most important thing. 

“Unfortunately, the people that we’ve come here to celebrate are not coming with us. It’s just nice. This is where they wanted to be.”     

And Bill recalled his mother’s very first European away day with the Hammers, an impulsive trip to Romania, no less.  

He continued: “She decided on a Tuesday that we were going to go to Steaua Bucharest on the Wednesday in the UEFA Cup and at 66 years old she went to her first ever European away game. 

“And boy was it cold, it was wet and we got beaten 2-0. But what an experience, it’s an experience that you share with your loved ones over the years.”  

Reverend Bolding, meanwhile, was humbled by the turnout on the day and honoured to have been part of the occasion. 

He said: “It was a privilege to be involved. Everything I say, I say with feeling and sincerity and I just hope that people take comfort from that. 

“It was really special. There were a lot of people, with a lot of different memories and different ways of remembering their loved ones. There’s been terrific feedback from people saying how pleased they were that the Club did something like this. 

“To get that many people – I couldn’t believe it when they were streaming in, I thought wow. People have travelled a long way to be here and I know there were people in Canada, Australia, South Africa, who would really have loved to have been here, but they were here in spirit.”             

Martin Hart was grateful for the opportunity to revisit the site of his father Norman's final resting place one final time.

"It’s unique. We’ve been privileged to have the benefit of a great welcome by all the staff, a lovely service, and the ability to have time, which is something that is precious to people.    

“My father loved West Ham for 65 years and was a Season Ticket Holder for about 45. We were brought up over here.

“We are a West Ham family and we are here because we left his ashes at the Bobby Moore goal, so we came back to have another chance to walk around and see him, and pay a last farewell to the Boleyn Ground.”