We All Follow The West Ham!

West Ham United fan Ian Reardon remembers the day his late son Robbi led the Hammers out at the Boleyn Ground…
My son Robbi ‘Bish’ Reardon was the mascot for West Ham United’s FA Cup third-round tie with Aldershot on 5 January 1991.

Robbi had a brain tumour and I applied for him to be a match day mascot. I had lived in Aldershot for a while as my father was in the Army and it was therefore quite a coincidence that my son was named as the mascot for this game.

Our captain Tony Gale played a blinder that day, looking after Robbi out on the pitch and passing the ball back and forth with him in the warm-up.

Tony didn’t realise how heavy Robbi was and he nearly dropped him when posing for photographs with the referee and linesmen! The ref also put an arm out to help support Robbi.

Martin Allen was injured for the game and we sat near him and he asked about Robbi and offered to take his photo album into the dressing room at half-time to make sure everyone signed it.

We thought that was it and we enjoyed the day, but there was more to come as Robbi was invited back for the replay, which was also played at the Boleyn Ground.

We were walking towards the stadium a group of supporters turned around and said ‘That’s him on the programme’ and, to our surprise, there was Robbi posing with Tony Gale on the cover.

It’s to my understanding that Robbi was the first non-player to appear on the programme – other than HM The Queen!
We were met by Brian Blower, the then-commercial manager, who said we were going to be filmed and fed and watered and that we had seats in the Directors Box.

As half-time approached we were taken down to the tunnel were we were there in time to see Ian Bishop score, and Robbi did his best to run onto the pitch to celebrate with his favourite player!

We were taken to the centre circle to be presented with gifts and a framed programme with signatures of both sets of players.

After the game, which West Ham won 6-1, we attended a hospitality suite, where we had photos taken and Ian Bishop demanded to hold Robbi, despite the fact he had a soaking wet nappy.

Sadly Robbi passed away on 25 March 1991, just a few months after being mascot.

Tony Gale and Ian Bishop attended the funeral and Tony said that Billy (Bonds) would have sent the whole team, but they were up north for a Second Division game at Oldham.

A number of the Club staff also attended the funeral – Brian Blower, Gary and Adrienne Williams and Gina Allen.

I felt sorry for Bish and Galey as they were pursued for their autographs, even though they had just attended a funeral.

Those two days will live in my heart and that of his brothers and sisters and my ex-wife Gina forever.