West Ham United kick off their first-ever Europa League group stage campaign in the Croatian capital, Zagreb, on Thursday evening.
And in keeping with their outstanding commitment to the Claret and Blue cause, Hammers fans far and wide have made the long journey east to the atmospheric Maksimir Stadium, where up to 2,000 West Ham supporters are anticipated for the game against Dinamo Zagreb.
We spoke to several groups of supporters set to attend Thursday night’s historic game – the Hammers’ first-ever match in the UEFA Europa League group stages...
West Ham supporters in attendance should arrive early at Maksimir Stadium - from 2 hours before kick-off (6.45pm CET local time, 5.45pm BST) - with your ticket, Photo ID and COVID test certificate ready to show on arrival. These must be shown.
Please do not bring bags with you to the Stadium, as bags are not allowed and there will be no bag-drop facilities available.
We hope you enjoy the match - COYI!
Natalie, Tom, David & Jack
A family of four travelling from London, David and Natalie – plus sons Jack and Tom – are looking forward to their first European adventures…
David told whufc.com: “It’s the first time in our lifetimes we’re in the Europa League group stages, so we had to come, at the end of the day!
“Hopefully it’ll happen again in future seasons… but you never know, so we had to come! Hopefully we will make it to the other away games in Belgium and Austria as well.
“Dinamo Zagreb are one of the fancied teams and they won the Croatian league last year, so it’s a good test for us to see where we are at. They’re decent, by the sounds of it, but it’s our first European adventure, so it’ll be good!”
Having made the trip from Germany to Croatia two days ago and stayed in a hostel, Alex is delighted to have the chance to see his beloved Irons in person in Zagreb…
He told whufc.com: “I came here from Germany because I wanted to attend West Ham’s first UEFA Europa League group-stage matches. I wanted to attend one European away match and this was our first one.
“I’m hoping to go to Vienna and Genk as well, if I get the chance. I’d planned to travel here and celebrate with the fans anyway, but yesterday I found out I could purchase a ticket so I was very lucky!
“I used to live in East London for a year back in 2011, and that’s when I first connected with West Ham. I wanted to watch a Premier League football match so I went to watch West Ham against Fulham and I’ve been in love with West Ham ever since. I’m a very loyal supporter!
“I hope we can get at least a draw, but it’s going to be tough. It’s going to be the toughest away game we have in the group as Dinamo Zagreb have been in the Champions League recently.
“We’ve got lots of quality players, so let’s go!”
A window cleaner for a business in Barking, Season Ticket Holder Paul made the long journey east from Colchester to Zagreb on Wednesday morning to witness West Ham United’s first Europa League group-stage away day for himself.
Paul smiled: “I’m very excited to be here. Hopefully we can win.
“It’s my second-ever away game – the other one was at Wigan a few years back, but that doesn’t really count! I’ve already met some really nice, friendly people and I’m just generally excited. I’ve bought a Croatia shirt as a souvenir!
“It should be a good game. We’ve got a good enough team now to challenge the bigger sides. Obviously, Dinamo Zagreb are used to playing in Europe, but realistically we’re getting good results in the Premier League and we’ve got good players. With the group we’ve got, I think we’ve got a good enough chance to reach the latter stages.
“The game is going to be a little bit alien to us at first because we haven’t been in Europe for a few seasons, but we’ve got a strong enough team to get through the group.
“It just brings out excitement for the fans – we’re normally used to travelling domestically, so it’s a nice change to be coming to Europe – and a hot country too! I’m excited.”
John & Kerry
Corporate events worker Kerry and husband John, now retired, travelled to Zagreb on Wednesday morning...
Kerry told whufc.com: “It was a good journey, all in all.
“We’re both regulars at London Stadium and follow the team home and away. We’re Season Ticket Holders there and do the away games as well, so we had to come to this one. I think we’ll win 2-1!”
John added: “It’s fantastic to be here. We’ve waited for some years now, so hopefully we’ll get through these six matches and progress to the next round! At my age, I’m looking forward to it!
“They’re a strong side but we’re the Hammers, so we’re going to win, aren’t we?! I think we’ll win 2-1 or 1-0.”