Christmas Party – 13th December

It’s that time of year again folks…the annual Pride of Irons Christmas Party! Join us for an evening of food, drink, song and general merriment.

When: 6.30 pm, Friday 13th December 2019.

Where: Stratford area. Venue details will be emailed privately to members.

If you’re interested in joining us this year use the payment link below.

Christmas Party


The price includes a glass of bubbly on arrival, followed by a buffet (including vegetarian and vegan options). We’ve chosen a cracking venue this year, near the London Stadium, with a lovely atmosphere. They even have a piano! Which means that some of us are already very excited at the prospect of the talented George tinkling the ivories at some point, ably accompanied by our rockstar co-chair Jo!

As always, newcomers are welcome. If you haven’t met up with us before, this is a great opportunity to come along and meet your fellow members. Drop us an email in advance and let us know if you’re coming along for the first time and we’ll make sure to welcome you with big open hammerhead arms.

two reindeer figurines
Photo by Susanne Jutzeler on




Call It Out 2019 at the London Stadium

6th September marked the kick off of Call It Out 2019 – a Europe-Wide convention addressing LGBT-phobia in football and it was co-hosted at the London Stadium by West Ham United and yours truly, Pride Of Irons!

Call It Out is an annual event coordinated by Pride In Football (PiF) – the UK affiliation for LGBT Football Fan Groups – and 2019 marked the third year of the event. What made it even more special is that PiF were in partnership with Football Supporters Europe (FSE) to combine the event with their very own Project Out!; an EU-funded initiative to fight homophobia and empower LGBT+ stakeholders in football.

With so many stakeholders, increased reach and more participation than ever before, the event needed a venue to do the occasion justice. Enter West Ham United and Pride Of Irons. Our partnership has been recognised as one of the best between a football club and its LGBT fan group and so it was a natural choice to hand us the responsibility of co-hosting the event.


Now by this point you’re probably thinking we’re done with the names of organisations involved, but you’d be wrong. Another party came to the table to make this event happen and that’s the Attitude Magazine Foundation who work to enable organisations to make positive change for the LGBT community. Their help in coordinating the event cannot be underestimated and we offer them so much thanks and appreciation.

Friday 6th September kicked the event off with welcome drinks sponsored by Attitude. With so many attendees travelling not just across the country, but across Europe to attend, the evening gave attendees of the conference a chance to meet, chat and get to know each other. The wine and conversation flowed and there was plenty of chat about shared experience, challenges and lessons to be shared. Speeches from PiF Chair Di Cunningham, publisher and owner of Attitude Darren Styles, Sky Sports’ very own Mark McAdam and our co-chair Jim Dolan.

A few more glasses were drained before the close of the evening and the merriment was taken to the road for the more energetic attendees while the rest of us headed home for a good night’s sleep ahead of the main event the next day.

7th September was the day of the main event – the full conference of Call It Out 2019 and the launch of Project Out! The days kicked off with a presentation from Rory Magrath, PhD (Senior Lecturer and Football Studies & Business Course Leader at Solent University, Southampton) who launched the first ever study speaking exclusively to LGBT football fans. He gave an overview of his findings to date which were extremely interesting. Keep an eye on his Twitter for when the finished paper is released.

The morning and afternoon workshop sessions were broken up by networking sessions and stadium tours during which fans from other clubs showed a begrudging admiration for the London Stadium, though naturally always finished with “But I wouldn’t want my team to play here every week”.


The workshops were conducted by LGBT fans, for LGBT fans and included advice on how to run sustainable LGBT groups, presented by Ian from Newcastle’s United with Pride, discussion around Managing Social Media and Trolling by Pride Of Irons’ Jim Dolan and a discussion on Toxic International Competition Hosts by Joe White of Gay Gooners.

With PiF now boasting 50 LGBT football groups (in fact the 50th – Proud Rovers – was kicked off on the day), it’s so very important for us to not only share good practice and lessons learnt, but to try to drive for all of our clubs to work with us to make football a more inclusive place, not just for LGBT fans, but for everyone!

Alongside all of this action, Project Out! was going on with representatives from all over Europe speaking about fan/club interaction and giving recommendations around standards that could make up part of a handbook for clubs and governing bodies. West Ham and Pride Of Irons were represented by Supporter Services Manager Jake Heath and POI Treasurer Al Holmes who impressed everyone with the close relationship we have.

The end to a truly fantastic day was provided by a veritable smorgasbord of celebrity guests in a round table discussion chaired very kindly by Mark McAdam who stepped in at the last minute to cover Jess Creighton who was unable to make it.

Mark was joined by actor Charlie Condou, journalist Nicky Bandini, wrestler Brad Slayer, Olympic boxer Anthony Ogogo and our very own Alisha Lehmann.

Charlie spoke of the changing environment in football and how he feels as a parent taking his young children to games. Nicky spoke of her career in football journalism and the difference in atmosphere in stadiums and league across the continent. Brad had a very positive message about the acceptance of LGBT people in wrestling and Anthony told us his story of being an ally and officiating his sister’s wedding to her wife. Alisha spoke of the difference in women’s football and how different attitudes are.

As the weekend drew to a close, many selfies were taken, numbers exchanges and promises made to help lift each other up and make changes for the good of football. We may be rivals on the pitch, but outside of match days we are a community that supports each other.

Some fans departed for the long journey home while others strolled over to Hackney Wick together to watch the England game. The day was over but the work continues. Football is changing for the better and we’ll keep doing what we do until we’ve succeeded in making football accessible to everyone – as it should be.

To see more from the day, head over to the West Ham website.

If you don’t support West Ham and you’re wondering if your club has a group, you can find the full list here.

Maybe your club doesn’t have a group? If so, get in touch with Pride In Football who can help you start one.


Pride 2019

The problem being a West Ham fan who lives in Kingston is when you need to be at the London Stadium for 8.00am on a Saturday morning.

Luckily I have a friend who lives close by who I inexplicably managed to convince to also roll out of bed at 5.30am although I quickly got the impression she had started to regret her commitment:


But as we trekked South West to East under the already hot morning sun we perked up with tea and cereal bars, and in the end, of course, it was all worth it.

Pride is always the biggest event in the social calendar for Pride of Irons. It’s a chance for us to come out en masse in our claret and blue rainbows and sing and dance and march and be, well, proud.

This was the second year we’d hired a bus for the parade, and as I had been unable to attend last year I was particularly thrilled when it pulled up outside the Stadium, ready to collect us early birds.


We skidded (joke, we slowly trawled) our way to our parade spot after a lovely, happy drive through London, waving our flags at slightly bemused passers-by, but getting a few crossed arms and cheers of support in return for our efforts.

With the parade technically not starting until early afternoon we had plenty of time to decorate the bus, have a dance, exchange some friendly barbs with the two other London clubs we were marching nearby with (let’s call them Schmarsenal and Schmurs) and wait for everyone else to turn up. And turn up they did.


The first time Pride of Irons marched at Pride was in 2015 with Pride in Football and there was about seven of us there – fast forward to 2019 and we had a massively diverse group of over 50 of our members join us. It’s always incredibly humbling to have such a stark reminder of how much we’ve achieved and how much we’ve grown over the past 5 years. Pride for us is always a celebration of that.

Anyway, back to the day. Finally the crowd in front of us starting moving and we were off. It’s impossible to describe the feeling of what marching at Pride is like; the streets are absolutely rammed with people of all ages, ethnicities, genders and sexuality, all united in their love of an opportunity to have a party, watch a parade and show their support for the LGBTQ community.


Being West Ham we like to standout as much as possible and what better way to do that than with our very own Hammerhead and Pride of Irons’ favourite drag queen Flora Tub.


They worked the crowd tirelessly the whole route, no mean feat in the middle of summer. We handed out stickers, waved our flags, blew our whistles and started countless renditions of I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles and Come on You Irons. Every time we went past a hidden Hammer in the crowd we were greeted with a cry of approval, a high five, crossed arms and in some special cases a nice hug. In fact I met one lady on the way round who used to play for West Ham Ladies! Give us a shout if you’re reading this.

One of the reasons our marches at Pride are so successful is down to the incredible relationship we have with West Ham. Their support of us as a group is a true reflection of the values the Club hold and promote, and this is no better reflected than at Pride.  In fact this year they paid for the bus hire for which we are incredibly grateful, and that shows their real commitment to our group and our cause. That and the fact that West Ham employees marched with us. They weren’t working, they just care.


I’ve said this before, but I think it’s always worth remembering. Despite the dancing, the singing, the drinking of cans of pink gin before 11am Pride is not just a party, it is still a protest. In fact, something one of our lovely members told me as we were walking through Piccadilly Circus really reminded me of this. Michael (our lovely member) blowing bubbles next to me with his face painted claret and blue said, “This makes me really emotional. Seeing so many people out here, being open, living openly. It’s a contrast to how so many people have to live their lives. 10 years ago I couldn’t have marched here. It’s so important that I now can.”

God it made me so proud when Michael said that. It reflected for me why we exist as a group. People should be able to live their lives openly, and many people still can’t. We can’t stop fighting.

But whilst we’re fighting there’s no reason why we can’t also have a party. COYI!

Help LGBT Chechens Flee Persecution

Our close friend Joe White from Gay Gooners travelled to Russia in 2018 for the World Cup and during his travels met many LGBT Russians. He learned a lot about the persecution they face but also the stories of LGBT people in Chechenya who were disappearing. Word from those in the country said that LGBT Chechens were being rounded up in concentration camps and executed. LGBT people and allies are mobilising to help these people flee to safety and you can help.

Joe’s story below:

After the horrors we’ve already heard that have happened in Chechnya, the start of 2019 confirmed our fears – it has begun again.

At least two people have already been killed, around 40 have been detained that the Russian LGBT Network are currently aware of.

Given that Friday 1st February marks the start of LGBT+ History Month (and is a Friday close to payday) we are asking people, LGBT+ friendly venues and groups to help raise funds to assist those affected by the Chechnya atrocities. The more that join in, whether to raise funds or awareness, the better. It is time to stand up against the hatred against the community across the world, especially from our privileged position.

LGBT+ History Month often is used as a way of reflecting how far we have come, and to celebrate those who fought for our rights we now largely enjoy. However across the world, our past is many people’s present. Without our support and our solidarity, they might not have the future we all deserve.

One of the main ways we can support the Russian LGBT Network in their work is through fundraising. It costs €4,000 (£3,513/$4,562) per person to help them escape and place them in secure accommodation. This is the most urgent need to help those suffering in Chechnya.

If you want to help, whether as a venue or by shaking a bucket and raising awareness, please get in touch.

You Can’t See Us Holding Hands

You Can’t See Us Holding Hands

On Friday night West Ham travelled away to Brighton and Hove Albion where we suffered a dejecting 1-0 defeat. Despite playing the better football and having plenty of chances to equalise, we just couldn’t break through their 11 men and so the Hammers’ travelling faithful all returned home disappointed. None so much as the members of Pride Of Irons.

If you’re from abroad or just not particularly familiar with Brighton, it’s a town on the South Coast of England with a traditionally large population of LGBT people. Because of this, the Brighton and Hove Albion football team and their fans have, for some time, been targeted by other football fans with chants and songs about…well…being gay. Chants such as “We can see you holding hands” and “Does your boyfriend know you’re here?” are on the softer end of the spectrum, but BHA have heard worse over the years.

During Friday’s match, those two chants made an appearance. Not really a surprise. Last season a few lads behind us tried to get one of the chants going. A few of us turned around, politely asked them to leave it out and it was over. Done. No aggro, no arguing and we carried on watching the game. Not that the game was particularly enjoyable (what is it about that team? Third loss on the bounce now!). This time though, it was different. It wasn’t a small group of lads. We were surrounded by a wall of noise both in front and behind us. From where we were standing, it felt like the whole away end was joining in.

Now despite what some might think looking at some of the comments on social media, our precious snowflake hearts didn’t melt. We didn’t run out crying or contact the stewards to grass anyone up. We looked at each other, rolled our eyes and shook our heads. Sure it was disappointing, but as LGBT people, we’ve ALL dealt with much worse. At that particular moment I was most concerned about the young lad who was with us. He’s approaching ten and as you can imagine is football mad. He told me on Friday that Issa Diop is his favourite defender because he’s a defender at school and Diop is his inspiration. He’s like all kids at that age who are mad about football and having the opportunity to go to a Friday night game at that age and stay up late was almost too much excitement to take. The reason I was concerned about him though is he has two Dads. Did he know what the chants meant? Was he okay? Looking at his expression I could tell he’d heard and he understood, but importantly he was okay. You see, kids from LGBT families aren’t sensitive snowflakes either.

After the match, one of our committee, Dave, Tweeted from our account:

Screen Shot 2018-10-08 at 19.27.26That’s it. Disappointing. No one claimed to be the victim of a hate crime or anything extreme. Just the general feeling amongst our group. Whilst I know there are plenty of people out there just gagging to tell me exactly how I should feel about the chants – and many have – or to tell me that it’s “just banter”, let’s be clear; calling someone gay or insinuating that they are as a form of insult isn’t “just banter”. The intention is to insult and by using us as the insult, we’re made to feel we’re less than. If you’re reading this and you disagree, then have the courage of your convictions and go speak to a gay friend or family member. Tell them you think the song is banter and then convince them. After all, if it’s not a problem they won’t have an issue with it, right? Don’t have any gay friends to talk to about it? Maybe that’s something to think about.

What followed the tweet was something that Dave (ironically a straight guy) hadn’t anticipated. From the backlash, anyone would think we’d been the ones chanting something about a marginalised group.

I’ve omitted the usernames from the below as I’ve got no interest in digging anyone out or trying to stir trouble for them. I simply want to highlight the kind of stuff we’ve received.

“Are we allowed to still sing come on you irons? Making a mountain out of a molehill as it was aimed at 1 fan in particular who was attempting to give it to us.”

“Disappointing” is making a mountain out of a molehill? And I thought we were supposed to be the dramatic ones.

“I think it’s about time we had a group for overweight, middle aged, white, male fans, we are totally unrepresented & I’d like something to be offended by. Or perhaps I’ll just stop being stupid ”

Ah yes, the truly marginalised community.

“I’m only 27 and since I’ve left school you can no longer say “you’ve dropped your gay card”, “ is that your best mate or your boyfriend”. Actually you better not call yourself “pride of Irons” because Irons is slang for poofs. To think Jesus died for this fucking generation..”

I’m sure the Messiah would be horrified to find out that he gave his life and yet poor 27 year olds can’t go around mocking gay people.

“Do you know what, I find people that wear make up offensive, shall we ban all women from wearing make up because it offends me? Actually whilst we are at it there’s plenty of words I’d like banned too, “on point”, “vibes”, and that’s just for starters.”

Yeah, fair point. The two things are totally comparable.

“I do believe that political & rights activists groups should be kept out of football! Why does sexuality have to be constantly defined? You’re just humans attracted to other humans. You’re not special or hated… that taboo is long gone!”

Keep an eye out for our party manifesto.

“I think you’re right there mate. It was a molehill turned into a mountain by a group of our own fans, @PrideOfIrons – I’d say this group will cause trouble for all our chants as time goes on, such is the overly PC culture of such organisations.”

Yeah. We’re going after Bubbles next.

Honestly though. It’s a little ironic that we’re the snowflakes for being disappointed by a chant that makes us out to be less than, yet overreacting to our disappointment is totally reasonable.

I’ve met so many West Ham fans over the years and none have ever had an issue with me being gay. Not to my face anyway. I don’t think our fans are bigots and I’m confident the vast majority of those singing the chants aren’t homophobic. They probably had a few beers and got swept up in the moment. And that’s why we’re disappointed. Because we know what it means to be West Ham. We know that’s not what our club is about. “West Ham Family” remember? Let’s just hope next time we face Brighton, the rest of the family remember us.

It’s strange. We’re often told that we shouldn’t bring sexuality into football. Groups like Pride Of Irons are regularly criticised for speaking out and told we’d be respected and left alone if we’re quiet and don’t draw attention to ourselves. Yet when LGBT people are dragged into football’s spotlight through stuff like this, we’re still the villains. We literally can’t win. I guess the ultimate irony of this whole episode is that with the current attitudes towards us in football, you really can’t see us holding hands. Most of us wouldn’t dare.


~ Jim Dolan, Co-Chair

Pride of Irons outfox Gay Gooners

Seven years ago, I never thought I would be playing football again after giving up the game for a number of reasons but mainly because I had fallen out of love with the sport. But that’s where I found myself on Friday night as I was part of the Pride of Irons team that took on the Gay Gooners in a special match for West Ham’s Rainbow Laces campaign. 

Having only become a member of Pride Of Irons earlier this year through being a season ticket holder for West Ham United Women, it was the sense of community I’d found in the group that helped sway my mind that it would be good fun to play again. 

I arrived with a number of other members of Pride Of Irons to the community stadium next to the London Stadium, and we walked into the dressing room where full kits had been laid out for us. 


Pulling on the kit was a wonderful feeling for me and I have no doubt it was the same for the rest of the team. During my time playing football for various teams, I’d managed to play all 11 positions on the field but on Friday, I dusted off my goalie gloves for the first time in six and a half years. It was always my favourite position to play and earlier in the week, I volunteered to play in goal when Jim asked if anyone had a burning desire to do so. 

We headed out for a warm up and once that was finished, all sat down to for a team talk from West Ham United Women’s Julia Simic before the game started. It was a really lovely moment to have Julia there to show her support and to offer words of encouragement for the match. 

Her comments on the game being a way of ‘West Ham giving something back’ really resonated with me. The club are extremely committed to supporting the Rainbow Laces campaign but also everything that Pride of Irons has done since it was founded, so hearing that showed how much they are behind the group. 

The team walked out onto the pitch with our names announced over the tannoy at the community pitch and then posed for a team photo with Julia before kick-off. Within the first few minutes of the whistle signalling the start of the first half, we had taken the lead thanks to Liam’s long-range lob. 

From then on it was an entertaining match with the Gay Gooners not daunted by going behind. We still carved out a few opportunities of our own while the crossbar saved us on one occasion, much to my relief. It wasn’t long before the Gay Gooners equalised to make it 1-1 but we didn’t let that bring our heads down as we regained the lead several minutes later. Just before half-time they made it all square and we went in at half-time level at 2-2. 

We walked back into the dressing room and shuffled the pack, ensuring that all of the squad were getting minutes on the pitch. The advantage was that we could do as many roll on and off subs as we liked so we could bring fresh legs on and give people a rest when they needed it. 

In the second half, the Gay Gooners tended to overload the final third with four or five attackers. That tactic proved to be the difference as their winger cut in from the left and found a gap at the near post to make it 3-2. 

Did that stop us? No. Thanks to Steve, switching from centre-back in the first half to upfront in the second, and Richael leading our forward line, we began to raise the tempo and create opportunities for ourselves that saw us gain a deserved equaliser. Into the final stages of the match, the momentum was with us and another great goal from our forward line saw us regain the lead at 4-3. 

The final three minutes of the game seemed to be some of the longest I have ever played and when the referee finally blew his whistle to signal our victory to the delight of the Pride Of Irons team. 

I had never had so much fun playing football before – a huge smile was plastered across my face that I know didn’t leave for the rest of the evening. I’d had the chance to play in my favourite position as a goalkeeper and had managed to pull off some great saves throughout the match. 

It meant so much to me to hear as I was getting hugs from the Pride of Irons team on how well I’d played but I honestly don’t think I would’ve done so if I wasn’t playing with that group. I felt so relaxed playing with them and having fun, which was the most important thing that I wanted to achieve for myself on Friday night. 

It was a huge surprise to be then named player of the match. I honestly didn’t expect it at all and to me, every single one of us who contributed to the victory deserved to receive that accolade. 


There was a huge buzz as we walked back into the changing room and celebrated our victory. This was the night that made me fall back in love in football and I made a point of saying this to the rest of the team as I’d had such a wonderful time playing with them. 

It was a huge honour to represent Pride Of Irons and West Ham in this match. Huge thanks must go to West Ham for organising the game, providing us with kit and for all the work they do for their LGBT+ supporters as they have shown how committed they are to inclusion. 

Friday’s victory over the Gay Gooners is a day I’ll treasure forever. 

Pride of Irons vs Gay Gooners – 6th December 2019

aerial photography of people playing soccer
Photo by KML on

Football players – your club needs you!

As part of the Rainbow Laces campaign, West Ham are hosting an LGBT Supporters match featuring Pride Of Irons vs. Gay Gooners, the Arsenal LGBT supporters group.

If you’d like to take part, please email

The club will have their video team there to record footage and Sky Sports will also be invited to join.

This is a mixed gender game and players of all ability are welcome. It’s sure to be a great event and of course we’ll likely head out and hit the town after so even if you don’t want to play, you’re welcome to join.

The game will take place near the London Stadium on Friday 6th December, kick off 7pm.

grass sport football soccer
Photo by Torsten Dettlaff on