I had no interest in football until the 1966 World Cup final while with the Boy Scouts on top of Ben Nevis listening to the radio commentary.
On return I visited most London grounds and became hooked on West Ham( and Watford who were 3rd division then). West Ham v Sheffield Wednesday (21/1/1967) was my first time to see the Irons winning 3 0 but remember missing last 2 goals as we left early. Our World Cup trio made it very exciting but I was keen on our keeper Jim Standen and wrote to him requesting his autograph in return receiving a signed photo on a newspaper cutting (those were the days).
During the 70s and 80s I attended quite a few away games and have experienced being spat on, punched and jumped on ( didn’t know what I was doing wearing gold/silver Doc Martins at Newcastle). None of this was to do with my sexual preference although the group of fans I hung around with for several years eventually found out and we lost touch because of it. Things won’t all bad and I recall an Everton away game when I was surrounded and questioned by home fans outside Lime street. I was soon whisked away by a Liverpool fan who escorted me to the ground and back afterwards. Wish we had kept in touch! Friendliest place visited has to be Georgia for the Dinamo Tbilisi match and our fans being greeted and bombarded with flowers at airport.
I realised I wasn’t the only LGBT fan when l found out about GFSN and quit a few pub meet ups happened meeting members at Birmingham and Liverpool as well as London. Didn’t find many West Ham fans however until Pride of irons was formed. How I would have loved this to have happened in the early days. I heard about them through GFSN and it means a lot to have contact with fans of a similar persuasion. Another reason for joining was the sad situation of gay players being unable to come out and groups like ours can only help encourage this. It’s also important we are able to bring up various issues directly with the club and that other fans know we exist.