Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

An East End Knees-Up That Has Bonds' Seal of Approval

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

An East End Knees-Up That Has Bonds' Seal of Approval

Article excerpt

Byline: Ken Dyer West Ham reporter at the Boleyn Ground for 47 years

BILLY BONDS, stood in the lounge which bears his name, his eyes shining.

"That was just like old times," said the 69-year-old West Ham legend with a grin of appreciation.

No one present at the Boleyn Ground last night knows more about the special atmosphere at the old ground than Bonds.

Bonds spent 27 years at West Ham, as a player, coach and manager, and the one-time Boleyn buccaneer will have enjoyed many such nights down in the East End.

Last night's game the last ever derby between these clubs at the ground is one that Bonds would have relished. He played a record 793 games for the club and made a million tackles, most of them legal.

The 1-0 West Ham victory against a tired-looking Tottenham team was master-minded by manager Slaven Bilic, whose 3-5-2 formation worked perfectly and then executed to the letter by a team who followed Bonds's example in every challenge.

The crowd packed into the Boleyn also played their part, aware that nights like these are to be treasured as the clock ticks down to the club's move down the road to Stratford.

Their famous old theme song 'Bubbles' seemed that bit louder somehow and when Michail Antonio headed home what ultimately proved the winner early on, the roar must have been heard at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

West Ham will soon move on to pastures anew but everyone linked with the club, from Dimitri Payet to Bonds, will surely cherish special Boleyn nights like this one.

There is no doubt that the team's new home will raise the bar significantly next season but it's hard to see how last night's raucous atmosphere could be bettered.

Bilic's patched-up squad thrived on it. Captain Mark Noble and his team just took a deep breath, remembered the 4-1 defeat at White Hart Lane earlier this season and charged. …

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