The Rifles frontman Joel Stoker shares his earliest West Ham memories with skysports.com.
By Rachel Griffiths - Follow me on Twitter @SkySportsRachG
Last Updated: 12/10/11 10:47am
After being brought up by a Tottenham-mad family, a change of allegiance to West Ham might not seem the wisest move. But that's exactly what Joel Stoker, frontman of Indie five-piece The Rifles, chose to do in his teens. Stoker accurately points out things could have been worse - he could have picked Arsenal.
The Chingford-born singer has football in the family, with brother-in-law Johnnie Jackson currently plying his trade at League One high-fliers Charlton. Stoker shelved his own dreams of playing to take the music road, with The Rifles' much-anticipated third album Freedom Run having recently hit the shelves. But the Londoner took time out from rehearsing for the band's upcoming UK tour to regale skysports.com with his earliest Hammers memories.
I was a bigger fan once upon a time. I'm from Chingford, which is right on the edge of East London. The majority of my friends are Hammers. I was brought up as a Tottenham fan, all my family are Spurs fans. I was too young to have an opinion really. I had a few kits but when I was old enough to get out and watch the games with my friends I started going to West Ham. Had it been Arsenal I switched to there might have been a bit of trouble. Lee, our bass player, is quite a heavy Tottenham fan and so is Deano on the keys. So there's a little bit of rivalry there as well.
I've got an interest in Charlton too because my brother-in-law, Johnnie Jackson, is captain. He's scored three goals this season and they're top of the league so he couldn't have asked for a better start.
Bolton 0 West Ham 3, 18th November 1995, Burnden Park
I went to Tottenham versus West Ham when I was really young and I would have been in the Tottenham end. That was many moons ago. One of the games that sticks out when I had my West Ham season ticket, when Harry Redknapp was there, was when we played Bolton away. They were the only team, because they'd just been promoted, that still had a standing terrace for the away fans. That was quite unsual by then. We all got the train or the coach up there and it was snowing. It was just a good day because everyone was making the most of jumping around because they could. We won 3-0 and I remember Danny Williamson scored a brilliant goal.
For me, at the time I had my season ticket, Dicksy was always the favourite. He was a passionate player that everyone loved and I wouldn't say a bad word about him.
West Ham youth academy
I used to play at West Ham in the youth team when I was younger. I played left-midfield and Frank Lampard senior was head coach back then. I got let go and I was pretty gutted. I was only young, about 12 or 13. I started learning the guitar not long after that and then it all went downhill.
Barcelona, circa 1984
The earliest one I can remember was a Barcelona kit after a holiday in Spain. My brother had a Real Madrid kit and I had Barcelona. I was probably about five so it would have been about 1984. I had an Inter Milan kit with Rummenigge on the back as well. It's all about the colours when you're that age and the stripes.
The Wanderers OST
That was the first CD I remember getting and I still play that. I think I'd just got a CD player, like a ghetto blaster. That sounds old doesn't it? So I got that and I got Marc Bolan's greatest hits. I'm still quite proud that they were my first two CDs. I could've gone with Kylie or something like that.
New album 'Freedom Run' is available now at The Rifles' official website