West Ham fans revel in day of deliriousness in Prague despite violence

After 20,000 West Ham fans descended on Prague for a party, the Irons faithful outnumbered the purple of Fiorentina 10 to one in a hub of hysteria… despite violence from thugs, it was a day of deliriousness

  • West Ham soaked up the atmosphere ahead of the Conference League final 
  • Around 20,000 supporters gathered in their droves and drank heavily in Prague
  • It was a day of celebration, even in spite of unprovoked violence from thugs 

In the city where the good people of Prague consume more beer per capita than anywhere else in the world, where you can bathe in beer at Spa Beerland, where Europe’s largest nightclub Karlovy Lazne charges less for beer than water, there were no prizes for guessing how West Ham’s fans planned to ease their nerves ahead of the evening’s European final.

Their plan was to get positively sozzled as the sunshine wrestled with the rain in the Czech capital. There was not a pocket of Prague unoccupied by West Ham, though you only needed to follow the sound of ‘Irons, Irons, Irons’ to know that it was the Old Town Square where most of the 20,000 visitors descended upon for a party.

Wading through a sea of scrunched tinnies, empty Jack Daniel’s bottles and discarded takeaway boxes, you soon realised the claret of West Ham outnumbered the purple of Fiorentina ten to one in this hub of hysteria underneath the Marian Column of Prague. 

Former forward Tony Cottee was among those soaking up the atmosphere, spotted beside Chris ‘Knollsy’ Knoll, the 58-year-old who protected the friends and family of the players when they were attacked by AZ Alkmaar ultras, his black eye having now faded. Choking up, he said: ‘I’m an emotional guy. I wear my heart on my sleeve. I love my family, I love my kids, I love West Ham, I love my mates. It means the world to me to be here. I hope there’s no trouble, because I might have to do it all again!’

The only ‘trouble’ which Mail Sport found was when, unprovoked, a bar of West Ham fans was attacked on Rytirska Street by thugs believed to be supporters of Fiorentina. Czech police say they made 16 arrests as a result.

Around 20,000 West Ham supporters partied in Prague ahead of the Conference League final

The claret of the Hammers outnumbered Fiorentina 10 to 1 as they soaked up the atmosphere

However, the pre-match mood was marred after police officers detained Fiorentina fans (pictured: officers stand near suspects after black-clad thugs attacked West Ham fans)

It was a day of celebration and supporters debated whether to spend over £1,000 on a ticket

Other than that, it was a day of celebration. There were topless Brits with tattoos of crossed irons on their chests, some of them telling Mail Sport they were debating whether to spend the £1,200 asking price for a second-hand ticket. 

There were David Moyes masks, Czech flags for Tomas Soucek and Vladimir Voufal, and Brazilian flags for Lucas Paqueta. Cheers when Clive dropped the tray of Pilsners on his way back from the bar. Jeers when a family of four Fiorentina fans passed, the dad waving his flag as they serenaded him. 

All jovial. All in good fun. All part of the away-day larks as most fans of the two finalists mixed well as the helicopters hovered above.

As soon as one song finished, another started. ‘Just sold my car, to Lucas Paqueta,’ went one chant. ‘He eats paella, he drinks Estrella, Pablo Fornals,’ another. And, of course, there was: ‘One more year, one more year, Declan Rice.’

Beside the River Vltava, one West Ham fan spotted Mark Noble out for a jog and decided to join him, running alongside him with a can of Pilsner in hand. He asked: ‘How you doing, Mark, you alright?’ Noble answered: ‘F****** sweet.’

Anywhere Irish was a magnet for the visitors. The James Joyce pub was packed. As was The Dubliner, the bouncers sending away revellers as they were ‘too full’. 

Chris ‘Knollsy’ Knoll (left), the ‘Angel of Alkmaar’, posed for pictures in Old Town Square

West Ham legend Mark Noble was spotted on a jog and shared a hilarious moment with a fan

Most supporters of the two finalists mixed well with countless songs and drink filling the air

Chesney Hawkes performed in a retro West Ham shirt in UEFA’s designated West Ham fanzone

Rocky O’Reilly’s endeared themselves to visitors by offering specialist cocktails. For 140 Czech Koruna (£5), you could have the ‘Slippery Areola’ (Sambuca, Baileys and Grenadine), ‘Soucek Slammer’ (Becherovka shot dropped into a glass of beer), or ‘Hammer Blow’ (Prosecco and Sambuca), among others.

The locals seemed to delight in the deliriousness, taking pictures of the flags taped to parked vans, one of which read: ‘West Ham are massive.’

UEFA’s designated West Ham fanzone, where Forever Blowing Bubbles was being blasted out of the speakers, was hardly pristine. Due to the previous downpour, the muddy ground resembled Glastonbury. 

Fitting then that the one and only Chesney Hawkes was performing in his retro West Ham shirt, with fan-favourite former goalkeeper Ludek Miklokso also appearing on stage as supporters sang his iconic song: ‘Oi, big boy, what’s your name?’

These are the European trips that supporters dream of experiencing. West Ham’s fans spent the day hoping they would win to secure more days such as this in the Europa League next season. 

It is safe to say the visitors made the most of their invasion as even the waiters of restaurants in Prague’s Old Town took to shouting randomly: ‘Come on you Irons!’

A group of partying West Ham fans were violently set upon by Fiorentina ultras on Wednesday

Pictured: Debris across the floor where Fiorentina ultras attacked a group of West Ham fans

Pictured: Riot police are seen in central Prague today ahead of the Conference League final

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