Richard Bennett – Who Am I?

My birth certificate tells me I was born in Queen Marys Hospital in the County Borough of West Ham in East London in 1954. Perhaps that is one reason that I have been a lifelong Hammers fan. I moved to Essex at the age of 3, but for the last 30 years I have lived in Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk. I am married with two children, and two grandchildren who help to keep me young.

After leaving school at 18 in 1972 I worked for the next 34 years in the financial services environment in life assurance, building societies, and finally banking. In 2006 at the age of 52, I felt I needed a change. I was tired of four hours daily commuting. I was happy to take early retirement to improve my work life balance and to pursue other interests. At this time I went on a creative writing course where I began to think about writing both fiction and non-fiction. After a few months of retirement I started working for a local company as a report writer. I only intended to do this for a short time but almost ten years later I am still writing reports.

51tht5c1y0lIn the past couple of years I have reduced my hours and now only work part-time, and this has enabled me to devote some time to fulfil my personal writing ambition. I began writing my first book, Goodbye Upton Park, Hello Stratford, in February 2015, and continued to write as West Ham played their last season at the Boleyn Ground. I completed the book at the end of May 2016 just after the final game at Upton Park, and it was published on Kindle and in paperback in July 2016. At the same time I set up a website to accompany the book, . I also wrote regularly for the West Ham fanzine Over Land And Sea.

The book charts the progress of the team game by game throughout the final season. Every match is covered as I also look back on great games I have seen in the last 58 years, my favourite players, games and goals, the triumphs and the disappointments. I have also added my views on the controversial stadium move, match officials, video technology, media pundits, and other topical discussion points. I enjoyed writing the book so much that I hope to produce a follow-up to capture the effect on the club of moving to the new stadium and our future progress.

I read a lot of fiction and non-fiction, I like to visit the theatre and cinema, I have diverse musical tastes, and my favourite band is the Moody Blues. I attend all the West Ham home games with my son; we have been season ticket holders for many years, and we now have excellent seats in the East Stand in the new stadium. I am interested in most sports in addition to football, the main one being horse racing where I am a regular racegoer who enjoys visiting different race tracks. A round of golf is appealing in the summer, and I intend to try out walking football. I played Sunday League football myself for many years in my younger days and this new innovation for over 50’s is an attraction.