Alan Pardew retains plenty of fond memories of Upton Park as he prepares for his final trip to West Ham’s ground as a manager.
Pardew enjoyed a largely successful spell as Hammers boss between 2003 and 2006, guiding them to promotion to the Premier League and to an FA Cup final.
And on Saturday the 54-year-old will take his Crystal Palace side to the famous old ground for the last time before West Ham’s move to the Olympic Stadium.
“I had some fabulous nights there,” he recalled. “None more so than the play-off semi-final win against Ipswich (in 2004). That was a remarkable night for any West Ham fan who was there.
“We also had some great displays in the Premier League, and some great players.
“It’s a football club. It smells like one, it looks like one, it feels like one. It’s a real boisterous atmosphere which I always enjoyed as the manager.
“I don’t enjoy going back as the opposition, but I’m looking forward to the game. Crystal Palace v West Ham is always a tough game.”
Some Hammers fans fear the special atmosphere generated at Upton Park will be lost when they make the move to Stratford and their new 60,000-seater home.
Pardew shares those concerns but believes the switch, masterminded by joint-chairmen David Gold and David Sullivan, can only benefit the club in the long term.
He added: “I think that’s something when you move to new stadiums that you’re always slightly wary of.
“It’s going to be a much bigger arena. The sound, will it travel? Everyone is sitting down and at West Ham (now) you can stand up now and again.
“It will be interesting, but it’s a great opportunity to take the club forward. You have to take your hat off to the owners.
“Actually moving to a new ground brings its own pressure. I experienced that at Reading as a reserve-team manager when we couldn’t cope with the fact that we were moving to a new ground and the excitement of that.
“They’ve handled it so well and strengthened very wisely to cope with that. Now they’ve gained momentum and find themselves in a position where they could get Champions League football at their new stadium.
“Wow! That would be some achievement.”
Pardew will hand fitness checks to Yohan Cabaye, Mile Jedinak and Emmanuel Adebayor ahead of the trip after all three picked up knocks on international duty.