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JW Goes Behind the Bubbles at West Ham United with “Mickey Bubbles”

This article originally appeared in the September 22nd issue of our newsletter, The Raven. Subscribe HERE.


Before the last episode of The MEN IN BLAZERS SHOW, as we watched West Ham and Huddersfield emerge from London Stadium’s tunnel, Producer Evan noted his disappointment.

“The bubbles are machine-generated?”

He always thought they came from industrious fans, or some sort of natural bubble spring beneath the earth. Evan’s remarks sparked a CPOS deep investigative dive. We had to know: Who’s in charge of all those bubble machines? How did they get that job? And how do they make the bubbles look so damn good?

An email to the London Stadium and West Ham United later (“Searching for Sugarman” this was not), we had our answer. The man they call “Mickey Bubbles,” Mick Bowen.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of speaking with the 44-year-old lifelong Hammers supporter via Skype. We talked about what he calls his “dream job;” the mechanics of bubble making (it involves 60 machines and something called “bubble juice”); and his place in football history.

As it turns out, Mick isn’t some temporary guardian of the post at West Ham. He basically created the job. A Bubble Crusader, of sorts.

Thanks to an affinity for pyrotechnics/special effects and a West Ham season ticket, Mick was able to talk his way into a gig doing pre-match entertainment at the Boleyn Ground 15 years ago. At the time, West Ham only used the bubbles for about five or six matches a season. His artistry flew relatively under the radar. That changed in 2010 when co-chairmen David Sullivan and David Gold took over at the club.

“They wanted some razzmatazz at the game, and they certainly wanted the bubbles,” Mick said. “I invested in 25 machines at the time, dotted them around the Boleyn Ground and suddenly we had a huge effect when the players came out.”

There have been Bubbles at every West Ham home game since, with the tradition growing as the team moved from Upton Park to London Stadium. In addition to more than doubling the amount of bubbles, Mick’s crew has also upped the bubble technology thanks to “bespoke” new machines. They now generate bubbles filled with smoke, bigger bubbles that fly higher, and one day soon, they’re looking at claret and blue-colored bubbles (gasp).

The show goes on this weekend as West Ham host Spurs. Mick promised us something special. The biggest show of bubbles in East London yet. And while we’ll laugh as Joe Hart angrily wipes bubble juice off his face while telling Aaron Cresswell (formerly of Ipswich Town) to “start defending,” we’ll also marvel at the work of football’s first, best and only bubble maker.

“If I couldn’t be a footballer then what could I do? Life has taken me on this road that’s ended up with me doing special effects at the love of my life, which is West Ham United. So it makes me immensely proud.”