Why Hammers’ Emerson Palmieri is putting his name to Cockney pie n’ mash

What goes together better than West Ham & Pie and Mash? Footballer Emerson Palmieri visits G Kelly on the Roman to try the classic Cockney fare fuelling football fans for generations.

Emerson Palmieri, the 28-year-old Italy international defender, visited our local Pie and Mash shop, G Kelly, which has been serving the East End since 1939.

Palmieri took the team at G Kelly by surprise, turning up with his camera crew in tow to shoot a promo video for West Ham starring the club’s signature dish. 

The East London football newcomer who transferred from Chelsea FC to West Ham in August 2022 played it safe in G Kelly, ordering a single serving of pie n’ mash and liquor, but couldn’t be enticed by the jellied eels.

West ham footballer Emerson Palmieri and G Kelly employee Leanne in G Kelly pie and mash shop on Roman Road

Neil Vening, owner of G Kelly, said: ‘Pie and mash is synonymous with West Ham, it’s very popular for people to have it before a game.’ 

In 2013 West Ham moved from their Boleyn ground which they called home for over a century to the Olympic stadium in Stratford. The new stadium being closer to the Roman Road, G Kelly has naturally seen more West Ham supporters coming in, and the shop stays open late when the Hammers are playing. 

Leanne Black, who has been serving pie and mash at G Kelly for over 13 years, said: ‘We bake at least 200 more pies when West Ham is playing, and the shop is always packed with fans.

‘We play football songs and ska music by the likes of Madness to get everyone in the mood, but we let them out onto the street before they get too rowdy,’ Black laughed. 

G Kelly has been featured in West Ham programmes and promotions in the past, but the shop has no formal partnership with the club. 

‘We were once head hunted by the executive chef to serve our pie and mash in the stadium but we’re just too busy here so we had to turn the offer down,’ said Neil. 

‘Not many eateries that serve a traditional worker’s meal have lasted over 80 years like we have.’ 

Neil Vening

One of the oldest pie and mash shops in East London, G Kelly is well-known beyond the world of football, and has been frequented by many notable East End celebrities over the years from pop rock duo Chas & Dave to snooker player Ronnie O’Sullivan.

‘We’ve been here for so long that lots of people have a connection to us through family and friends, including well-known people who were from around here and remember us,’ said Vening: ‘Not many eateries that serve a traditional worker’s meal have lasted over 80 years like we have.’ 

A cherished remnant of East End history and culture, it’s easy to see the enduring appeal of this Cockney classic, which seems set to continue if Palmieri and the Hammers have anything to say about it.

If you enjoyed reading this piece, see our photo essay of West Ham football fans. 

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