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Let's just forget pointless awards

Filed: Wednesday, 21st December 2011
By: Paul Walker

Surely itís about time that we abandoned the announcement of the Man of the Match award while the game is still in progress, and even consider dumping such futile nonsense all-together.

Yet again the naming of the award winner over the tannoy interrupted play at the weekend, caused a bad reaction from the crowd and could even have cost us a victory, because for a moment or so the players too reacted to the noise from the crowd, and our opponents seemed to be inspired to greater effort.

It always seems to come with a few minutes to go and is a pointless, annoying distraction. And if it causes just one moment of lost concentration, then it has to stop.

Our skipper Kevin Nolan found his name being jeered on Saturday in the dying minutes of a hard-fought, tense victory over Barnsley. He will probably say he didnít notice, but just say he did and lost focus for a minute or so.

He didnít deserve that, and despite plenty of comment to the contrary, I felt he had a more than decent game holding a patched-up side together and doing the dirty jobs needed. He has never had pace, never will have, but he runs, covers, intercept, stops opponents in their tracks, plugs gaps and generally battles away for the cause.

Having seen his display described elsewhere as ineffective and limited just defies words. Heís never going to be Billy Bonds, but he does not allow teams to boss us and thatís crucial.

He may not have been our best player on Saturday, but he was still vitally important. He is still finding it hard to be accepted at the Boleyn, but maybe thatís because he is Samís man in the dressing room and therefore a crucial part of the management regime.

But I bet there is no whinging and moaning behind the bossís back these days, no clichťs and no damaging splits in the camp. Weíve seen what happened last season to know that this campaign there has been a 100 per cent improvement in spirit and effort. Thatís down to Nolan.

But I still hear scant praise. He was even being called Ďfat boyí but the moron who sits near me at the ground. I may have mentioned his inane nonsense before, but this insult came from someone who is 18 stone plus and couldnít run for a bus.

I constantly find myself defending Nolan, and Iím sure he does not need my support because heís big enough and ugly enough to fight his own battles and close his ears to it all. But his overall contribution is far greater than some may think.

Which brings me to another point. Our fans were even taken to task on Monday by the reporter from the Guardian, who was critical of the atmosphere and the way our fans were distracted from cheering the side to victory by the man of the match announcement.

Now the Guardian do, it seems these days, feel they are doing Godís work on earth by setting themselves up as the arbitrators of the media. They can be patronising, pompous and pretentious. They can rightly uncover and condemn phone hacking one minute but then brush aside their own errors on the Milly Dowler story.

But even if I donít know a journalist who hasnít Ďtwirledí a quote to help along a story line, I do agree with their politics.

But when one of their writers points out that we have an Ďangryí crowd these days, with a short fuse and even less tolerance, we should take note. None of that helps the cause, and the attitude to the man of the match announcement underlines that.

Nolan did well, Danny Potts was excellent on his debut - how nice it is to see our own come good - while Carlton Cole led the line as well as he has all season. Robert Green, again, was top quality. Any one of them could have been Man of the Match.

But the award loses credibility when it is noted that the choice is made by a group of fans from the posh boxes who probably have paid for the right to have their company mentioned along with the announcement. Whatever, it should not be allowed to have any effect on the match.

Frankly, the award is pointless, meaningless and of no real relevance to what is basically a team game. So when its very announcement can be disruptive, it should be stopped.

I know of one Premier League club who restricts such announcements to the VIP areas, suites and lounges after the game, thatís just about right.

But we come back to the real point, one I have banged on about too often, that our home crowd are very good at creating problems for the team with tension, criticism and a general failure to get behind the team. The Guardian hack suggested that the Boleyn is not a happy place to watch football from.

Sadly I can think of several grounds where the atmosphere is better and more supportive. Everton, Stoke, Manchester City, Southampton, Newcastle, Blackpool from recent experience, spring to mind.

Away from home we are fine, at home we need to get our house in order. This is a dreadfully tough division, we are almost half way through the campaign and the relentless nature of the competition is already seeing our squad struggling with injuries, fitness, suspensions and lack of genuine cover.

On Saturday at the end, I looked around and found myself the only one applauding the team off in a large area of the ground where I sit. Iíve never booed my team or players in over 50 years of watching the Irons, it is counter-productive.

If you are not happy with a player, ignore him. And if you all want to see us out of this division quickly, tolerance and support are vital. And the end of silly awards.

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.

Your Comments

by Harry the Hammer
12:51PM 29th Dec 2011
''I think the high ticket prices have a lot to do with the atmosphere at the BG these days. People are paying good money and expect value for it.''

by g portugal
11:23AM 23rd Dec 2011
''Fully agree. Nolan had a decent game actually, although I felt Potts or Faubert were better on the day. Silly award though, as you say. All that matters is that we pick up points. Your point is spot on about providing positive support - we won't get out of this division without it.''

by Ian T
03:35PM 22nd Dec 2011

Great article as ever but I think stopping the Man of The Match announcement is treating the symptom, not the disease. As you mentioned in your piece, the problem over the last five or six years has been the deterioration of the atmosphere at the Boleyn Ground. Our short fuse has been borne out of the poor management and administration that has blighted recent seasons resulting in under par performances and disjointed teams on the pitch.

Unfortunately, this has now become the norm for Upton Park, not the exception. Many fans seem to go to the home matches waiting to vent anger at our home side as opposed to being eager to show their support. We have to change this if we want to establish ourselves as a Premier League side again; good teams know that the West Ham home croud will get on players' backs and they use that against us.

Improve the atmosphere means that we cheer the Man of the Match award - it doesn't matter who gets it, who chooses it, or who pays for it, cheer it anyway! Let's bin the negativity in the ground and become a fortress again!''

by Graza
11:09AM 22nd Dec 2011
''Something I've not seen anyone on here mention in the forums or otherwise. One of the reasons Potts had such a good game was that in the early stages and periodically throughout, McCartney and Nolan (Nolan especially) were talking him through it, reassuring the lad and building him up. Can anyone say without smirking that Upson could/would have done that?

I'm not a great fan of watching Nolan but he does all the things you say. Virtually all of them are off the ball which is why most people don't see it, and he comes across poorly on the box.

That said I'm getting fed up with all the whingeing about the crowd. IF the atmosphere isn't to your liking jog on. If you want to improve the atmosphere stand up shout, sing, bring an old fashioned rattle I don't care. But digging out your fellow fans is pathetic. I hear all kind of crazy crap in the ground. The muppets behind me have been stating that Sears is the answer all season, and we should bring him on - despite the fact he isn't on the bench. He is not the answer - sadly - and never has been.

Winning ugly is what we're about now - it may not feel great but certainly better than losing ugly for the last three years!''

by supernumbersix
10:24PM 21st Dec 2011
''Every point spot on.''

by Robin Essex
07:30PM 21st Dec 2011
''Was mentioned on BBC London whilst driving home after the match and the presenter pointed out that it seems that the Match Sponsor tend to vote for the player they want to meet and have their photo taken with rather than the best player on the pitch! At Hull it seems they have a text vote from the fans. I like Captain Kev, wish we had him last season!''

by Jack
04:59PM 21st Dec 2011
''Completely agree, couldn't understand why fans were booing the annoucement - the announcement was meaningless but the boos could have caused heads to drop and Barnsley to equalise.

Hate it when fans boo their own players - by all means don't cheer and clap if you're not pleased, but booing doesn't do anyone any favours.''

by DannyB
04:40PM 21st Dec 2011
''Totally agree with this article. Nolan or whoever is irrelevant, the Boleyn has become a horrible place to watch football. The amount of I've-never-played-football-before morons that talk crap for 90+ minutes drives me and friends mad. It seems to be the last 2-3 years that have really gone downhill.

It's no surprise we have such better away form, they don't have to listen to the morons. Our away support even when only 4,000 or so is great. If our home support was anywhere near that I am adamant we'd have even better home form (it's absurd we have a better away form than home).''

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