Filed: Wednesday, 2nd May 2012
By: Richard Williams
It’s a sign of the turbulent season us Hammers have endured that we find ourselves looking forward to a Thursday night in Wales!
Yet it could have been oh so different had we merely stopped Bristol City, Middlesborough, Doncaster or a number of other clubs from scoring at Upton Park and stealing the very few points needed to make the difference, but it wasn’t to be! The fans have been crying out for the 'West Ham Way' all season and nothing is more apt than to expect so much and fall short of the mark. Isn’t that the 'West Ham Way'?
Instead of Sam spending the million pound bonus promised upon promotion on that Vegas Trip he had booked during the play-offs, he will be on board a train flying west into a damp and waterlogged Wales. Such is the unique season we have had that travelling from Upton Park to the Cardiff City Stadium will be like jumping from the fire back into the frying pan!
Our home form has been mixed this season with the month of March providing a run of five draws ultimately sending us into the play-off lottery. What was more concerning was the restless nature of a large proportion of the Upton Park faithful who capitalised on the smallest of error with a chorus of boos and jeers. It’s safe to say Allardyce was (and is) not the fans' favourite, nor does he have many admirers however, in his own words, "I’ve got skin thicker than an elephant" (and a belly to match).
The mixed atmosphere at Upton Park has seen a West Ham squad excel away from home, equalling and then superseding the record for the most away wins in a season ensuring an optimism very few would have as they crossed the border into the Valleys. Ironically, our disastrous home form began after a 0-2 win away at Cardiff at the beginning of March. Will history repeat itself and does this mean a win on Thursday night is essential?
Our recent run at home; unbeaten in three and scoring eleven goals, has arrived on cue for what should be an explosive finale to the semi final at Upton Park on Monday. Regardless of the away leg, West Ham have the firepower to score on tap and a defensive partnership in Tomkins and Reid growing stronger as every minute ticks by.
The atmosphere is back, the optimism is back and we are now the 'in form' team on our quest for Premier League promotion. Need I remind Southampton that simply scoring one goal amongst the five draws may have booked their place at the Cardiff City Stadium? They are well aware…. (yet they are celebrated and revered, we are slated with tags of "failure")
What is an ABSOLUTE must, is that we recreate the atmosphere that still sends a shiver down my spine to this very day. Ipswich at home on 14th May 2004; Upton Park was buzzing, flags flying everywhere, beach balls and so many renditions of our world famous Bubbles song people began forgetting the words! (sacrilege).
As a West Ham fan is time to stand and be counted. Time to unite as one and for one of VERY few times this season, become the 12th man. I firmly believe it was the carnival astmosphere, the non-stop singing and the positive energy that raised the extra 10 per cent needed to press on to the final and ultimate victory over Preston that day… we must replicate or better to ensure a similar result come Monday.
It's time to show our players what it really means to play at the home of football and in front of the World’s best fans, the Claret and Blue army!
* Richard Williams is the host of the claretsweatandtears.co.uk blog. Richard may also be found on Twitter at @CSAT_whufc.
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.
by Malcolm White
11:35PM 2nd May 2012
''Richard I have been going to Upton Park since '61 and in that 50 years I have known the highs and lows as we all have and would be the first to admit that the only people that I dislike and distrust more than The Deluded One are them that employed him for reasons only really known to themselves. But since that very first time that my dad took me to see the Hammers I was always going to be Claret and Blue for the rest of my life.
I could not tell you who we played that first time; it was a night game and winter and I was freezing cold. Then as we went into the ground up the steps from the turnstiles to what was the mighty North Bank I will never forget the floodlights; smoke was swirling around all of them.
The Chicken Run was swaying, I swear I had never ever seen so many people in one place in all my life. The best moment of all was when they started to sing that song that I witnessed for the first time. All swaying with claret and blue scarfs over their heads, they sang Bubbles then chanted "United". I had no chance and would not have wanted a way out from that club, ground or team.
My Dad, bless him, is no longer with us but as he did for me I did for my son. My point to all this is that we - meaning the true WEST HAM UTD fans - can let not only the team on Monday know that they should feel proud and honoured to put on those shirts and what it meaans to be a Hammer, but the other supporters as well.
I believe Cardiff will not ever have witnessed an atmosphere like it and by us doing our part, I know the team will do their's.''
10:44PM 2nd May 2012
''I do get annoyed sometimes with certain West Ham fans constantly bringing up missed opportunities against Bristol City etc. Believe it or not, Saints dropped points too with late goals or opposition 'keepers playing blinders. In fact there are only four games this season in which we were very poor. All the others we deserved points, some of which we didn't get. But that's what happens in football! ''
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