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15 years of KUMB: 2003/04

Filed: Friday, 13th July 2012
By: Staff Writer

15 years ago this month, KUMB.com - then known simply as 'Knees up Mother Brown' - took it's first tentative steps on an embryonic world wide web. To celebrate this inauspicious occasion we will be reproducing some of the most memorable articles we've published over the years, ahead of the new 2012/13 Premier League campaign.

For today's dip into the KUMB archives we're going back to our seventh season in business, the 2003/04 Nationwide Division One campaign.

Having led the club to relegation in his second season at the club, Glenn Roeder had been sacked just four games into the 2003/04 season. Lined up to replace him and become West Ham's tenth full-time manager is Reading's Alan Pardew - but not until he has sat out a month on 'gardening leave' as a condition of his move from the Berkshire club.

Firstly today, Spider Babie (in their only contribution to KUMB) looks back at the short-lived reign of Roeder before David Bacon (slightly more prolific with two submissions) wonders what lies ahead under Pardew...

The sad treatment of a fellow Hammers fan
By Spider Babie
First published October 2003

I am not a complete Glenn Roeder fan who cannot see past his faults. But I can see when one of us is treated badly. This piece is not a defence of Roeder - but merely a fan's sadness at how he was abused by some of us and the Board.

I think I should start off by saying we all love our fellow Hammers fans and like them as our friends. We want to look out for our fellow Hammers because they are just like us. So how is it that we hated a true Hammer and wished all the world of bad upon him? Maybe I should start with this...

Glenn Roeder as a kid had a family who were less than well-off, yet any small amount of money he got as a kid he would spend it on tickets to see West Ham. It’s funny how we always want a manager who has an association with the club yet we hated Roeder, even when he got us 7th place.

As a kid Roeder used to stand on a box in the Chicken Run watching our team because he was a fan and loved the Hammers. He once said that his best memory as a kid was when he scraped together enough money with his dad to buy an Upton Park ticket to watch in awe as Bobby Moore and Geoff Hurst played football that we may never see again at Upton Park.

If any of us can remember sitting on our dad’s shoulders cheering on the Hammers, singing Bubbles, then we would know what an opportunity it would be to be offered the manager's job at the Club. If we had the chance we would all take the job without question. Roeder didn't care about the Board, he wanted to do something that every young Hammer always dreams of. Can we blame him for taking the job? Not on your life.

When we finished in 7th place, most Hammer fans despised him, questioned and challenged everything he did (including buying David James). How we laughed when he said he was going to buy him. Now look, we love him and he is England's number one goalkeeper. How we made jokes about his love for the club, his appearance. Hell they ranged from his hair to everything right down to his small feet. Why did we ridicule, laugh and hate a man who is so much like us all?

His weakness was his love of West Ham, he wanted to be successful and how we would have replied with the same hurtful comments he received when he got us to 7th, narrowly missing a place in Europe. He got a few pats on the back but it wasn't what he fully deserved. Many people say, that Glenn was lucky to get 7th and that we didn't deserve it but we say he deserved relegation because the table never lies, but if the table never lies why were we 7th?

Maybe it was partly due to luck - but football always has luck; was it luck that Brooking scored the FA Cup header? Was that meant to happen? Was Robbie Keane lucky when he scored the fantastic equaliser for Ireland against Germany in the last minute to stay in the World Cup? And was it lucky for Glenn to get the manager's job? Yes, but everyone deserves luck and a chance.

Put in the perspective of us. Okay you’re a life-long Hammer and the Chairman says "Glenn, do you want to be manager?" Do you say, “Oh no, of course not,” because you belong to a dodgy Board, “I think I'll give it a miss.” Or do you say, “Hell yes.” The latter is obvious. It was the first real piece of luck in his life to date, properly in his professional career.

Think about it; he missed out on managing Newcastle’s youth team because Kevin Keegan became the new manager and wanted his own staff and at Watford he was forced to sell all his best players and denied transfer money because an excuse of a Board wanted the money to build a new stand. Sound familiar? He was sacked, apparently because he had an argument with the Board over the fact that they gave him no money to buy.

At Gillingham he threw his hands up and said enough was enough and resigned. They were relegated when the new manager came in (who had a chance to save them because it was not too late). He was only an assistant at Burnley and had little influence on the club because he was working heavily with England.

He left and helped Hoddle at England where he was very popular among the players and noted as an excellent coach. Then he went to West Ham. By the way, I think it's sick how Redknapp said he was down and out and out of work and gave him the job because he felt sorry for him. Redknapp is an idiot. Why would he feel sorry for him if Roeder left England willingly, even though the FA wanted him to stay, but he was loyal to Hoddle and didn't want to 'betray him'?

He was well respected here at West Ham and helped nurture Michael Carrick, Jermain Defoe, Joe Cole, Frank Lampard and Rio Ferdinand. I think he deserved something for his work at our Club and he did, he was made manager.

He told us all about his love for the club and that his family were Hammers through and through, even his two brothers-in-law are season ticket holders. He even told us how he was distraught when he never got to play for West Ham, and instead started off with Arsenal. Glenn was everything we were; a life-long Hammer through and through who dreamed of pulling on the claret and blue. But we hated him for what he said.

Its funny how Pardew arrives, reads a book on the Club and we love him for it. It’s really sad that Glenn was one of us and we despised him for what he was and did. To be fair, most of us never gave him a chance. We said he had no emotion. Remember when he leaped into the air, throwing his fists up when we won against Newcastle? And we laughed at him because he did it. The poor bloke could never win over the fans and even when we won he was disliked.

I really do feel that Glenn was greatly affected by his brain tumour. A brain tumour doesn't start overnight, it takes years or even months to progress. The symptoms are horrific and I think that there were signs last year that he was different, more subdued, and more emotionless, he spoke sometimes with difficulty searching for the right word, and he was pale and withdrawn most of the time. These are all signs of a frontal lobe brain tumour, which he had.

When we finished 7th he knew what he was doing, spoke with confidence, produced good ideas and was more tactically aware than the year we were relegated. Last year, his management was most erratic and his judgement was constantly undermined. He didn't resign because he loved the Club so much that if he left when we were in trouble, would the Board be able to get a manager in fast enough who had good enough experience?

Did he trust the Board to appoint a good manager? I would never have trusted them. The Board were quite happy to give Glenn money in his first year to build a team, he did and we got 7th. They lapped him up and loved him and then they sucked him dry the next year, giving him no money to add to a small squad and left him to fend for himself in the spotlight of hideous media attention.

He was new to the Premiership and was young and clearly a private, shy man yet the Board pushed him over the edge to answer to the media about everything concerning the club. The Board hid behind Roeder and then used and abused him. He was treated shockingly by the Board and I hate them - not only for what they did to him, but for what they did to us and OUR club.

I knew a person who had a benign brain tumour and he was wrecked physically, but more so mentally. He hated people worrying about him, and he hated making people upset. Tumour multiplies your emotions tenfold. Imagine being Glenn, your family worried sick and feeling responsible not only for your own pain and theirs but the pain of thousands of others because you relegated something that they hold dear. He knew how we felt because he is one of us.

I hated how some of us, including me, laughed when he couldn't remember player's names, remember words or struggle to speak when he came back from his tumour. I don't think we saw how distressed he was; can you imagine the mental stress he may have been under? I for one cannot.

I don't want to remember Glenn as a failure and the maker of our downfall. No. I will remember him as a dignified, quiet young man who brought so much joy when he beat back the doubters and gave us the happiness of 7th place. I will remember the man who was undermined by a terrible illness and how a Board of cowards flung him into a spotlight of media attention and left him there on his own.

I will remember the 2001-2002 season as a brilliant time to be a Hammer and remember 2002-2003 as a time when West Ham was raped by a Board of liars, cowards and men of no dignity or bravery. And I always remember how we ridiculed a fellow fan and made him feel like dirt or think of how a man lay sick with a brain tumour being assured he was going to be given his job back and given a fair chance to succeed.

Two wins, a draw and a loss are not terrible results, hardly a fair crack at the whip. Roeder, barely recovered from brain surgery, was used by the Board for the fans to point our anger at so that the pressure eased on the Board. A young girl no more than 10 actually shouted "F*ck off Roeder back to hospital". That is a sad image of our society which reflects our hate of a fellow fan.

Paolo Di Canio once said when he played at Celtic that his heart was green and white yet when he was here he said cut him and he bleeds claret and blue. I'm kind of wondering, is he green and white or claret and blue - or even Charlton red? Di Canio is an amazing player, but he does not love West Ham with all ‘his heart’. If he did, why did he throw tantrums, give us a bad image and then throw 'sickies' so as not to play?

Yet we sing his name and love him. We love Pardew now yet what has he done for us yet? We love Di Canio, a man whose blood is a mixture of red, green and white and a tad bit of claret and blue yet why? We hated Roeder when he got us to 7th, who tried his best, a life long Hammer, who loves the club through and through yet we despised him.

When Roeder was sacked he was so dignified that a silence greeted him. It was unusual for a manager to go so quietly and so dignified. When sacked Glenn said, "I wish West Ham and their fans every success in the future because they are a truly great Club" Glenn had the right to give off, make a scene and give a scathing attack. But that wasn't for Glenn to do, he loves the club too much. He didn't want to take the club into more public crisis because he loves West Ham and I believe because he wants the best for us.

We all say he should have resigned before we were relegated but ask yourself - if you were him in charge of WEST HAM UNITED, would you have resigned? No way. It was too great an opportunity to throw away so easily.

Some of us suggested he only wanted to stay on because he was greedy and wanted the money. If he is greedy then why did he recently turn down a ridiculous six-figure sum to expose the goings on in the club, about Di Canio and so forth? Because like one of us he loves West Ham and it's so sad he had to go the way he did.

He has suffered more than anything in the past seven months and I think he deserves a break from insults and so forth. I wish him all the best of luck in world because he is one of us. Cut Glenn Roeder and no doubt he WILL bleed claret and blue.

Life is tough. Non?

So we’ve got Pardew, what happens next?
By David Bacon
First published October 2003

In the next two weeks, the sixth manager of West Ham United in my lifetime begins a new era at Upton Park.

The appointment was somewhat controversial, involving court action, bitterness between West Ham and Reading, from board level to the stands, and all manner of restraints on Pardew, from the sensible (not being allowed to bring any members of Reading’s staff with him) to the somewhat bizarre (not being permitted to attend Upton Park before the job commences). However, Chairman Brown chose his man and, to his credit, got him.

Realising the true cost of appointing on the cheap, and not going for a “big” name with a fading reputation, Pardew represents a bold choice, a young manager with a record in the lower leagues and a lot of ambition. The appointment has also brought a largely positive reaction from supporters, and, ignoring all the nonsense surrounding the poaching claims, the media.

A good start to the season, a number of quality players still in the squad, three with considerable Premiership experience due to return shortly and a new manager all provide hope for supporters. The bookies have us as 4/5 second favourites to return to the Premiership at the first attempt. But before getting too carried away, there are a number of issues Pardew will have to attend to, and they will not be easy.

The biggest problem is perhaps the level of expectation. Naively, pre-season we were overwhelming favourites for an immediate return to the Premiership. Many supporters were more cautious, recalling the previous season’s “too good to go down” headlines, too many points dropped and realisation that although many players would leave over the summer, Glenn Roeder would still be the manager and Terrence Brown the Chairman.

As the squad thinned, and their replacements plucked from the youth team, the dole queue and Wimbledon FC, outsiders slowly began to realise the certainty of a West Ham return would become a probable, and then a possible. As the season started, an unrecognisable team won away, drew at home, refused to use a sub-standard changing room and were all set for another season of disappointment. Until, for many supporters, a newsflash emerged during the Super Sunday match – West Ham manager Glenn Roeder had been sacked.

Pardew will still however be faced with the same levels of expectation. We are by some way the biggest fish in the pond that is Division 1. We have half a dozen full internationals in our first choice X1. We have a striker valued at more than £10million. We have an average gate of 30,000, 6,000 more than Sunderland. All these factors are an advantage, but can also work against us.

The manager of a mediocre Division 1 side will have no problems encouraging his players to go out and beat the “Big Team”. Add that to some very well organised sides without the reputation, and some others with a personal grudge (Reading and Millwall away, Rotherham’s chance to give their verdict on the West Ham dressing rooms) and there are a few tough games coming up.

The playing squad is also a cause for concern. The best crop of young players in a generation have been broken up. Glen Johnson after a memorable few games at right back, Joe Cole to warm the bench at Chelsea alongside Frank Lampard. Of the two we retain, one seems to have his mind more on a January move and has forgotten the arts of passing and playing as a team, and the other is about to commence his umpteenth comeback from injury.

Combined with the loss of experienced pros, and our flawed genius Paolo Di Canio, the squad is paper thin, reinforced with a few loans, some promising young players and a solitary gem. Any team would struggle to find its feet after such an upheaval, and Pardew’s first task will be to mould the remnants into his team.

The return of Lomas, Brevett and Carrick will be welcome, as will any reinforcements. But the loss of loan players, the rumours of tension amongst the front three, the inevitability of suspensions for certain individuals and the likely departures when the transfer window opens are all difficulties for Pardew.

Pardew will also have to do battle with the past. With the memories of Roeder rapidly fading, supporters will look back to the top ten finishes and European runs of Harry Redknapp, the Boys of '86, and for those more mature fans, the Academy of Football, 1966 and all that and Trevor’s winner against Arsenal. Pardew will have to live up to the past, both in terms of success, and in playing football the “West Ham” way.

However, this is somewhat more difficult when instead of Paolo Di Canio and Joe Cole, he has to find a way of doing it with Kevin Horlock, Neil Mellor and one or two others who are surplus to requirements in the Premiership.

And talking of Trevor, as marvellous as his two short spells in charge were, they may not help Pardew. If Trevor has lost all three of his Premiership matches in charge and left us lurking in mid table obscurity after the second session, he would still be a West Ham legend. Even acting as Brown’s misleading mouthpiece has not changed feelings.

Trevor will finish his managerial career, even in the unlikely event of defeats in all his remaining games, as the most successful manager in West Ham’s history. Pardew will have to pick up where Trevor left off, winning matches (sometimes by more than one goal), dominating games and playing some great football.

Let us not leave Terry Brown out of the equation. The man most people still hold responsible for our current plight, the man who sold Rio, the man who sacked Harry Redknapp and appointed Roeder rather than pay Charlton £200,000 for Alan Curbishley, the man who failed to invest in the team to plug crucial gaps, the man who saw the break-up of the most promising generation of young players produced by a club since Beckham & Co, and the man who took the club to the brink and was only saved by the cash of a Russian Billionaire.

Brown may have learned from his mistakes (although he has not, of course, admitted to making any) but what lies ahead? Are we still in dire financial straits if we do not go straight back up, or even if we do? Will the money from supporter’s pockets go towards strengthening the squad or paying off the debts from the ground redevelopment?

And what if things go wrong? What if come December, we are ninth or tenth, winning most at home, but weak away. Some good performances, some less so. Will Pardew be given time and transfer funds or chants of “Are you Roeder in disguise”?

Forward to the springtime in Wigan. What if it is Wigan celebrating automatic promotion to the Premiership, and West Ham playing with half a mind on the tricky first leg of the playoffs against Nottingham Forest? Or even just missing out on the playoffs?

We are in for an interesting and revealing few months. Premiership contenders or relegation candidates, who knows? The new Ron Greenwood or Glenn Roeder mk 2? However, all supporters can do their bit, get behind the team and give Pardew some breathing space. Allow him the luxury of a mistake or two, an embarrassing home defeat, a lacklustre away performance, a signing that does not work out.

Even, dare I suggest, more than one season in Division 1 to get things right.

2003/04 Fact File

League: Division One
Manager: Glenn Roeder/Trevor Brooking (temp)/Alan Pardew
Final Position: 4th (qualified for play-offs)

Points: 74
Record: Won 19, Drew 17, Lost 10
Goals: For 67, Against 45 (GD +22)

FA Cup: Fifth Round - lost 3-0 to Fulham (h, replay)
League Cup: Third Round - lost 1-0 to Tottenham (a)

Biggest Win: West Ham Utd 5-0 MK Dons (March 2004)
Biggest Defeat: Millwall 4-1 West Ham Utd (March 2004)

KUMB.com Player of the Year: Matthew Etherington
KUMB.com Young Player of the Year: Chris Cohen

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.

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