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Caught up in the friendly fire


Filed: Friday, 3rd October 2014
By: Paul Walker


Pet hate time…the amount of abuse our fans dish out to former West Ham players and managers.

Worst of all, when the games are on TV and every two-bit pundit gets the chance to have a pop at us, and we end up being portrayed as unpleasant and bitter. Sometimes the stuff coming down from the crowd is embarrassing, surely we are bigger than that!

Now you all know where this is going! Come Sunday, and a shed load of ex-Hammers are on their way to the Boleyn. Take your pick from the QPR guest list, Harry Redknapp, Bobby Zamora, Robert Green, Rio Ferdinand.

And it gets worse. A couple of weeks down the line and panto villain himself, Frank Lampard, will be with us in a slightly lighter blue shirt than usual, that of champions Manchester City. Both these two games are on the box live. And the next home game after that, Joe Cole could be here with Aston Villa--that’s if he’s not injured, that is!

Wouldn’t it be nice, for a chance, for the Boleyn public to show some restraint, respect and behave like adults rather than twitter trolls. Too much to ask, I know.

Sometimes I feel we are the worst in the country for this sort of behaviour. And we know, surely by now, that it backfires. How many goals has Lampard scored against us? How often did Paul Ince stuff it up us? Even Mo Diame got in on the act.

I even recall Craig Bellamy getting plenty of earache, and I was at a loss to know why. He gave everything in a West Ham shirt, and injuries were not his fault. And if you read his account--in his very interesting autobiography-- of how he was used as a piece of meat in an auction by the club when his transfer was on the cards, you would know he was treated very, very badly by the powers that be.

They were saying in public that they wouldn’t sell to Spurs while informing the Spuds of every improved bid that came in from Manchester City!

He was then informed by text that “We’ve sold you to City…good luck.” And that was that. Fans, you see, rarely know what really goes in with transfer deals, but expect loyalty all the same. And that went out of fashion decades ago.

There is a difference between banter and humour and downright vile abuse. Some of the things I have read on line about Lampard, concerning his mum, family, girlfriend etc, is way out of order. I have always, probably, been in the minority who has never booed Frank, whatever he may have said a decade ago when his old man was sacked, his father being one of this club’s greatest servants who in the end felt he could not come to the ground. Shameful.

I also enjoyed ’arry’s time as manager. For all the wide-boy antics, the football was fun and if he is to be branded as dodgy, well, how many Cockney boys would we get inside the ground if that criteria was levelled at our fans. I doubt we would fill a coach for away games of fans as white as the driven snow!

Some managers are chancers, some take bungs, some favour the same agents, some are crooks (No, I don’t mean Sam, the courts confirmed that wasn’t the case), some are dodgy or a bit colourful. So I maintain that ’arry does not deserve the stick he gets.

Rio has always got a good reception here, the £18m was too much to turn down and he was not agitating for a move. Ferdinand became one of our finest-ever exports.

Zamora, too, is never slow to tell everyone that he is a West Ham fan, and the man is a legend for that play-off winning goal. Rob Green, too, had a great rapport with the fans and wanted one big pay-day, so he left. There are many fans who believe we have never really replaced him with anything better.

I would rather that fans channelled their energies into supporting our current team, rather than wasting their breath slagging off the departed. There are other ways to show your displeasure, if you must. Just ignore them.

I recall witnessing the Kop’s revenge on Michael Owen, who had engineered his move to Real Madrid to a painfully disrespectful degree. Made to sit on the bench for a Champions League game by Rafa Benitez, he knew that the deal would collapse if he came on and became cup tied. Never have I seen a player squirm so much.

So when Owen finally returned to play at Liverpool, he was met with “Where were you in Istanbul” and then at the end, when he turned to the Kop to wave at them…they just ignored him. The look on his face was priceless.

As for Sunday, I can just see it now. Rio will play out of his skin, Zamora will score, Green will save a penalty and ’arry will walk away with a smirk on his face.

More important for us on Sunday are the points, not point scoring against former players. The West Ham display last weekend was the best I have ever seen us play at Old Trafford (I missed the Tevez game and Paolo’s magic Cup goal) but we have to start turning improved showings into points.

Two wins in seven games this term is cause for concern, regardless of the plaudits being handed out over our change of style. So let’s make noise that supports our own boys rather than abusing others. Too much to expect, I know, but I live in hope.


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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