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What have you done today to make us feel proud?

Filed: Monday, 11th September 2017
By: Paul Walker

When I was a kid, pretty much up until now really, Bobby Moore was my idol, a hero who was the face around the world of West Ham United.

We were never a really big club, still aren’t, but because of Moore we were renowned, we had status and respect. People knew who we were and what we stood for. We had given Bobby Moore to the world.

His dignity, class, sportsmanship, sheer quality as a player and a man. He liked a bevy, but who didn’t then in football? Wherever you went, people knew his name, what he had achieved and where he came from.

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Ron Greenwood’s style of football saw us win a European trophy, set the wheels in motion for three FA Cup wins and another European final in the space of 16 years. We had respect.

None more so than Sir Bobby, captain of England when it meant something, Jordan Henderson! World Cup winner. A blond vision of the beautiful game. Remember that wonderful picture with Pele. Bobby came from just down the road from us.

We had respect. You could be in a bar and talk football, and everyone knew who we were and what we stood for. You could bask in his reflected glow, he was our poster boy, the face of West Ham.

This week 59 years ago he made his debut for West Ham. I was there, just able to see over the Chicken Run wall. A near-babe in arms myself, not really sure what I was watching alongside my old fella.

So where are we now. Who are the face of West Ham now? Look no further than a couple of hard-nosed businessmen who used to knock-out (sorry, bad expression) porn for a living. David Gold and David Sullivan are now the face of West Ham. It should make you weep.

The porn barons now the Dildo Brothers, are the laughing stock of Europe. Even Slaven Bilic thought the new tag/insult was funny. Good for you mate, but I’m not sure the powers-that-be from the sewers of pornography will see it that way!

What really bothers me in the 24-hour soap opera farce that is my West Ham, your West Ham, is the damage to our image at home and abroad by the antics of our owners. Nobody likes them and they don’t seem to care.

The damage has been done, really, regardless of the outcome of various levels of legal action being under-taken in the never-ending, hilarious confrontation with Sporting Lisbon, one of Europe’s most respected clubs.

They may not have won a great deal, but Sporting Lisbon have been part of the fabric of European competition for decades, always competing, always qualifying, always part of the old school establishment elite of Europe. And we have chosen to do a ‘number’ on them! I ask you?

I am sure the 500+ clubs who play in European competition probably didn’t know anything about the lurid past of our owners, but they do now.

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We are trying to force our way onto the foothills of Europe, we have been talking about a new level, new stadium and the Champions League long enough. And now we have manage to upset a bastion of the establishment.. Going well guys?

OK, Lisbon have got their share of chancers and wide boys. Big mouths, clever delaying tactics in the transfer market, but they are also one of the most litigious clubs in Europe with a string of on-going legal matters and football issues. They do go to court. They do spend fortunes. They do win in the end.

They have called our Dildo Brothers "liars". They have used the word "parasite" although I felt, on first reading, that particular insult was aimed at the hangers-on, family, middle-men agents and con-men involved in the William Carvalho debacle.

And our owners have called in the lawyers, announced to the world by one of their teenage sons. You couldn’t make it up.

The fact that thousands of West Ham fans have branded Sullivan and Gold as liars frequently on social media seems to have passed them by. At least they haven’t sunk to the depths of the criminal family that own Blackpool and sued their own fans (yet).

Frankly I can’t see this latest spat reaching court. Lisbon don’t back down, won’t back down. Are G&S prepared for ‘my learned friends’ working for the Portuguese club to be searching through the murky past of our owners?

And Lisbon know that they can keep throwing the porn thing at our owners, and every time they produce a loaded club statement about how our owners made their money, they are onto a good thing and continuing to damage what is left of our good name further.

European competition is a massive, insular, club. In my previous life making a living, I spent four decades working with UEFA. Right back to Aston Villa’s European Cup win ’82, to three European finals with Liverpool, two with Manchester United (sorry lads, it was only a job) plus runs with Manchester City and Everton and over 200 internationals with Wales.

It gives you an insight into how the hierarchy works, how hard it is to break through, the people to know and the people not to upset. West Ham seemed to have managed that by getting on the wrong side of Sporting Lisbon, and I would be more worried about the ‘tapping up‘ complaint than any legal problems about the ‘liar’ accusation.

In Europe much importance is based on respect, dignity and sportsmanship. Lisbon’s problems with West Ham will be common knowledge now, and I can assure you all, that we will not come out of this well.

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So all that painstaking work by Karren Brady’s people to smarted-up the brand, to give us a new clean-cut image to be hawked around the globe has taken one hell of a beating. Well done, guys, you sure know how to treat a girl!

The need for our club to have silent owners, owners who just have a few drinks at games and don’t get involved in transfers, owners who have proper expert PR support, is blindingly obvious. Sullivan, it is said, was advised not to make that statement about whether bids were made for Carvalho.

But he went ahead anyway. And all that did was to reveal just how we talk to clubs, how we negotiate. To bid for Carvalho, a £40m release clause player, in terms of a three-year, £23m instalment deal is laughable.

Did we think we were dealing with Johnny Foreigner, with folk we could fob off with pretty painted baubles and firewater?

Lisbon have picked up on every ‘unattributed’ quote about the Carvalho debacle. Every comment about his fitness, whether he has been training, how much he earns. About how much they may need the money. These remarks were meant for domestic consumption,. How stupid to think they were not going to be pinged around the world.

And the ‘tapping up’? Who do you think FIFA will believe? How did the player's new wages and contract become public, how did we know how much he was earning? How did we know he wanted to move?

Tapping-up goes on with every transfer, clubs know what players are earning, they tell them the deal, managers talk to targets. But very few clubs blab their way into disciplinary action. Lisbon know exactly how to hurt us.

It was obvious that they found dealing with the porn boys distressing, they have barely concealed their disgust ever since.

My view on pornography is not really relevant, but I am old fashioned in seeing it as close to living off immoral earnings as you can get. But these days people are broadminded, they adhere to Sullivan’s ’consenting adults’ approach. As long as he can get it filmed!

But it’s not an image I enjoy my club being associated with. I know plenty of friends in Birmingham who felt the same way. We all saw the value of Sullivan and Gold’s money, but in the end you see them for what they are.

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This, then, is the image of West Ham abroad now. Not that of the glowing brilliance and quality of Bobby Moore, more now the faces of the Dildo Brothers. Just how low have we sunk?

Preparing this tirade, I found myself listening to M People on the car radio…I used to like Heather Small’s deep voice even when Sarah Hadland took the piss out of it in Miranda. And I started thinking of G&S….”What did you do today to make us feel proud?”

It’s tough to think of anything these days, this double act seem a very long way from the legacy of Bobby Moore.

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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