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85 years a Hammer

Filed: Tuesday, 24th October 2017
By: Roger Roseboom

Back in 1944, my father took me to Craven Cottage where Fulham were playing West Ham.

My father was an ex-professional who came from the Glasgow Rangers youth team (in 1914). He joined the Black Watch in the First World War, won the military medal for bravery and survived the war (hence my later birth in 1932).

At the time West Ham had a full back, Charlie Bicknell, who had played with my father at one of his clubs until injury took him out of the game. West Ham won the game comfortably, 7-4 if my memory is correct.

After the game my father took me into the West Ham dressing room where I met Jock Dodds, Archie Macauley, Len Goulden, Ernie Gregory and other giants of the past. I was given the match ball, which was a 'tee-ball' with the usual leather lace tie! From that moment on I was a West Ham supporter.

I lived in Fulham at the time and made the occasional trip to see Harry Hooper flying down the wing, then young Harry Rednapp, etc. I wanted to be a professional footballer, but at the age of 11 my father said "sorry son, you won't make it ". I did have a trial for Chelsea in 1946 but he was right - I never made it.

Good amateur football followed including representing the Canal Zone against the British Army's Cameron Highland Division - the hardest match I have ever experienced.

Now aged 85, I gave up playing competitive football aged 55 as I could no longer understand what the young team members were saying! I then took up coaching primary school teams from which I finally retired three years ago. I am pretty fit for my age.

I have supported West Ham United through thick and thin, the latter more often than I would wish. The growth of the club has been financially correctly structured, but the investment in players has been somewhat haphazard to say the least.

Why this has happened confuses me - it is equally important to ensure the right team is assembled as are the bricks and pitch around them.

It was the right decision to leave the Boleyn, but I doubt if the present manager is the right one to instil discipline in the current crop of players. The new ones arrive to a fanfare of praise for past accomplishments, but then seem to fade away.

Yes there are individuals who will always give their best - Antonio, Lanzini, Kouyate and Cresswell for example - but that is not enough. All 11 players must always be mentally alert, physically fit and committed.

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Here I must criticise the mentality of Andy Carroll - surely a professional of his standing should never have committed the stupidity of being given two yellow cards in two minutes?

As a result, Brighton - a game for which Carroll was banned - could relax and play their football without the problem of having to use two players to keep Carroll under wraps.

Only the day before, Graham Souness was on TV extolling the need for every team to have a senior player to motivate the team. Who is that player at West Ham? Another problem is the fitness of Hernandez, who is no longer the sharp predator he once was.

The result of Carroll's rush of blood was to place Slaven Bilic under more pressure. West Ham could have won that match against Brighton, now what is his future ?

At the Boleyn, the ups and downs could be resolved, Now? The problem is the financial deterioration should the Hammers be relegated to the Championship as has happened before.

That is a situation the club cannot allow.

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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