Saturday, 21st April 2007
I recall one occasion in his first season when we got destroyed at Goodison Park, and a West Ham fan told me outside the ground that he was going to report me to Social Services for child abuse. ďNo kid should be subjected to thatĒ, he said.
At first, ESM Jnr didnít get what I was on about. All seemed rosy in the East End garden. Then we reverted to form with a Chairman who would rather endure castration than spend any cash and a manager that never even found a plot let alone lost one.
Then he understood. Relegation on 42 points on the final game of the season after the last gasp attempts of Sir Trevor and his 4-3-3 box of tricks. Next season came along and he had a nice day out at the Millennium Stadium, until Mr G Poll strolled out and the f*cking game started.
I can handle this
This season, not only has normal service been resumed in true West Ham style, but we have f*cking excelled ourselves above and beyond our normal high standards of Chinese water torture. Drip, drip, drip. You can handle it to start with. I can hack this you think. It aint so bad.
Then it enters your brain and then your very soul. The West Ham heart of darkness. You turn up to Bramall Lane Sheffield in the wake of the first ever win by any team in the Premiership at The Emirates Stadium. Surely we are not going to bottle this, you think. Think again. Think Bolton the year we last went down.
Three f*cking nil. No sign of West Ham United Football Club just a load of northern monkeys playing like it was the final game of the season and their very lives depended upon it. It was like Phoenix f*cking Nights in there. I had to sit in a pub with a f*cking crown green bowling green outside as well. Itís like going backward in time and we watched Ďem stroll it.
Then itís time to rely on turning over Roman Abramovic Dynamo. Not a hope you think. 1-0 down and they are running the game and then out of nowhere a top drawer Argie strike. Jubilation lasts a full 35 seconds as an even better goal down the other end from Wright-Phillips snuffs out any optimism.
Return of the prodigal son
It wasnít the defeat at the hands of the Russian Mafiaís West London plaything that was hard to take, it was the sight of Joseph Cole coming onto the pitch in the enemyís colours. This is true football thumbscrews. We all saw that boy sign his professional forms just in front of the gloryhuntersí stand opposite. Look to the future now, itís only just begun.
Another false West Ham dawn, of course. Itís like watching your girlfriend go off with a f*cking Sp*rs fan and then turn up down your local flaunting their new found love. You just canít talk about it in polite company and not suffer painful ridicule.
Of course, even those two defeats did not totally snuff out the flame of hope. Now the managerís at it as well. Just nine points needed from our last four games. Yeah, right, Alan. Drip, drip drip.
It could be worse, we could be Scouse, eating rats in a council house
The people with no rooves on their houses turn up at the Boleyn. A nice sunny day and you just knew that we were going to steer ourselves nicely back onto the unforgiving rocks of a final day goal difference relegation.
We set up like we mean it, with a rejuvenated Yossi plying his trade and Tevez all over the shop as usual. It takes just 5 minutes to see Andy Johnson crocked and off and then a wonder strike by Zamora with not even a quarter hour gone following a sublime back heel by the Israeli wizard. It was beautiful to watch from our vantage point in the East Stand. It sailed in.
Lucas Neill, now there is a man that you would like to have around in any crisis. This bloke is the calmest defender I have seen at Upton Park for years. OK, I admit that I took the p*ss about his money-grabbing tendencies, but Iím beginning to think that he is the best signing we have made in a long time. Shame the goldigging convict has that relegation clause which heís bound to trigger.
George is best
I tell you someone else who is growing on me - George McCartney. This bloke has a lot of heart and he has an amazing workrate up and down that flank. It was in evidence throughout the Everton game.
We pretty much run the first half and the only scare really came from a loose ball in the box that the serial disappointment James Beattie tried to nick past Robert Green. James Collins made an excellent and timely intervention to stop what would have been a damaging goal.
The other point which impressed was Robert Greenís distribution. When he throws it out, it inevitably creates something interesting, particularly when it goes to Tevez. It looked like we would go in 2-0 up just before half time but the wrong decision was made to lay the ball off to Matty in the box.
Iíd like to say that what followed was an entertaining second half. Not really. It was just pure tension and there were few chances of great note. The best opportunity actually came on 73 minutes when Tevez was again the inevitable provider and cut back a ball across goal from the dead ball line. Yossi was waiting but somehow contrived to scrape the ball wide of the post.
The one thing that really mystified me in this game was why the worldís most miserable football manager, David ĎI rent my face out for funeralsí Moyes did not introduce Manuel Fernandes earlier. He looked a real threat, but it was all a bit too late.
Then ridicule for the ladies and gentlemen in yellow fluorescent coats as three pikey looking characters managed to invade the pitch from the Bobby Moore Lower with little apparent difficulty. I donít get why people do this. What is it all about? Some kind of claim to fame? String the f*ckers up I say. Or if you really want to make Ďem suffer, maybe a season ticket would be fair retribution.
Thanks to the space invaders we then get six minutes added time. When that happens you begin to think of Fulham and Sp*rs. Irrational thoughts maybe, but years of practice suggest that is exactly what should be playing on your mind.
The road to further despair
We navigate added time thanks to George and his masterclass in corner flag possession and then the real cruelty begins again. Charlton 1 Sheffield United 1. Drip, drip, drip. Fuham 1 Blackburn 1. Liverpool 2 Wigan 0.
Boll*cks. Hope is back again. Her siren like voice is enticing. The hope that goes all the way up the road of despair, otherwise known as the M6. Straight up to the JJB Stadium, the ancestral home of the pie. I think you all know what is going to happen next, donít you?
(Plyare ratings by Gordon Thrower)
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Not overly tested but brave when required.
Strong match and is getting closer to the scoring his first goal for the club.
A decent game. Iím not 100% convinced by his Premiership pedigree but he played well today.
A better game Ė no silly free-kicks in dangerous positions and he wisely opted for safety first.
Excellent match. The last ditch tackle on Beattie was superb.
If nothing else the trials and tribulations of this season have at least prompted the reintroduction of Noble into the first team following spells on loan and on the treatment table. A good solid game.
Improved form Ė still needs to learn when to release the ball and when to hold on but he showed a degree of commitment that appeared to be missing earlier in the season.
More like his old self. Some nice combinations with Tevez and a fine backheel to set up Bobbyís goal.
A better performance from the point of view of the impressive amount of hard work put in. Even tried to take on his full back from time to time.
This was an impressive performance in a different way from the usual eye-catching stuff. Did a hell of a lot of closing down and chasing back.
Bobby is obviously what the pundits like to refer to as a ďconfidenceĒ player. Clearly he is on a high and his excellent goal was just reward for a fine performance.
(Replaced Zamora, 71) Iím not a big fan but he was sent on to do a job by making a thorough nuisance of himself and, whilst he didnít really look like scoring, he caused a few problems in the 20 or so minutes he was on.
Luis Boa Morte
(Replaced Etherington, 74) Nothing of note to report in the last 15 or so he was on.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Man of the Match: Bobby Zamora.
West Ham United
Robert Green, Lucas Neill, George McCartney, Anton Ferdinand, James Collins, Mark Noble, Nigel Reo-Coker, Yossi Benayoun, Matthew Etherington, Carlos Tevez, Bobby Zamora.
Goals: Bobby Zamora 13 .
Booked: George McCartney 62 Yossi Benayoun 90 .
Sent Off: None sent off. .
Howard, Hibbert, Yobo, Stubbs, Lescott, Arteta, Neville, Carsley, Osman, Johnson, Beattie.
Substitutes: McFadden (Johnson 7) Fernandes (Neville 65).
Subs not used: Wright, Naysmith, Anderson da Silva.
Booked: Arteta (90+2).
Sent Off: .