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Nationwide Division One
Saturday, 9th August 2003

Preston North End 1
West Ham United 2

by Gordon Thrower

This was just one of those perfect weekends. Great weather, a good result and a couple of fantastic evenings in splendid company.

Friday

An early start saw me arrive at Stansted at 5.30 am for our flight. We were joined in the check-in queue by Charlton’s Matt Holland. Hopes that he was flying up to Blackpool to sign for us were dashed when he confirmed he was only off to a funeral. As usual, for some inexplicable reason, I set off the metal detector. I swear could walk through those things naked and they’d still go off. This of course caused much hilarity amongst the gang, especially as the somewhat camp security guard seemed to take a suspiciously long time to do the body search. The first shock of the tour came when we discovered there was no tomato juice on board our flight for the 7am bloody maries. The second shock came when we discovered that the round of drinks that we were able to purchase cost nearly as much as the plane fare. Not my fault - I was on diet coke all weekend - honest.

We arrived at Blackpool and had a brief constitutional along the front before eating the proverbial hearty breakfast. Jen first paused to ring her family to confirm that a) the plane hadn’t crashed, b) yes everyone was looking after her, c) no, nobody had tried to spike her drink with rohypnol and d) yes she would take care to use suncream.

We then adjourned to a back street boozer by the name of the Sun Inn. Hours of preparation went into this choice of pub and numerous factors were considered before we selected it as our first base. The clincher was the fact that it was the only pub open and serving at 10.30am. On arrival the barman switched the telly on. It was showing a video of what I shall refer to as “adult educational material” This free show lasted a minute or so before the barman realised and turned the tv, over much to Jen’s annoyance as she had been sat underneath the telly and therefore missed the fun. Me - I felt sorry for the bloke - imagine having one that small (Though the rumours that the film featured Northern Paulo must remain unconfirmed as we didn‘t see the guy‘s face).

Denied visual entertainment, our attention turned to the jukebox where Romford proceeded to issue a lecture to anyone prepared to listen, and several who weren’t, that there were only 3 types of music - Jazz, Funk and Soul. So why on earth we spent the next few hours listening to such gems as Black Lace‘s “Agadoo” “Hokey Kokey“ and “Do The Conga“ Russ Abbott’s “Atmosphere” and The Foundations’ “Build Me Up Buttercup” God alone knows,

As the sun got stronger our venue changed to a nearby Yates Wine Lodge where most of us sat outside polishing up our tans. Romford and Scouse remained inside doing what appeared to be charity work for Help The Aged judging by the women they were talking to. At various stages we were joined by Nick “Tea & Coffee”, Northern Bird , Lost Hammer, Paddy The Greek, and my Roommate for the weekend Bonehead. The evening was spent in a 60’s/70’s club called “Flares” where they played some fairly acceptable music. And “Build Me Up Buttercup” as well. Twice. The best bit was when we persuaded the DJ to play “Twist & Shout” for all the Hammers in the club. The place erupted. I narrowly avoided having a policewoman’s tongue put in my ear - although I have a sneaky feeling that neither her or her friends were real policewomen unless fishnet stockings have become part of the Lancashire Constabulary’s standard issue uniform.

Saturday

The great thing about being on the wagon is that other people’s hangovers are really funny. There were certainly a few thick heads about the place at breakfast. The headaches were presumably not helped by the RAF doing spectacular but very noisy aerobatics in their Tornado jets. It had been decided that the KUMB crew should all sport Rufus Brevett wigs. In the end only Sicknote, Lost Hammer and myself were stupid enough to don the acrylic dreadlocks in the 100 degree heat. We were joined by Mr & Mrs Bluebutterfly (plus caterpillar) for the trip across to Deepdale. This was despite their having spent half the night looking for hotel accommodation having been rather unsportingly locked out of the place they had booked due to a late arrival. We were also able to met up with Northern Paulo and his daughter who were basking in the sunshine outside the pub near the ground.

And so to the match itself (yes there was a purpose to all this!). Before the match I’d convinced myself that I was having such a good weekend West Ham were bound to ruin it for me. My fears were increased when after a mere two minutes Alexander’s cross from the Preston right was met by Lewis who had escaped the attentions of Ferdinand to head past James. This prompted the Preston fans to start a chant of “We Are Top Of The League” that they were to later regret.

The lead lasted about 3 minutes. Etherington and Hutchison combined down the left to feed Defoe who finished superbly for what should prove to be the first of many goals for us this season, assuming he stays.

The remainder of the half was fairly even. The main talking points being Preston’s claims for a couple of penalties. A Preston player went down like a sack of spuds from a fairly innocuous challenge from Hutchison. That didn’t look like a penalty to me. However Hutchison’s reaction to the fall was to stupidly push the forward to the ground which, had the ref seen the incident, could easily have seen a spot kick awarded. Our hearts were in our mouth again when Repka’s challenge saw another claim for a penalty turned down.

For most of the second half the we sat back and allowed Preston a fair bit of possession. However the home side failed to make the most of it and I lost count of the number of times that the ball was crossed to the far post when the Preston strikers had all gone to the near post. We made two fairly early substitutions in the second half. Sofianne replaced the ineffectual Garcia and Connolly came on for the hard working Mellor. Both substitutions were improvements with Sofianne in particular scaring the Preston defence every time he ran at them.

Connolly got what proved to be the winner with about 20 minutes left. Etherington broke out from defence and fed Connolly just inside his own half. The striker ran at the Preston defence before cutting in and rolling the ball past Gould who had gone to ground just a bit too soon. Referee Danson booked Connolly for his over exuberant celebrations which seemed a bit petty to me.

We seemed a much better side after the second goal as the confidence seemed to come flooding back and both Defoe and Connolly could have increased the lead. The one big scare came when the otherwise excellent Lee gave the ball away allowing Fuller to run in on goal only for the Preston man’s shot to go high and wide.

So we ended up with the 3 points from a match that, whilst far from a classic, was probably a lot better than we had any right to expect given the almost unbearable heat and humidity.

Back to Blackpool where it was more drinks in the beer gardens before Northern Bird (who wishes it to be known that she is madly in love with a bloke who drives a combine harvester) left for home. We managed to upset Jen by pointing out that the “Blankety Blank cheque book and pen” trophy was only in fact a tacky ornament and there wasn’t an accompanying Blankety Blank Account full of money given to the “lucky” recipients. Sorry to shatter your illusions Jen!

Following an excellent meal accompanied by a celebratory bottle of bubbly we went out for our evening’s entertainment. This consisted of a visit to the Dutton Arms followed by a trip to a noisy place which didn’t particularly impress as the quality of the hen-night policewomen was well below standard. Mind you the naughty PVC Clad nurses weren’t all that bad. We decided that some of the entertainment on offer in Blackpool was a bit too sophisticated for us. So we gave both Ken Webster’s Comedy Hypnotism show and the Grumbleweeds a miss, although we might have been tempted if the Krankies had been in town. Bonehead dressed up in his best shirt which, was even louder than Sicknote’s bloody radio. The walk down to reception alone induced three Migraines in fellow hotel guests.

After a 3 mile walk along the Golden Mile we finally ended up at Flares where we were in time to hear all three playings of “Build Me Up Bloody Buttercup” and for Lost Hammer to lose his lunch right in the middle of the dance floor, although this was believed to be the result of excess alcohol rather than a personal comment on the quality of “The Foundations” best known single.

Sunday

Late nights were had by all and Jen and Believe In The Bubbles found themselves missing the early flight home on Sunday morning. Thankfully there was room in the Butterflymobile for the trip back. We returned to the Sun Inn for Sunday lunch where we were entertained by the 50’s and 60’s stylings of DJ Golden Gordon and a free buffet. It was then I discovered that Glenn Campbell’s “Rhinestone Cowboy” is possibly an even more irritating song than “Flipping Well Build Him Up Buttercup before one of us dies“ Especially the way Liam sang it anyway. A quiet Sunday afternoon was spent buying horrible cheap plastic models of the Blackpool Tower from gift shops and chilling out. On arrival at the airport I was personally selected by the security guard to have my baggage examined in fine detail. This gave me the horrible job of explaining why exactly I was carrying a bag full of tourist crap and a Rufus Brevett souvenir wig. Of course I set the metal detectors off again although it was Wilmott who fell foul of the most stringent security checks, having a golf pitch marker removed from him, presumably in case he went on a savage spell of carpet repairs at 20,000 feet.

As I mentioned it was a smashing weekend and I’d like to thank the following for their excellent company. Sicknote, Jen, Believe In The Bubbles (who scored an own goal against me the other week), Bluebutterfly and husband and caterpillar, Liam, Wilmott, Richie, “Nick Tea & Coffee”, Bonehead (thanks for not having a radio roommate), Northern Bird, Deano & Kath, Carmen, Jeannie, Lost Hammer (aka Lost Lunch), Paddy The Greek, Scouse (your secret’s safe with me sir) and Taff. Finally a special mention for Romford who splendidly organised the whole trip and came up trumps with the hotel. I hope you didn’t have to spend too much time erasing those text messages sir!

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Player Ratings

David James
One shocking kick and went walkabout on one occasion in the second half. However looked very good on crosses.


Anton Ferdinand
Lost his man for the goal but gained confidence and came in with one superb tackle in the first half.


Rufus Brevett
His usual reliable self. Not at all distracted by three lookalikes in the crowd. Harshly booked.


Christian Dailly
For the most part looked ok once he and Repka had sorted themselves out.


Tomas Repka
The usual potential penalty drama took the gloss off the fact that for long spells he looked qute comfortable at this level.


Don Hutchison
Had an ok first half but lost the ball too easily in the second for my liking.


Richard Garcia
Had a poor match and failed to make much of an impression.


Robert Lee
Always seemed to have time on the ball although his horrible mistake could have cost us points at the end.


Matthew Etherington
A useful debut. Had a hand in both goals and showed a willingness to take on players.


Jermain Defoe
Whatever the rights and wrongs of his over-eager transfer request, Jemain showed that if he stays he'll terrify defences in this division.


Neil Mellor
Controversially picked ahead of David Connolly he worked quite hard without much going right for him. Showed enough to suggest that a few training sessions might result in a useful partnership with Defoe.


Substitutes


Youssef Sofiane
The second time I have seen this youngster and the second time I have been impressed. Time for him to have a place in the starting line-up methinks.


David Connolly
Angry ant made an immediate impact with his fine goal. Always full of running and harshly booked for his goal celebrations. An interesting selection problem for the manager looms.


Stephen Bywater
Did not play


Shaun Byrne
Did not play


David Noble
Did not play



Match Facts

Referee: Paul Danson.

Attendance: 18246.

Man of the Match: Jermain Defoe.

West Ham United

Goals: Jermain Defoe 6 David Connolly 69                

Booked: Connolly 70 Ferdinand 72 Brevett 89      .

Sent Off:      .

Preston North End

Gould, Alexander, Jackson, Lucketti, Edwards, Healy, Etuhu (Skora), O'Neil, Lewis, Cresswell, Fuller..

Substitutes: Skora (Etuhu 67)..

Subs not used: Lucas, Abbott, Keane, Lynch..

Goals: Lewis 2.

Booked: .

Sent Off: .

 
Match Report


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