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Saturday, 27th April 2002

Newcastle United 3
West Ham United 1

by Graham Godfrey

Having made the now short trip to newcastle ,with Go , 40 minutes flying and you're there, the chaps all dispersed into the wild and entertaining town , thoroughly recommend taking in a bar that goes by the name of Buffalo Joe's over the swing bridge in Gateshead, barmaids dress up as cowgirls in bikinis ,marvelous, top sounds are played in there for the more mature of us, oh and the girls we met said the barmen in there cowboy gear worked for them too, that was for Val just in case , the male bias may have offended her.

Go across the road and into Ba Ha and if you thought the cow girls were special, the Bacardi Breezer girls are definitely closely related to angels, they just have the bikinis on no other garments to spoil the view, apparently on the Friday night this was the Hammer drinking den, as nearly everyone at St. James's on Saturday had been in there and was informing all who wanted to listen that this would be the top venue for the away end of season party,

After what felt like climbing mount Everest , you eventually get to you're area inside the ground , the pitch looks like you're garden from the upstairs window and the players are little ants scuttling around , fantastic ground an very black and white, everyone has a replica shirt, and most had these poxy little flags that said champions league on and funny enough were black and white.

As for the game the first half was as good as we've played away all season, even given our first half performance at the library, Freddie, Jermain and Trev had too much about them and the Geordie back line couldn't cope at all we, were breaking down the right with Joe , and Carrick and Lomas were supporting in the center , every one of the above mentioned players will be disappointed they didn't join Jermain on the scoresheet inside the first 40 minutes , even Bobby Robson admitted we gave them a footballing lesson in the first half , but we obviously left our shooting boots back in London cause we sure paid for those missed opportunities.

It took ten minutes for any real action , no not Friday, when Jermain and freddie linked up for the latter to volley in only for Given to parry out to Freddie whose shot from 6 yards out was saved again the cleared ,this was a pattern of play that then flowed away to the Gallowgate end , as we pushed them back

next to have a crack at goal was Michael Carrick in his home town he picked the ball up on the halfway line and unchallenged got to within 25 yards of the goal pretty central only to send a low shot well wide to the left of the goal, Sinclair then did excellent down the left tricking his way past the bar code right back, he lifted the ball over to the back post were Freddie in almost an identical position to his goal at Fulham headed just wide this time,

A minute Later ,Freddie got his head to a DJ clearance and flicked it on to Jermain ,he let it run ,bouncing into the box before half volleying it well into the bottom left hand corner of the net, the already noisy ,drunk and happy hammers up in the Crows Nest part of the ground went bonkers, we must have sung nearly all of our repertoire of songs for the rest of the game, even got back to singing about Millwall, highly entertaining and for all the chaps and chappesses who were there , didn't we have a laugh

Any thing the Toon had thrown our way in the first half was comfortably dealt with by our defence , we looked as solid as we did at arsenal and they were not going to score if we kept playing the way we were,Joe had a shot unsurprisingly go weakly wide when in a good position and the we went on the all out attack and should have killed the game off, first off neat build up play down the right put Lomas totally clear about 10 yards out with Given to beat only for him to pull his shot wide left, a minute later excellent play around the box saw Trev lob the ball over the back line for Freddie to run on to only for him to lift the ball over the keeper and onto the roof of the net ,just as at Highbury but the other side of the goal,

we were still attacking when , a hopeful ball was played forward to Dyer who unchallenged had time to pick out Shearer's run , unfortunately ,Repka didn't ,he also gave up the chase before it even started leaving , DJ facing a one on one that was only ever going to be one result, harsh on us did look a bit offside but the TV's at half time proved otherwise and the bar helped the majority of us recharge and hope we could play as well in the second half

Here's hoping, second half started fairly slowly, Shearer had a free kick that t was blocked, then we committed football suicide and the game was theirs as the crowd got behind them and we surrendered, a long hopeful ball from there right back in his own half was helpfully headed back by Dailly to DJ who for some reason that even he must not have fathomed out yet, headed instead of catching, the ball went out to Robert on there left who drilled it back , DJ parried it out but right into the path of Lua Lua, who had an easy finish for 2 1

There was only going to be one winner on the pitch now, off it was another matter, as we kept getting right behind the team and didn't shut up, after the balls up of the second goal the third bar code goal was just as much of a give away , we had been under a fair bit of pressure and they had gone close, we did have a few attacks but nothing worth printing on here, a mix up at the back gave Robert the chance to slip in between Repka Dailly and DJ, he lobbed the ball over the oncoming keeper ,hit the post and as he was the only one bothered in following in his shot had an open goal to slot the ball into the net

We had a couple of chances late on Joe and Freddie linked up well ,for Joe to go one on one with given only for him to fire straight at the keeper , and from a corner a bit of a goalmouth scramble saw us go close but we weren't going to get back into it, they started to party , we pretended to score a goal that made the Geordies clap us the fans for our entertainment value, and that was it really

another away day defeat, its got to get better next season, when we take the game to teams they can't cope, why don't we persist with it instead of getting disheartened and sitting back

Anyway, sod that, thought about the game for about all of a minute after the game, then remembered the nightlife awaiting us later on, oh to be a Hammer on tour, from what I heard everyone had a blinding w/e and from the state of some of the lads at the airport on Sunday, it was a long old session, get yourselves up there next season, won't get a better trip than that town , and we do normally have some joy from St. James's.

Player ratings:

For the first 40 minutes you could give them all a nine, collectively brilliant, collectively cocked it up and due to this would give them about a six, to be honest the drink has clouded my view on individual performances and am buggered if I'm going to put myself up there to be shot at when I had enough trouble getting the report together in the first place!

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