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In Review: Home From Home

Filed: Tuesday, 14th November 2017
By: Gordon Thrower

Brian Williams
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"Payet's performance in the League Cup was, quite simply, a disgrace. One particularly perceptive column on KUMB likened it to that of Paul Ince when he was after a move to Man Utd..."

I've certainly gone through the first four stages of grief. As for acceptance - well I'm working on it. I just need a little more time. One hundred and twelve years should be about right

Firstly, in the interest of openness I ought to put a few cards on the table. Before I give you my thoughts on the latest offering from Brian Williams I should point out that I know Brian personally and consider him to be a mate. I also got a free copy of the book to review, which, knowing Williams, will be used as an excuse to avoid buying a round for the foreseeable future.

So what have we here then? Home From Home is Williams’ second book on the subject of the club we all know and endure. His first effort Nearly Reach The Sky was prompted by our departure from the Boleyn and featured a collection of reminiscences from a lifetime of visits to Green Street. The follow-up is a personal look at our first season in our new home together with a look at some of the highlights of the last season at the Boleyn.

The move to the London Stadium has not been the most of successful ventures on or off the pitch – elsewhere the excellent H-List blog has detailed what an appalling home record we have had since the move – so the results on the pitch have arguably made the job of writing this book an easier task for Williams, who has always been one of the staunchest opponents of the relocation. It would therefore have been easy for the book to have come across as written by someone who was almost glad that things were not going so well. That’s not the case though.

The fact is that Williams is a fan first and foremost and the pain felt at seeing our club struggle is something that pervades throughout. If there is an element of “I told you so” within the book (and given Brian’s views of the move that’s inevitable to a certain degree) the message is delivered more in sadness than triumph, with the weary shake of the head that is the current body language of the West Ham Supporter. In that respect the juxtaposition of the trials and tribulations of the first season at Stratford with the triumphs of the final season at the Boleyn is a clever move in which Williams allows the results to speak for themselves.

And it’s not all about the move. There is plenty of other stuff that has gone on at the club in the same period and that doesn’t get ignored. The “Payet Affair” for example is examined and parallels are drawn with the departure of Paul Ince (further cards on the table – I made a very small contribution to that particular chapter, despite which it is still worth a read).

The book is interspersed with contributions from other supporters – including Mr Howlett of this parish – and very entertaining they are as well. The reminisces of childhood visits to the Boleyn struck a particular chord with your reviewer.

There will be times that you disagree with something that Williams has said – for example his assertion that Mike Dean could be “a very nice man” is a conclusion that no sane observer could ever reach given the weight of evidence to the contrary. And given that the move is something that has polarised opinion throughout the support there may be some who disagree with the main premise behind the book in the first place. That shouldn’t put anyone off from giving this a read, irrespective of personal standpoint. In fact I’d recommend you give it a read especially if you were in favour of the move. It may not change your view of matters but you will at least have a new perspective.

Deadlines being what they are and with the change in manager just announced Williams is probably cursing the timing of the book’s release – something he will no doubt blame Sullivan, Gold and Brady for in any follow-up. But at least the book’s release allows me to inform one and all that the book really would make an ideal Christmas gift. Honest!

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