The performance we have been waiting for

At last, West Ham produced the kind of display that could change a few minds about what division we will be playing in next season.

I can't remember the last time I saw us beat Liverpool. Certainly not in the 30-odd years I have lived in the north west and travelled ever-hopefully to see us get soundly beaten time after time at Anfield.

As for games at the Boleyn, it's also been a long wait considering I missed the Mark Noble-inspired penalty victory of a couple of years back. My only real memory of watching us play Liverpool in the east end was the last game of the season 2-0 defeat that saw us relegated back in 1978.

So witnessing Sunday's outstanding display was just a bit special. And it is what we have all been waiting for.

A compelling, professional, quality display from front to back for the whole 90-odd minutes. Not just the occasional spell of good play followed by the rubbish we have been witnessing this season.

Not even the stunning three-goal comeback at West Brom, thanks mainly to a half-time tirade from Scott Parker. The first 45 minutes at the Hawthorns were just terrible.

We have needed our season to be energised by an all-action, high-tempo display for a very long time. And to see us dismantle and out-play Liverpool was a sheer joy. Parker, of course, was outstanding, playing with a shoulder injury. Seeing as he has been carrying us all season, it's not surprising his shoulders hurt.

Matthew Upson - I thought, according to the Daily Mail, that he was out for the season - also produced one of his best displays of a worryingly inconsistent season. Demba Ba is a animal of a player up front, Carlton Cole scored his sixth goal in ten games - and fourth in three - while throughout the side there were men playing for the shirt.

Because we have messed up against the likes of Birmingham, we now have to beat sides who are in the top six. So battering Liverpool is a good way to start, these were three points few expected we could manage and it now means we must win a minimum of four of our final games.

So, as Parker has already rightly said. We must do this again and again, starting at home to Stoke on Saturday, otherwise these heroics against a poor, flat Liverpool side, will be wasted.

Of course, while all Sunday's excitement was going on, Birmingham were winning the Carling Cup at Wembley. Bet Arsenal hadn't seen that one coming, so up themselves as they are these days. They have become a patronising, sneering bunch who don't think opponents should not be allowed to tackle them.

So returning to the bar at Euston for the train back north, there was the chance to watch the Brummies take the trophy on TV and realise that could have been us at Wembley.
It provoked the debate as to what was more important, three points against Liverpool or a glorious day out at Wembley. And here we have a generation gap.

Fans of my era have been to Wembley, seen us win cups and a European trophy and experienced the very best West Ham era. The younger brigade must be getting a little sick of hearing about '64, '65, '66 and all that.

Certainly the younger generation in my family. My 31-year-old son is now entrusted by his mum to take me to matches, make sure I don't drink too much and to try not to lose me!

And he's doing it manfully while putting up with age-old stories of Moore, Hurst, Peters and my real hero, Johnny Byrne.

And he'd rather have been at Wembley for a cup final. I realised that he has never seen us win anything, apart from the play-off final. He's seen little else but relegation battles, Championship football at times with the occasional decent season.

It's this generation that deserve better. I've seen it all really - apart from a title success, and that's never going to happen.

We nearly got to this season's Carling final, 12 minutes away I recall before the Brummies exposed our defensive frailties. We'd even already sent back our cup final ticket requests.

Now if we can just beat Stoke twice, to grab another vital league win and then to survive what will be the expected aerial bombardment at the Britannia stadium in a fortnight, we can at least have one trip to Wembley this season for a semi-final.

My lad, I recall, had to sit in a pub in Cardiff with his uncle to watch the 2006 FA Cup final against Liverpool because they couldn't get a ticket. That is the closest he's come to a cup final day out.

The club need to realise it is his generation who deserve some success to repay their 30 years of loyalty. I still maintain the three points against Liverpool were more important because the calamity of relegation, financially, is too horrible to face.

But I too would like to be at Wembley with 40,000 other Irons fans again. I suppose it is too much to ask for us to avoid the drop and play in a show-piece game again. Fortune doesn't always have to be hiding.

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