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West Ham United v Reading

Filed: Saturday, 18th May 2013
By: Preview Percy

And so we arrive at the last game of the season a 4pm kick-off on Sunday where we will be saying a last farewell to Reading.

The now traditional last weekend Sunday finale has confused the hell out of TfL who looked at the Saturday fixture list, saw we were free, and promptly decided not to dig up the track in the vicinity of Upton Park station this weekend. Ssh. Don’t tell them.

Our visitors come sitting in second last spot with 28 points from their 37 matches. Only 3 points separate them from QPR at the bottom and the goal differences are pretty similar so we could end up sending them to the basement, though, frankly even that bit of excitement is a bit manufactured – surely even the mediocre Liverpool will be too strong for QPR at Anfield.

Now supporters of most clubs would be reacting to such a situation. Wolves’ lot are up in arms at their demise whilst, in true gallows humour style, we decided to embark on one enormous piss-up to commemorate our own relegation a couple of seasons ago. Much as we’ll be doing to commemorate mid-table respectability this time round. Of course Reading supporters are cut from a different cloth to supporters of proper clubs. There’s been talk of a boycott of the match, sure, based on the fact that we charge a few more quid than they charged us for the reciprocal fixture. However the big talking point down there has been the thorny question of inflatables.

Yes, inflatables. Those things that were briefly popular a few years back in a trend started by Man City fans bringing blow-up bananas to matches. Now whilst an old club, Reading are bereft of anything resembling proper traditions. So, in an attempt to make some up, they decided that they would “traditionally” bring various inflatables along to the last game of the season. Bless ‘em relegation seems to be confusing them. Some think it inappropriate to carry on this weeks old “tradition” in the light of their return whence they came. Others are worried about whether the “event” should be more organised or less organised. As one grammar-mangling poster put it: “Once you start complicating things the result is less inflatables”. Perish the thought. Either way we’ll be seeing a lot of plastic through the gates of the STB this weekend, though whether they’ll be bringing any inflatables is anyone’s guess.

Their problem is a lack of self-awareness both as supporters and as a club. Take their strange rise to the Championship title last season. It was rather obvious to everyone that they were riding their luck to unprecedented levels, getting played off the park most weeks but still somehow coming away with a win. Whilst the old motto of winning whilst not playing well being the mark of a good side does have occasional merit, it does only apply to sides that are any good in the first place. If you’re an average Championship outfit you’ll be able to bluster through for a while on that basis but it’s not something you’d want to rely on in the top flight where, playing badly you’ll win the occasional one but, by and large, you’ll get found out. Certainly it’s a bit unwise to start talking about Europe, as a number of their supporters were doing in a certain North Hampshire hostelry I popped into last summer were doing. I must pop back there to see how many of them are back supporting Chelsea.

Nigel Adkins is currently in charge. The ever unlikeable ex-Southampton manager took over in a Titanic deckchair rearrangement manoeuvre undertaken by the Russian owner. Who really is the owner and not his Dad who might have had a few issues with the “fit and proper” test. Previous boss Brian McDermott spent the summer and winter transfer windows scrabbling about the bargain basements suggesting that the owner has not been too free with the roubles. It’ll be interesting to see whether Adkins is given more dosh to play with this summer. Actually, it’ll be a matter of the utmost disinterest to me but one or two Reading fans might want to drag themselves away from the thorny decision of what toy to bring with them to matches next season to ask the question.

Keeper Alex McCarthy has just been called up to the England squad. That’ll add a few bob to any transfer fee should someone come shopping in the summer. Clearly a rebuild will be required and, with all the talk from the owners containing the word “prudence”, and based on earlier windows under this regime, it’s possible that Adkins will be expected to finance transfers largely from sales. A decent bid for McCarthy might therefore prove too tempting to resist – especially with his trip away with England providing ample opportunity for him to be tapped up.

Sadly, thanks to injury, we’ll be unable to give Jimmy Kebe the send off he deserves. Kebe forgot the first rule of being a flash git when playing football at any level, namely that if you’re going to do something flash it helps to be any good in the first place. Or you’ll end up with a relegation on your CV to add to the deserved kicking you get. I’m sure he’ll be fit enough to be pulling his socks up next season – I’m sure he’ll enjoy the Championship.

We have no further injury worries – Linda aside – so we’ll have pretty much a full squad to select from. We’re likely to be seeing the last of some people, though which of the squad will not return for the new season remains to be seen. If it’s bye bye Carlton he’ll go with my best wishes. We may have had more talented players over the years but few have committed themselves to the cause in quite the same manner – I’m damned I can remember anyone taking a pay cut like he did in order to stay with the club. I’d like to think that there’s a spot for him somewhere in the squad but obviously he needs to be playing first team football at this stage of his career. So, if he goes, I’ll raise a glass in his honour and he’ll get a round of applause from these arthritic hands whenever he returns.

I’ve written elsewhere at length – and then had to explain it at length to a particularly hard of thinking Liverpool supporter – on the subject of Andy Carroll. I reckon that, of the options available to him we’re probably the best available to him in pure footballing terms. However, the thorny subject may throw a spanner in the works for that one. Which is a shame as the stuff he does off the ball is well appreciated in these parts. One day a professional journalist will be able to write an article mentioning Carroll and West Ham mentioning some of the football played rather than lazily reverting to “insert standard long-ball paragraph” here mode. I may be on my second telegram from the Queen by then though.

It’s been a satisfactory season on the whole. It was all about staying up and that’s something that was accomplished with relative ease. Next season will be all about progress but that’s a discussion for another time when the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered’s supply of Werther’s Originals (my fee for writing this each week) has run out. Elsewhere in the league we’ve had added bonus of seeing three deserving teams go down. Whelan’s hypocrisy and dodgy dealings finally get their long-awaited comeuppance. I’m still not allowed to mention much about QPR’s manager unfortunately. The return of any club that plays music after goals to the lower regions is something that most right thinking people will applaud. It would be unfortunate if Palace, an equally plastic club that likes to make up traditions, were to replace them and I have good friends based in Watford so some good drinking to be had if they come up.

For this one I’ll be placing the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered’s “Sympathy For The Biscuitmen Buy An Inflatable” Fund (Currently £2.50 overdrawn) on a 3-1 home win as we comfort ourselves with the thought that we won’t be seeing them again for a while.

Enjoy the game – and have a good summer!

When Last We Met At The Boleyn: Lost 2-4 (March 2012) Reading cemented their position in the list of “teams we played off the park but somehow managed to lose to” by taking full advantage of referee Chris Foy’s determination to hand them the points. The catalogue for three of their goals read handball, offside and dive for a penalty. It summed up the second half of their season in a nutshell.

Referee: Mike Dean. It is a trademark of an Adkins side that they tend to dive a bit. It is a trademark of Mike Dean to make himself the centre of attention in every match he referees. A recipe for disaster.

Danger Man: Adam Le Fondre. It would have been Jason Roberts – high amongst the list of journeymen who always score against us but he’s injured.

Daft Fact Of The Week: It can only be this: "Once you start complicating things, the result is less inflatables..."

John NorthcuttStat man John: Northcutt's corner

Head to Head
Pld 12; West Ham Utd 3, Reading 7, Draws 2.

First Meeting
11th September 2002: Reading 0-0 West Ham Utd (6-5 pens, Madejski Stadium, League Cup)

Last Meeting
29th December 2012: Reading 1-0 West Ham Utd (Madejski Stadium, Premier League)

Biggest Win(s)
1st September 2007: Reading 0-3 West Ham Utd (Madejski Stadium, Premiership)

Heaviest Defeat(s)
1st January 2007: Reading 6-0 West Ham Utd (Madejski Stadium, Premiership)

March 1962: Reading 4-2 West Ham Utd (Crawford 2)
April 1970: Reading 3-3 West Ham Utd (Brooking, Bonds, Greaves)
August 1971: Reading 0-0 West Ham Utd
July 1996: Reading 1-2 West Ham Utd (Quinn, Morley)
August 2002 : Reading 5-4 West Ham Utd (Kanoute, Defoe, Cole, Camara)

Early baths
2011/12: Joey O’Brien (a); 2011/12: Jack Collison (a).

They Played For Both
Tommy Allison; Ken Bainbridge; John Blackwood; Chris Cotton; William Davidson; Steve Death; Tommy Dixon; Jack Fletcher; Harry Gunning; Jim Holmes; Sam Jennings; Harry Kinsell; Herbert Lyon; Steve Mautone; Jobi McAnuff; Trevor Morley; Hayden Mullins; James Reid; William Robson; Peter Simpson; Rod Williams; Alan Wooler; Len Young; Shaka Hislop; Adrian Whitbread; Ray Houghton; Jimmy Quinn; Keith McPherson.

Bossing It
Former manager Alan Pardew was also the Royals manager.

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.

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