It's too idyllic for my liking. You know, the whole first day of the season theory. The sun is shining, the long summer without football is over, you put your lucky shirt on, you leave for the game all excited, your team win, you go home pleased. ........It's a worrying sign that, even after a fast paced start, Ashton's two goals failed to enliven me. For the first time since the barren Championship years, I feel someone, or something, has removed any enthusiasm I've had for the start of a season.
It’s 1996, and my under-9 five-a-side have just lost their final group game in the league stage of a prestigious local tournament. We had already qualified for the second round, yet because the shot that beat us came of my right foot, I was in tears. I hate losing, and this is the first example that I can remember of being a ‘bad loser’.
If one more so called football fans sends me a Text message attempting to laugh at West Ham’s current plight, I will not be happy. My mood will be even worse if someone tells me that this club will survive relegation. I’ve heard it time and time again; tonight is merely my tipping point. I’ve had enough.
Normally, I know where my reports are heading before I start writing them. Post-match conclusions and eventualities tend to form in my mind about an hour or so after full time. This two-two draw at St. James’ Park really has baffled me.
I want to blame Graham Poll. I am desperate to use the five additional minutes at full-time as the scapegoat for the draw. I’m trying, but it isn’t working. The endless list of basic errors committed by West Ham on Saturday are the real reason why Fulham took a point away from the East of the Capital. To go further, they are on of the main explanations for the mess we find ourselves in at the moment.
Amongst the heavy rain and looming grey clouds, some light shone over East London for the first time since 2006 ended. On paper, the fixture could have been as bad as the weather; last season’s finalists getting removed from the FA Cup by a side plying their trade two leagues below them. Add that possibility, plus the previous three games to the equation, the pre-match wait hardly inspired me.
I predicted a three-nil defeat whilst speaking to an Evertonian about two hours before kick off. One-hundred and eighty minutes later, I was feeling rather confident. An encouraging first forty-five had passed, with West Ham being the better team by far. Typically, come full time the tables had turned. Talk about the story of West Ham’s season.
‘Oooh, smell the prawn sarnies’ was my first thought as I entered the Bridge. Everything I hate about this new Chelsea was evident on Saturday, and with the Icelandic takeover seemingly imminent, I hope and pray our beloved club retains what it is about. The foreign accents were rife, people on the tube were trying to sound intelligible about the beautiful game, and I got charged £3 for a Cornish pasty inside the ground. I won’t even mention the atmosphere. Welcome to Abramovich’s Chelsea.
There I was, sitting on a coach outside Saltergate, waiting for the long journey home to begin. The radio was playing ‘Drive’, by The Cars. Linked synonymously with that Irishman and Michael Burke, all I’ll think about now when I hear it is that losing feeling somewhere in Derbyshire.
One of my first thoughts when the summer transfer coup went through was the possibility that a West Ham side could go to White Heart Lane and beat the team that we all love to hate. These two World Class players on our books, I thought at the time, could go and destroy that lot from North London. As it turns out, it did not happen, though one of our South American certainly made the headlines………
Football is a funny old game. Overcast weather, awful facilities, poor stewarding, an average performance and another disappointing defeat. The trip to the South Coast was, surprisingly, a waste of time. Luckily Alan McInally’s antics gave the travelling fans something to laugh about. Perhaps the requests from a handful of fans for him to play against Tottenham next week are a good call. A sign of the times?
God bless the Upton Park entertainment team. In the past we’ve been treated to the Hammerettes, football Jugglers and now, to coincide with a pre-match downpour, weather-related songs over the PA system. Brilliant, a touch of genius from those cultured pop-pickers. Granted, they only played handful of such tracks, but I’m sure it made those caught up in the English Autumn delighted. I ran up a list of such compositions that could have been blasted out, sadly ‘Who’ll Stop The Rain’ went amiss. With conditions and subsequent football like it was, that would have been even more apt.
Another week, yet sadly more of the same from me. Following the Newcastle debacle last Sunday, the notion that the trip to Eastlands must herald a victory was rooted firmly inside me. Following City’s dismal Cup exit at Chesterfield during the week, the timing of the game was either awful for West Ham, or a blessing in disguise. True to how the season is turning, it turned out to be the latter.
Time allowing, I like to write my musings for this site as quickly as I can after a game. Sometimes – for example following the Charlton and Liverpool matches- work commitments have prevented a fast write up. Suddenly, things are different. I had to draw myself away from the computer last night, simply because what I was writing had stemmed from a thoroughly disappointing afternoon in East London. I was fuming. Now, I’ve planned what I will be rambling on about, and my comments are rather similar for the third game in a row. Apologies go out to the Ed, and you good people who are reading this.
Experience, not talent, won the UEFA Cup contest at Upton Park. Luckily, the tie is far from over, so West Ham should travel to Palermo in two weeks full of belief. The Sicilians nearly threw away a three goal lead on Sunday in their opening Seria A game, so proof exists that they (a) concede home goals and (b) can rest on their laurels too much. If the club’s last foray in European football is anything to go by, losing one-nil at home is not the end of the World. The Intertoto Cup final in 1999 proved this.
Thumbs up to Alan Pardew. His post match comments regarding how the Media frenzy at the Boleyn in the past week affected the players were spot on. Aston Villa in September 2006 were always going to be a totally different prospect to the divided and inept side that visited East London nigh on a year to the day. Martin O’Neill has installed a visible belief in his side, and tactically they were far superior to West Ham in yesterday’s encounter. All three points were what I would have preferred from the game, but in hindsight just one certainly is welcome.
Stop. It’s not Hammertime. More like Kneejerk time. And what is worse, it has happened exactly at the same time as last year. You know, all the negatives and criticism coming out on the phone-ins and the message boards. It’s time for some people to get a grip.
After all that waiting and anticipating, the start of the football season has come by us again. No more hiding, no more friendly matches. This is the real deal; no-one can hide now.