Personal and undiluted views
Reading

533 days ago

The Reading attack, Faima Bakar, The Metro and why we more and more despise the deadwood press

Some tweets do not age well. This gem below is from Ms Faima Bakar, a journalist on the tawdry free publication The Metro, and it came out on Thursday of last week. Events in Reading, on Saturday, will surely make even more folks who reflect on Ms Bakar’s work despise the dying, deadwood press and its out of touch, intolerant, liberal, elitist values.

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2889 days ago

First Great Western: Can we have no slurping your coffee like a Warthog carriages?

The man on the other side of the aisle on the 4.47 AM from Bristol is drinking a cup of coffee. I lie, he is not drinking, but slurping it down very loudly and in excruciatingly painful small slurps. This torture has lasted from a few minutes before Didcot almost through to Reading. I imagine that an ill-mannered warthog drinking a Great First Western latte would sound similar. I find it very annoying.
 

We have special “quiet carriages” on this train and there is also an entertainment carriage. Could First Great Western perhaps introduce a couple of “No slurping your drinks like a warthog” carriages? I would be truly grateful.

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3095 days ago

West Ham Season Ticket Renewal…Against My Better Judgement

I truly dithered about this one but already I find myself looking forward to a new season at Upton Park. I guess it is like dating. You break up with your bird (not that I have, as far as I know) after 8 months of pain and anguish. You were not having fun for a lot of the time and frankly sometimes she was just taking the piss with the sheer misery she inflicted on you. And she was pretty expensive too. Having a season ticket at West Ham can be like being forced to spend most Saturday afternoons heading round a shopping centre being forced to buy new clothes for the bird or worse still for you and then afterwards having to go to some overpriced vegetarian, alcohol free restaurant. The sheer misery of it all is interrupted only briefly when you find a new Ramones T-shirt to buy to add to the collection. But it is a rare moment of joy.

I stress that my partner inflicts none of this on me but I know that some birds regard that sort of thing as fun. And watching West Ham, knowing that you have forked out £650 for a season ticket can be like that.  Jeepers. Losing at home to Wigan in the Carling Mickey Mouse Cup. That was torture. The game at Reading on 29th December will long stay in my mind as a masterclass in making a ninth rate team look like Brazil.  But: You are my West Ham, my only West Ham you make me happy when skies are grey you’ll never know how much I love you until you take my West Ham away.

And so after you split up with one bird and enjoy a short break of freedom, of being allowed to wear clothes with holes in them and of being able to wash up dishes before you eat rather than afterwards, what do you do?

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3122 days ago

West Ham vs Reading- Match Preview

A 4 O’ Clock kick off at Upton Park means lunch beforehand for my daughter and I at the Diner on Curtain Road. That always used to be part of my pre-match ritual but that was before my ex-wife threw away a lucky shirt (ok more holes than shirt) which had got West Ham to a Cup Final. Naturally we were relegated that season. You now know who was to blame.

Perhaps the Diner can restore its magic. My jinx on seeing West ham lose every time I attended this season was broken with the 0-0 draw with Newcastle. Reading are rubbish and were down a while ago. If we win we finish 10th. If we lose we could just plausibly finish 15th. It’s an okay end of season tally.

In fact we have lost our last three games against Reading so that is a bad omen. Having said that will the Royals play for pride? No. They are professional soccer players so do not give a damn. Will the Reading “stars” want to showcase talent so a Premier League side might snap them up in the summer? Er…they have no talent to showcase. But will our boys “turn up”? Who knows.

At the end of the game the squad will walk around the pitch to say thanks. Will it be the last time we see Andy Carroll in a West Ham shirt? I fear that is possible – Monaco (flush with hot Russian billions) want to sign him. We shall see. At a sentimental level I fear it will be goodbye to loyal servant Carlton Cole. Who else will go in the summer? Heaven only knows. I hope that we say goodbye to Vaz Te and that is it. Sadly I fear it will pan out rather differently.

Will I renew my season tickets despite Fat Sam getting another two years? Heck I am almost tempted if only for the home game against Paulo di Canio’s Sunderland. The messiah returns.  That match I shall not miss. It is almost worth renewing just for that game.

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3137 days ago

Language you do not wish to have to explain to your daughter at Upton Park

My football mad daughter and I were at the Arsenal game a few months ago and as the crowd chanted “with a packet of sweets and a cheeky smile, Arsene Wenger’s a paedophile” I dreaded the question “Daddy what is a paedophile?” Wenger is not a nonce as it happens but what would I say? “Er.. It is a sort of person who is often on the BBC.” I guess that is true.

Today’s game (a nil nil draw with Newcastle) was hardly a classic.  The bloke two seats down shouted Cisse loudly as the Newcastle player ambled from the corner flag towards his goal (which is where my seat is). He was ignored. Cisse. Again ignored. Louder still came the shout Cisse at which point Mr Cisse looked up and got an instant shout of “Wanker!” from the bloke two seats down who regarded this as a win.

Former West Ham boss Alan Pardew manages Newcastle. Not for much longer one suspects as they will – at best – narrowly survive but I sense they may not. Pards left Upton Park amid, no doubted unfounded, rumours about his private life. And so within minutes of the opening whistle the rhythmic chat went up: “Alan Pardew shags who he wants, Alan Pardew shags who he wants.” After a few minutes of this the chant changed to “Alan, Alan give us a wave.” Mr Pardew obliged. The Trevor Brooking stand then started off with “He loves us more than you” at the Newcastle supporters. A few minutes later it was back to “Alan Pardew shags who he wants, etc.”

A couple more terms I am glad that I do not have to explain to my daughter.

With my record of having seen West Ham lose every time I have watched them this season broken and with the Irons now 100% safe from relegation I shall take my daughter to the last home game against Reading. “Going Down, going down” and “That’s why you’re going down” should not be too hard to explain.  

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3172 days ago

3 -1 to the Cockney Boys but at least 1 more win needed

It was a good win. Three great goals with Andy Carroll’s second and West Ham’s third a wonderful strike. I will hold my nose and watch the BBC tonight just to see that again. West Ham looked dominant for most of the game, bar the first 15 minutes of the second half when I must admit to feeling a bit nervous. Overall a good day at the office. A few thoughts:

I cannot remember which West Brom player got himself a straight red in the 94th minute for sheer petulance but when folks say that most soccer players are morons, this guy strengthens that case. What a moron.

The Irons looked solid at the back and menacing up front. Rob Green always made me a bit nervous. Jussi made a couple of great saves and I feel quite calm with him between the posts. I suspect that radiates out to an assured defence too.

Now for the bad news. Wigan won as well and thus on 36 points we are still only 6 points (okay call it 7 because of GD) ahead of the trap door. I know that Fat Sam reckons 38 points is enough on the basis that it is hard to see Villa, Wigan and Sunderland each getting 3 wins (or two wins and two draws for Sunderland) from their last 8 games I am not so sure. Wigan always somehow manage to stay up and offer us another season of graceless mediocrity. Villa and Sunderland are big clubs who should have done better this season than they should. They might just have a run.

I rather hope that we beat Reading on the last day of the season when the Royals are already down but having seen the away leg first hand I bank on nothing. I would feel a lot happier if we could grab three points somewhere well before then. I have a horrible feeling that someone might get relegated on 39 points this season and that it might come down to GD at that. Three more points should be enough.

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3172 days ago

West Ham vs. West Brom Match Preview

Noble injured but Cole J. and Nolan back( as well as Linda!) I think I can live with that trade. The Premiership table is fascinating. I think we can now assume that Reading and QPR are down (23 points – 8 games to play. But the third team to go down? Wigan are on 27 points with 9 games to go and Fulham are in 10th on 36 points and 8 games to go. In theory any one of the 9 teams between Fulham and Wigan (including West Ham on 33 points with 9 games to go) could be going down with the Redknapp.

West Brom are safe (44 points), have lost their early season blinding form and have nothing to play for any more: no hope of Europe and no fear of relegation. Without that blinding start to the season West Brom would be fighting it out with the rest of us – its recent form should not drive fear into the hearts of the Irons. And so today who knows what will happen? If West Ham play as they can with Nolan offering steel and Cole flair we win. If West Ham play as we can (away at Reading or Wigan) it is 3 points for the baggies. You just cannot call this one.

A win and I would start to feel half safe. My instinct is that with a GD far better than Wigan and Villa (30 points) 39 points should be enough to stay up. We still have Reading and Wigan at home and Southampton away all of which are winnable games but I’d rather that we did not go into May 19th having to beat an already relegated Reading at home in order to ensure survival.

I pray for 3 points, going into April in 11th place and one win away from safety. My head tells me that 1 point would be a satisfactory and a not surprising result. COYI

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3185 days ago

Chelski vs West Ham Match Preview

My daughter is finally getting the hang of supporting West Ham. She has assessed this afternoon’s game and declared that West Ham has a “2% chance of winning.” She may be a tad harsh but she is at last grasping the reality of being a West Ham supporter. We can all fantasise about Fat Frank being sent off, Joe Cole scoring a last minute winner for the Irons on his return to The Bridge, etc, etc. If we win we are on 36 points and within one victory of pretty much certain safety. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

But while we may have turned Chelski over at Upton Park, West Ham’s away form this season has been dire. 9 defeats on the road is as bad as QPR and only Reading has lost more often away (12). Chelski has an 8-4-2 record at home and after today the odds are that it will be 9-4-2. There is simply too much of a gap in class between the big sides and West Ham. We might get the odd result but that is it.

After Ireland’s humiliation yesterday I’d to think that God owes me one and will allow me some joy today. If he is reading I will settle for a goalless draw and Fat Frank sent off. How about that God? But I do not think God owes me one. I fear that my weekend of sporting misery will continue from 4 PM today. I cannot bear to watch.

 

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3193 days ago

Might QPR NOT be relegated?

It has been a given for months that QPR will be relegated. I found myself at Lunch yesterday next to a QPR season ticket holder and he accepts that they are going down but it is a funny old game football. I utterly despise Harry Redknapp but he can make awful teams look good. And QPR are awful. But have a look at the fixture list.

QPR’s next three games, starting today, are Sunderland at home, Villa away and Wigan at home. All three are winnable. All the other bottom four clubs (Reading, Villa and Wigan) play either each other or sides they cannot win against over the next three weeks. And so one can construct a scenario whereby the Redknapp and his team sit on 29 points (three wins) and above the relegation zone as we enter April.

And the other teams will then really start to feel the heat. After April QPR still has a few games where they must fancy their chances: Newcastle and Stoke at home (the latter has a dire away record) and Reading away. QPR must still be odds on to go down and defeat today would be very bad news. But if Rangers can win the next three games then I would have thought they should be good to get 7 points from the 7 that remain and that might just be enough. Whatever my feelings for Redknapp I rather hope that QPR do achieve a miracle, it makes life more entertaining and as long as it is not at the expense of West Ham, my hopes are with them. Besides which I positively would like to see Wigan, Villa and above all Reading heading out of the top flight.

It would truly be the Great escape. But Harry has got himself out of tighter corners. It is just conceivable.

As for West Ham, now on 33 points and not playing for another eight days (Chelski away) you would have to hope that safety will be assured well before May 19
th and the last game of the season when we face Reading at Upton Park. By then I suspect that Reading will already be down. They deserve to go down and 3 points for the Irons would be a good way for Fat Sam to end his spell at Upton Park.



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3200 days ago

Stoke v West Ham Match Preview and Fat Sam’s Excuses Do not Wash

At 3 PM West Ham are playing Stoke. We always lose against teams from Grim Northern Shot Holes and Stoke is almost a definitive GNSH so i assume it is another nil points. I also assume that because our form of late has been dire. And the excused from Fat Sam Allardyce are just woeful. Please God may we avoid relegation. And please God may Fat Sam be let go in May and replaced with Paulo di Canio.

Among Fat Sam’s classics from yesterday’s Evening Standard were:

“If we had had Gareth Bale in our side we would have beaten Spurs.”

Sam. You decided who to sign and who not to and God knows the chequebook was big enough.

“Now we have too many strikers fit ( 5) but not enough games to play in March (3).”

But Sam we keep losing. You could have seven games in March but lose every one and it makes no difference.

We play better than the other side but keep losing

Not always. We have been outclassed twice by Wigan and also by Reading away. They are rubbish sides. The fact is that our form has for months been fairly ropey.

39 points and our GD being so much better than that of Villa should ensure survival. West Ham is on 30. We have Reading at home to come and Southampton away. Get a win today and we are once again three wins ( given GD ) off the drop zone. Lose today and it could be less than two. If the rot does not stop soon then the pressure will mount as a relegation battle looms. It is vital that we try to come away from today’s trip to a GNSH with at least a point.

But win, lose or draw we should not be on 30 points at the start of March given how much Fat Sam had to spend. This has been a disappointing season and only a thoroughly daft board would give Fat Sam another contract in May. Sadly on occasion West Ham has had such a board.

COYI at Stoke and viva Paulo.

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3220 days ago

Aston Villa vs. West Ham – Match Preview and those John Lyall memories

For once West Ham are spoiled for choice. Andy Carroll, Mo Diame are fit and on fire. The starting eleven almost picks itself but – and I never thought I’d ever write this – there is competition among top class players to just get on the bench as an attacking player. Carlton Cole gets the nod but Maiga is back from Africa Cup duty and Wellington Paulista has scored three in three for the U-21s. It is an odd position to be in.

The last time I was at Villa Park was for that memorable John Lyall FA Cup Semi against Middlesbrough. The week after the great man died the crowd was asked for a minute’s silence. The ref’s whistle blew and you could have heard a pin drop. Suddenly someone shouted out “Johnny Lyall’s claret and blue army. For a second there was shock & silence. Then everyone was chanting along. It was truly emotional and of course we won the game ( Marlon Harewood goal). The video below recaptures what was a spine tingling moment.

After the game, I headed back to the station in a cab shared with three Middlesbrough supporters and my old friend Derek Musgrove.

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3260 days ago

West Ham v Norwich – match preview

Skipper Kevin Nolan is out thanks to suspension. So much for the lack of yellow card discipline you get with Fat Sam. The good news is that for the same reason the hopeless liability, sorry should that read bedrock of our defence, that is James Collins will also miss the game. Norwich will be gutted about that one.

There are no key players returning from injury and so the four man midfield lining up behind Carlton Cole and Vaz Te upfront will be Noble, Jarvis, O’Neill and Taylor. I cannot say that this strikes me as either rock solid or threatening. Having said that Norwich have a few key players missing too and so it is hard to call the result.

What we do know is that if we win we go to 26 points and that would see some clear claret and blue water between us and the teams battling to avoid going down with the Rednapp and with woeful Reading. That is to say Villa, Southampton, Wigan ( who are bound to escape as the bastards always do) and – arguably – Fulham. If we lose we will have won one game in nine and have been sucked back into the relation mire.

So this is a must win game. I am doing my bit by staying away as West Ham never win when I attend. Having witnessed the Reading debacle first hand I cannot say that I am optimistic so I am off for a long walk and will say a prayer.

Whatever the result I am more and more certain of one thing. The deal with Fat Sam was that we might not like his style but we paid that price for not having to start January contemplating the awful possibility of a relegation dogfight. Whatever happens today, I stand by my view of the other day that in May Sam must go and we need to appoint di Canio as our new manager on a long contract.

COYI, I say rather weakly.

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3263 days ago

Reading vs West Ham – Match Report & Allardyce cannot stay after May

Vaz Te missed an absolute sitter late on. James Collins handed Reading an early goal with his speciality suicide back passes. It was an ill tempered and unattractive game with neither side showing any flair. Both teams looked like the sort of sides that deserve to get relegated. I am struggling to remember the last time I saw a football game this bad. The girlie’s soccer at the Olympics maybe?

Reading will not play many teams that gift them goals in the way Collins does far too often. And 9 out of 10 Premiership strikers would have snaffled Vaz Te’s chance. If this is the best this side can offer (and judging by the crowd’s unbridled delight, I sense that it is) then on 13 points, Reading are indeed “going down with the Rednapp.” Reading are just a crap and boring side and there is no doubt in my mind that they will not only go down but that ‘arry’s QPR will overtake them in the final furlong leaving the Royals bottom of the table. That would be a fair place for them.

But as for West Ham, we were awful. I stayed to the end but could not wait to get away. I cannot say that I took anything positive away from the game at all. No-one played well and some

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3263 days ago

Reading v West Ham: Match Preview

Will Reading get relegated this season? Is paedophilia a national sport in Belgium? Do sheep get nervous when they cross the border into Wales? Is the Guardian a paper fit only for lighting fires with and using in the cat’s litter tray? Is the Pope a Catholic? Of course Reading (and QPR) are going down.

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3276 days ago

West Brom vs West Ham Match Preview & relegation thoughts

My correspondents in Stoke assure me that West Bromwich is a Grim Northern Shit Hole and that alone should make me nervous ahead of a 4 O’Clock kick off at the Hawthorns today. West Ham has a dire record against GNSH sides. Adding to our woes, the injury list grows by the day with Linda McCartney the latest casualty. Losing Diame last week was a blow and a midfield of Noble, Nolan and O’Brien is not quite the rock it once was.

Up front Carlton Cole has got the big C – confidence. Well what to make of it all? West Brom started the season superbly but has now lost three on the trot. Having said that, West Ham’s last five games have seen us pick up just 4 points so neither team could be described as a “form side.” So, on balance the home team must be favourites. And that brings me back to the question of relegation once again. I am sorry to be gloomy but have you looked at the table recently?

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