As I am often abroad at election time I organise a permanent postal vote. Thus from Bristol in the South west region my Euro Elections ballot paper arrives and has been filled in (and posted) as you can see below. It is a treble pleasure.
I get to vote against Boris Johnson’s ghastly elitist sister standing for ChangeUK and also against slimey Euro loon Lord Adonis standing for Labour. Natch as a keen Brexit supporter who wants to see the Westminster swamp drained, Mr Farage’s Brexit Party got my vote. As a West Ham supporter I think I am about to experience the novelty of rooting for a winning team.
The mrs, who is a card carrying member of the Labour party organised no postal vote and so that is one less vote for the commies.
I am not sure who makes me prouder this fine day: daughter Olaf or son Joshua
As you can see below, Joshua has a new coat thanks to Godfather Lucian. He wore it to nursery yesterday and apparently would not take it off and kept on pointing to the badge to all the other two year olds. Like Lucian and his father he is ready to follow West Ham over land and sea.
Daughter Olaf was with Joshua, Lucian and I at the London Stadium on Saturday for the FA Cup game. Her news, just in today, is that she has been accepted by the PC madrassa formerly known as Oxford University.
Joshua adored Oakley, He calls the Greek Hovel, where I am staying on for a few days, “Joshua’s House,” The house in Bristol is “Oakleys house”. The “King of cats” he called “Oakley da King” and repeated the phrase endlessly. Da King would go to sleep next to Joshua’s cot to keep him company and would head into his room to listen to bedtime tales. He must have known more about the Gruffalo than any other cat.
I first met Oakley seven years ago when my previous companion, Kitosh, died very suddenly having travelled with me from London via Paris to the isle of Man. Grief stricken I headed to the MSPCA where two older cats were sitting unwanted and unloved. There was the very affectionate Tara, who passed away a couple of years ago, and another one who hid in his hutch but was, I was assured, very friendly, if very fat and lazy. That was Oaks.
They travelled with me after my rather hurried departure from the tax dodgers and for a while stayed with the pizza hardman Darren Atwater in Hackney. I know that Darren and his Mrs are devastated by the news. It was during this time that Oakley developed cancer and had his leg amputated. We were told that the big C would probably return within five years but that he was so fat and old that it would not be an issue.
At one point, even with three legs, Oaks tipped the scales at 6.6 kg. So he went on a diet. But in the past year his weight has plunged from 3.7 kg to just 2.7 kg and it was almost certainly the cancer that got him. There is a guilt in that his final days were spent without us. But he was receiving many visits a day from professional cat sitter Terry the hipster plus numerous visits from admirers such as Mu and Godfather Johnny. Perhaps it was a day spent with a junior doctor (Johnny) and being forced by the cruel Shipman to watch the hammers lose on MOTD that proved the final straw, oaks slept loyally in a West Ham blanket.
When Terry the most excellent hipster cat-sitter found him yesterday he had lost all his energy was not eating or drinking and was rushed to the cat hospital. By the time he arrived his eyes were losing colour, jaundice was setting in and there was only one outcome. The Mrs and I both had tearful final conversations with him, well monologues. He did recognise our voices, he really was fading fast. We told him we loved him and said goodbye. I am glad that Terry rather than the Mrs and Joshua had to go through those final hours. Sorry if that sounds selfish.
We will bury the ashes in the garden with a small ceremony as we did when the ashes of Kitosh were interred. Tara’s body was buried rather hastily underneath a rhubarb plant before Joshua could notice.
I think back to five wonderful cats I have owned. There was Big Puss ( aka Jesus) a gift from Uncle Chris when I was young who earned his blasphemous nickname by sleeping in the straw of our crib back at Byfield. He lived to a ripe old age, fathering many children. Poor babysitter, the great, Neil Masuda had to bury him. His replacement had enormous triangular ears and being born in 1982 was named after the bomber with huge triangular wings sending Easter presents to the Argies at that time. Vulcan lived a long life and died peacefully sparing my father a trip to the vets he could not bear to make even though it was the only option so decrepit was “Vulcs”. Then the much travelled east End lad Kitosh and then Oakley and Tara.
In my worst times they would lie in bed with me as I watched old videos and were a great comfort. Oakley was always keen on jumping into bed even when with three legs it involved taking a long lollop up and launching himself like a missile. Not having him launch himself into our bed to offer up big fishy breathed kisses as a reminder that it was time for his first breakfast, will leave a big hole in the life of myself and the Mrs. As for poor Joshua, I just don’t know what the Mrs will say.
I am not sure I can face another pet death. I have had a cat in my life for almost all of my own existence but Oakley really was the king. There could be no substitute.
I take consolation that the King is now at peace with no more suffering. Below he is pictured with his long time companion Tara, with Joshua and alone
I saw this cartoon and at once thought of my pal & fellow Hammer, the metropolitan elitist remoaner Jonathan Price who, as @BC3Pres torments me on twitter with dire warnings of how flights will be grounded, the power will run out and as we all starve to death how West Ham will be relegated the day after Brexit.
ITV is a commercial network and covers the World Cup well enough. So why does the BBC need to bid for matches and cover it at all? Its remit should be high quality public service broadcasting not competing against commercial networks – using taxpayers cash – to show commercial propositions? But okay, we do not live in a low tax libertarian paradise, so there has to be BBC sport. However…
Just why on earth do we need such a huge variety of highly paid experts to be flown out to all parts of Russia to be paid large salaries, wined, dined and housed all on the taxpayers tab. Could not the studio guests be in London?
In the interests of equality, virtue signaller Gary Lineker is joined in the studio not only by a range of has-beens from the men’s game but by some has-beens from the English women’s game too. Just how do they add any more insightful commentary? And would their observations on VAR or Gareth Southgate’s tactics be any less worthwhile were all the pundits back in blighty?
And then all the different BBC channels TV and radio all need their folks there on the spot. Some of those reporting for the more obscure channels know less about football than the Mrs who has, at least, been to a couple of real games and knows that West Ham won the FA Cup in 1964, the Cup winners Cup in ’65 and the World Cup a year later. Even the Mrs can see through talking heads on the obscure channels who know nothing at all.
Sometimes the experts forget who is watching or listening and discuss what a great old time they are all having. They forget that folks back home who earn a fraction of what the BBC stars pick up, are picking up the tab for the whole great circus. As ever the case for privatization grows ever stronger.
West Ham United's St Valentine's day tweet is to suggest that we consider which three of those who have played for the club have had "beauty that has caught the eye". Apparently the top three "whose beauty caught the eye of the Claret and Blue Army, who swooned over their film-star looks and toned physiques in a West Ham United kit" are in reverse order Tomkins, Ljunberg and Dani. FFS. Ger real you fools.
According to the ONS less than 3% of the population are what used to be known as Irons but are now known as members of the LGBT community. Thus the overwhelming majority of the members of the claret and blue army are male and straight.
While our beloved West Ham takes time off from thinking about avoiding relegation for another bout of virtue signalling, most of we Irons (that is supporters of the club once known as Thames Ironworks FC) will not be dreaming of James Tomkins as we go to bed tonight. Nor will we we be pondering Dani, who played just 9 games for the club but according to the West Ham website "his high cheekbones and immaculately combed curtains will never, ever be forgotten." Bollocks, I had forgotten all about him years ago as had most others.
Would uber PC West Ham write a daft article about the 97% heterosexual claret and blue army viewing and objectifying women in this way? Let's see the three hottest members of the West Ham Ladies squad are.... Of course not. This is just more low grade piffle from a club whose owners are ever more out of touch with its supporters and who are thus justifiably detested.
I popped up to see my father in Shipston on Stour in south Warwickshire last night with a view to heading on to Oxford early this morning for other family business. At 2.30 AM I awoke and looked out of my window and there was nothing to see. By 6.30 AM the global warming was deep, crisp and even and it was still snowing. It is now 9.15 and it is still snowing and the Oxford event has been cancelled. The snow is now at least three inches deep on the roof of my car and the forecast is for snow all day. The best bet, methinks, is to head for the motorway now and go back to Bristol in time to catch West Ham ladies in action at 2PM against Brislington Ladies ( my local team) in the FA Women's Vase 2nd round. Come on You Irons!
My beloved West Ham are on nine points and in the relegation zone. We have just sacked one useless manager in Slaven Bilic, something we should have done ageas ago. But we have replaced him with David Moyes and many of us fear that he will make Bilic look like Ron Greenwood. So facing the biggest crisis since the last one I am deliughted to hear the big news today...
The players will be wearing rainbow laces tonight to show the club's solidarity with the LGBT community, let'sd kick homophobia out of football, yadda, yadda, yadda.
I marched against clause 28, I have written on the need for greater tolerance and support for the LGBT community for years. I need no lectures from a bunch of players most of whom can't count to 28 let alone knowing what clause 28 was, about LGBT awareness. This is utterly pointless virtue signalling.
Like almost every other person who calls themself an iron while fiully aware of what an iron hoof refers to in cockney rhyming slang ( iron hoof, poof, geddit?), all I care about is getting three points at home tonight against Leicester City. I really don't want lectures from the club about how or what to think I just want them to start playing even half decent football. Is that too much to ask?
I was just looking at a memory stick the Mrs was playing with and up came numerous glorious photos of the Christening of my son Joshua this summer. I know many of you sent us best wishes for that day so I share just three of them
First the group photo. In case you are wondering about the location, it is a Victorian cemetery near us which is a wonderfully relaxing and peaceful spot both for its permanent residents and those, like us, visiting for the day. And yes that is my Dad at the very back on his one excursion from Warwickshire this year.
Below that is Joshua himself with his one of his godparentgs, my good friend the bear raider Lucian Miers. Should I shuffle off this mortal coil before Joshua makes one of his great decisions in life it is Lucian's job to take him to see
West Ham and make sure that he has no funny ideas about supporting Bristol City. Finally the Mrs and I giving a speech. Naturally she had the last word. And the first. And most of the rest. Rightly so.
A man who deserted West Ham as a player to "go to a bigger club" in the form of Everton should never have been our manager in the first place. Last season West Ham were dire and Slaven Bilic should have been fired after we stayed up only becuase some teams were even more dire than we were. Decisions such as keeping Randolph in goal rather than Adrian cost us our normal status of mid table mediocrity. having been saying Bilic out more or less since his appointment, I am at least conistent.
Three games into this season we are bottom of the league and have conceeded 10 goals. The club tweets that we must expect to lose some games and now is a time to stick together. Up to a point. Losing away to Man United is okay although 4-0 is not a great scoreline. Losing away to Southampton is less acceptable. Surely a team that had spent more in the transfer window than 13 other Premier Leaguie sides should hope for a point from that game?
But to lose 3 nil away to Newcastle is just not acceptable. Newcastle are piss poor and were everyone's favourites to go down until the mighty Irons suddenly made them look like Brazil. Surely to respond to that crushing defeat by saying "we expect to lose some games" is just not acceptable. He has had his chance He was given the budget to spend heavily. Bilic has blown it.
Hanging on to a proven loser for too long is the sort of blundering error that saw West Ham relegated in the past. As i contemplate the manner of that Newcastle defeat, I think back to the Glen Roeder nightmare season. The sooner Slaven is shown the door so he can "go to a bigger club" the better.
It was back in the mid nineties when I met Lord Sugar. I was a reporter on the Evening Standard and was sent to meet him the night before Spurs, which he then owned, was set to report its results. Nick Hewer picked me up in his white roller and took me up to White Hart Lane where the scum were playing, I think, Hereford in, again I think, a League Cup replay. Natch, as a West Ham supporter my second team is anyone playing the scum so I sat in the directors box secretly cheering on Hereford or whoever it was. I did not join in the delirious joy as Spurs scored repeatedly.
At half time I was summoned to the board room and presented with the Spurs numbers and statement. Lord Sugar was gruff and not very friendly at all. At the time I thought it was because I was a posh City reporter and the self made East End millionaire viewed folks like me with contempt. Now I reflect that he is like that with everybody.
I asked some questions and took full notes. Looking at the balance sheet and cashflow statements it was clear that Sugar did not have much cash to spend on new players and I put that to him. He grunted his agreement. The fact that he did not seem to care whether I liked him or not and made no attempt to suck up to me, indeed quite the reverse, was in its own way rather endearing. He seemed not to give a shit what I thought or wrote.
The next morning the Evening Standard splashed on the back page "Sugar says no money for new players at Spurs" or words to that effect. Poor Lord Sugar was then attacked by fans who thought that it was the duty of a club owner to spunk as much cash as possible to buy in talent. Lord Sugar has not made millions by running businesses that way. None the less, in order to stave off a lynching, he told reporters that it was not true and that the Evening Standard story "had been written by a financial illiterate."
My next Sugar splash was on the front page as he tried to take Amstrad private on the cheap. I can't imagine that he liked that piece much either. I may be wrong in saying that I don't think he disliked me as an individual, I sense that he just gives the impression of disliking most people. Whatever. That was eons ago. In his miserable old bastard way, I find the good Lord rather entertaining and wish him well.
There was I sitting at breakfast at the excellent Messinian Bay hotel here in Kalamata. The tourist season has not yet started so there are few other guests. As ever, I grabbed a corner table well away from the herd so that I could tap away at my keyboard without disturbing folks. I checked my twitter feed and an Australian columnist who I admire greatly tweeted her shock at news that doctors had felt the need to warn millennial women that the new craze for putting a wasps nest in their underpants posed severe vaginal health risks.
Could this really be true? I realise that vast numbers of the snowflake generation are daft as a brush in a pathetic and decadent sort of way but could they really be this silly? The Aussie columnist is a sane woman and not prone to tweeting fake news so I hit the link.
I am not sure which paper I landed on but at once a women blurted out from my screen in loud estuary English "I want to shape my perfect vagina". I closed the page at once, conscious that those sitting behind my back may well have heard and now be under the impression that the man in the West Ham T-shirt was some porn chasing perv who was prepared to indulge in his filthy habit at the breakfast table.
I thought briefly about turning to explain that I was a journalist investigating whether millennials birds really did stuff wasp nests into their underpants but decided that this might be lost in translation. Anyhow hopefully most folks had not heard or were from Norway. What is the Norwegian for vagina?
I sat there staring at the screen for a good twenty five minutes, not even bothering to stand up to refill my coffee cup. All those who might possibly have heard this particular Vagina Monologue had, by then, left the room. They will all be gone from Kalamata within days and they, hopefully, do not know who I am. I am not going to pursue this particular tale which could just be an urban myth. But in this crazy world where I feel increasingly old I would not be that surprised if it was true.
I did not want to hex my beloved West Ham so not only did I not seek out somewhere to watch the game but I switched off my PC so I could see nothing on twitter. In fact I made sure that I did not know the result until this morning. Here in a Greek Hotel as the bubbles tucked into their breakfast a loud YEEEES went up.
After a season of utter woe and failure to beat the Spurs at home means a) the team we despisre most in the Premiership will not win the title. Instead it will be won by the marginally less hated Chelsea. More importantly 42 points means safety. Though West Ham is currently 9th there are stacks of teams on 41, 40 and 39 points who will overtake us. But Swansea cannot so West Ham is safe. We are stayin' up cos we are stayin' up!
For the past few weeks West Ham's twitter account keeps on talking about how a top ten finish is what is on our minds. Bollocks.
From years of experience, West Ham supporters always look down not up when we look at the table. I have wasted far too long in recent days working out how we stay up when, as I assumed was a cert, we lost our last three games (home to Spurs and Liverpool) and away at Burnley whose home record is cracking and who might well need the points badly.
But now I don't have to worry about how Crystal Palace v Hull turns out. Or pray for Everton to beat Swansea. It is far better to stay up by beating the scum and dashing their title hopes than by relying on Hull taking points off Palace or vice versa. In fact there is no better way to stay up. Even the Mrs has noticed and mentioned it as she phoned from Heathrow.
A joyful call to my daughter, whose veins flow claret & blue, awaits
I must take the blame for turning my daughter into a diehard West Ham supporter and as I inflict a lifetime of relegation battles and cup humiliations on her I accept that I may well be reported to social services for torturing her thus. But I want everyone to know that I am not responsible for young Joshua's new T-shirt which he is wearing below. Oh no...
I found it in my stocking on Christmas Day which means that it is either Santa or the Mrs who needs to be reported to Social Services as my four month old son starts down the path of misery as a member of the claret and blue army.
"His family and fans are devastated, a tweet from Elton John, the world Genius is used too often but, an icon of a generation, RIP ( insert name of celebrity here) yadda, yadda, yadda." I never liked the music of George Michael.
His personal life was far from perfect but let us gloss over the fact that he drove cars when off his head on drugs and move quickly on as to how he campaigned for LGBT rights. I agree with George that who you have sex with is your decision and yours alone. Most of us agree with that. But the assertion that it is your right to have sex with complete strangers in public places because you are gay is something George & I might disagree on. Cottaging is not an essential human right for the gay community or is it, these days, a hate crime to make that assertion?
The Mrs loved George Michael. As part of our marriage vows she agree to come to watch West Ham at least twice a season (she has Welshed on that one) and also not to inflict any more than two George Michael/Wham songs on me in any car journey. She has kept to that one. But yesterday, as we set off on a two hour trip to see my father, I feared that every radio station would be playing wall to wall George in tribute.
Luckily it was Boxing day so most stations were on pre-record and so oblivious to the demise of Saint George who, according to the BBC, was already sitting at the right hand of the father teaching the Angels the words to Last Christmas.
Frantically the Mrs looked among the CDs for her "best of" Saint George collection but it seems that she had taken it inside the house some weeks ago to inflict on poor Joshua on days when I was elsewhere. I was thus spared for a whole journey. There is a God.
My rucksack containing 15 kg of olive oil weighs 24.5 kg. The limit to gt it on the plane without paying a surcharge is 23 kg. But luckily I have a whole night at Athens airport to write nasty articles about liars but also to get that weight down. Cunning plan 1..
Remove my West Ham hoodie from my laptop bag ad put it on, on top of my Ulster rugby short and underneath my jacket. This has indeed freed up space and so I have been able to transfer five books and a few socks, wires and plugs plus my Greek mobile to the laptop bag. The downside is that I am sweating like a pig as the Airport is very warm. I am now forced to go for a walk outside with my heavy bags as it is just above freezing out there. One walk an hour, four hours to go.
I have also shifted some coins I found in my rucksack and a few old razors have been binned. I am now down to 23.4kg. Worst comes to the worst I shall put on another sweatshirt and five pairs of underpants while stuffing socks into my pockets.
But I rather hope that British Airways shows a bit of sympathy as I am already suffering enough.
Would we try to find somewhere to watch the game? As we wandered back from kicking a football around at the park this was what my daughter and I discussed. Chelsea at home in what used to be the League Cup, I was convinced we would lose 6 nil and admitted as much.
I am sorry but I cannot suffer like that. Daddy "ye of little faith" she said. I think I have been watching West Ham long enough to know what i am talking about, we were bound to lose.
At about 9.20 after Bake Off as she prepared for bed time I asked "so what was the score?" We had manged to block out any thought of the inevitable humiliation looming in East London. We rushed downstairs and switched on a computer. 2 nil to West Ham with 20 minutes left. Nervously we watched the screen as the minutes ticked away.
90+4 and Chelski pulled one back. "Surely even West Ham cannot blow it from here?" we both said. West Ham fans starting chucking chairs at the stockbrokers, lawyers and headhunters (as in City workers not NF Supporters) at the away end. "Shocking" we said to the Mrs and smirked to each other.
And then the whistle went. We win 2-1. "I told you so" i said to my daughter. "Ye of Little faith" she replied. Next up in the cup, Manchester United away. No point in watching that either - we are agreed.
As you may know, my daughter is a diehard West Ham supporter. She is also, incidentally, a total goal machine for her top of the table side. Her membership of Slaven Bilic's claret and blue army is good for me as it is someone to talk to after a game: The mrs is not interested and has never been to a game with me. I am ticked off by my daughter when I start talking about relegation but we can share the joy after the mighty Irons get a result as we did yesterday.
We deserved to beat Palace. Okay Palace missed a penalty but we should have had one when Cresswell was brought down in the area. Giving him a yellow for diving was an appalling call by the ref and we all know that Noble would have scored from the spot. So the three points were well deserved. Now we can look forward to better days ahead.
But on balance, being a West Ham supporter has more lows than highs. And thus it has been suggested that I should have been reported to social services for inflicting such misery on my daughter. Surely her life would have been happier had she supported Chelsea or Man United like the other kids? Whatever, the die is cast..her veins flow claret and blue.
But what of little Joshua? We live in Bristol not London and so there is the option of supporting City or even Rovers. The latter would mean cheap tickets, fun games and the expectation of underperformance giving true rapture when victory is secured. Derby games against Swindon, what a pleasure. With West Ham the bullbles fly so high but then always fade and die. With Bristol Rovers, if a bubble even gets off the ground it would be a cause for wild celebration.
I think it would be a bridge too far if young Joshua supports a "big club" like the other kids so Bristol Rovers could be the "third way." But on the other hand, if the Irons wins the next game we are mid-table and my daughter and I can start dreaming again. Surely Joshua would like to join in? Social services really cannot complain if we are mid table and have the odd cup run can they?
Meanwhile Joshua has met his grandfather as you can see below. I offered to let the Old man change a nappy but he declined. I think it is not a thing that folks of his generation did. Indeed he seems rather nervous of holding the baby at all but was, none the less, glad to meet up with the latest Winnifrith.
Given that she is due to give birth to our son in nine days time I might just forgive her but the Mrs is pushing her luck.
Among the very few possessions of mine that are allowed in the house as opposed to the garage are a signed and framed Mark Cavendish shirt which, given what team it is from, is actually quite rare and a framed and signed Geoff Hurst 1966 Replica shirt. That is far less rare and so worth less but as it is from the year West Ham won the World Cup it has sentimental value. And it reminds me of a girl I knew once.
The Mrs would rather have a poster for a mythical country called Palestine on the wall and so my shirts sit hidden behind a sofa. They will go to the Greek Hovel if it is ever ready. But back to the divorce.
The Mrs said "I think we should sell the framed shirts on ebay or give them to Oxfam." Bloody hell, if that is not grounds for divorce on the basis of unreasonable behaviour, what is? Saying she has bought a season ticket to Spurs? Investing all her money in African Potash shares? Vetoing calling our son Thomas? Putting my morbidly obese three legged cat Oakley up for sale on ebay? Few crimes could be worse than the one suggested today.
It seemed that almost as soon as Euro 2016 was over West Ham were getting thrashed in pre season friendlies. And now football is back. The Premiership starts tomorrow and the hammers kick off away at Chelsea on Monday. I should be excited.
But I am not. This will be my third campaign without a season ticket. Last year I saw precisely no games. In my absence West Ham are better than they have been in my lifetime so at one level I should not hex them by going back.
But at another level I guess that I have just fallen out of love with professional sport. The money, the cheating, the drugs, the airhead celeb superstars are just so remote from how I lead my life I just cannot bring myself to get interested.
Naturally I want West Ham to win and hope that a move to a naew stadium transforms the fortunes of the club but I smply cannot bring myself to care with any passion about any of it. I'd also like to see team GB do well at the Olympics but I don't really care. If I see an exceptional performance I assume that cheating is involved.
For me at least, the magic has just disappeared for pretty much all professional sport. Perhaps it is the wall to wall coverage that makes nothing seem special, perhaps it is the money and commercialisation or perhaps it is the cheating? I am not sure but I have certainly fallen out of love with watching sport.
I have wasted too much of my time with a long exchange of emails this morning with a humourless bastard called Jay Ryan who appears to be a DJ, TV presenter and web presenter in Liverpool. One of the few folks in a City wherer idling is in theb genes, to get up at 10 AM he seems offended by comments I made on twitter. Jay started it off with the offering below which I retweeted with the comment
thousands of bone idle scousers enjoy their weekend break ahead of five hard days thieving & collecting welfare
What followed was bizarre. I post the transcript but remember that if a journalist seeks an interview our code of ethics are that you should declare that to your victim. Getting someone on a phone line without saying what you are up to is unethical. After that incident with the nurse for Prince George such antics are viewed very dimly. Note how Jay fails to answer my questions.
I am fine, you say catch up but I am not sure that we have met before. What would you like to chat about? Anyhow good to see that someone in Liverpool out of bed before 10 am.. well done
Early riser me Tom. We would just like to talk about your tweet and your obvious dislike of Liverpool.
Sure. Not a dislike it is friendly banter. Your crime & welfare rates are above national averages. So it is fair comment. As might or might not be the phrase southern jessie. Oddly few whingeing scousers complain about that do they.
In days gone by such banter was allowed as in the "thank you very much for paying our benefits" chant from liverpool fans at the spurs game. Now, there is a humourless offence taken.
I realise that honesty is not compulsory in Liverpool but when you say "we'd like to talk" - who is we and to what purpose?
Your views are extremely immature Tom, you look like quite an older guy so I am surprised someone of your age can be that childish.
Have you ever been to Liverpool? How about coming for the day, I will personally pay for your train travel. You could tweet about to your thousands of paid for followers? Deal?
I do not pay for followers. I have earned a living as a journalist for 26 years. I run a website known for busting stockmarket fraud, was commended by regulators for busting the biggest fraud for 30 years last year ( one employing a lot of scousers as it happens).
Have I been to Liverpool? Yes. My sister was born there. My father worked there. My step sister was at Uni there, I have been many a time
I await your explanation of how "we " is and why you wanted to chat. I assume that it was trying to make me look like a Southern twit to your listeners. As a journalist I know that our ethical code requires we hacks to be upfront with people in seeking an interview. Maybe standards don't apply in the grim North.
My wife ( a Northerner) set to give birth in the next few weeks so not really minded to head to the welfare safaris right now.
But should you want to arrange a trip in the fall happy to oblige and to justify my banter to your listeners.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Jay has not replied. Maybe he is too busy reading up on journalistic ethics and is starting to realise that he has goofed. Anyhow, I am quite happy to viist the grim North to chat with him about life in the welfare safaris.
Everton vs West Ham 29 October - how about Jay gets two tickets and i shall see him there?
Tony Carr is the man who has enabled West Ham to retain its claim to be "The academy". For 43 years he has brought all sorts of youth talent through the ranks: Terry, Ferdinand (A&R), Cole (J), Carrick, Noble, Defoe, Oxford, Fat Frank Lampard etc, etc, etc. And yesterday he was made redundant with a payoff of just £14,000 which is the statutory amount. It is also less than one day's pay for some of our first team squad. It is a truly disgraceful way to treat a loyal club servant and it is a moment of shame for the club I support.
I can't see why West Ham is letting him go at all but maybe there is a reason. But after 43 years surely the man deserved more? Supporters are all over the internet, outraged and angry with the pricks who run the club. Perhaps West Ham might consider a testimonial game for Carr featuring two sides comprised of some of the superstars he has brought through over the years. I am aware he had one in 2010 but I guess he did not know then that he'd be shown the door with just £14,000 six years later.
That Messrs Gold and Sullivan and "Lady" Brady thought this acceptable shows again the chasm that exists between those who own football clubs and those who keep them afloat with their loyal support.
Comparing Israeli and former West Ham soccer star Yossi Benayoun to Hitler's Nazis, suggesting the evil Jews need to go to America, the tweets and quotes from Labour activists that demonstrate clear hatred of the Jews go on and on. As things stand five of the comrades face an enquiry but that list will grow. With each new revelation the idea of voting Labour becomes ever more unthinkable. But at least Jeremy Corbyn still has some friends...
I refer, of course, to Hamas, an organisation that hands out cash to folks in Gaza as a reward if their kids die as a suicide bomber, as long as those kids are killing a good few evil Jews as they head off to meet the 72 virgins. When not applauding killing Jews
Hamas is applauding Jeremy Corbyn who described the folks in the loathsome, racist blood stained organisation as his "friends." Hamas spokesman Taher A-Nunu responded
“We welcome the declaration of the Labor chairman and see his engagement as a very important statement that is also a painful hit that the Zionist enemy received. Hamas is not and will not be considered a terrorist group and our struggle is reduced to the borders of occupied Palestine. [This is a] Zionist campaign to define Labor party leaders as anti-Semitic… a desperate move that reflects the weakness and confusion of the Zionist entity.”
So Corbyn's friends regard the current storm as just more plotting by the wicked Jews. Will Corbyn put them straight or does he agree? Comrade Corbyn must condemn that statement now or else he condones anti-semitism. He will not condemn that statement.
Useless and hopeless as the Tories are, much as I despise Cameron and Osborne for their lies and abuse of taxpayers cash on the Brexit vote, and although the Tory mayoral candidate here in Bristol is a snobbish, patrician halfwit who is almost certainly the result of generations of inbreeding, on Thursday I have no choice on election day. Neither, I put it to you, do you.
Slaven Bilic has had an amazing first season as manager of West Ham and if anything I warm to him after we got knocked out of the cup for simply admitting that on the day the better side won. It makes a nice change from managers blaming the ref or saying "we was robbed". But I cannot hide my disappointment, none the less. The winner of that replay had to be favourite for the cup as we entered the semi-finals and I just felt it might be "our season".
I did my bit not to hex West Ham. That is to say I did not watch a minute even on the box or twitter. Instead I watched some God awful drivel on the telly that the Mrs wanted to see, trying hard not to think about the game. But when it was all over I checked the score. And it is all over. Even the Mrs, who does not really understand soccer, seemed to understand my disappointment.
Now we must hope that we get the rub of the green and a Champions league spot. We are just one point behind Man United in fifth and, unlike them, we are now blessed to have no FA Cup distractions. If Man City can do the decent thing and win the Champions League whilst Liverpool do NOT win the Europa League then England sends five clubs to the Champions League. As of now West Ham is five points behind Man City so that is probably our only realistic hope of Champions League football. All we need to do is overtake Manchester United to cause misery in the red tribal heartlands of Surrey and joy on the other side of London.
Having said that what am I doing talking about how West Ham could get entry to the Champions League? We are West Ham. We dont do that sort of thing, we are just not that good. Well maybe we are these days. I still cannot quite adjust to looking at the top half of the table. Normally at this stage of the season I am chatting to my friend Lucian about how if we beat Norwhch, Sunderland lose to Villa, et, etc ,etc then we should stay up. We do complex maths as we try to figure out if we avoid the drop and who will be manager after we fire the incumbent clown.
However, life is just different these days. With Bilic, Poyet and the Olympic Stadium, next year is a whole new ball game and as Leicester have shown (or will soon show), winning silverware is no longer the prerogative of the traditional "big clubs". There are new "big clubs" and heaven help us I think West Ham is in danger of becoming one of them.
For folks like me weaned on my dreams fading and dying every season, on numerous campaigns of misery only now and then interrupted by a season when we had a cup run and occassionally played half decent football, it is a whole new world. I am still finding it hard to adjust
I guess most people on the Bristol Uni public events email list are members of the Welsh Militant Tendency then. Or am I just a bit narrow minded? You see my email arrives and I am promised that this month "we have events to suit everyone."
Goodie goodie thought I - an evening with blond lap dancers gyrating on stage before reading their favourite excepts from the works of Ayn Rand with a screen at the back showing a replay of West Ham winning the FA Cup in 1964, all washed down with free ouzo on tap. Surely that would please lots of folks? Oddly it appears not to be on offer. Instead I have a choice of:
Bristol Speakezee - Camouflaging animals and dreaming of synthetic sheep
We are currently in the middle of the earth’s biological evolution and revolution. Since the start of time, the animals in this world have constantly adapted to the changes in the environment and so have we. Interested in having a laugh while learning about the past and future of biology AND raising money for charity? Come join us for an evening where two of our experts discuss biological change – from both a natural evolutionary perspective, as well as our plans to move forward in a synthetic world. Tickets £5.00. Advance booking required. Proceedings for this event will be going towards the Against Malaria Foundation.
Global Political Economy in the 21st Century: A problématique and critical research agenda
Professor Stephen Gill, from the Department of Political Science, York University, Ontario, will sketch aspects of the interdisciplinary field of global political economy and make suggestions for a critical pedagogy and research agenda. This will be linked to an effort to conceptualise, outline and interpret some of the constitution, contradictions and governance of actually existing capitalism in the early 21st century, and some of its impacts on politics, society and the integrity of the biosphere. Followed by a book signing and drinks reception. Free, booking optional.
I can see why it might be hard to charge for Prof Gill's commie, capitalist hating, rantings since only about three people on this planet will have any idea what he is on about. Anyhow, charging could be sort of capitalist which is evil right? As for synthetic sheep...I just give up. Anyhow it is good to see the Uni splashing taxpayers cash on events for "everyone". How terribly inclusive.
Living with a Guardian reading sociology lecturer I need no reminding that it is International Women's day. Natch I gave the Mrs a thankful pay on the backside after she cooked my breakfast and reminded her that my new West Ham top was a bit dirty and that she should not forget it when putting the clothes wash on. But how to celebrate this great event? With some photos of women from around the world who show that there are no glass ceilings, who demonstrate how powerful women can be, who are role models for our daughters and who will infuriate every feminist in town. Let's start with some athletes.
How about the best paid female athlete in the world? Oh, what you mean she has been a 10 year drug cheat and has just got banned from playing tennis. Poor Maria Sharapova. Hmmmmmm maybe we should look outside sports?
How about in politics? Aha I can see that the feminists are foaming as they await a picture of Mrs Clinton. But as it happens I'd want my daughter to look up to a woman who got to the top on her own merit rather than on the coat-tails of her scumbag Husband, and who was not a serial liar/insider dealer and supporter of welfare addiction. My second photo is theregore of Britain's greatest ever Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher who worked her way up from humble origins fighting snobbery as well as sexism and got to the top on merit alone.
It is sad that in some parts of the world women's rights have headed backwards over the past three decades. Women are deprived of education, forced to cover up and in some cases sold as sex slaves in the Middle East.
But some women are fighting back, putting their lives on the line every day to ensure there is a tolerant, open, democratic society where women and other minorities have full rights. I refer, of course, to the brave women who fight alongside the men within the Israeli Defence Forces. Come on liberals, what is your problem with these uber-feminists fighting the forces of reaction?
Finally, how about a tribute to a best selling female author who once again shows that it is the hard working, gun owning Conservatives who have all the best lines. Yup, on International Women's day who couldn't be in love with Ann Coulter.
For some reason my daughter is a soccer nut and has followed her father over land and sea (okay I exaggerate) as a diehard hammer. When she trains with her club it is in her West Ham shirt and shorts (Christmas present) and after big games we always have a chat. I have just received a delivery at the front door from the West Ham store.
You see it had a special offer a few days ago - a replica Cup Winners Cup shirt from 1965 for £19.65. So natch I bought two, one for me which I am now wearing - having taken off my Pride of E13 T-shirt which the Mrs had suggested was a tad in need of a wash - and one for the daughter. I shall post it later today and know that she will share the thrill I enjoyed whe her shirt arrives.
There have been times when I wondered if Social Services would be concerned about how I had introduced the daughter to The Irons. After all, that is signing her up for a life of disappointment, misery, relegation, losing to shite teams in the FA Cup, listening to posh kids who have never been anywhere near London or Manchester drone on about how their teams are playing in Europe, etc. I had my excuse ready for Social Services. My daughter was born in Hackney. She really is a cockney. When we go to the Boleyn together it really is her manor. But I feared that it would not wash.
These days it has all changed. West Ham are 6th and just a couple of points off Champions League football. We are in the FA Cup Quarter Finals and we beat the Scum last night at home. Heck, dare I say it, we are good. I wonder if some of those Chelsea supporting kids at my daughter's school are starting to think that it might be rather cooler to be joining the claret & blue army. My daughter knows the line already for the Chelsea nouveaus: "Who did you support when you were shit?" Is that line now "Why do you support now you're shit?"
Of course it can't last. We are West Ham. Same Old West Ham, always taking the piss. Anyhow, for now I really cannot be accused to cruelty to the poor girl by Social Services. I am safe pro tem.
There is a lot of talk among West Ham supporters about how we are now just two games away from the FA Cup Final. Others look at how we are 5th in the Premiership and talk of European football next season. Let's not get carried away. First things first...
We are now on 43 points and as long time supporters will know the highest points total of any side being relegated was 43 points. And we all know what team that was don't we? Yup. The Mighty Irons.
So first things first. One more point and we are safe. The annual terror of relegation nailed by early March (fingers crossed) and not something we need to start worrying about again until August. What joy. Then we can start to dream of Wembley, The Europa League and all those other matters.
Before the FA Cup 3rd round tie against Wolves yesterday there were two big calls. Once again TV pundit Lauro called out West Ham to lose in one of the day's big upsets. Happily Lauro was once again wrong. The other big call was from our relatively new manager Slaven Bilic who said that he'd rather win the FA Cup than finish in the top four of the Premiership so ensuring Champions League football next year at the Olympic Stadium. These are not the sort of words long term Hammers are used to hearing.
It is rather like me saying that I'd rather shag Cheryl Cole tonight than Despina Vandi. Okay I read that Cheryl is once again single but since I have an IQ of more than 75 I don't think that I am in the running.
A West Ham manager is surely meant to say that he'd rather we avoid relegation than win the Cup or even get with a sniff of Wembley.
In the past 36 years we have made it to the FA Cup final just twice. Sadly I was there on the second occasion when we came er..second. I associate the Cup with the odd glorious victory (Paul di Canio beating Man United 1-0 at Old Trafford) but more with a string of humiliating defeats by lesser sides. That 5-0 thrashing at Forest a few seasons ago was bad. I remember seeing us play Aldershot at Upton Park when the Hampshire side were bottom of the league and just a few weeks away from going bust. It was 0-0 and frankly Aldershot were robbed, we made them look like Brazil that night although we won the replay.
My point is that West Ham and the Cup is just a romatic dream, the occassional triumph amid years of failure, humiliation and despair. As for Champions League football, I realise that we are just two wins off the fourth spot. But history tells me that the way to view being on 32 points is that we are probably just two wins away from avoiding relegation. Except of course when we got 43 points and still went down.
Perhaps I just need a whole new mindset when it comes to supporting West Ham. Though we may have defeated teams such as Arsenal (away), Liverpool (home and away), Man City (away), as well as lesser sides such as little Chelsea, this season I still find it hard to accept that this is anything other than a fluke, that I will not wake up and find that my dreams have indeed faded and died.
I have not been to a game all season but I cannot help but look at the scores or watch live streaming coverage on the internet. The Mrs still hears a loud "yes" from my study on a Saturday afternoon when the Irons get a result or even a goal.
Okay so this is a new West Ham. In that Spirit I chide Mr Bilic for thinking there is a choice. Go for it man. It is Cheryl and Despina in a threesome. Let's win the FA Cup and also gain a Champions League spot in the Premiership. In fact why just settle for fourth, we are West Ham why not aim to win the title?
Maybe I am getting a little carried away. It is just that I find myself in such totally unfamiliar territory and I am finding it rather hard to come to terms with.
I cannot remember exactly when I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I think it was around six or seven years ago. It was not a surprise. I had eaten and drink too much and the great West Ham supporting Tory blogger Iain Dale had described his symptoms and diagnosis a few months earlier. I knew what was coming.
There have been times since when I have managed it with medication and sometimes just by clean living and taking stacks of exercise. There have been times when I just let myself go. Four years ago I was a 19 stone 6 pounds blob and really all over the shop. But relationship breakdowns, work crises, near bankruptcy and a nervous breakdown did wonders for my (physical) health sending me off to walk around the mountains of Greece and Albania. I may have been a bit of a fruitcake but I sure knocked my body into shape.
Of course marriage and owning a restaurant are not good for the figure but I think I sort of have things in some sort pf check but perhaps I was a tad complacent. I know that Iain has also gone through such phases. However, the Mrs forced me to register with a doctor and last week an eye test showed the first – albeit minimal at this stage – signs of an issue in my right eye. I knew what was coming next.
This afternoon I strolled down to the doctors, a healthy twenty minute walk, for the start of the other tests. Today it was blood pressure and knock me down with a feather I scored my best result in years. Well done said the quack. Well done I said to myself, clearly I should stay on sabbatical forever. This is good news.
Naturally there was the inevitable lecture on smoking. Yes Doc I am aware that it is bad for me and also that the Pope is a Catholic. Do you really get £100,000 a year with long hols and a £65,000 Index linked pension for stating the bleeding obvious?
Next up are the blood tests for blood sugar. I fear these might prove a bit less impressive but have managed to sneak an appointment this week after five days of relative sobriety here in Bristol. I rather sense that if the bloods were taken in two weeks’ time after I spend a week in London where I tend to drink, er… a bit more, the results would be dire.
Either way I rather suspect that I shall be back on medication before long with suggestions that I take a bit more exercise and another few shock revelations about how smoking is bad for me. The obvious answer is of course to get more olive trees and move to Greece to spend more time working the land. What’s wrong with that plan?
The local evangelical C of E church seems to be on a recruitment drive and Debbie the vicar has posted a flyer through my door saying that next week she will be praying for my road. Do I have any special requests for her prayers?
Hmmm…could she ask God to ensure that I get a parking space next time I take the car out and come back to find the street chocca? Might the vets practice decide t overcharged me for treating my cat Tara and send me a large refund? Could God ensure that West Ham win its next match as easily as its last two?
Praying for my road…truly how incredibly silly the Church of England has become these days.
Please do not get me wrong. I still support West Ham. It is West Ham till I die. But…I really enjoyed an afternoon at the Kassam yesterday as the mighty Yellows (Oxford United) beat Cambridge United two nil in a League Two encounter. To be honest it could have been 5-2 but Oxford were clearly the better - of two not very good - sides.
It was the first time I’ve seen Oxford play and it was a family day out. The stadium has only three sides so behind one goal is a wall. Occasionally the ball was hoofed over it and a lad was sent out into the car park to chase it. We sat behind the other goal with the loudest section of the 5,900 crowd and it was a great (and cheap) day.
The referee really did not know what he was doing. For once, the chant was spot on. But then nor did quite a few of the players. In the Premier League a ball is hoofed up the park to hit a target. In League two it is hoofed up the park in hope as frankly anything can happen and that makes it all the more fun.
Having said that, the first Oxford goal was a cracking long range drive that would not have not looked out of place in the Premiership. There were occasional gems like that.
I tried hard to understand what the crowd were chanting. “We hate Swindon, we hate Swindon, we are Swindon haters” I got. “And we’re Oxford United, Oxford United FC, by far away the Greatest team the world has ever seen” was sung with gusto and irony as the yellows piled on the misery of Cambridge. But some of the other chants? Well I just could not make out what was going on. I think that might take a few more visits.
The total unpredictability of the game. The low cost relative to the Premiership. The convenience for me. They are the plus points. I will always look at up West Ham’s results first but in terms of actually going to games, the Hammers have been pretty dull all season and so next term, it is the mighty yellows for me.
After all it is the City of my birth and where I went to University. Until I was 18 I never lived more than 40 miles from the City of Lost Causes. And you cannot accuse me of supporting Oxford because they are good can you?
And so the FA Cup dream is over after we were thrashed 4-0 by West Brom at The Hawthorns. Fat Sam Allardyce is quoted as admitting that we were “second best” on the day. No shit Sherlock. FOUR NIL you might justifiably say that we were second best. Put another way we played like shite.
But I must admit that I played my part on our downfall. I did not watch the game. That would have made it six nil. I did not even think about it. However I allowed myself to dream.
I shall be heading back to the Greek Hovel in early May in order to avoid the General Election and to start a five month sabbatical working on a non-finance project. But the other day I thought “what about the FA Cup Final?” I decided that were we win it I would fly back, take out a second mortgage and get a seat for myself and my daughter. Yes, I made those plans and that ensured that we would not get anywhere near Wembley.
I apologise to all West Ham supporters for my part in our 2015 downfall.
Looking on the bright side we are on 38 points. By my reckoning that is one win and two draws and we are safe from relegation. When was the last time you can remember us going into March contemplating the fact that we were certain NOT to go down?
As you know I have guided West Ham to the brink of Champions League football by studiously paying no attention to every game played and avoiding going anywhere near a match or even watching on TV. When I have weakened and thought about attending a game, suddenly The Irons stop playing like Brazil and start playing like a Hackney Marshes side. I must warn you that with the Hammers travelling to my home City of Bristol this Sunday for an FA Cup game, my resolve weakened.
My daughter is in town and I tried to buy a pair of tickets off an online site. Luckily www.ticketbis.net offers the most useless service on this planet and treats potential customers like shite. I was promised calls back, I harried, a bloke called me asking for my business and said right now go buy tickets online only to find there were none. This company is run by a bunch of total wankers from Liverpool. The sooner the welfare safari that is scouseland is towed off into the Irish Sea and sunk the better. I heartily advise that you never use this company ever, not even to buy a stolen hub cap.
So no tickets. That prevents an almost certain cup upset. However I should warn you that the Mrs, the daughter and I are seeking out a nice quiet pub where we can watch the game on TV. Failing that, I see that it is showing at the Brislington Conservative Club. As I need to pop along to pay my annual sub – something which gives me enormous pleasure for the displeasure it causes the Mrs and my family of deluded lefties – I could always kill two birds with one stone.
Whatever happens I must warn all Hammers that I cannot resist and my daughter is adamant we must watch the game. Brace yourselves for disaster.
I should say at this point that not watching West Ham out of a sense of loyalty to the club is putting a strain on my marriage. That is because, when the Mrs said her vows about eighteen months ago she swore before God and the Congregation to attend at least two games a season at Upton Park (or the Olympic Stadium) until death do us part. She takes this God business more seriously than I and thus my sacrifice in not attending is made all the more intense by the marital situation.
I never thought I’d find myself writing in support of a convicted rapist but the footballer Ched Evans is at the centre of a witch-hunt egged on by vote seeking and spineless politicians which makes me feel rather ashamed to be British.
The transcript of the trial makes it clear that Mr Evans is a prize sleazebag. He insists that when he climbed into bed with his pal and a bird the pal had pulled, that the oral sex he offered to pleasure her with was at her invitation and that she consented to full sex thereafter. The next morning the victim bragged by text that she had bagged “a big one”. The next evening she reported Mr Evans and his pal for rape. The pal (who went first) got off, Evans served 30 months.
There is a very legitimate debate about the leniency of sentence. I would regard two and a half years for rape as shockingly light. However based on the court transcripts I am not convinced that I would have been able as a juror to have found Mr Evans guilty beyond all reasonable doubt of rape. Yes he is a sleazebag but a rapist? I am not so sure.
But he was convicted. He served his time and now he is out. Yet it seem as if the media and political establishment is determined that he never ply his trade again. He is not allowed to play abroad because he is on the Sex Offender’s register and when a UK club tries to sign him it faces such a barrage of hostility that it walks away. Nick Clegg was first to jump on this populist bandwagon.
David Cameron spouted some rubbish about how he could not take his son to watch a match in which Ched was playing. What utter nonsense. Posh Dave is a faux footie fan. A few weeks standing outside the posh seats at any club and he’d know from the chants that very few soccer players can be held up as role models. “Andy Carroll’s ‘avin a party, time to get the vodka and Charlie” sing the West Ham fans. When Alan Pardew comes back to the Academy its “Alan Pardew, he shags who he wants.” For Robin van Persie the chant always used to be “she said no!” even though he was cleared of raping the ex-stripper with whom he checked into a hotel room with for one night only. We all know what the chants refer to. And if you read the tabloids you know all sorts of filth about a legion of soccer stars up and down the land.
Looking at the current West Ham squad, my guess is that Mark Noble is a role model in every respect. I really would not want to bet on any of the other players not having made it into the tabloids at some stage. The fact is that most top flight footballers with more money than sense and birds chucking themselves at them find it hard to resist temptation and are so not the sort of paragons of virtue that Call Me Dave reckons he wants his son to see kicking a ball about.
Call Me Dave and Clegg are grubbing for votes, chanting a populist mantra. There is an election coming. They are grubby men.
Ched Evans has served his – shockingly light - sentence. He should be allowed, as should all ex-cons, to rehabilitate himself as part of society playing his trade. For that is how a just and caring society treats ex-offenders. We want ex-cons to become part of a civilised society again not to lurk on the margins bitter, resentful and more likely to re-offend. Just because Ched is a soccer player not a brickie or a roofer or an accountant with KPMG, he deserves the same treatment as all the other released felons out there.
Any club that shows the backbone to stand up to this witch-hunt deserves real credit. Heck even if it is Millwall I shall show my support by buying a season ticket for the remainder of this campaign. I won’t actually go to any games, I never want to meet Mr Evans for he sounds like an unpleasant, boorish oaf but the persecution he faces is not that which a civilised society should hand out.
In my weekly video postcard I have a few thoughts on Christmas including my Christmas Tree competion which you can enter HERE. I then turn to West Ham and make an urgent plea to Fat Sam and the West Ham board - pay for me to live in Greece until May and we can win the Premiership. Here's why.
In my weekly video postcard I look at why PLC fraud has become harder to hide in the internet era but also at how companies that have committed fraud behave in their final months. Yes I am looking at Quindell again and that video can be watched HERE
For longer than I can remember I have had seats at West Ham. Years of misery has been the only result. Worse still I have taught my daughter to support the Irons, taken her to games and she is now a diehard hammer. It is the sort of act that should get me reported to Social Services.
Last year was dreadful. West Ham were not only hopeless but dull too. I could take it no more and at £650 a pop my season tickets were not renewed. I dithered about a late renewal after a couple of summer signings by Fat Sam but our early exit from the Carling Cup kept me strong. I was not renewing.
It was at that point that West Ham started playing like Brazil. Win after win, some 3 points achieved against good sides like Man City, with the Irons playing stunningly creative football is something I find hard to understand and I then got an offer of a half-season ticket at £320. Hmmm.
At the weekend I was in the Grim North with the in-laws and for, ahem, a variety of reasons quite seriously considered heading over to the cultural oasis that is Stoke on Tent to watch the match. That was obviously a curse. That fact that I even considered attending a game saw West Ham drop valuable points with a 2-2 draw.
It is clear where my duty lies. Being a West Ham loyalist the first thing one considers is can we escape relegation? It is all very well saying that we are on 17 points and 4th and heading for European football next year but this is West Ham for Christ’s sake. If one assumes 43 points is absolute safety (I remember the Roader/Brooking year) we need another 26 points to avoid the drop so it is my duty to stay away for at least nine games or until we are safe.
Of course when I go back, that is bound to coincide with Andy Carroll not being injured and Fat Sam showing his tactical genius by dropping all of our new heroes to make way for a team built around horseface and Kevin Nolan, a long ball game and the celebration of a 1-0 home win against Northampton Town (Penalty Noble 89) in the FA Cup as a reckless display of attacking football.
It is only my absence from Upton Park that avoids such a calamity with Fat Sam reverting to form. Hence in order to ensure that next season sees European football at Upton Park I feel obliged to stay away and not even consider attending a match.
I have yet to fix up my hosepipe based shower – that is a job for this evening. And as such after three days in the hovel I arrived at the conclusion that I must be rather dirty, not to say smelly. As such, noting that a sign just outside Kambos says beach 5.5 kilometres I ventured off for an early morning swim.
A Greek kilometre is rather different to a standard kilometre, that is to say 1000 metres. When the sign says 5.5 kilometres that means anything between 3 kilometres and nine kilometres. Just treat what the sign says as a very rough guide. And thus after about nine kilometres I hit the sea and removed my West Ham 2005-2006 “We are Premiership” T-shirt, celebrating Bobby Zamora’s magnificent 57th minute winner against Preston in the play-off final. I then dipped my toes in.
The Mediterranean is a lot colder than I remember and I found myself standing in no—man’s land up to my trunks in water but not brave enough to make the plunge. Had I not been feeling quite so smelly I think I would have stepped back but needs must, I took the plunge. Well it was refreshing. And I do now feel clean and find myself sitting in a restaurant by the sea in the tiny and unspoilt village of Kitries. It is almost 10 AM and the only living beings here are myself, an adorable cat and its incredibly adorable kitten which is currently trying and failing to get onto a chair.
Sadly the cats do not know the Wi-Fi password and so I must move on to Kalamata to write and to try and get assistance on getting the Mi-Fi box for the hovel to work. Jeepers – Mimi’s fish restaurant has opened its doors. Coffee and Wi-Fi please!
And so the Mrs and I trouped back to where we used to live to vote. Had she played a Labour dirty trick and not registered me or not? We walked into the polling station and I was told that I was not on the electoral roll but neither was she. Aha the Labour dirty trick backfires!
We were at the wrong polling station. And so off we trouped in the rain to another Church Hall and there we found that we were both eligible to vote. We grabbed our voting papers and like a salmon swimming back its home waters the Mrs put her tribal cross for the labour party without hesitation.
I dithered as I pondered the wide selection of parties of the right. Conservative, Official fruitcake (UKIP), Unofficial fruitcake (UK Independence in Europe) two crackpot fascist groupings etc. In the end as I said I would do I held my nose and voted Tory. As a lifelong West Ham supporter I cannot side with a winning team.
And then off to the old boozer we used to frequent for a bottle of plonk, a tasty burger and a fiercely fought contest of Trivial Pursuit. Modesty prevents me from recording who – as usual – emerged victorious in that battle but it was the player who selected the blue pie not the pinkish red one.
I watch West Ham beat Spurs, chat to a pleasant Anglo Greek bird who asks to borrow a lighter and turns out to be the daughter of a woman who has met my Dad in the scholarly study of Northern Epirus and it is off to the airport. I know that it is a fixed fare but the driver starts the meter running.
We arrive and the clock says just under 26 Euro. Manfully he adds in a multiple of the tolls we have paid and we are still only at 31 Euro. So he turns round and having logged the 31 Euro as a print off he says “fixed fare 35 Euro” and shows me the a laminated card laughing.
I know full well that had we had more traffic and the total been 40 Euro he’s have chanced his arm and asked me for 40 Euro because most tourists just pay. That is why he set the meter running for a fixed fare. As it happens the total despite his toll swindle is only 31 Euro so: I pay the 35 Euro. he declares 31 Euro for tax purposes (if that) and 4 Euro disappears into the black economy. I am afraid that this remains the Greek way. Too many folks here think that swindling a foreigner and cheating the tax man is all part of the game.
I accept that it is the Greek way. The taxi driver was just a laughing wanker. I know that. I do not bear a grudge against Greece or the Greek people. I love it here and will be back soon. But one day folks here will have to learn that taxes are not optional and that swindling foreigners so brazenly is not a way to win long term friends.
I hope the game is on TV somewhere here in Athens and I shall be cheering on the Irons from Greece. Or will I be? Of course I will, hell's teeth this is The Scum at home is it not?
I cannot see Norwich winning at Stamford Bridge tomorrow (or for that matter at home to Arsenal next week) and thus even if we lose to the Scum we should be mathematically safe. And so I am just a bit torn.
Naturally I want to make it 3 out of 3 this year against the Scum. I cannot bring myself to hope for any other result and one would hope that the players are up for the match knowing that this is how the fans feel. I am sad to say it but this is our Cup Final.
But if we lose or draw? I assume we will get a drubbing away at Man City next week and so we will end the season – probably – staying up on just 37 or 38 points. The FA Cup campaign was a disgrace. We have played lousy and boring football for most of the year; there was no Plan B for when Andy Carroll was injured and we will have stayed up on a points total that in most years would not have been enough. It is only because there are four hopeless sides battling away on 30-32 points that the maths stack up this way.
The 7th best paid manager in World Football was given a large transfer budget and has failed. If our beloved owners face those hard facts AND are forced to watch the Scum walk all over us at the Academy today and then witness City stick a hatful of goals past us in Manchester next week finally they must act. Finally they must surely say that Fat Sam has had his chance. With the move to Stratford drawing ever closer we need a manager who can deliver. I don’t even care if it is David Moyes.
Season ticket renewal day is July 2nd – a decision by the owners must be made before then. In a recent poll 77% of fans said they wanted Fat Sam out. I am with the 77%.
Fat Sam has to go and the only consolation of a defeat today would be that this would make that an inevitability.
One of my ambitions in life is to get the hang of milking a goat. Okay, it is not quite playing for West Ham or changing the world bit it is achievable but a lot harder than you may think. A year ago I had lesson one which was captured on video HERE and was not exactly a triumph.
However I was back with the in-laws of the Mrs during Easter and the wonderful Stavroula (pictured below) consented to let me try my hand again.
Last year there were three goats but one was infertile and so she met the Albanians before Christmas and went into Stavroula’s freezer thereafter. And then my brother-in-law moved to England and so Stavroula sent another goat off to meet the Albanians as she reckoned that two was excessive. The one remaining beast gave birth to two kids one of whom we ate on Sunday and the other of which is happily putting on weight in an enclosure unaware that she too will be meeting the Albanians in the summer
That leaves mummy who is now producing milk for two neither of whom (for different reasons) are getting access to it. And that is where Stavroula and I entered the picture. Modestly, I say that I am getting the hang of it. I think I need a few more lessons to produce milk as well as Stavroula but as the video below shows the milk was flowing. You can hear it hitting the container quite clearly. I really did feel quite triumphant after lesson two
I have no idea what set him off but Oakley, my three legged cat, is in disgrace. Repeatedly he has been doing his ablutions not in the garden but on the first floor landing. He has been spoken to firmly and on a number of occasions but to no avail. The vet says we must not spank him and so we do not. But there is no alternative, an ASBO has been issued.
As such he is now confined to the kitchen where there is no carpet to tempt him and from where it is only a short hop to the garden. I think the problem is sheer laziness. All that Oakley does is sleep (historically under the duvet in the spare bedroom), eat (too much), drink and that is it. Not a lot goes through his brain because he is not a terribly intelligent beast. All in all he is ideally suited to become an investment analyst at Numis Securities.
From the bedroom the landing is s short hop, the garden involves going up and down the stairs and a long hop. So it is idleness that has caused the Anti-Social behaviour. In due course carpets will be replaced with floorboards and Oakley will once again be allowed the run of the house. But pro tem, and despite numerous mewlings and complaints, he must slumber in the kitchen on his West Ham blanket. The ASBO is being strictly enforced.
On Saturday I wore my London Irish shirt from my playing days, I suffered for 95 minutes which seemed like an eternity and I thanked God for agreeing to my suggestion that West Ham lose but Ireland triumph. Today I am asked to celebrate St Patrick’s Day but I will not do so.
For this day is a day when the whole world becomes Irish, hundreds of thousands don ghastly fake leprechaun hats and everyone gets drunk. By midnight the streets of Britain will be littered with discarded fake leprechaun hats, piles of vomit and folks collapsed on the street singing Swing Low Sweet Chariots as they remember who they really are. St Patrick would no doubt be truly honoured.
Party of my Irish ancestry comes from the Mathew family who were great temperance campaigners. The last of the line (named after its founder) died of an alcohol related illness some years ago. I cannot say that I am a man of temperance, quite the opposite.
But as it happens I have made an agreement with my three legged cat Oakley. The vet suggests that, especially has he only has three legs with which to support his body mass, he is a little plump. In fact I think the word she used was obese. So Oakley is on the low fat Iams and is being forced to take some exercise. In sympathy I have been off the sauce since Friday and am also on a Spartan diet. The Mrs reckons, not unfairly, that I could do with losing a few pounds and so Oakley and I are suffering together. As such I have enjoyed three days of complete sobriety which is all rather a shock to the system.
I digress. The wholly commercial exercise that is St Patrick’s Day is not something I shall take part in. On any other day of the year I’ll happily sink a pint of Guinness at the drop of a hat. But today, I will as I now do every year, give the whole thing a complete miss.
Naturally I rather hope that events in the Ukraine do not spiral into World War Three as I rather sense that this really would be the war to end all wars. And everything else. But always seeking solace of a silver lining in every nuclear cloud here are my ten looking on the bright side reasons for cheer.
I do not have to worry about being on the hook for alimony for the next thirty years and any more sniping letters from lawyers.
We can stop panicking about where to house the cats when we go on holiday this summer
I will die vindicated in the belief that all that money the Government spends telling me that smoking will kill me was utterly wasted.
As the planet goes into nuclear winter even the BBC and its sister paper, The Guardian, will stop banging on about global warming caused by man-made carbon emissions.
My debate with the tax man over my 2013 tax return will draw to a close
I will never again have to worry about West Ham getting relegated.
Never again will I have to listen to arsehole England supporters singing “Swing Low” after the old enemy has defeated Ireland.
Roy Hodgson will at last have a credible excuse for England not winning the World Cup.
Nigel Farage will not be appearing on TV every five minutes to warn about how we are being swamped with welfare scrounging immigrants from Eastern Europe.
As we wait for the final close I can scoff the last box of Christmas chocolates and drink a great bottle of Valpolicello that I have been saving without worrying about my blood sugar levels and the long term risks to my health.
It’s easy, I could think of another ten reasons to look on the Bright Side pretty quickly. Naturally I would rather that I did not have to.
A friend of mine from my Shoreditch days says that he is heading off to a weekend of eating drinking and libertarianism on the 15th March and would I care to go. It looks great but then comes the libertarian dilemma.
There are some entertaining speakers: Mark Littlewood, Norman Tebbit, Toby Young, Dan Hannan and I am sure that it will be great fun. However:
a) I am not convinced that this is ideologically pure enough for a true libertarian. I see there is a debate “is immigration a boon or a burden?” If you score straight A’s on the Ron Paul crystal pure test you would not need that debate, the answer is obvious. There is another debate “is the conservative family falling apart?” Heck, when did we join that family to start with?
b) Maybe I am a libertarian because I hate the idea of being organised. One of the joys of Shoreditch life right inside the triangle was that the residents were a pretty crazed bunch. On a day to day basis I had nothing in common with the Lebanese cookery writer for the FT, the fat American artist gay couple, the super geek IT guy from Morgan Stanley or the Australian architect with his French wife who’d been there since the sixties. I struggle to remember the other residents but occasionally we’d come together like a Wild West town called to form a posse, to fight a joint battle. We unite. We disband and then get on with our own lives with no-one passing comment or interfering with what we got up to. It was a very libertarian set-up.
The only neighbour I still chat to from those days (although I bumped into the cookery writer in the Street the other day) is my fellow libertarian, an uber-posh stockbroker. I am always happy to chat to him or to others of a similar persuasion in a chaotic and disorganised manner. But the idea of a weekend of organised and collective libertarianism somehow goes against the grain. Even if the event were not to be somewhat blurred by the presence of certain folks whose views are not exactly crystal pure Paulist (Lord Tebbit, Hannan and the other members of the conservative e political classes) the idea of an organised event is just not me.
For me, the chaos of the internet and of life in a corner of Clerkenwell is a far better forum for my style of libertarianism. And thus I think I must pass on a wet weekend in Bournemouth. Besides I note that West Ham are that weekend visiting the Cultural Quarter, viz Stoke on Trent. That looks a far more attractive option.
Whatever one things about the sheep shaggers, and as I explained in Friday I have mixed feelings, an evening match at the Millennium Stadium has a world beating atmosphere. It was a wonderful night. Wales played well, France were abject. I returned to Bristol rather worse for wear on the last train.
Worse was to come with Ireland against the Old Enemy. I really do loathe the swagger of English rugby with a passion. I loathed it when I wore the green jersey of London Irish and remembered the off the ball comments. I loathe the arrogance when they win. So losing a match that was incredibly tight really hurt. Had that England hand in the maul 3 minutes before the end been spotted it would have been a penalty and a draw. Such is life.
England can still win the Triple Crown if they defeat Wales. Needless to say I am 100% behind our Celtic cousins for that match. I stand shoulder to shoulder with my daughter on that one. The Championship is wide open. If Ireland continue to play as we have done and France are as abject as they were against Wales then BOD might get the send-off he merits. We have the points advantage going into the last two games and the Italy match should add to that. We shall see, it is all to play for.
If Ireland do not win then may it be Wales. Or France.
As to the soccer, another good win for West Ham. Yes one goal was offside but a 3.1 win was deserved. Now on 31 points we are not out of the woods yet and away at Everton next - can we nick a point?. Win that one and some daylight starts to appear between the Irons and the drop zone. As things stand it really looks like Fulham, Cardiff and one of the next nine to go down. You really cannot call it at this stage. But our fate is in our hands. Horseface is back from Suspension.
As an aside it was odd watching the QPR game in the Championship last night. I counted 5 West Ham old boys in the starting eleven. It is good to see that those Old Boys were as hapless for QPR as they were for us.
Last week I expressed my shock that Ireland and West Ham had both won on the same day and wondered when this happened last? You see, I am used to supporting sporting sides that are just not very good. Well blow me down Ireland and West Ham have now both put in back to back wins on the same day – when did that happen last?
For Ireland it was a home game against Wales. Such occasions usually prompt a post-match call between my father and myself “At least Olivia will be happy.” My daughter is like her mother (Big Nose) a proud Welshie. But not this time.
Ireland were ruthlessly efficient and made Wales (who are not hopeless) look just ordinary. The pack lead by Paul O’Connell was magnificent at the lineout, with the rolling maul and in all aspects of secondary play. The scrums were a bit of a mess but overall it was a powerful display. Throw in the kicking of Sexton and the tackling of the backs – and their strength under the high ball - and Ireland looked really good.
Next up is the Old Enemy at Twickenham. England also looked good yesterday but that was against a Scottish side that was truly dreadful. If you lose nearly all of your own lineouts and give away penalties you will never win rugby matches. As a hooker myself I have some sympathy when a lineout goes awry but Scotland’s was a shambles. It was not that England were just beating Scotland to the ball but that the ball was being thrown anywhere, almost at random. In my prime (London Irish, Wild Geese) I threw better than that. Notwithstanding how useless Scotland were, England are a good side so the next outing will be tough.
For West Ham, a 2 nil win away at Villa despite not having Andy Caroll available as he serves a ludicrous three match ban. Two goals from Kevin Nolan did the trick and by all accounts the best team won. We are out of the relegation zone but the bottom half of the table is still incredibly tight. In theory, a win against Norwich at Upton Park on Tuesday could see the mighty Hammers up to 10th. Yes I know we would need to win 4 nil but let me dream for a day.
What matters is the three points. Norwich at home is the sort of game we need to win because safety is still at least 4 wins and a draw away. Somehow there is confidence back in the side. Happy days.
As you might have gathered, teams that gain my support on the sports field can rarely be described as consistent models of success. West Ham, Northants CC, Ireland & Ulster at rugby, Eire at football and England at Cricket. The less said about the last on that list the better – for now I have decided that supporting the England women’s cricket team is less painful.
My big loves are, for my sins, Irish rugby and West Ham. For the former I can blame my father. For the latter I have only myself to blame. But this weekend both Ireland and West Ham won. I really cannot remember the last time this happened.
At this stage of the season I usually have a conversation with God on the matter of sport. Heavenly father, will you allow West Ham to avoid relegation and as a trade-off I will give you that Ireland will not win the six nations. But would you mind terribly if we won the Triple Crown? I sense that God is not really interested in such discussions (although why he should have anything against Irish rugby is beyond me, surely he cannot support England?) and thus Ireland will probably not win the Triple Crown and as for West Ham? If the appeal against the red card shown to Horseface (Andy Carroll) on Saturday is successful – as I think it should be – we actually looked like a half decent side.
Okay we are still in the 3rd relegation spot ( 18th) but in theory just one win would put us 11th The reality is that every side from 10th down (Villa who we play on Saturday on 27 points, five more than us) is a relegation contender. No side looks dead and buried so who will go down? Take your pick from (bottom of the table upwards) Fulham, Cardiff, West Ham, Palace, West Brom, Sunderland, Hull, Swansea, Stoke and Villa. None of those ten looks too good to go down and none of the ten look so abject that they really deserve to go down.
At both ends of the table the Premiership looks set to provide excitement to the wire with the added joy that Man United may well be missing out on a top four spot and European football next year.
As a footnote, at my daughter’s school all the kids bar two support Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea or Arsenal. The two exceptions are my daughter (a die-hard Hammer) and Jude who supports Spurs. I have some time for Jude for that, even if he is a Spurs supporter. I just wonder if there might be rather fewer “diehard Man U fans” next season?
As a second footnote from Upton Park on Saturday I relay a chant from whenever the Swansea No 8 touched the ball. This balding figure did bear a passing mention to “he who shall not be named” and thus when in possession the crowd immediately began singing “he’s coming for you, he’s coming for you, Harry Potter’s coming for you.”
Okay, it seemed funny at the time. I guess you had to be there.
My season tickets for my beloved West Ham go unused yet again. We lost 3-1 at home to Newcastle and were crap and should have lost by more. Fat Sam Allardyce has Horseface back from injury and we are still crap. I do not want to watch a game until he goes.
So instead, in the face of almost non-stop rain I have spent the afternoon nailing together railway sleepers, buying five bags of horse manure (no the real stuff not anything to do with what West Ham serve up these days) and five of earth hauling them up a steep hill from the most dreary garden centre in Christendom and then into my house and garden to create a herb bed.
A day spent dealing with horse manure, getting drenched in the rain, putting my back out and all to grow some herbs or an afternoon at Upton Park. Until Fat Sam goes it is a nil brainer.
An early birthday present from Carlton Cole and Mark Noble sees West Ham out of the relegation zone but that will not change the fact that I am today 46, closer to 50 than 40.
I did not expect to be spending this Birthday living in Bristol, married to a Guardian reading Sociology Senior Lecturer or less than 18 months into running a new business. Life is full of surprises.
I have now been working for 25 years and in the old days would now be just 19 years from retirement. For the Mrs – who did a Post Grad - the figures are 16 and 26. So Maybe I shall call it a day at 58 and live off the State (via the Mrs). I suspect not, work is too much fun.
My father’s generation expected to retire at 65. My generation? It might be 58 it might be never. The one thing we do know is that it is not an automatic gold watch at 65.
I cannot even be bothered to see who fat Sam Allardyce ( the world's 13th highest paid manager) blames for this latest humiliation for West Ham. We have been knocked out of the FA Cup in the 3rd Round to lower league sides before but 5 nil? Why was Sam not sacked last year as I suggested? last week as everyone suggested? Or today as every is again suggesting?
I cannot bring myself to talk to my daughter as I do after every game. This is just so dreadful. Why did I inflict the pain of supporting West Ham on her? Call social services.
An old friend from my Investors Chronicle days will be joining ShareProphets next week – an expert writer on property, insurance and (oddly) biotech, He is also a bit of a sports nut. We have spent long hours discussing cricket and soccer. Sadly he supports Spurs but nobody is perfect.
In his New Year greeting to me he wishes the best of luck to England’s Cricketers and the footballers at West Ham United. An apt if cruel pairing.
I wonder if any other side could be added to that list of the biggest flops of Autumn/Winter 2013? I really am struggling to think of one that entered its current campaign with such high hopes and has proved such an abject failure at every single level. The Nigella Lawson PR machine? The Ship of Fools global warming nutters trapped by record Antarctic ice?
Another day, another “six pointer” and West Ham comes away with nil points, after losing 2-1 to a side that lost its last game 6 nil ( Fulham). As a bonus, club skipper Kevin Nolan was sent off for a needless and mindless lunge for the second time in five weeks and now faces a three match ban. Again. Good. He is useless.
First things first. Nolan should be sold for however little at once. Pro tem Jussi should be club captain until Mark Noble returns from injury. Second up fat Sam Allardyce should (as I have been arguing for a year, warning of this) be fired at once. The World’s 13th highest paid manager has spent more in the summer than all bar 6 UK clubs and West Ham are still utterly shit.
A replacement? No-one could do worse (with the possible exceptions of Glen Roeder and Avram Grant). Glen Hoddle, Malky MacKay, Paul Ince, Paulo di Canio, Harry Redknapp’s dog – I’d take any of them tight now. I am sure the Board have better ideas than me (well sort of sure) but on the basis that no-one could be worse than Fat Sam, the P45 should be issued at once.
Let Karen Brady take charge for a few days as an interim measure for all I care, things could not get any worse.
As a consistent “Fat Sam must go” man for more than a year it gives me no pleasure in saying I was right. That the team that ranked 7th in summer transfer signing spending money languishes second from bottom is disgraceful, however it is spun. For the past year, my articles have been met with abuse ““get behind the team”, “sod off and support Spurs”, etc.) or excuses (injuries, bad refereeing decisions, it will all get better when Andy Horseface is fit to play, etc.).
But the facts are clear. West Ham has failed to defeat teams we needed to beat in recent weeks (Sunderland and West Brom) if we were to stay up. I do not give two hoots about beating Spurs in the Mickey Mouse Cup as I cannot see us getting past Man City in the semis. And even winning the MM Cup would be no consolation for relegation and all that that entails.
On New Year’s Day we travel to Fulham who look to be even more useless than we are right now. If we come away with three points we might slither out of the relegation zone, old horseface might finally return from injury for the Newcastle game (18th January) and Sam’s bacon might be saved.
Lose to the Cottagers and we could well approach my 46th Birthday (January 12th in case FS wishes to send me an early card – resignation letter enclosed) rooted to the bottom of the table. We learned with Roeder that if you hang onto a loser for too long it is too late to escape the drop. There are so many other managers out there who are available and who could do no worse. Indeed (with the possible exception of Avram Grant) it is hard to think of anyone who could do worse.
If the Board is serious about staying up a new manager must be in situe hours after the Fulham game ( whatever the result) with a chequebook ready to use ( a couple of defenders who could defend, would be handy whose purchase could be funded by the sale of, say, Downing and Collins). Standing by Sam is surely now utterly futile.
I appear to have fallen out with another LinkedIn Group – the West Ham Supporters. My “crime” is that I posted links to articles wot I wrote about the Irons. Apparently to stay there I have to write the whole piece on that discussion group.
Hmmm. I am a writer and earn a living from writing articles. So how about a new business model for me? I shall stop writing for websites where I earn money and will just post articles direct on LinkedIn Groups or on Bulletin Boards and so earn no money.
Can anyone spot the minor flaw in that one?
If you are not a professional writer and you wish to post your thoughts (judging by the timings, in many cases when you are being paid by someone else to do an actual job) that is fine.
But if you actually get the cash to pay for cat food, vets bills, a round of drinks at the Conservative Club and other essential things in life by being a writer, but then give everything away for free I would suggest you have a problem.
On that basis I have quit West Ham LinkedIn supporters. A surprising number of folks from there read this website. They know where to find me…
I guess it is better to quit than to be evicted as I was from the LinkedIN Friends of Greece and UKIP groups.
Spurs (7th) have fired their boss already this season. Today as it happens. Sunderland in 20th place, Fulham (19th), Palace (18th ) and West Brom (16th) have doled out managerial P45s already and Cardiff (15th) look set to axe their boss, former West Ham player Malky Mackay, within days. So which team is in 17th spot and looking utterly useless right now?
Step forward my beloved West Ham. If Mackay becomes available surely a P45 for Fat Sam must be imminent? If Malky is not free I really do not care who we appoint: Paul Ince, Paulo di Canio, Marco Boogers, Harry Redknapp’s dog, the late Nelson Mandela. I just do not care anymore. Fat Sam must go.
Still with no internet at the new house of the Mrs, I spent the whole of Sunday working in what I thought was the local hostelry in our new Neighbourhood. At ten o’clock I started wandering home and as I reached the top of the quite steep hill and about two thirds of the way back I started wondering how I will cope with this trek in the snow. But then I saw a bright light burning across the road. It called me towards it….
In a rather tired looking Victorian building there it was. The Conservative Club. With the Mrs away I thought “why not?” and buzzed my way inside. This place is less than 250 yards from my front door with no hills involved. It has Wi-Fi (although the barman did not seem to know what Wi-Fi was all about), snooker and pool tables and very, very cheap booze indeed.
It was just £5 to join and £16 a year to be a member (an extra fiver in the unlikely event of the Mrs, the woman formerly known as the Deluded Lefty, deciding to join as well). I rapidly worked out that at £2a pint/glass of wine I will get my money back very quickly indeed. All I needed was a proposer and seconder who had known me for 5 years and an understanding that I supported the principles of the Conservative party.
Hmmmmmm, low taxes, a small state, putting your country’s interests first, do not like crime. I reckon I can sign up to that agenda although Call Me Dave would probably have to tell a few lies to get in. As for my proposer and seconder? The man standing next to the bar said “You don’t support Bristol City do you?” I would have thought that my West Ham hoodie was a bit of a give-away on that matter but I said truthfully that I did not. On the spot my new Bristol Rovers supporting friend attested that he had known me for 25 years as did the barman.
Apparently I have to pass an interview in a couple of weeks at which I will attest to supporting Tory principles and stay schtum about my less than supportive views on the sorry buffoons who have run the Party since Lady Thatcher. I will have the dress code explained to me (no Bristol City tops) and also the rules about guests (I can bring the Mrs seven times a quarter but she is not allowed to expand on her lefty views) and then I will get my very own door fob as I am officially in.
I have now confessed to the Mrs in a text message. Much to my surprise she too has considered the issue of getting down the hill in the snow and the offer of cheap booze and Wi-Fi is something that she too finds instinctively appealing. So she is not cross with me at all for signing up with the wicked Tories and, since she too has never supported Bristol City, she is now seriously considering splashing out a fiver to make it a joint membership. If Call Me Dave can pretend to be a Tory and get away with it for so long why can’t she?
Her journey to intellectual salvation starts with this pragmatic step.
My crimes? Questioning the party’s immigration policies and also its Jew hating “friends of Palestine Group”. UKIP claims to be a libertarian party. Hmmmmm. I was never a party member but now I cannot even see the rants of the faithful on its LinkedIn page.
Libertarians tend to believe in free speech. Libertarians do not want the Jews driven into the sea. Libertarians do not want to restrict free movement of people in search of work. Libertarians would reform the welfare state in order to stop folk moving just to live on welfare but also to deal with indigenous welfare junkies. UKIP is about as Libertarian as Genghis Khan.
So I have now been booted out of LinkedIn UKIP ( having refused suggestions that I stop writing any criticism of the party at all) as well as UKIP Friends of Greece. My crime there was to suggest that Greece was corrupt and an economic basket case and that Albania (low tax, relatively honest) was a role model for poor Hellas.
I also got stick in the West Ham LinkedIn Group for wanting to fire Fat Sam Allardyce last season. I sense now that my views on that matter are now rather mainstream. But at least the West Ham LinkedIn group allows free speech. You can question and criticize. I guess the Cockney Boys are the only true libertarians left on LinkedIn.
Losing to Liverpool is not really a shock. But surrendering from the opening whistle as West Ham did is not impressive. Fat Sam Allardyce has apparently once again used the word “unlucky” in relation to this latest humiliation. What planet is he on?
Liverpool attempted 36 shots during the game. In a sense they were unlucky. It could have been 8-1.
The only bright spot is that Kevin Nolan was sent off and so misses our next three games. He is having a dire season. The way the other results panned out yesterday and our abject form and tough set of fixtures ahead leaves me with a fear that come New Year (or even sooner) West ham could be bottom of the league with Fat Sam set to take us back to where we were when he arrived….The Championship.
You can see how desperate the supporters have become when some of the ideas being floated around include the return of Judas (Paul Ince) as manager or Judas (Defoe) to lead the attack in the continuing absence of horseface.
For what it is worth I would be happy with both of those suggestions. In fact if it meant getting rid of Fat Sam (who I would have fired last summer) I would also re-hire Fat Frank Lampard just for good measure.
At what point does West Ham’s board say that “enough is enough?” Given that we are bound to lose to Arsenal and Man United in the next couple of games I almost find myself hoping that we lose both games 7 nil in order to force the hand of our esteemed owners.
Just like clockwork the exchange happened at midday on Friday. The little men had cleared out the flat in the poshest bit of Bristol which the Mrs had lived in since her postgraduate days and we set off to a rather less fashionable neighbourhood, where the sale proceeds have been re-invested in a lovely Edwardian house.
Okay, we are living out of packing boxes right now. But the space is enormous. The kitchen here is almost the size of the old flat. We have a garden with a vine which produces grapes which make wine – the former owners have left us one bottle from the 2012 harvest warning that it tastes appalling.
I managed to find the place alright driving back by car on my own at 1 AM this morning bringing with me the first six boxes of my books. The rest of my stuff will arrive in ten days time and then two households will be formally merged.
There are frustrations like having no Internet and thus also no TV for another ten days. And so I missed the X-factor last night and also Foyle. And I shall be forced to head off to “Grounded” later to spend the day working on-line drinking lattes (er... Rioja). There are, I suppose, greater hardships in life. For now I tap away producing the content that I shall upload in a splurge later.
The neighbours seem to be a solid enough bunch. It is what is described as an up and coming area. That means that more than half of the houses are now owned by new middle class incomers. The remainder are owned by the old white working classes of Bristol - the sort of folks who delight in displaying an array of flashing lights and the odd masturbating Santa Claus outside their house at this time of year.
But one senses that as each year goes by there will be a touch fewer masturbating Santas and a few more folks who have organic food delivered to their doors.
As I wonder up the street clutching a laptop and lead but wearing a West Ham hoodie I wonder how they view my arrival in terms of the social demographic?
My lack of support for Fat Sam is no secret but it seems that after losing away to useless Palace on Tuesday others are coming round to my point of view. The Premier League’s third longest serving manager may not last the season. He should never have been reappointed.
Fat Sam has spent heavily to build a team around one man, Andy Carroll. Horseface may be back on the training ground at last but appears incredibly injury prone. Fat Sam should surely have had a Plan B – how to secure 2 points every two games when Carroll is NOT playing. He did not.
We now have a run of games against top sides lasting until West Brom on December 28th where if we pick up even three points (and I include West Brom in that run) we will be lucky. It is thus perfectly possible that we will be starting the New Year at home to Sunderland already in the relegation zone.
I hope that I am wrong and we pull off a surprise or two but the form of late suggests that this will not happen. At what point do the board call it a day, sack Fat Sam and hire anyone else? I see that some are suggesting Paul Ince should make a return to the Boleyn. I know his managerial record is “mixed” and that he is widely loathed but in the season of goodwill who knows? He is, despite all the abuse hurled at him, still a West Ham supporter.
Frankly I have not got a Scooby who should or would take this job were Fat Sam to be fired in January with us sitting in the bottom three. We should not be in this mess in the first place given the money we have splashed out.
Geoff Miller posted a piece earlier today on the West ham LinkedIn members group of which I am a member. The boss of AIM listed GLI Finance (GLIF) is quite a witty fellow and his piece reads.
I have added "West Ham Supporter" to my list of Skills and Expertise on LinkedIn, and it would be great if anyone that is connected to me could endorse me, and if you are not connected to me, feel free to send me an invite to connect.
Having thought about what skills and expertise should appear on my LinkedIn profile, I realised that the unfailing ability to genuinely look forward to every season, the extraordinary ability to ignore all the bad times and relive the good times again and again and again, to exclaim that WHU is the greatest football team the world has ever seen, and mean it sincerely and completely, should be reflected on my LinkedIn profile, far more than all the work guff that gets peoples' endorsements at the moment.
Hence I have added "West Ham Supporter" to my Skills and Expertise and I would like to invite everyone to endorse me.
I feel the same. If you are on LinkedIN (a tedious version of Facebook for grown-ups) you will see that I am quite often endorsed for things like blogging but on reflection my most consistent skill over the years has been “Supporting West Ham in Bad Times and Worse” and feel free to endorse me accordingly in my LinkedIn page.
Given West Ham’s dire form of late I have only just plucked up courage to look at the result on the internet. I was assuming the worst away at Spurs given that, much as I hate to admit it, they are a good side. But blow me down, three nil at White Hart Lane. I was naturally straight on the phone to my daughter to discuss the matter. She has a friend at school who is a diehard Spurs fan and so "shall we sing a song for you?" We ran through a couple of ditties* for her to use for torment payback.
Fat Sam says it was his best result as West Ham’s manager. For today at least I shall not argue with him. Beating the scum away is not something that has happened in 14 years and even the Mrs, who has learned how to ingratiate herself with my daughter with the phrase “my favourite player is Joey Cole” but is not entirely up to speed on life on Green Street, appreciates that this is big.
We had thought that Downton Abbey would be our TV highlight of the day but we can safely say that MOTD 2 is now going to be even better.
It was one of our numerous Wedding vows that the Mrs promised to attend at least two matches a year at Upton Park and until today I was rather nervously looking at fixtures where – sans Andy Carroll – we had a half chance of nicking a point. Flushed with renewed optimism, as I am sure the entire Squad will be, I think I now have a far wider choice of games to choose from. Bloody hell, even the hitherto useless Vaz Te managed to remember where the goal is and netted one. What a day.
It is hard to find any minus points from today’s game which was a deserved win. That Defoe was not sent off ( not for any offence but just for being Judas) is, I suppose, a source of regret but is irrelevant compared to the joy of winning this particular fixture. If you had to win just one game all season this would be it. But after this match (actually our second league win) there are going to be a heck of a lot more three pointers on the way.
*For the avoidance of doubt, the ditties discussed did not include ( for two reasons) "we'll be running round Tottenham with, etc etc,etc."
I watched the first half of today’s 0-0 draw away at Southampton on the box. Two howling errors by James Collins in defence, a magnificent Jussi keeping us in the game and more chance of the BBC enjoying a sex scandal free week than of West Ham actually scoring. I gather that in the second half it was much the same with the only difference being the failure of Collins not in defence but at the other end failing to put away an easy chance provided by Mark Noble.
But it may be harsh to pick on the Ginger Pele. West Ham’s most telling statistic is shots on goal in four Premiership starts. In the first game against Cardiff we had four and scored twice. In the three games since then we have managed just two shots on goal. Maiga and Vaz Te could not score in a brothel. Frankly my cat or, even James Collins, are more likely to find the back of the net in the Premiership.
We are told that Croatian Fulham reject Petric and Carlton Cole are honing their fitness and should be ready soon while we all pray that Andy Carroll recovers tomorrow but big girl's blouse that he is, he will not. After today’s dismal showing by our first choice fit strikers I do not care if Carlton Cole is slower than Cheryl Cole, play him anyway.
Ok. Petric might be over the hill and not good enough for Fulham and only half fit but at least he knows where the goal is. I know Geoff Hurst attends most games at Upton Park. He might be 70 odd but I wonder if he still has a spare pair of boots... has anyone called Tony Cottee to see if he fancies a game? My mate Barry Jenkins might be 50 and smokes 20 a day but he says that he scored a few goals in his time playing on Hackney marshes and he already owns a collection of West Ham tops so the club only need provide him with shorts and socks and he'll be available for the Everton game. Any other ideas?
2 shots on goal in the last 285 minutes of football (inc stoppage time)...
I was once again back in my Clerkenwell rabbit hole. The dormouse was again pouring some tea of a herbal nature and produced a tray of cakes each one saying “Eat Me NOW or Pinsent Masons will frigging sue you.” “Surely we have been here before?” I asked the dormouse who just smiled and pushed the tray gently towards me.
A small mole appeared in the corner of the room, winked at me, grabbed a cake and gulped it down. Shroooooooooooom. Suddenly the mole was ten foot tall and was holding a smoking gun. He laughed, devoured another cake and was then carried away on a magical boat back to the Pinsents bunker on a journey past tangerine trees and under marmalade skies.
Curiouser and curiouser I thought. What might the mole have in store for us next?
Before I could reflect too much on that a large face started to appear on the wall next to my signed Geoff Hurst shirt from when West Ham won the world cup. “Cripes: I was wondering when the Cheshire cat would appear” I said to the dormouse but something was wrong, the cat had no smile.
“A Cheshire cat with no grin what the hell is wrong with you?” I shouted up at the cat “have one of these cakes it is bound to cheer you up.” The Cat looked down at me sadly and replied “Don’t be so frigging stupid, I am not the Cheshire cat I am Russell Booker, of Pinsent Masons, legal adviser to Sefton Resources.”
I wanted to ask Russell a question but once he had started there was no stopping him. After all he was charging Sefton £750 an hour for his time. He continued:
“I gather that the email from August 22nd where I warned the Sefton directors that their only witness was discredited and that they could not win the libel case against you might be about to surface. And then you will call me as a witness in Court and Pinsents will breach all the SRA guidelines by acting against you. It is all such a mess.”
At that point the Cat grabbled a cake, gulped it down. Shroooooooooooooom – suddenly Russell was chanting the Pinsents corporate song with a grin as wide as the gaps in Sefton’s balance sheet…
One bill makes you larger And one pill makes you small, And the lies that Sefton tells you Don't do anything at all. Go ask Alice When she's ten feet tall. And if you go chasing bloggers And you know you're going to fall, Tell 'em a hookah smoking caterpillar Has given you the call. Call Alice When she was just small.
But before Russell could complete the Pinsents version of the Jefferson Airplane classic there was a loud thud in my letter box. It was another long winded letter from Helen Skinner at Pinsents or whoever is running the case today.
Dear Mr Winnifrith.
We are now going to try to bully you again. Your case is now hopeless. We are going to win. Give up now. Do not pass go. We will collect £400 (no make that £750) from Sefton for writing this letter.
Pinsent Masons c/o a parallel universe
PS Remember to eat the fucking cakes or we will sue you again
Cripes thought I. Shouting “see you in court bitchez” I gulped down two of the cakes that the dormouse offered.
Booker continued to sing:
When the men on the b-board Get up and tell you where to go And you've just had some kind of mushroom And your mind is moving low. Go ask Alice I think she'll know. When logic and proportion Have fallen softly dead, And the White Knight is talking backwards And the Red Queen's "off with her head!"
The Dormouse piped up “Hey Russell dude, how are you looking forward to being called as a Witness by Dan and Tom in The High Court, Queen of Heart’s Bench Division? He flicked a card from the top of the deck towards the cat and it spun slowly through the air. On both sides were the executioners, sharpening their axes and chanting:
“Here Comes Dan Levi to check what you’ve said & here comes a chopper to chop off your head”
Enough screamed the Cat. The grin had disappeared but the Cat remained on the wall for another five hours before announcing “five times £750 – send a bill to Sefton Resources for £3750 + VAT”. At which point he too disappeared
Another thud in the letter box.
“Dear Mr Winnifrith. Our CEO quit in June, our chairman was sacked in disgrace in August, we now have no witnesses, you have witnesses to verify everything you wrote, the Booker email shows we know the cause is lost. On that basis, shrooooooooooooom, gosh these cakes are good, we are going to bully you again, give up, your case is hopeless. Do not pass Go! We will collect £750 ( no make that £1750 as we had to check with counsel) for writing this letter.
Pinsent Masons PS Do not eat this letter or we will frigging sue you
The Dormouse winked. We ate the letter together. Shrooooooooooooooom
Having failed to sign a striker in the transfer window, having recognised that Maiga couldn’t score in a brothel and with Andy Carroll a bit of a girl’s blouse on the injury front it appears that Carlton Cole ( released in May) is on his way back to the Academy.
Hmmmm. This is seen as a short term stop-gap. Carlton was always loyal West Ham club servant. I am sure that he will try hard. And he is better than Maiga. Almost anyone would be. If it turns out to be true, welcome back Carlton – you may not be a name that strikes fear into the heart of Premiership defences but, on your day, you were not bad. And you are better than Maiga.
It is 9.30 AM and I am sitting outside a small café in Russell Square, decked out in my West Ham hoodie contemplating today’s match against Stoke and tapping away at my PC, enjoying a latte and a fag and reading Jimmyliar’s latest lies in The Times. “How’s Sefton going? Said a voice. Rather fearing that Jimmy had sent a hit man to track me down I looked up.
“I am sorry”, said I to the complete stranger,” how can I help?” It turned out it was a journalist from Growth Company Investor who had followed the case and thought it was fascinating. Well done said he and we chatted about the amazing tale, the revelations and also about executive greed on the AIM cesspit. And then he scuttled off promising to pop into Real Man in a few weeks’ time for a longer chat.
Having other journalists say well done is always a good feeling so many thanks to him for that professional courtesy. I wish him well with his career as he strikes me as a knowledgeable chap who knows his stuff and enjoys writing and is not doing it merely as a stepping stone to the dark side (financial PR).
And many thanks for the dozens of kind emails, tweets and a couple of personal visits yesterday. Now to what really matters: Can West Ham triumph (without a decent striker available) against a piss poor Stoke?
A last minute cancellation means that as things stand I shall be standing next to two empty seats in the Trevor Brooking lower tomorrow. I know it is only Stoke but that would be a waste so if anyone fancies joining me - we can meet either at the Ground if you are coming from the East or at Real Man in Clerkenwellif you are coming from the West - get in touch. First come first served - email me on [email protected]
Alan “he shags who he wants” Pardew was appointed as manager of Newcastle United in December 2013. The word is that a P45 with his name on it is slowly on its way. But as things stands Pards is the second longest serving manager in the Premiership. Only Arsene “with a packet of sweets and a cheeky smile” Wenger has been in situe longer. What an appalling indictment of how football is run as a business.
Premiership managers trouser seven figure salaries. And it now seems taken for granted that after a couple of years (or half a season at Chelski) they are fired, getting vast compensation, before some other fellow gets a temporary stint at the helm. Sooner or later you end up with Mark Hughes in charge for a while. Hughes has managed six clubs within the past six years. Still only fifty, there has to be a good chance that by the time he finally retires he will have managed at least three quarters of England’s top sides.
In business (and football) there is a good correlation between having bosses in charge for the long haul and success. Looking back at my own club, our glory years came when we had someone at the helm for a decade or more. The idea that you might get a Johnny Lyall managing a club he loved for years and years just seems so out of kilter with the modern game.
There is also the financial madness of this merry go round to consider. Inevitably new managers want to reshape the sides they are in charge of and so the merry go round of bosses simply adds to the merry go round of players. More fees for agents, more “cuts” for the players, more losses for the clubs.
Footballeconomics makes no sense at all and the managerial merry go round is just one part of it. That may well be highlighted further. If Wenger gets his marching orders (as may happen) and when Pardew is asked to spend more time with his wife (again), who do you think will be the longest serving manager in the Premiership? At two years and 84 days step forward West Ham’s very own Fat Sam Allardyce. Amazing.
You should always end on a high. And I am on a high right now. Last night I exposed Jim Ellerton for the fraud and liar he is. The Nomad to Sefton (Allenby) has told me by email that if my initial allegations re the Dillabaugh case were proven either Allenby or Ellerton had to go. If it is the former the shares are suspended and won’t come back. If it is the latter the sole witness for Sefton in its libel trial against me will have resigned in disgrace. So I have won. I gather that the Sefton board is meeting this afternoon so, one way or another, the AIM career of Hawaii Jim is almost over.
I have already popped over to the offices of uber expensive bully boy City lawyers Pinsent Masons , champagne in hand, to record two short videos and when they go live that will be it from me.
Publicly I have put a brave face on this battle and on the Sefton dirty tracks campaign. But it has been a strain. I fear that there is not a cat in hell’s chance of me getting my costs back. Would I want to do this again or would I rather spend time with the bird, take up fishing again or do a bit of what I really want to do (goat farming)?
My priorities going forward are the restaurant, the UKInvestor Show, my partner (the deluded lefty) and my family, notably my step mother and ageing father - not necessarily in that order. As such the 666 shirt of investigative financial journalism united is (temporarily) retired. After today I shall confine my public comments on shares to my premium Nifty Fifty website. If you want to know my thoughts on shares pop along to Real Man Pizza and buy me a salad or subscribe to the Nifty Fifty
Shareprophets has 20 writers including younger investigative stars such as John Crawford and Ben Turney who I shall advise, if asked, but for now that is it from me on shares. The younger guys will take the battle against the AIM bad guys forward. I have a book to write (on Sefton), articles to write for this website on West Ham, Greece and other really important matters and a life to lead.
Thanks for your support since this battle commenced. My 36 hour drinkathon now continues and anyone who fancies coming along to Real Man tonight after 6 is more than welcome.
I am more than a bit excited, the inner child in me is in control. The new season is upon us and I am off to Upton Park tomorrow. My old pal Neil Masuda (who as my babysitter made my sisters and I watch the FA Cup Final on the box when Sir Trevor scored with his head) will be coming along with his latest bird. Neil, as you may remember started his long and glorious career as a peddler of sleaze on Fleet Street by breaking the Howard Jones (like to get to know you well) three in a bed scandal when on his local paper.
Anyhow, myself, Neil and his bird will meet up at Real Man Pizza before heading to the Academy. Cardiff were promoted last season so anything could happen. With Andy Carroll injured it will be interesting to see who can actually get it in the net for the Irons. Anyway, another season is almost underway. Another 40 weeks of misery is upon me. Like an addict I cannot wait and as 3 PM looms and we start “I’m forever blowing bubbles.”
I am excited already. It is almost as much fun as asking the Serious Fraud Office to investigate Pinsent Masons and Sefton.
The postman has just strolled into Real Man Pizza Company ( 12.15) and among the usual batch of bills, cheques and junk mail were three envelopes from East London. Yessssss! My West Ham Season tickets are here.
Oddly the bread delivery guy and I were chatting about the season earlier today. He is a diehard hammer. We both reckon that another striker is needed but elsewhere we look okay. The midfield looks very strong although if Scotty Parker were to come back as has been rumoured we would not be objecting.
So Old horseface has signed up for six seasons at the Academy. It seems as if the board has dug deep because £15.5 million to £17.5 million up front and £100,000 a week is not small beer. Is he worth it?
At one level patently he is not. The emergence of a new breed of clubs with unlimited financial resources which started with Chelski and has now spread to Manchester City and – thanks to its mug bankers – Man United means that wage and transfer inflation has run riot through the game. The prices clubs pay to sign and retain even ordinary players bear no relation to their economic value to the clubs concerned. Carroll is just one example of that.
In absolute terms Carroll is not worth the money. But then when you see really ordinary Premier League prima donnas getting £50,000 a week in relative terms he might be.
I accept that horseface picks up more than his share of injuries. But assuming he starts most games then I think that we can bank on the Carroll/Kevin Nolan partnership netting West Ham 20-30 goals next season. Their track record together is pretty good. Yes it does mean that folk like Jarvis will be required to supply stacks of crosses and there will be plenty of long balls played up from the middle of the park.
It may not be the beautiful game but 25 goals from this duo (plus the penalties horseface will undoubtedly secure for us) would go a long way towards ensuring another mid-table finish. Last year we scored 45 goals all season. A decent foil for horseface up front (as well as Nolan) and West Ham has a good foundation for another top half finish.
My daughter is delighted and shamefully I admit that I am too.
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? You hook up with another one who will inflict the same pain on you. You know it will be that way, it always is. But you can dream can’t you. Whatever… you cannot resist.
As such the old season finished less than four weeks ago but already I find myself wondering when the fixture list is out? Will Andy Carroll sign up for five years (on a hundred grand a week)? Who else will Fat Sam bring in as he claims he aims to deliver a better than tenth finish? I can of course dream of the next season ahead. Surely the next girlfriend will make you happy? Maybe this is the year when we finish in the top seven, win a cup and secure home wins against Chelski and Spurs?
And so like a fool I have done it. RMPC has renewed its season tickets. Lucian Miers and the Goddess have been alerted. My daughter will be greatly relieved and all she needs to know is that Andy Carroll is staying and all her Christmases will have arrived at once as she worships old horseface. My tardiness means we move three rows back so a slightly worse view but we are now in the midst of the Trevor Brooking lower…not the sort of place to be seen sporting a Defoe Spurs top.
I should at this point state that my partner never inflicts shopping misery on me and would not be spotted dead in a vegetarian restaurant. Above all, having never been interested in sport and hailing from the Grim North she is now an adopted cockney and finds herself checking how West Ham do every week, is more than happy to come to games and says that her favourite player is Joe Cole. I think she even understands the magic of the John Lyall moment in the FA Cup Semi Final against Middlesborough which I was at and even now sends a shiver down my spine. Yup, I think she gets it. I was there.
And so having dithered I could do nothing else. Having broken the curse of causing West ham to lose every time I attended with two non-defeats on the trot I think my renewal will not cause relegation.
If only for a daughter whose loyalty to West Ham is unmatched (and for the home game against Paulo’s Sunderland) – we will be back.
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.
It took me 80 minutes to get from Chancery Lane to Upton Park. Boris Johnson I blame you. You knew that there was a fixture at The Academy today almost a year ago. Yet you scheduled repairs across the network today. It was 40 minutes before I got to Bethnal Green at which point I was told that Mile End was closed. Panicked I shared a £15 mini cab to Green Street.
Getting home was an equal mess. The District Line stopped at West Ham and so after waiting 15 minutes to wade through crowds at West Ham it was the Jubilee line to Green Park and a Victoria line to Kings Cross. What a tedious mess. And there were other games in the Capital as well today. Could you not schedule works for four weeks’ time when the football season is over and no-one in their right mind would be heading to Upton Park?
Oh cripes. Jeepers. We did not think of that. Jeepers again.
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.
As fate would have it. Every West Ham game I have seen this season seems to have been a defeat. As such I head off from Clerkenwell to Upton Park this afternoon, taking along a Real Man Pizza Company loyal customer, with some trepidation.
Alan Pardew comes back to the Academy with his side still a good outside bet for relegation. Their recent form is poor and my sense is that whatever happens between now and May 19th, come May 20th Pards is set to get his P45. For a team that thinks it is a “big side” Newcastle has had a lousy season.
By contrast the Irons have started to play some pretty decent football of late. We are now almost certainly safe from the drop and one sense that Messrs Nolan and Carroll will have a point or two to prove today. The odds have to be on a home win, 100% certainty of top flight football next year and Pards being one game closer to black bag time. But I warn you, I shall be heading down to the Academy in a couple of hours, the Albatross is on his way.
Announced just before April 1st Paulo di Canio has been appointed the new manager of Sunderland on a 30 month contract. Good luck to him. He replaces Martin O’Neill whose managerial career seems to be heading rapidly south and who was fired after Sunderland’s most recent defeat. The team now lies just 1 point ahead of Villa and in form Wigan and the last relegation spot. If di Canio can turn this around he will be a hero. And it should not take much. Both Villa and Newcastle who are a place above Sunderland look pretty useless. Wigan are useless but always seem to escape the drop.
Di Canio has seven games to secure two wins and a couple of draws and ensure safety. Naturally I now hope that he manages to save his side from the drop (unless it is at the expense of West Ham who still need one more win). In response, David Miliband has announced that he is quitting the board in protest at di Canio’s “past political views.” That would be the David Miliband who is also quitting his poor constituents because he fancies earning loads of wonga in New York. Di Canio is a well-known anti-racist campaigner. Admittedly he is also a great admirer of Mussolini and Fascism, a philosophy rooted not (like Nazism) in concepts of racial purity but in the idea of a big state which controls the economy and spends lots of money. A bit like the last Labour administration in which Miliband served.
I cannot see how Miliband added much to Sunderland’s board. As a London boy I am sure his support for the team was down to appealing to his constituents rather than a real passion. And the man was clearly happy for an excuse to sever another tie with the UK. I suspect that Miliband will be missed at the Wearside club almost as much as they will miss Martin O’Neill.
And sadly I am now resigned to Fat Sam Allardyce staying on at Upton Park after May for at least another two years.
The performance on Saturday by the Irons was exciting and attractive. But that has been the way this season. One game on and a couple off. It is not enough to get me to renew my season ticket. I may renew in a couple of years but £650 for 19 games when half of them are dire and I only manage to attend nine games (all of which are the dire ones) seems poor value for money.
I suppose that for a number of years I have felt less and less minded to renew my season tickets. The truth is that I have just fallen out of love with football. The rubbish talked by pundits as if it really mattered and the behaviour of the spoiled brats who play the game has just put me off. It seems as if the whole world revolves around the Premiership when in fact it is just some men kicking a ball. Those men and the pundits and whole circus involved live one one planet and expect "fans" who they treat with contempt to fund the lifestyle of that planet. It is all about money.
And becuase it is about money there is soccer played and rammed down our throats seven days a week. There was once upon a time an excitement of waiting for Saturday, for the big day. That has all gone. It is like being served Sunday lunch seven days a week. After a while it just becomes routine. There is no great excitement. I don't really care what happens any more.
It is not just soccer. Cricket is now a year round game. I lose track of which tournament England is playing in and why. I can't say that I give a damn about the result. It all blurs into one. I look at the Six Nations Rugby and even the bloody Boat race. Every match now needs a corporate sponsor and a trophy presented at the end. Who gives a toss about the trophy in the Wales Ireland game? There are so many trophies and medals handed out that their worth is devalued. In a forest of pointless silverware we almost forget the pleasure of just watching a great sporting battle.
And then, after every game, we suffer a grossly overpaid Clare or Gabby or someone else prattling on with soft questions for the professionals to be answered with cliches. Most of the sportsmen interviewed have not got two brain cells to rub together so a cliche is all that you will ever hear. And they know that if they actually say something interesting they will get in trouble so you hear platitudes and banalities only.
It is all about money. It is one great big industry. That I have to pay my part via the TV license fee is regrettable. But I can at least opt out of chipping in to the circus via a West Ham season ticket. I once played sport (rugby) very seriously. I also played competitive croquet but that is another matter. I played soccer quite a bit too. And cricket. Sport has been a core part of my life. But the disconnect with the professional world is just too large, it is time to let go and find an activity suitable for a middle aged man to participate in. Gardening?
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.
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
It looks as if we will be playing at home in an 80,000 seat Olympic Stadium for 99 years starting in c2016. Like everyone who supports West Ham I have mixed feelings. Green Street may be a shit hole but it is our shit hole.
I shall miss the various cafes where you can have some exceedingly unhealthy food before and after the match. I shall miss the Queen’s dive though it is. I shall even miss my Jamaican barbours. And I shall miss Upton Park. For all its faults it is a ground with atmosphere. I have some very happy memories of the place.
But if we can start to fill the Olympic Stadium West Ham will have the financial muscle to be a Big Club and I know this will sound like heresy to some West Ham Supporters but I’d like to win something now and again. The question is can we fill an 80,000 seat stadium. Right now we sometimes struggle to fill a 34,000 seat stadium. There are c26,000 season ticket holders. If we are serious we need to double that number.
And that means that we need to engage a charismatic manager who can start RIGHT NOW to reach out to the wider community in East London and Essex and who will make a long term commitment to the club. If the contract of fat Sam is renewed in May then we can look forward to three more years of football which does not turn anyone on and three years with a manager who will not be there after 2017. And who does not have the charisma to reach out and get folks signing up for season tickets, etc.
If West Ham is serious about becoming a top six club it has to hire someone NOW ( well in May) who can deliver a seven year plan not only on the park but also in the wider community. There is only one man who can do that and that man is. Paulo di Canio.
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.
My formative rugby years were in the 1970s watching on a black and white TV screen with my Dad. Why do we support the Men in Green is asked my Dad: they always lose? Well my father and I still support the men in green. He taught me to do so as his mother had taught him and we have had a great couple of decades. But it is over. The good times have officially ended and we return to what I consider normality. That is to say a battle to avoid the wooden spoon.
This season has been terrible. For the first 45 minutes against Wales we looked like world beaters. Since then it has been just dreadful. Frankly the Irish ladies team (who, I think, won their grand slam) have played with more passion and discipline and – at times – skill.
It is the end of an era. Not once have I had a chance to call Aunt Valerie (an Ulster woman) to share joy in a way that she cannot with her husband Uncle Chris, as Ireland have triumphed. Calls to my father have been sad as we wonder if those glory years – a twenty year period when Ireland were not good but great as opposed to the normal fare of brave also rans – are just over.
I am not even sure that I would describe Ireland as brave these days. Back in the 70s we would pray for the rain to poor down on Landsdowne Road. Keep it tight in the forwards and fight with passion, pray and hope. The late Moss Keane, Fergus Slattery, those were the days. In defeat those Ireland teams were brave.
And now? That the manager Declan Kidney has to go is without doubt. This has been the worst six nations in living memory and losing to both Scotland and Italy (though both sides are greatly improved) is shameful. And Brian O’Driscoll has now played his last game for Ireland. Injuries have taken their toll on his body and if he joins or even leads the Lions this summer I think sentiment will have won over reason. It should not have ended this way for a great servant of Irish rugby and, by all accounts, a good man.
I am told that there are a lot of good young players coming through. I hope so but the Irish side as it stands is quite simply not very good. It is poor. And it is not brave or disciplined either.
But as my father always says, at least Olivia will be happy. Wales have triumphed once again and my daughter’s mother (big nose) will have been screaming with joy. Deservedly so. And at least the swagger and arrogance that accompanies English rugby when it is on a roll has been destroyed today. The proud and boastful chariots have crashed. This is not chippy anti English sentiment just a comment about a certain aspect of English rugby.
But this is no consolation. For most of my adult life I have got a glimpse of what it must be like to support Chelski on their day. That is to say Ireland won games, won titles and we not only deserved to win but expected to win and to win by playing great rugby. But that era has been drawing to a close for a couple of seasons now. And now supporting Ireland is like supporting West Ham. I will never support anyone else but each season starts with a low expectation which the team I support with a passion will be almost certain to deliver on.
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 19th 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.
It was an ugly game devoid of skill and flair. If MOTD can find more than 90 seconds of highlights to show this evening I would be amazed. But having said that Stoke has a great home record and to come away with a one nil win is a great result for the Irons. At this stage of the season and on 30 points before today, who cares how we get the points just get us to safety.
And now we are on 33 points, nine (call it 10 because of GD) ahead of the drop zone. Two more wins should be enough, three wins from the last ten games really will be enough. I rather suspect that 37 points will be enough to ensure survival this season. So it is looking better.
But that does not alter my view. In May the West Ham board could offer Fat Sam Allardyce another 2 or 3 year contract and I despair that the Board seems minded to go with this option as it shows zero ambition. And so we will have two or three seasons of big ticket signings offering us a 12-16th place finish, no cup glory and football that three games out of four is a total turn off. Sam does not have the charisma or the youthful energy to reach out in the wider community in East London and Essex to build the widespread support needed to get the tills going ching ching and make West Ham a big club.
Paulo di Canio on a seven year contract would offer such a hope. West Ham’s best days have been with a younger manager who has a long term relationship with our club and whose veins flow claret and blue. Give Fat Sam another contract and I shall not renew my season ticket. I shall always support West Ham but I am not paying £650 a year for more of this. Give the job to Paulo and I renew at once.
You get flamed on West Ham chat rooms if you are seen not to be “backing the club” but if I wanted to follow a dull team with no ambition I’d have switched to Fulham years ago. That is not the West Ham way. Can the board please show ambition and call Paulo the second that safety is assured.
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.
It had to happen sooner or later, Paulo di Canio’s relationship with whichever consortium thinks it is managing Swindon Town these days has broken down irretrievably. It had become a bad marriage and di Canio has quit with immediate effect. Selling a key player behind the manager’s back really is like shagging the wife’s best friend. It was game over at that point.
Di Canio achieved wonders at Swindon and will, I guess kick his heels for a while not wishing to rush into a jon with the sort of club that sacks its manager at this point in the season – i.e. one heading for relegation. But come May the contract of Mr Sam Allardyce expires at West Ham. Even the biggest Fat Sam admirer must now recognise that this season is starting to look like a bit of a painful experience. We are on 30 points – still three wins away from probable safety and for from almost certain safety. I look at the fixture list and, I suppose, hope for 6 points from Reading and Wigan at home but frankly I cannot really plot a clear course to safety.
For all the money spent we will have 2 early cup exits and a league finish of 12th- 18th to show for it. That is why Fat Sam is now at 10/1 the bookies favourite for the next Premiership managerial P45 – although it is probably about time for Chelski to sack someone again.
My reason for wanting di Canio is that what West Ham needs more than anything is another man whose veins flow claret and blue and who will happily serve a long stint at the club offering stability, supporting the Academy and reaching out to the community in East London and Essex so that even for shitty Capital One cup ties against Rotherham the corporate boxes are sold out and the stands are full. So that kids in what should be the West Ham heartlands grow up asking their dads if they can get a West Ham shirt for Christmas not a Man United or Chelski one. If we want to be a big club we need a manager with commitment and charisma because this is a money game. Paulo can reach out in a way that no-one else could. He has shown that at Swindon and he would do so again but on a far grander scale at the Boleyn.
Being a manager is more than just getting results on the park – something Paulo has shown he can deliver and which West Ham has not delivered this year. I hope Paulo kicks his heels for a while and takes a good break and that allows Fat Sam to see out his contract, try to avoid relegation and leave with dignity. But come May if our board has true ambition they know who to call. There is no alternative.
Greetings from deluded lefty central in Shipston-on-Stour. I think I got both sound and picture right this time! A short video as an afternoon of sporting misery beckons.
On the agenda
3. UKInvestor Show
4. Market rotation bonds vs equities: Tom Stevenson
5. Inflation & equities
6. Gold and silver
7. The ability to price set
8. It is not a matter of life & death it is more important than that.
The white bear in Shipston seems to be populated by folk who support Aston Villa and England. Given that we are on South Warwickshire that should be no great surprise but as a West Ham and Ireland support I have had enough. And it is going to get worse.
West Ham lost 2.1 and were useless. This is the third time this season that we have given hope of a kickstart to useless sides (Reading, Wigan and now Villa). I hope that we stay up although that is by no means guaranteed. But surely no-one can want another season of this nonsense. At the end of May Fat Sam’s contract is up and he has got to go. West Ham will finish this season between 12th and 18th and with two early cup exits to our name. Enough is enough.
At half time Ireland are trailing and our captain could not catch a cold at the North Pole. So much for the Lions Jamie. My father is earnestly praying for divine intervention at Church right now but I fear the worst and if we are to be vanquished by the Old Enemy I’d rather watch in misery alone than surrounded by cheering England supporters. What next?
Oh, my sister Tabby and her family (England, Man United and deluded on all matters) arrive for supper. I have a long list of restricted subjects which I am not allowed to mention but she has none, I am under orders not to respond on any matter.
Postscript: No rows with Tabby. I bit my lip once but all very amicable. Her husband opined that only aristocrats read the Daily Telegraph ( theirs is a Guardian reading household, natch) and I was unable to hold back then generally all peace and brotherly love.
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. They said they were staying overnight and were off to a bar and asked if we were doing the same. Derek looked at me and I looked back. We smiled. We both wanted to say to our friends from a GNSH that we had to head back as we had jobs to go to. But we just smiled knowing exactly what we both were thinking.
Enough of the memories. Villa have a poor defence and are deep in the mire. If they are to avoid relegation today is the sort of day they must pick up three points. A draw is not enough. The side is on 21 points with a shocking GD. There are 13 games left to play (including today) and to have any chance of survival 36 points is the bare minimum. For reasons all hammers supports are aware of, 43 points is my target for safety.
So Villa need more than a point a game. Given that the side has 3 or 4 unwinnable games against top sides it really just has 9 games (including today) in which it must amass at least 15 ( probably 18) points: that looks a tough call and they may well go down with the Redknapp. For the Irons, if we win today we are within a couple of games of safety and we still have Reading and Wigan to entertain at the Boleyn.
On paper, the West Ham starting line-up looks the stronger and if Carroll gets decent service from Jarvis, Cole (Joe), Diame, Noble and Nolan this could be a 3 pointer. But West Ham gifted Wigan its first home win of the season, we re-started Reading’s mini revival by gifting their piss poor side 3 points on December 29th. Our recent away form is shocking. A win for us and Villa really are in deep trouble and we are within sight of safety. A defeat will be un-nerving. A draw is not enough for Villa and edged the Irons closer to salvation. It is all to play for.
Lo and behold a resurgent Wales beat the Froggies (who are now 0 from 2 but were pre tournament favourites), Scotland thrash Italy in what was meant to be the wooden spoon game and today’s match in Dublin could be the Championship decider. Although I would not rule the sheep shaggers (Welsh department) out yet.
England are, of course, the old enemy and when they arrive in Dublin full of swagger and arrogance as they do now, the desire for victory is greater than ever. And there is also the romance: in Brian O’Driscoll’s last season of six nations rugby might the men in green pull off a famous victory? If they play as they did in the first half against Wales they might win. Play as they did in the second half and there will be misery in Sheep Street, Shipston.
For I am back with my deluded lefty father and step mother. It is the former who brought me up to support “the Old Country.” For me tomorrow afternoon is a simple matter. Lunch. Then the White Bear to watch West Ham away at Villa. And shortly before 3 my father will arrive. I shall remove my West Ham hoodie to reveal an Irish shirt, we will switch bars and off we go.
My father has a dilemma. At 4 PM my step mum is preaching in Shipston Church. If Ireland are behind he will not want to watch and will head off to Church to pray for a BOD inspired comeback. If it is even Stevens he has assured my step mum that he will go to Church where he will pray earnestly for an Irish victory. So, I asked him: what if Ireland are 50 points ahead with 30 minutes to go: God vs. Pub, a chance to watch a famous victory with your son, the landlord ( also wearing green) and a bunch of miserable England supporters, or your second church service of the day? Hmmm. He admitted that would be a tough call. But it is – sadly – also an unlikely scenario.
Pete Finch is a Bulletin Board Moron who does not like me. He has posted a couple of comments on an article I did the other day. Sometimes he logs on as [email protected] and sometimes as [email protected] but he is a consistent fellow. His latest post is:
More shit tips of Tom Winnifrith, will be avoiding all these like the plague. Tom, clearly your incessant frequenting of Gay bathhouses has impacted your mental health
One could criticise the poor grammar, the fact that my tipping record is on a career basis excellent, the other – rather more obvious – factual error relating to where I spend my leisure hours or perhaps I should just stick to Pete, Jamie or whatever he is called tomorrow’s latent homophobia.
As it happens I have never been to a gay bathhouse in my life although I did once wander into a gay bar after West Ham’s FA Cup final defeat at the hands of Liverpool as it was the only place to get a pint ( of beer). But homosexuality does not equate to having mental health issues.
Pete, Jamie, whatever: you are a sad man. Do your friends, family and colleagues know that you spend the working day posting such material?
I have looked at the table from the bottom up since the start of the season. If you have been a West Ham fan long enough that is your routine. And gradually that exercise has taken less and less time. Today’s game is a match we really must win.
QPR have new signing Remy but are not that good. Redknapp has started to turn things around but on 14 points from 22 they have just 16 games ( of which four are against big name clubs where they will secure nil points) to get to 40 and safety. In effect they have 12 games left to secure 26 points. Thus QPR have to win today. I really hope they do not. West Ham’s financial woes started with ‘arry’s ludicrous transfer wheeling and dealing which ultimately did not benefit the club. Who did benefit? Answers on a postcard to a luxury mansion in Dorset. ‘arry then went to the Scum. He is uncle to Fat Frank Lampard and that gives me three good reasons to hope that QPR join Reading in heading back to the Championship.
West Ham are on 26 points. So we have only another 14 points to bag to be (probably) safe and 17 to be safe beyond doubt. Wigan, Reading at home, Southampton and Villa away and …QPR at home are the games I am sort of banking on. But the fact is that our recent form (bar the home cup match vs Man United) has been piss poor. I hope Joe Cole plays and we might get a result. But I am getting increasingly nervous.
I shall comment on managerial change at Southampton later. But even the most blinkered Fat Sam Allardyce fan must now accept that this is not a season to be proud of. League cup disgrace, 3rd round FA Cup exit and – for all the money spent, not terribly attractive football will see us finish clearly in the bottom half of the table. When Sam’s contract is up in May he must go. We cannot afford, nor should we want, three more years of this.
The question for Gold & Sullivan is “Do you have ambition?” If so take a chance. Let’s get the Olympic stadium but then give a long term contract to the one man who a) adores our club and b) has the charisma to reach out to the vast natural West Ham heartlands and fill that stadium every week, ensure every box is booked out (even for the visit of Wigan) and that every kid in East London (from all its communities) wants to wear a West Ham replica shirt. And that would give West Ham the financial muscle to really grow this club.
There is only one man who can do that and we all know that is Paolo di Canio. We also know that with Paulo at the helm we would see exciting football. We would have Cup runs. And we might enjoy what all clubs need – a really long term managerial reign. That is what West Ham had when we were good. We need it again. Only Paulo will give us that loyalty.
I am sorry to bang on about this issue but for me this season is over. At best we will finish 12th. At worst we are narrowly relegated. I do not enjoy going to games any more. I really cannot be arsed to suffer travel nightmares, catch a cold and watch another dismal showing. Fat Sam was paid to do a job (get us back up). He has done it. Now let’s move on. If he stays I am not renewing my season ticket and – chatting to other fans – I am not alone in feeling that way.
I am not making a prediction on today’s game. A draw is not much of a result for either side. Anything could happen.
It was a great 45th and rounded off with this present in the picture below. I have been wearing it ever since Saturday (even in bed). If you are no au fait with soccer, West Ham is known as The Academy becuase while other clubs buy in talent we nurture it.
So when West Ham won the World Cup in 1966 the backbone of that side (Hurst, Moore & Peters) came through The Academy. Today’s West team contains graduates like Noble, Tomkins, Collinson, Cole (J) and the younger Potts & Moncur boys. And elsewhere in the Premiership academy graduates include Fat Frank Lampard, Rio & Anton Ferdinand, the well known multi-cultural awareness campaigner Mr Terry and Michael Carrick.
It is a 5.15 kick off so for now I can relax and look at how the other games are unfolding. I was chatting to a Newcastle supporter yesterday and the mood at whatever the stadium is called these days must be very bleak right now. On 20 points in the league (just two points above third bottom Wigan) and today out of the Cup thanks to Championship side Brighton. The side has injuries, its best player has just gone to Chelski ( and scored already) and I suspect that West Ham old boy Alan Pardew must – at the back of his mind – be starting to think that a P45 is on the way. Newcastle thinks it is a big club and unless Pards turns it around quickly, he looks like toast.
As for West Ham, Fat Sam has been active in the transfer market. Two new strikers (Maguire and Chamakh) are on board given options other than Carlton Cole up front with Carroll still injured and Maiga off to the African Cup ( and perhaps shipped out in the transfer windown anyway). But Joe Cole will almost certainly be playing today. With him, Jarvis (he of the covershoot in gay magazine Attitude fame), and Noble (if on form) playing behind Cole we do look able to score goals. Top scorer Kevin Nolan is back from suspension and although he is not universally loved I welcome his return. He may slow the game up a bit but a) he scores and b) he adds a bit of grit in defence which is where I always panic.
Injuries means that we have recalled young Danny Potts from his loan spell at Colchester. He is someone I see as a great hope for the future. But that says it all about the difference between the Irons and Man United in terms of our respective squads. We suffer injuries and recall a young lad from a loan spell at a feeder club. They suffer injuries and they just bring another International player from the reserves onto the bench.
Clearly everyone expects Man United supporters to head back to the tribal heartlands of Surrey celebrating a win today. Everyone includes me. But we have upset the pundits before against Man United. I remind you of this goal by the man who I’d like to see taking over from Fat Sam Allardyce as manager in May:
There is only one Paulo di Canio.
And of course there was that League Cup game a couple of years ago in the snow when Man United were taken apart by the Irons with Carlton Cole scoring twice and (somewhat improbably) Jonathon Spector bagging a brace. In case you had forgotten, relish this video
Okay, I am not expecting a win or even a draw. I fear for West Ham defensively. Diame is badly missed to boss the midfield. But we can but pray…at least I am not attending so we have a chance.
Yossi Benayoun has not flourished in his second spell at Upton Park and so has returned to a career sitting on the bench at Chelski. I wish him well but in terms of who is coming back to Upton Park I could not be happier, it is Joe Cole, a midfielder who can run with the ball, pass and who will add both skill and also attractive play to the side. We now have genuine options in the middle of the park.
I remember a bloke who sold flowers outside Finchley Road tube station telling me about his nephew who was a 15 year old at the Academy and who would be better than Rio, Fat Frank and the others of that era. That was Joe Cole. Unlike the others Cole was not keen to leave Upton Park in the years we struggled. And this week he could have gone to rejoin ‘arry at QPR but instead came home. Of course that is largely as Redknapp himself admitted – because Rangers will, notwithstanding the Chelski result, almost certainly still go down in May.
But Cole has always been liked by the supporters. And he clearly regards West Ham as his home club – we must hope that he plays out his career in East London. In signing him, the board shows that it has ambition. This does not change my view that Fat Sam Allardyce needs to go in May and di Canio also needs to come home as manger. But it means that the next few months should not be quite as grisly as I had feared.
Forget the fiscal cliff, my share tips of the year or why Fat Sam should be sacked as West Ham manager in May. Forget my pilgrimage to Margaret Thatcher’s birthplace, my Christmas culinary triumphs or my witterings about music – I am currently listening to Lene Lovich in case you were wondering. Judging by tweets, postings ion the blog and emails what folks want to know about is Oakley, my eleven year old cat who as of the week before Christmas has only three legs. Quite right… first things first.
He is not quite himself but the trend is positive. No longer does he have to wear the collar of shame to stop him scratching where his leg used to be before it was removed to deal with the tumour. He can scuttle around the place at quite a rate when he wants to. Which is not often. He can now jump up onto a bed. Rather frighteningly he was also able to jump out through a window and onto a slippery ledge four stories high. I panicked (being someone who suffers from chronic vertigo). He waited until I had left the room screaming and then hopped back through the window and sat there calmly grinning at me as I rushed back in.
Tara, my other eleven year old cat, is now sleeping alongside him and seems to have come to terms with his new shape. Indeed she rather enjoys the fact that Oakley demands to be carried to food since she can nick most of his meal before he realises it is there. In some ways he is back to his old self, crawling up the bed so that he can look directly into your face all night. In other ways there is still a bit of hesitation. There is a tendency to hide away most of the time under a bed or behind a door waiting to be fetched to be plonked onto a sofa.
He seems to be slowly coming to terms with what has happened although the poor creature will never understand. It is only two or three weeks ago that his leg was removed and so I am not surprised that he has not fully adjusted mentally. But the trend is positive. Thank you for all your kind wishes. I shall endeavour to post a couple of new photos next week.
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.
There will be folks who say that you should back the manager when the club is in trouble. And make no mistake, West Ham is heading for a bottom half finish and if we do not start winning a few games (1 win in eight now) we could still be going down with the Rednapp. And with dismal Reading. My suspicion is that one we get a few players back from injury and with Gold & Sullivan prepared to chuck cash around in the transfer window we will stay up. But it is not a given. And in May West Ham must decide whether to renew the contract of Sam Allardyce. I do not think we should and here is why we should say farewell to Fat Sam and bring Paulo di Canio to Upton Park at once. I start with Sam.
The case for bringing him to the Boleyn was that he might not create the most attractive side on this planet but that he would install defensive discipline and a structure that delivered us enough goals to go back up to the Premiership and stay there. It was a sup with the devil agreement: we might not like your style but we want results. And the board gave Sam a budget that was big enough to deliver.
Scraping in via the playoffs we are back in the Premiership and will probably stay there. Our cup record under Sam has been piss poor and there is no chance at all of silverware (I do not count the playoff trophy) heading back to East London. If we renew Sam’s contract we can look forward to another few seasons of the same: lower mid-table Premiership football, no cup glory, youngsters let go as we bring in 30 year old mercenaries to keep us up and (generally) nasty, not terribly attractive football. There will be great wins along the way (we will not forget the Chelski game in a hurry) but there will be disappointing draws against not very good sides ( Stoke, Norwich) and shocking defeats against piss poor sides ( Wigan x 2, Reading).
I ask you in all honesty, do you want to renew your season ticket for more of this? I have to say that I am minded not to do so.
And one season under Sam we might actually go down. In which case there would be an expensive mid-contract sacking to deal with as there is no point sacrificing everything just for results if you do not actually get those results. And so for me it is clear cut. Sam has done the job he was hired to do. I hope and believe that he will keep us up. But come May it is time for a change and that brings me to di Canio.
Let’s deal with his politics first. We are not choosing the next Mayor of Newham but a football manager. For what it is worth do Canio is a Fascist in that he idolises Mussolini but fascism is not the same as Nazism or racism. I think Paulo’s politics are unattractive but they are no bar to him acting as a football manager.
There is no doubt that Paulo loves West Ham and would saw his arm off to be given the opportunity to manage the club. I wonder how many other managers would feel that way. Oddly about the only one I can think of is Paul Ince and though I think the hatchet should be buried and he would bring his son to the Academy which would be great, there are limits.
Good clubs – like West Ham in times past – stick with a devoted manager for many years. West Ham has been almost Chelski like in the way that we have chopped and changed in the post Billy Bonds era. With di Canio we could (and should) offer him a seven year contract and a decent transfer budget and leave him to it. What would he bring?
Firstly I sense that with di Canio in charge there is no room for shirkers in the squad. There would be no danger of us carrying players as we have in the past. Those with a work ethic (Nolan, Jarvis) would appreciate this and stay. Those who need motivating (Cole) would respond. But a few might leave. Please God might Collins be among those who depart.
Secondly, di Canio does understand the need to bring players up through the Academy. He appreciates the traditions of Upton Park. As such we could expect more Mark Noble’s to come through and stay. We might hope that Joe Cole returns for good. A man who takes the Cup competitions seriously would slowly blend in youngsters into the starting line-up instead of allowing a raft of academy players to line up against Premiership Wigan and get slaughtered.
Thirdly, whilst Allardyce promised defensive discipline he has not delivered it on a consistent basis. I reckon di Canio would.
Fourthly di Canio understands what attractive football means. It means uses wingers to send in crosses. It means keeping the ball on the ground. It means signing players with genuine skill and getting them to play together as a team. For a di Canio managed team I would renew my season ticket without hesitation.
And fifthly there is the long term ambition to be a top six club. That means we need the Olympic Stadium but we need to sell it out every week. That is about more than just playing decent football. It means that we need as a figurehead and as a manager someone who can reach out into the community and inspire them. At Swindon di Canio has done just that.
From the top of rural Essex down to the river Lea there is a huge potential West Ham catchment area and as a club we simply do not tap into that. There are the vast ethnic communities of East London who we wander by on our way to the ground but who stare back at us and our scarves as if we were from another planet. We need their kids to want to buy West Ham replica shirts and to want to wear a scarf if our club is to be funded to deliver what we all want. We need smaller businesses across East London and Essex to think that it is worth hiring a corporate box once or twice a season so that all the boxes are booked out every game ( as they will not be next season under Sam whichever division we are in). For that to happen we need someone with charisma who understands our traditions but who has a proven ability to reach out into a wider community to be our manager. Paulo would deliver in a way that few others – if any others – could. And without that delivery wherever we play we will not have the financial muscle to be a top six club.
This is the case for di Canio. He has shown at Swindon that he can manage. That he can inspire a team and a community. He has shown that he understands transfers and – in his own style – mana management. He has delivered excitement and success. And only he can deliver in the wider areas where we need to change if we are to be a truly “big club.”
Giving any manager a long term seven year contract is a gamble. But our club needs a new John Lyle who will manage us year in year out and who would work for free if asked. Another three years of Sam, then two years of someone else, then someone else, then someone else is not the way forward.
Come May, it has to be Di Canio on a very long term contract.
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 (Noble, Taylor and especially Collins had shockers). We are now on 23 points just six points above 3rd bottom Southampton and 5 ahead of Aston Villa who seem to be falling apart at the seams. I kind of wonder if Fat Sam picked me to play up front at Villa Park if I might have a chance of getting on the score sheet there these days.
But looking at the problems of other teams cannot detract from our own failings. Without Diame the midfield does not dominate. Our defence is suspect. And Carlton Cole looks devoid of support upfront. Tuesday at home to Norwich is a big game. That is one of the six or seven we now have to win to ensure safety.
I shall turn to that in a day or so. However, I also plan to write a longer piece about why Fat Sam really has to go in May and why Paulo di Canio is exactly the right man to take his place. I hope that we stay up. Frankly we are good enough to stay up. But after today’s unexciting, ill disciplined and low grade effort against a team where the entire squad is made up of men who are not even household names in their own household, I do not regard that as a given. And the case for renewing Allardyce’s contract in May looks very weak indeed.
I am not kicking Allardyce because he is down. My views on him and on di Canio have never changed. It is just, sadly, that I am being vindicated in a way I had hoped would not happen. Does anyone else who attended today want to sign up for another season of this?
Allardyce’s supporters said: “we might not get pretty football but we will get results.” Well I have just wasted yet another afternoon watching ugly, boring football and no points. Can the Fat Sam supporters club please explain the case for renewing his contract to me again. I think I must have missed something.
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.
Both are on 10 points after 19 games. You might just be safe on 37 points. Of Reading’s remaining fixtures six are slam dunk nil pointers: Man U, Man City, Chelski, Arsenal, Spurs and West Ham away. That leaves 13 games to secure 27 points. For a side that has secured 10 points in its first 19 games that looks a very tall order – effectively Reading must win half of the 13 games and draw the other half. It just will not happen. If you are a Reading fan you might as well start checking out train times to Grim Northern Shit holes like Burnley, Blackburn and Bolton in preparation for next season.
That Reading are not good enough for the Premiership is thus a given. But West Ham has a nasty habit of losing games to weak teams when no-one expects it. You will note that Wigan are currently in the third relegation spot and we all know which side gifted Wigan its first home win of the season. But even if Reading win today they are going down.
West Ham is now on 23 points. I knew we’d lose to Everton. We always do. Win at Reading and on 26 points with QPR, Reading, Wigan and Norwich still to visit Upton park plus winnable trips to Fulham, Southampton and Villa and we really will find it hard to avoid staying up. Lose and my sense of nervousness will start to grow. 23 points plus 6 games we should win is 41 points. But we are bound to slip up somewhere and any team that loses to Reading deserves to struggle.
I have not been to an away game in years but I am travelling up the M4 to attend this one with a Reading fan. Let’s see. On paper West Ham should win but I have a bad feeling.
And that brings me to Fat Sam Allardyce. His contract is up in May. Yes, the Irons have played some blinding games (Chelski, City) but then we always do. It is always Same Old West Ham, always taking the piss. Because this season as per usual we then go and lose at Swansea, at Wigan (and also at home to Wigan in the Capital Cup) and get unimpressive draws against Stoke and Norwich. West Ham will finish in the bottom half of the league. Given who we face in the FA Cup Third Round (Man U) we will not see a cup run this year and that is after Fat Sam was given a massive transfer budget which he spent.
In League One, Paulo di Canio’s Swindon is back up to 5th. Having enjoyed cup glory this year, they will, I still believe, win promotion – they are five points off second place. That is good news for Reading fans as they get a nice M4 Derby game next season. But I stand by my view that come May, Fat Sam should be allowed to depart. And there is only one successor possible.
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?
Over on West Ham Till I die, Iain Dale is blathering on about how if we win we go 7th and on 25 points. That would be the upside scenario.
I assume that we will lose to Everton next week. We always lose to Everton and so under the Iain Dale scenario we might go to Reading on the 29th thinking about reaching 28 points at the half way mark and being a good way to safety. But I offer you another scenario.
Lose today and to Everton and we go to Reading on 22 points. Reading (9 points as of now) look dead and buried. QPR are on 10 points. But Harry seems to be working his magic. It is a big ask but they could end up in the mid thirties come May. That probably is not enough. The Third bottom side is Wigan on 15 the same points total as Southampton. In other words we are just two wins and a draw ahead of them (ok GD is on our side call it three wins). But look how Villa and Norwich have started to string results together.
I am starting to think that safety this season will be 40 points. Reading will finish bottom with not very many points but the 18th team may well go down on 38, 39 or 40. We all know that you can be relegated on 42 points. I am sorry if this sounds rather gloomy but it is all very well saying we played well at Old Trafford or against Chelski, the reality is that if we don’t get a point today and a win against Reading we will go into the New Year less than a win or two above the relegation zone and staring at the table from the wrong end. And yet some folks still think that Fat Sam Alladyce is our saviour? Really? The jury has got to be out.
The favourites for the drop still have to be Reading, QPR and one of Wigan or Southampton (with Villa as a wild card). But there is a scenario where West Ham goes into 2013 in dire need of string a few quick wins together. In hope rather than expectation for this afternoon, COYI.
There was something from Sunday’s West Ham match which I forgot to mention showing that the spirit of entrepreneurial genius is alive and well in the East End. Walking back from the ground was a man selling Arsenal loo-paper at £5 a roll. Being a little short sighted it took a whole for me to see why this was not a rip off. Lovingly depicted on each sheet of loo paper was a picture of a different Arsenal player. The entire squad plus Arsene Wenger. I passed on the offer. Of course had it been Spurs loo paper that might have been different.
Green Street is not only a film (starring the hobbit) about football violence at, ahem West Ham, it is the road that runs alongside the ground. Once every two weeks it is a beery place packed with fat white faces. The rest of the time it is pretty much an ethnic ghetto. I wonder how many of the folks who live there support West Ham. How many of them loathe the club. I don’t know. There is little interaction.
But, having an hour to kill yesterday I interacted and wandered into the “Unisex saloon” for a hair cut. I was the only non afro Caribbean there. I noticed with a bit of alarm that there seemed little use of scissors (well none) and that all the customers seemed to be having all their hair shaved off. But undeterred I asked for a short back and sides but stressed not too short, waving as the electric shavers and hoping.
I could not bear to look as a Rasta got to work with his electric shavers and my hair fell to the floor in great bunches. But, as it happens, he showed some restrain. My haircut may be the most severe of my entire life but I do have some left on top. And then he shaved me – I cannot think that I have had such a clean shave in years. Even Evil Knievil would be impressed. And all for a tenner.
Do you prefer to lose when your side just play plain badly and deserve to lose or when you are good for a draw and are just unlucky? I thing I feel more resentment at over paid football woosies who do not really care when the former happens, with the latter it is just one of those things about life. It is not fair. But that still makes me cross.
And so it was yesterday. Losing Diame to injury was a blow as he was inspirational. Arguably that turned the game. But I still think we were good for a point. Hat off to Joe Cole for not celebrating his goal. There is not a lot more to say.
West Ham are now 11th. West Brom, Everton and Reading ( away) loom. Since we always lose to Everton (it is after all in a grim Northern shit-hole and we always lose to teams from such places) we then look to the other two games. West Brom may not be a form side right now but they have shown quality this season. And I think I am right in saying that West Bromwich is also a GNSH. Perhaps one of our regular correspondents from Stoke might confirm this. And so that leaves Reading away which we should win although I warn all Hammers that I am attending. As you know I never get to see West Ham win at a live match.
Thus I conclude that we should reach the half way mark on 25 points. With me doing my bit and promising not to go to the home games against Reading, QPR, Norwich and Wigan or away games at Villa, Southampton and Fulham, reaching 42 points should be doable. For those four home games seats in the Trevor Brooking lower are available feel free to get in touch of you want them.
I see that Iain Dale, on West Ham Till I Die, is calling for the board to secure the services of Fat Sam for another few years when his contract expires this summer. Really? West Ham has spent a fortune. We are not playing really great football and are losing games we should win (Wigan away, for instance). If, as I expect, we end up finishing 11th-15th, go out of the FA Cup in Round three (Man United) and as we know we were humiliated in the League Cup by Wigan at home, do we really want another few seasons of the same? Paulo’s Swindon has now slipped back to 8th but I would still be hoping that come May, di Canio is on his way back to the Academy.
Sign on, sign on, with a pen in your hand, and you’ll never work again. Sign on. Sign on.
Or perhaps given the time of year and a chance to think of those less fortunate than ourselves a few choruses of “Feed the scousers, let them know it’s Christmas time.” Actually I have no hard feelings for Liverpool. My Aunt Lucy’s family are all Liverpool fans and my sister was born there. She clearly picked up the Souse mindset in those early days. As a Doctor paid £50,000 plus for two days a week she fits in well: living off the state and not doing much work.
When football Santa grants me the chance to decide the league table, I won’t really be thinking about Liverpool. Naturally Santa and I will start at the top. West Ham to come first. Then Santa and I will head straight to the other end. The old man in the beard does not need to ask the first question. Spurs to finish bottom. And then also relegated? Chelski and Man United. Perhaps if I have been very good and get an extra wish Man City to go bust and go down as well ( as long as that does not allow Millwall to go up). See, I did not think about Liverpool once.
Liverpool come into the game with good European form but looking pretty mediocre in the league. But Europe shows what they can do. They are not a bad side. Maybe they are struggling to score goals ( and will actually be playing with a midfielder as Centre forward) but in normal circumstances they should be favourites. But a delayed return from a midweek game in Europe cannot assist their cause.
West Ham? Well it remains hit and miss. Sometimes ( first half against Chelski, all of the Wigan game) we look like relegation fodder. At other times ( second half Chelski, Man City game) we are unstoppable. The midfield unit of Diame, Noble and Nolan is exceptional, the defence has tightened up and in the absence of Andy Carroll we have Carlton Cole up front. For Carlton the big C word is confidence and surely, after the Chelski game, he must be bubbling over with the stuff.
Right now the Irons are 10th. Win and we go seventh and are just 17 points away from safety with 22 games ( including piss poor Reading twice, QPR, Wigan and Norwich at home and piss poor Villa and Southampton away) still to come.
My caveat for the game is to warn you that I am attending ( taking two folks who have never been to a soccer game before). As you know when I turn up at the Academy, West Ham tend to fail to turn up. With that caveat this is our game to lose. There is no reason why we cannot bank another three points.
Carlton Cole, Cole!
Always believe in your soul,
You’ve got the power to go,
Always believe in…
I did my bit by staying away as my presence always ensures West Ham defeat. But even with this heroic sacrifice I did not expect a result like this. Unbelievable. From Stamford Bridge to Upton Park you can stick the blue flag up your arse. Frank Lampard’s fat, Joe Cole’s er… not here, you’re going to win fuck all this year. And more to the point it looks as if West Ham might not be relegated.
Yup I am still looking bottom up. 15 games down 22 points and 8th. Had we not been cheated by a linesman with a guide dog against Man City and did not have this nasty ingrained habit of messing up against second rate teams from grim northern shit-holes who we should beat ( Stoke and Wigan) we would by now be on 29 points and challenging for European football. But one step at a time. Avoiding relegation first.
We now have four games before the New Year and the half way mark: Liverpool at home is winnable. We always lose to Everton. West Brom away will be tough but a point maybe? And Reading away (which I am going to) should be three points. And so we should be aiming to reach the half way mark on 29 points but 26 is certainly very doable. Given that the second half of the season sees us entertaining QPR, Norwich and Reading at the Boleyn and playing Villa and Southampton away – that should be enough. Frankly if we go into the New Year on 29 points, Fat Sam should be looking for an upper mid-table finish.
Am I really saying that? Surely as a West Ham supporter this is reckless optimism? Well it probably is. Forgive me.
As to the game? Well I read the Guardian and watched the BBC yesterday (more on that later). MOTD viewing made me think it could have been 5-1 to Chelski at half time and ended up 7 apiece. It was fast and furious. I am sorry I missed it but I was doing my bit by staying away. Chelski did not take their chances (bar one), West Ham did. Overall West Ham were good for the three points.
Having said HERE
yesterday that I would love to see Carlton Cole score a hat-trick in a West Ham shirt but thought I never would, I take that all back. So far this season when he has had a chance he has fluffed it and not looked at all hungry or razor sharp. Now with Andy Carroll out for eight weeks, cometh the day, cometh the man. This great and loyal servant of our club put himself about and scored. He was a good all round thorn in Chelski’s side all game. I am incredibly happy that he scored. I imagine that he is too. All together now, to the tune of Gold:
Carlton Cole, Cole!
Always believe in your soul,
You’ve got the power to go,
Always believe in…
The West Ham midfield in the second half was awesome. Diame is equally indestructible. Why Mark Noble is not in the England squad defies belief. All together now:
Mark Noble (whooaaoo),
Mark Noble (whooaaoo),
He’s West Ham through and through,
His veins are claret and blue.
Maiga was good for his goal and was a pest when he came on. This West Ham side has talent, options and commitment. We still have a tendency to take the piss and throw away winnable games which is why we are not fighting for a European spot but a side that has taken four points off City, United and Chelski (and deserved to take seven) is – however you look at it – one of the best West Ham sides we have seen in years.
Now as I try to calm down my mind turns to the match all football supporters have waited years to see: The parvenus of MK Dons versus real football of AFC Wimbledon in the FA Cup. 99.9% of football fans will be rooting for AFC Wimbledon. In terms of support, never has a game played in England been more one-sided. Clearly MK Dons are favourites but my sporting weekend will be complete if we see an upset here as well.
There is good news. Since West Ham almost never win when I go to Upton Park you will be glad to hear that I am not attending today’s game (Kick Off 12.45). My tickets (Trevor Brooking lower) are with the Bard of the Boleyn, my disreputable pal Lucian Miers and an even more disreputable friend of his dragged from a gutter somewhere plus the (ultra posh) Goddess
who makes the second visit of her life East of Canary Wharf. She seems to think that she might support Chelski (not knowing anything about football) but perhaps her second visit to The Academy might dissuade her. I do hope she does not scream an inappropriate comment at an inappropriate time.
The bad news is that despite my absence anything other than a Chelski win is very unlikely. Yes the team with no history and who really win fuck all this year, have chopped their manager and have had a dodgy streak for about six weeks. But though it pains me to say this about any team containing Fat Frank Lampard and the brainless offspring of a coke dealer and a shoplifter that is John Terry, but Chelsea are basically a high quality side. Ok the great race relations campaigner himself is injured but Chelski have a quality squad.
Worse still there are reports that Andy Carroll may miss the game with injury. With Vaz Te sidelined, I cannot see Maiga and Carlton Cole striking fear into the hearts of the Chelski defence. In the case of Carlton I wonder if, these days, he would strike fear into the hearts of the Chelski ladies team ( on the football field at least). Perhaps that is just a confidence thing. He has been a loyal servant and nothing would please me more than to see him score a hat-trick. I just do not think I shall ever see that happen with him in a West Ham shirt again.
If Carroll plays then he could throw up a surprise or two. At some stage I reckon that he will find a way of working with Jarvis on the wing which causes real problems.
Although we come of a two game losing streak we were unlucky not to get a point at Old Trafford and we have a talented midfield which is working well. The defence (these days) looks solid enough. And so there is no reason to be awed by Chelski. Any result is possible. I have this down as a 0 pointer but that is not a total given. If Carroll plays and we get an early goal and the crowd gets right behind the team and really irks some of the thicker and fatter Chelski players anything can happen.
Perhaps the ref might pretend that we are Man United for a game and just start sending Chelksi players off in a random fashion? If so, can he send Fat Frank off first? Okay, now I am dreaming. I expect 0 points. The next two games ( Liverpool and West Brom) are the critical ones. Anything today would be a bonus.
How many clubs in the Premier League make a profit? Er.. Man United sometimes bit not much of a profit and certainly enough to justify its market valuation. But the rest are all losing money and so in an industry pursuing Hari Kiri economics it is no surprise that last year the top 20 soccer clubs in the UK pissed at £77 million on agent’s fees alone. Leading the way was Man City with £10.5 billion frittered away but it is the next few big spenders that says it all.
The next most generous were Liverpool (£8.6 million) and QPR (£6.8 million) not far ahead of Harry Rednapps’s Spurs. Liverpool have had one of their worst starts to the League in decades. QPR are bottom of the league and have already fired their manager. Spurs have been hit and miss. Sadly hit against West Ham last weel. Of course ‘arry loves a good transfer with agents always involved. How many signings did he make during his tenure at West Ham? I think it was 72. There was that Boogers fellow who no sooner than he had signed was sectioned a loony bin. And I think a whole team who played fewer than five games for us. QPR will be dealing hard again in January. The agents will still love QPR.
West Brom (now 3rd in the table) spent just £1.3 million on agents fees –only two clubs spent less. I admit that those two are Southampton and Norwich, neither of whom is exactly flying. But there is absolutely no clear correlation between the amount handed over to dodgy men in sheepskin jackets and on the field success. For managers it is always “other peoples money” so there is no reason not to spend it with reckless abandon in the hope that it delivers results.
In many ways the madness of soccer finance is like the BBC, NHS and so much else associated with the Government in Bankrupt Britain. Big cheques are written with other folks money by those who are not really financially accountable and vast deficits are perennially run up. And none of this is sustainable.
PS Before you ask, West Ham (drowning in debt) blew £4.4 million on agents fees, making it the seventh most profligate team in the Premiership.
Not only did my beloved West Ham lose at arch rivals Spurs but some of the travelling West Ham supporters engaged in patently anti-Semitic abuse. I think you know my views on Spurs ( intense dislike) but also on anti Semitism ( rabid dislike). My mind is filled with various thoughts.
I know what will have been said or rather hissed. There is a hissing noise mean to be reminiscent of the gas chambers. Adolf Hitler is Coming for you – a variant of Tottenham Hotspur we’re coming for you, will have been chanted. I remember hearing “There’s only one Adolf Hitler” being chanted at a Spurs game a long time. I cringed with shame.
Football has made great play of stamping racism out of the game. West Ham were the first top flight side to field a black player and most of the current side are black. But we have racist supporters just as every club does. There is no point in pretending otherwise. I rather sense that the show trial of the loathsome John Terry for racism set the cause of stamping racism out of football back in that it was so obviously a show trial. But notwithstanding that football is heading the right way.
The problem is that racism and anti-Semitism are viewed quite differently in Britain 2012. That the Guardian can run cartoons which are take-offs of Julian Streicher’s best depicting Bibi Netenyahu controlling Western leaders as a puppet master is appalling. Any article on Israel is met with a barrage of criticism of “the Jews” from folks who would never make a derogatory comment about a blacks or Asians. Stars of David are burned in demonstrations on our streets by those who would create hell fire if a Koran was burned but nothing is done about it. Anti-Semitism is a vile form of racism but such is the hatred of the Western liberal media and political elites of the State of Israel that it has almost become downgraded and acceptable.
I hope that those who offended yesterday are caught shamed and get life bans from football. But I suggest that the liberal elites need to think long and hard about some of the language and imagery they have used in recent years (and certainly in recent weeks) too. And about the indifference they have shown to some of those who have engaged in quite vile Jew bating. They have created a zeitgeist which treats ant-Semitism as a second class form of racism. They too have questions to answer.
Nervously I look at the Championship and see that the form side is Millwall. Now 6th they are on fire and have got to be thinking that they can still secure an automatic promotion spot if the current form continues. I was at Upton Park the last time West Ham met Millwall and have no desire to go to another Derby game ever again. In the absence of Millwall our nearest rivals are Spurs who we play at 4PM today at White Hart Lane. The scum. It is more than the fact that Spurs are local rivals.
There is the little matter of Master Defoe. Judas. I am sure that the away supporters today will give him the usual warm greeting every time he touches the ball. The only thing Spurs need to do to really up the ante will be to sign Fat Frank Lampard ( currently evicting his kids 90 year old grannie from the flat he owns) when he leaves Chelski at the end of the season.
We go into the game two points ahead of the scum, on 19 points and in 7th. Win and we go fifth and would be more than half way to safety and just two points behind Chelski. Lose and then we are only nine points ahead of the four teams currently looking the hot bets for the drop (QPR – certain to go down whatever ‘arry tries – Reading, Southampton and Villa). I still look downwards not up.
Due to suspension Spurs will be largely relying on Judas to score. We have Yossi and Vaz Te sidelined. So I guess it is going to be largely down to whether the West Ham midfield dominate (Noble and Nolan are both looking pretty awesome this season) and to whether we can get a few high balls in for Andy Carroll to latch onto. I know he has not yet scored for us but a) he will and b) he is causing all sorts of problems whenever he plays.
On balance, White Hart Lane is not a happy hunting ground for us. Judas has a nasty habit of giving us reason to detest him even more. I would be happy with a point. Three points and that is one FA Cup Final won already.
On form going into the game West Ham should have been favourites. I had this one down as one where three points should have been taken before Lucian Miers reminded me how badly we do against sides from grim Northern shit holes.
Certain readers who live in the truly grim Northern wastelands insist that Stoke is in fact in the Midlands or the South. I find it hard to believe. Stoke used to have coal mines and apparently 24.2% of the non pensioner population live in households where no-one has a job. They elect a donkey with a red rosette, the biggest employer in the town seems to be the State and its most famous living sons include darts legend Phil Taylor and Robbie Williams as well as Lemmy from Motorhead. I rest my case: Stoke is a grim Northern shit hole.
I am open to persuasion that it has redeeming features but that will not include actually visiting the place. Heaven forbid. As it happens I am writing to you from 30 miles away from Coventry. I think for similar reasons it also falls into the same category.
Back to the footie. West Ham went back to the familiar routine of only trying to win for one half. As a result they went into the break 1-0 down and it could have been worse. Fat Sam had a few words and the Irons stormed the second half but against the side with the best defensive record in the Premiership (I exclude Man City since a blind linesman flatters its total) it was always going to be an ask to score two. And so 1 all it finished.
West Ham are now 7th and on 19 points. Given that we still have Reading twice, QPR and Norwich at home and Villa (really looking a good bet for the drop) and Southampton away – six games that should yield anything up to 18 points, getting three more points from the other 20 games this season should not be too hard. Put another way, Villa and Southampton are on nine points and Reading eight. Effectively all three teams need to record three wins and a draw ( 2 for Reading) to overtake us, so lamentable are their GDs and the way all three are playing that is not going to happen until well into the New Year – and that assumes West Ham now just start losing.
Saturday is a big test – away to the Scum ( now 8th). Win that and East London goes wild. I’d settle for a draw but Spurs are better up front than at the back and I sense 0-0 is a very unlikely result. I would settle for a draw but if we only win one game before Christmas please make it be this one (with Defoe red-carded as a bonus).
Tonight, Swindon (3rd) entertain Brentford (9th) in League One. Actually only three points separate the two teams, it is tight at the top so this is a must-win game for Paulo di Canio and his men. Swindon are the form team right now and, at home, you would have to fancy this as a three pointer. Brentford have won just one away game all season but have picked up six draws. An early goal for the Robins might make the match interesting. Otherwise Brentford will just play for the 1 point.
Win tonight and, in the unlikely event of 14th place Crewe winning at Sheffield United, my second team moves into an automatic promotion spot. In the battle of the grim Northern shit-holes at Bramall Lane, my thoughts are with Crewe.
My good friend Mr Rowley from Stoke has fled to Nepal to miss this game. I have handed my tickets to Lucian Miers as my presence at the Academy does not tend to bring West Ham good fortune. So that is a reason for optimism. But, as Lucian points out, our record against sides from grim Northern shit-holes is a poor one and so he fears for the worst. I am afraid that despite our recent form so do I.
Is Matty Etherington playing for Stoke today? I know he had a few issues but I always liked Matty, Matty, Matty Etherington and could never understand why we sold him. Having said that I imagine that we will start up front with Yossi, Jarvis and Andy Carroll and that should be good enough to prize open even a well organised defence and Stoke is well organised. In 11 league games this season they have conceded 10 goals. We have conceded 11. Only Man City have conceded fewer ( 10) and we all know that for a daft offside call that would be 11.
Having said that Stoke have conceded 9 of those goals away from home where their record is 0-3-3.
My big concern is the return to the West Ham line-up of “ginge” well ex-ginge in James Collins who has been the weakest link at the back for us this campaign. Without him we’d have a better defensive record than Man City.
If we win we go fifth. Who would have contemplated that three months ago? Moreover we would be on 21 points or half way to safety after just 13 games.
Lucian, like me, is a man who looks at the table from the bottom up. Fingers crossed that with a packed ground, under the lights, the Irons are spurred onto victory. I do have this down as a game where we should get three points. As such I suggest you all put a fiver on a Stoke win right now.
West Ham are not playing until Monday night and so nothing needs to be said about may favourite team today. Naturally I was delighted to see Spurs routed by Arsenal and the sending off ( entirely justified) of Adebayor is a bonus as he now misses the looming visit of West Ham to White Hart lane as he will be suspended.
At the bottom of the table, not an area which – to my surprise – features West Ham, QPR lost 3-1 at home to Southampton, one place above them at the start of the day. This leaves QPR on 4 points after 12 games and the only team in all four English leagues not to win a game all season. Mark Hughes, QPR’s manager, really must be set to encounter a P45 before long.
The problem is that he was personally appointed by QPR’s owner and so such a rapid firing will cause red faces all round. But if one assumes that you need 35 points to have a chance of survival and 42 to be safe from relegation QPR now need 31 or 38 points from 26 games. That is already looking like a bit of an ask. If one assumes that at least 6 of those games are totally slam dunk nil pointers (Man United twice, Man City, Chelski, Arsenal and of course the visit to the other big 4 club – West Ham) then QPR in reality need 31 or 38 points from just 20 games.
If QPR owner Tony Fernandes hangs on until the January transfer window then suddenly that will become just 20 games left ( of which five are slam dunk nil pointers) and the odds are that Rangers will still be needing at least 30 odd points and probably 35 – to do that from 15 games means that you need to win half your games and draw the rest. It is just impossible.
Fernandes said on 6th October that Hughes will not be sacked even if QPR are involved in a season long relegation struggle. The reality is that they already are. At the start of the season they know that an average of a point a game should have meant safety. As things stand it is now almost a point and a half a game. Not that anyone would want the job but I sense that a vacancy at Loftus Road is looming.
Meanwhile my second team, Swindon, walloped Yeovil – as predicted here – 4-1 and are now third in Division one and just 3 points off an automatic promotion spot. Paulo di Canio’s men meet Brentford ( not great shakes) next and so things are looking good for the Robins.
And finally to December 2nd and the FA Cup second round when MK Dons from Division One meet AFC Wimbledon from Division 2. As you probably recall MK Dons used to be Wimbledon FC but the club was treated as a franchise and moved to Milton Keynes. Loyal supporters decided to start all over again as AFC Wimbledon starting in the lowest of the amateur leagues and gradually they have climbed back up into the football league itself. I cannot imagine that there is one person outside Milton Keynes who is not rooting for AFC Wimbledon on this occasion – the first time the two sides have met since the formation of AFC. This will be more than a football match.
I had it down as 1 point at best. But Kevin Nolan returned to whatever St James’ Park is called these days to haunt his old club. West Ham defeaedt Newcastle one nil to record our first league win against the Magpies since October 31st 1998. Sam Allardyce (sacked by Newcastle after eight months in charge) will have enjoyed the win. It seems to have been a close enough game and sometimes lady luck smiles on you. A good day at the office – the league away record now shows 2 wins, 2 defeats and a draw: no disgrace.
A test of how long you have followed West Ham is how you look at a league table. Naturally I start at the bottom. My daughter is now a fully trained supporter and in her second full season seems to think you start at the top. Bizarrely, right now, she finds West Ham more quickly than I do, as we are in sixth position. Her razor sharp mind has already worked out that if we win at home to Stoke next Saturday we could go 4th. The Big Four: Man United, Man City, Chelski and West Ham. As it should be. We can work out which side gets entry to which European contest later.
I take a rather different view. I note that we are one place ahead of the Scum and that if Spurs can slip another 11 places they will get relegated. Fingers crossed. We can but dream. More realistically 18 points after 11 games is a quite amazing haul –I struggle to remember another season that has started this well for yonks. The way I look at it, if we beat Stoke we might go 4th but, more importantly, we would be on 21 points and so 50% of the way to safety after just 12 games. We are now 4 wins ahead of the relegation zone and can I honestly see Reading, QPR and Southampton stringing together 4 wins before Christmas? Even between them that might be a bit of an ask.
It is hard not to get too carried away but for our defence to keep a clean sheet on the road is a pleasant surprise. On this sort of form games against Stoke at home, West Brom away, bogey side Everton, Liverpool at home and Reading away are all winnable and it is not beyond the realms of possibility that West Ham might secure something against the Scum and also against the other members of the big four (Man United and Chelski). It will not play out like that – I am pinching myself to stop myself from dreaming. But it is just now conceivable that the Hammers start calendar 2013 already so far clear of the relegation zone that I can stop thinking about the R word already.
I sense that my sorting solace this year will be Paulo di Canio’s Swindon Town. As predicted here yesterday, Walsall away (I still have no idea where Walsall is, and am not sure that I care greatly) was no great hurdle. A fine 2 nil win now sees my second team sixth on 29 points. But with a cracking + 11 gold difference the Robins (I am getting the hang of being a Swindon supporter) are now just three points off second place.
There are, sadly, now no cup distractions. The transfer embargo has been lifted so Paulo can strengthen his already talented squad if he wishes (how about buying James Collins and saving West Ham a few defensive horrors?) and things are looking very good indeed. Apparently Paolo says “we dominated” at Walsall. Good news. Next up is Yeovil at home on Saturday. The Somerset side are a few places below us in the table and this is another match that should be won.
Tranmere are catchable on 37 points (with a corking +21 GD) but realistically the goal now must be second place, automatic promotion for the Robins and a summer transfer for the chosen one to East London.
West Ham ( or Vest Hem for my Albanian readers – a fact my father picked up last week while visiting Europe’s second fastest growing economy) travel to Newcastle for a 3PM Sunday kick off at whatever St James’ Park is called these days. We have not won in the league against Newcastle since 31st October 1998 (3-0 at Upton Park, Wright 2, Sinclair) and frankly I cannot see that changing this weekend.
Newcastle has a couple of players out thanks to suspension and Alan Pardew also has a couple of late fitness tests to concern him. But West Ham also has a string of defenders facing late tests notably Collins (very doubtful) and Tomkins (maybe). Our away form this year has been fairly shocking with only one win (against a hapless QPR) and horror stories at Wigan and Swansea.
I am sure that Allardyce will try to talk up our chances after the Man City showing and both Nolan and Carroll will be keen to do well against their former club (as of course will Fat Sam) but this is a game where I expect 0 points. Rather like Man City, anything else is a bonus. 15 points have been secured and by the New Year we all hope that Stoke at home and Reading away will have added another six to that total. I suppose West Brom, Everton, the Scum and Newcastle are the sort of games where one might hope to pick up the odd point to take West Ham closer to that magic 42 points and safety but with a back line that might have to include academy starlets like young Potts I fear that this weekend will not be a great one.
I see that neither Noble nor Carroll have made Roy Hodgson’s latest England squad. The form of both men in the league has been awesome and a friendly against Sweden would be just the time to give both (especially the one whose veins are claret and blue) a chance. A poor call I think.
Meanwhile every Hammer’s second tea travel to Walsall in Division One today. Walsall is missing three key players through injury and got thrashed last time out. Swindon are – after last weekend’s FA cup horror story – now able to focus 100% on securing promotion and against a side with mid-table mediocrity written all over them ( even without injuries) this is the sort of game Paolo knows we must win. A victory could plausibly leave Swindon fourth and with a transfer embargo now lifted we can really hope for promotion.
Of course I say this selfishly. I want Swindon to go up. But I also want West Ham not to renew Fat Sam’s contract in May and if Paolo di Canio has delivered back to back promotions for Swindon the case for a one man short list and the return of the Messiah/prodigal son to the Academy will be unanswerable. My thoughts will be on Walsall (is that somewhere near Birmingham? I have no idea) today but for tomorrow I fear the worst.
After 6 billion dollars and what seems like an eternity of evasion and unfulfillable promises America must decide today whether to re-elect President Obama or to replace him with Mitt Romney. What a god awful choice. It is just like Manchester United versus Chelski, you want both teams to lose. But after another evening with deluded lefties I think I have now decided who I want to lose less.
Rating the two men on a number of issues is a pretty thankless task but here goes on what matters to me.
1. The deficit. Neither has put forward plans which will deal with this issue. Obama is more profligate but Romney looks more competent at balancing the tax return for his dressage horse than at balancing America’s books. Both candidates would leave the US teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. On balance: a narrow win for Mitt.
2. The role of Government. Romney understands that business creates jobs. Obama reckons ( despite all the evidence to the contrary from his first term) that Government can create jobs. For the avoidance of doubt, cosy office jobs funded by the State inside the Beltway for liberal arts graduates are not real jobs. A clear win for Mitt.
3. Civil liberties, free speech and other social issues. I cannot say that Obama has impressed wildly on this matter. Hopey change has delivered little change in his first term. American still runs Guantanamo Bay, the patriot Act is still there, etc. But Obama’s heart is probably in the right place. Mitt is a social conservative and in hock to outright conservatives in his party. A clear win for Obama.
4. Foreign policy. Total disaster area all round. Both men seem committed to spending money America does not have, intervening where she is not wanted with predictably dire long term consequences. Massive Minus points for both candidates.
5. Israel. It matters to me. Obama has not stood up to the Islamofascists of Iran. I am not sure Mitt would either but he appears to have more of a commitment to the rights of Israel than the President does. A narrow win for Mitt.
6. Global warming. Obama believes in the pseudo science and will piss billions away on it. Romney appears to change his mind on a weekly basis. As such I suspect he’s carry on with the status quo. Nil points for either candidate.
7. Integrity and honesty. Romney’s tax returns will always haunt him. His policy flip flops ( see above) are pretty unimpressive. Having said that some of the places Obama’s Government has spent taxpayer’s cash, some of his campaign contributions and some of his past associations do not inspire much confidence either. On this one Obama is no Jimmy Carter ( although he is many other respects) and Romney is no George Bush (junior or senior). Nil points for both men.
8. Reforming the Fed and ending QE Ad infinitum. With Obama there is no chance of that. With Romney it depends on which day of the week it is and which speech you read. Ultimately he is no radical reformer. America is an addict hooked on QE. He will not risk cold turkey in his first term. I do not believe he will reform at all. No points for either man.
9. West Ham United. Obama claims to support West Ham. Romney has not disclosed his UK soccer allegiance but I bet it would be a big four team. He is just that sort of guy. A mammoth win for Obama.
10.Do I believe a word either says? No. Nil points for both men.
And so scoring that all up I have both men level at about minus 79 points out of ten. I really want both to lose and cannot see it making a blind bit of difference who wins. I cannot be bothered to stay up for the result but still expect Obama to win.
But, if really pressed, who do I want to win? In the absence of any other metric I go to the acid test. Which candidate is supported by Polly Toynbee, The Guardian editorial team, the biased BBC, Bono, all those ghastly Hollywood celebrities and deluded lefties across Europe? It is Obama. On the basis that the deluded collective are wrong on every issue, I know with 100% certainty who I am hoping will win.
Well there is to be no more cup glory for Swindon this year. Dumped out of the FA Cup against non league Macclesfield at home two nil. One red card, three yellow cards and one of the goals was an own goal. One imagines that Paulo di Canio will have had a few words with his players and that they will not have been “cheer up, let’s all concentrate on the league and promotion now.” What a shocker.
As for West Ham a nil nil home draw against Manchester City is a bonus point. From what I have seen either side could have won and West Ham played with pride, skill and organisation. Surely this is a West Ham in a parallel universe or we have all been transported back forty years, it is all rather hard to believe. Anyhow, I am not complaining and feel that I did my bit by staying away, given how my presence seems to ensure defeat.
Reading and QPR managed a one all draw today and those two look increasingly certain to go down. It is harsh to say that but 5 points after 9 games and 4 after 10 respectively is a woeful haul. Unless both teams can start to pick up points rapidly then by Christmas it will be all over for them. Southampton play tomorrow but seem hot faves to book the third relegation slot.
And although West Ham are now eighth (or as I prefer to look at it, ignoring GD we are sixth equal with Arsenal and the cottagers) it is still relegation fears that haunt me. There are a tough few games ahead and as I wrote yesterday HERE
we need 10 points (nine now) from the remainder of the games in calendar 2012 to feel as if we are heading to safety. I forecast 0 points for the City game, we secured one. That is a bonus. Next week is Newcastle away where I forecast 0 points and then Stoke at home where I am hoping for a win and three points.
But as the chant goes “Same old West Ham, always taking the piss.” This is a side that could easily finish in the top seven if it played every game like it did yesterday. But if it plays like it did against Wigan then relegation is still possible. West Ham could easily secure those 10 points by Christmas with Wins against Manchester United, Chelski and the Scum (Spurs) but get thrashed in every other game. You just never know.
For now I would happily pay a few quid for a video of Paulo’s post match talk at Swindon and have to regard the Upton Park result with some pleasure.
Once again I manage to get both sound and light perfect. And this week no banging window either. I am getting the knack of it.
A charming girl called Zoë helped me film a CEO video last week which will be the first to go live on Nifty Fifty this week. Along with a raft of new investment ideas. For more details on that click here.
On the agenda
1. The US election – does it matter?
2. UK Economy – is it really recovering? Comet?
3. Hambledon (HMB) and what it says about back door takeovers? And
4. About the deals small mining plays are having to make
5. Aureus Mining (AUE) – not out of the woods
6. How many small resources stocks will go bust and why?
7. West Ham v Man City – not optimistic
I am under no illusions here. We can all work out where West Ham will get the 42 points needed to avoid relegation and none of us bank on Man City at home providing three of them. Man City is one of the three top sides in the Premier League and my expectation is that from the six games against them, Man United and Chelski we will do a Eurovision Norway. Nul Points. I would be delighted to be wrong.
The good news is that I am not attending what is the late Kick Off game today. My presence at Upton Park dramatically increases the chances of defeat so I shall stay away and crack on with writing a book. The other good news is that the team more or less picks itself with the only real debate being Yossi or Maiga on the wing up front. I hope that Yossi starts.
You never know with football and with the Winnifrith curse lifted we might just spring a surprise at the Boleyn today but I doubt it. Citeh can be a bit hit or miss on occasion but they have an incredibly talented team. If they play as they can then the shaky West Ham defence could be taken apart. I hope that it is an enjoyable game and that West Ham does at least make a game of it as we did against Arsenal. And now to the next few weeks.
West Ham are on 14 points but coming up, starting today we have ( with my points prediction in each case):
Man City (H) – 0
Newcastle Utd (A) – 0
Stoke City (H) – 3
The scum (A) – 0
Man Utd (A) – 0
Chelski (H ) -0
Liverpool (H) – 3 WBA (A) -1
Everton (H) -0
Reading (A) – 3
That would see us on 24 points as we enter the New Year with half the season gone and still to face Wigan, Norwich, Reading and QPR at home as well as Villa and Fulham away – that would be 42 points with anything else a bonus.
No games in the Premiership are easy. My 10 points more by Christmas assessment is not that optimistic. We might just pick up the odd point away at White Hart Lane (oh please, God let us win against a 10 man Spurs with Defoe sent off early on) or at Newcastle. There might be an upset against a big three club (again God, if you are reading and feeling generous, Fat Frank sent off early and a win against 10 man Chelski would be pleasant). But Stoke and Liverpool (based on current form) at home are winnable and Reading should hold no fears for anybody. Frankly Everton at home is winnable but having seen numerous games with my Everton supporting pal John O’Callaghan at Upton Park over the years, I just assume we will lose again.
So the next game that matters (other than all of Swindon’s games naturally) is Stoke at home. The bad news: The Goddess, Derek Musgrove and I are attending.
For today. COYI let’s hope for an upset. And good luck to Swindon who take on Macclesfield Town from the Conference in the FA Cup. If they cannot win that home tie Paolo di Canio will be having a few words. Fingers crossed for that one. I look forward to the start of another glorious cup run for di Canio’s men.
I switched off when West Ham went 2-0 down. Wigan looked the better side and took only a few of their chances. West Ham were piss poor. That is part of being a West Ham supporter. One week you look majestic the next week you give Wigan, hardly a class act, their first home win of the season and make them look (almost) good. What a load of rubbish.
That now makes 3 of the last 4 halves played by West Ham piss poor with only one 45 minutes of glory. Now West Ham face a string of tough matches. And we do so from a base of only 14 points. We are 9th and I suspect that our position will slip materially in the coming weeks. I can find no solace at all for West Ham today. This was not – as was Swansea – a bad early season day at the office. This was a lamentable effort by the entire side and Fat Sam needs to have serious words if we are not going to go into Christmas staring at the bottom six in a big way.
My only solace today is that every Hammer’s second team thrashed third place Stevenage 4-0 away. Paulo’s men at Swindon are back on form and although they are currently 7th they are only four points off an automatic promotion spot. A few more results like this one and Di Canio will be taking his men up for a second successive season.
Regular readers know well that I would have rather seen Di Canio appointed than Alladyce before last season started. There is no point pretending that I am a great admirer of our current manager as I am not. I hope he keeps West Ham up. But I also hope he then clears his locker and that the board select di Canio from a short list of one.
Talk of “getting behind the club/manager” is all very well but his contract ends in May and how many of us, in our heart of hearts, really want him to stay?
I have never been to Wigan in my life and will not be breaking my duck today. It is snowing in the North and with its Orwellian echoes the town sounds like the sort of place I can live without ever encountering. The same could be said of its football team and the Premier League. Wigan Athletic brings nothing to the top flight. No great history, no grace, no style, small home crowds, nothing, apart from a certain mean spiritedness from chairman Dave Whelan.
Ask any football fan who they want to see relegated this season and other than the obvious contenders (Man United, Man City and Chelsea) I would imagine Wigan would be up there. My personal wish list for relegation? Man United natch. Spurs – as always. And yes I’d probably go for Wigan. It is about time they went back where they belong, in the lower leagues. Yes there is a bit of a West Ham/Wigan issue on relegation going back to the Tevez season but it is more than that. Norwich, Reading etc will strive to stay up and so add something to the Premiership. Wigan adds nothing.
And so West Ham visits the Lattics who have not won at home all season. Having said that the Hammers are 1-1-1 on the road and West Ham were thrashed 4-1 at home by Wigan in the Mickey Mouse Cup a few weeks ago. So I take nothing for granted. After the elation of Southampton it would be typical West Ham to gift Wigan their first home win of the season. But…
Having said that, all of that the performances we saw last week from Yossi, Carroll ( again), Maiga (in just a few minutes), Nolan and especially our very own Mark Noble were just awesome. Heck, even the back line and Jaaskelainen looked solid enough. I still have a few doubts about Collins but he did look better and is, perhaps, getting back to playing as we know he can. How he must be glad not to be at Villa who look dreadful. My man in the Birmingham soccer world tells me that there is more to come out there and hence there will be no money for new players in the transfer window. Could Villa really be the surprise big name relegation club battling with the more obvious candidates? I think so.
So on paper we should be heading up the M6 hopeful of at least a point. I hope for more and on paper this is winnable based on current form and also on the strength of the respective teams and squads. Put it this way, if they played for Wigan Carlton Cole and James Tomkins would be starting every week. How many Wigan players would get a guaranteed start at Upton Park? None I suspect.
After that match there are a few tough games ahead. I would hope that we could pick up a few points in November after today but the fixture list looks challenging. A home win against Stoke perhaps? Three points against Spurs would by a quadruple bonus. Win this game and West Ham are on 17 points, and plausibly 4th in the table. Do not laugh. At that point I would still not be thinking of European football next year but of how that is a really good platform for avoiding relegation. That’s the prize.
If the team that showed up in the second half last week turns up we will win that prize. If it is the first half team then I’d be delighted with a draw.
The first half was dire. It was nil nil but the Saints were far better than West Ham. But the second half was essentially one way traffic. Nolan, Noble, Noble (pen) and a blinder from Maiga offset by one cracking Southampton goal left it 4-1 to the cockney boys. Triumph. I watched it on the internet and was shouting pretty loud by the end. If the Irons can replicate that second half form week in week out this will be a great season. They will not.
And so after 8 games the Irons are on 14 points with a +3 GD. Exactly the same as Spurs and in 7th place. If you support Spurs you are at this point thinking that you might get a European spot. Naturally I hope that they do not.
As a West Ham supporter I find myself thinking that we are now exactly 1/3 of the way to safety. Yes, I repeat myself in disbelief, with only eight games played we are a third of the way to safety. Amazing. I fear that if we are on 21 points or even 31 I shall be doing the same sum. That is just how history teaches me to think.
Anyhow, Reading, Norwich, QPR, Southampton, Villa and QPR are now the bottom six. I am pretty sure that I flagged those 6 up at the start of the season as being the teams that were palpably worse than West Ham and offered up our buffer zone. Long may they all keep losing. At least two, if not all three, of the three teams to be relegated will come from those six.
Next Week for the Irons a trip to Wigan. Again that is winnable. Wigan brings nothing to the Premiership. Back with my second team, a disappointing 1-1 home draw and Paulo’s Swindon are now 6th. Time for some of di Canio’s unique man management skills methinks.
Last season in the Championship Southampton were better than West Ham. So far this season we are ahead on points but the reality is that we have had an easy start to the season while the Saints have had some tough old games. And so back at fortress Upton Park ( yes that is irony) this could be anyone’s game.
Like West Ham, Southampton look a bit dodgy at the back but can score goals. With Vaz Te out I hope that Yossi gets a start as he could cause real problems. Start with my favourite living Israeli, Carroll and Jarvis and there should be goals.
In defence I gather Tomkins should replace Reid. The latter is tired after a long trip for international duty. The former had a shocker against Wigan (the whole team did) but is normally very reliable. I still do not understand why a perfectly capable group of players that is the West Ham defence, marshalled by a hard-man manager (Fat Sam) look do dodgy. I hope they finally click today.
The reality is that both West Ham and Southampton will be in the bottom half of the table in May. The winner of today’s game should be close to mid-table. The loser will be bottom six. Clearly I would rather that West Ham win but this will be a tough game. It is unlikely to be a nil-nil draw. I am still feeling a bit under the weather and very tired so I am giving it a miss but since my attendance seems to guarantee defeat these days it is probably better that I stay away. COYI.
As regular blog readers know I have a boxed set of every episode of The Sweeney – the original 1970s series starring John Thaw and Dennis Waterman. It is one of those DVDs that I can always pull down and watch to cheer me up in bad times. And so I approach the release of the new movie, the Sweeney, starring Ray Winstone in Thaw’s role ( Inspector Regan) with some trepidation.
Part of the appeal of the original series ( other than the violence, the wit and the nostalgia for a past era) is the repartee between Regan, Sergeant Carter (Waterman) and their boss ( the solid and straight Haskins, played by Garfield Morgan). They all come from different backgrounds. Haskins is a nice middle class chap who went to University and lives in the burbs. Carter is a Londoner – a devoted fan of Fulham who grew up and lived there when folks who came from Fulham did not all speak Arabic or live on Trust funds. Regan is a northerner ( like Thaw himself from Manchester), albeit one who has lived in London for many years. The programme is a West London programme – only occasionally do the Squad venture out East. In fact while they made it to Bermondsey once, there was never any footage shot in what you might term the East End.
And so we come to the new Sweeney. I rarely go out to watch films but I shall make an exception in this case. Regan is played by the archetypal East Ender Ray Winstone who is East End through and through ( right down to the fact that he now lives in Essex).
To plug the movie, he has taken Time Out around his “manor” this week, starting naturally at Upton Park. It is a good, if rather sentimental and superficial read and can be found HERE.
I called up Lucian Miers, the bard of the Boleyn and East London’s most feared short seller to see if his youthful memories were similar. Sadly he appears to be off on the cheap lager and wittered on incoherently about Note 7 for a few minutes before appearing to drop his phone down a lavatory. If I get a sensible response from him later I shall post it here.
Winstone says that Regan 2012 version will still be pulling young birds, as did Regan 1976. Not young in the Savile sense or even of a John Peel vintage, but more than a 55 year old with a paunch deserves to pull. Apparently the Sweeney of 2012 will also be free to use their fists which seems highly implausible as it would be a clear breach of the Met’s policy on respecting the human rights of the criminal class, let alone not breaking any elf n’ safey rules.
In 1976 the Met was corrupt, did break the rules to nail known villains, did drink and smoke heavily and was violent to the n’th degree. The Sweeney was plausible and that was its appeal. Everyone knew that Dixon of Dock Green was past his sell by date. I will need some convincing that Sweeney 2012 can both capture the appeal of the original and be plausible at the same time.
And will Winstone have the same chemistry – driven by some common interests (sex, drink, tobacco and football – Carter) and some clear culture clashes ( almost everything – Haskins) – with his colleagues as Thaw displayed? Again, I will need some convincing.
There is little to be said about the match. It was a great atmosphere. Arsenal took their chances. West Ham did not. West Ham were not completely outplayed and – at times – were on a par. Why Fat Sam replaced Vaz Te with Taylor and not Yossi defies belief. That could have made a game of it. But the better side won.
Naturally a London Derby is going to cause high volume tube traffic. So why the hell, Mr Mayor, did you schedule major repairs on the District line and block off sections of the Hammersmith & City on a match day? You promised that post Olympics the tube would run smoothly. Well I guess that was a Nick Clegg sort of promise. You git.
Getting from Liverpool Street to Upton Park is normally one change (across the platform at Mile End). This time having not been told that the H&C was down we got off at Mile End to find a platform taped off. There were no signs anywhere suggesting how to get to the game. So it was back on the Central line to Stratford. Jubilee line to West Ham. Then District Line to Upton Park (or as it happened Plaistow as I fancied a walk). Getting back was worse.
I know that your mind is now on more important matters (getting back into Parliament so that you can be the next Tory Leader) but, Mayor Boris, can you pretend to care about London at least until the end of the season and try to avoid such ill-timed repairs again?
Pre match it was the Queens. The Goddess had found her passport and so was prepared to venture out East for the first time in her life. She found walking through the market next to Green Street a bit of an eye-opener. It was not like Fulham. She said that she found it hard to understand what anyone was saying (that was in the Queens not the market) but enjoyed the tribal aspect of the game. She needed constant reminders not to say that she lived in (and thus supported) Chelsea. But she charmed Neil Masuda who found her devotion to Ayn Rand an equal cultural shock. Post match this culture clash continued in another hostelry which was also very un-Fulham. All in all a good exercise in raising cultural awareness.
And so now it is the big wait for Downton. The preview suggests that the IRA man is about to do a runner – why? He seemed like a good chap? Will Bates hear good news and get out of prison? What will the plain daughter do next now that she has been jilted at the alter? Do the waspish Lady Mary and the priggish Matthew Crawley serve any purpose at all now that they have secured the finances of the Estate (at least until the 1929 crash when they may be wiped out again)? I cannot wait.
Family time overnight in Shipston on Stour. Everyone very tired and it was an 8.30 bedtime for me. Early to bed early to rise and my mind now starts to turn to the home game vs Arsenal. I am attending along with former babysitter Neil Masuda (the man who broke the Howard Jones three in a bed scandal) and The Goddess who is getting out her passport for her first visit to East London. An odd grouping.
Some will hark back to Bobby Zamora helping West Ham become the first side to defeat the Gooners at the Emirates Stadium and will argue it is an open game. Hmmm. There is talk from old Iain dale of how if we win we go to 14 points and being a third of the way to safety. Hmmm. I see the Metro newspaper (lying on train, I have still yet to actually pick up a copy deliberately) forecasts a draw. Well call me a born pessimist but I go today expecting to lose.
Perhaps Carroll will start the game and that will make a difference? There is no point bringing him on after 50 minutes when we are already 2-0 down. Perhaps with his confidence up Vaz Te will be on fire? As ever I am more concerned about the less than watertight defence although Winston Reid is back from injury and I gather that Linda replaces O’Brien which I am happy with. But I just cannot see West Ham holding out with anything like a clean sheet for 90 minutes.
It is the late kick off. 5.30 in East London. I am sure that the atmosphere will be great. A full house. It will be almost midnight before I get back tonight which is a pain but, even though I expect to be well beaten, I am sure it will be worth it. COYI.
It is well known that my attendance at West Ham games brings almost certain defeat and thus I trust that Hammers across the world will thank me for not heading along to Loftus Road tonight. A 2-1 win sees the Irons on 11 points after just 6 games. Last time we were in the top flight it was sometime like December before we reached that number of points.
Put it another way, with 16% of the games played we are 26% of the way to 42 points (the highest ever points total to be relegated – er, West Ham) and 27.5% of the way to 40 points (almost certain safety). QPR, Norwich and Reading look pretty good bets for the drop. Surely Wigan who bring nothing to the top flight will slump at some stage. If you are a West Ham fan you will understand how we view the season as a battle against relegation. If we are on 39 points on December 29th ( Reading, away) I shall be working out where the next 3 points to ensure safety are irrespective of the fact that we might ( at that stage) be in contention for European football next season.
From what I hear it was a hardly convincing win. Vaz Te had a blinder which makes up for 5 dismal efforts so far. Having been an avid supporter of the man, then a harsh critic, I suppose I have to eat my words yet again. Who cares? A patchy showing against a crap side but 3 points is all that matters. Heaven (and Saint Paulo of the di Canio) forgive me; I am starting to sound like Fat Sam.
Anyhow, instead of a night in the cold in West London it was chocolate pizza in East London at The Real Man Pizza Company with the City Goddess – the sharpest brain in the Square Mile (naturally I was accompanied by my new finance director, to keep me in order). This is the woman who on July 14th noted that I was “looking good” and who is a total goddess. A razor sharp brain, by a country mile the most fanciable woman in UK corporate broking and she thinks my new pizza recipes are really superb: what could not be perfect?
Er…. Of course she is perfect except that she needs to drastically improve her knowledge of Blur. Fancy admitting that you know nothing about Damon, Graham, Alex and Dave? Jeepers.. Worse still would you ever confess that you have never heard of SLF and the Undertones? Cripes, 50% of the pleasure of owning a restaurant is in designing the music play lists. As a music nerd ( 1977 -1995, nothing after that counts), I can get quite chippy.
But it gets worse. Some folks seem to think that the world is flat and drops off an edge after Canary Wharf. We all know that Greenwich is where we mark GMT from, there is some rubbish about 0 degrees Antarctic whatever, but – wherever I travel – the centre of the universe is London E13. I think I have a T-shirt somewhere as a reminder of that…
Even a goddess might need a night out in Mile End to move up the learning curve.
(Adopted) East End boys and West End Girls and all that…
I am interested to see Iain Dale speculating about who will fill the managers chair come the end of the season. Alladyce’s contract comes to an end and apparently there will be no discussions until Premiership survival is ensured. So that would be about late April then.
It seems that some within the club who want to see a manager who favours a more free flowing (i.e. less dull punt the ball up the pitch to the big guy) style of soccer. And as such the names in the frame are ‘arry Rednapp and (my choice) Paulo di Canio. The former could deliver and has West Ham in his blood. But he did go to Spurs. And with him there are always …other questions. I’d hope the club moves forward.
Paulo is doing a great job at Swindon. Swindon will, I am sure, be promoted at the end of the season and are doing better in the Capital One Cup than, er…West Ham. I.e. they were not knocked out and thrashed by a piss poor Wigan second team for an early exit. Paulo is also a West Ham man. Okay there are those Mussolini issues but we are not choosing the next MP for the area but the next manager of the club. For now, I back Fat Sam. But come April, cometh the day, cometh the man.
Meanwhile tonight it is off to Loftus Road. QPR may only have two points so far but they are not useless (like Wigan were meant to be). They can score goals and our defence has, on occasion been so piss poor, that the QPR Ladies team should be able to find the net. Former hammer Bobby Zamora will start for QPR which should blunt their attack but sadly another old boy (Anton Ferdinand) is injured which will strengthen their defence. I guess Rob Green will not be starting in goal for Rangers which, I hate to say it, also works against us as he really does now seem like a man with the football equivalent of shell shock.
In terms of how West Ham line up. I am hoping that Matt Jarvis starts. Enough crosses from him and surely Carlton Cole will get his head on something. The other debate is Yossi versus Vaz Te. For me that is no debate, it is Yossi all the way. At some stage the Yossi/Jarvis combo with Cole up front will deliver goals. Our midfield is very solid. It is at the back that I now feel nervous for about 90 minutes a game.
This is a match West Ham could win (and doing so would see us 11/40ths of the way to safety). But frankly with our defence I now regard every game as a lottery. Five hours ahead of kick off I’d settle for a goalless draw. I doubt that will be the result.
It is the Capital One Cup tonight. Wake up, really it is meant to matter. West Ham is at home to Wigan. Call me a fake hammer but I cannot get excited and am staying at home to watch a Midsomer Murders special instead.
Wigan is a poor team. Come May they will be in the bottom six and so they will rest players and focus on the League. West Ham are not a great team but a good enough one not to be in the bottom six come May but no chances will be taken and players will again be rested. Perhaps that means a start for Yossi instead of Vaz Te or for Tomkins ahead of Collins and Linda (McCartney) ahead of Matt Taylor. In all three cases I hope so and I hope all three have blinders and thus keep a first team place on Saturday.
I have always been a Yossi fan and Vaz Te has not impressed of late. Collins has made some howlers and I cannot see why Tomkins is not an automatic first choice. He came through the Academy and is a far safer player than Ginge (who is now bald). As for Linda vs Taylor it is a toss up.
There will be other new faces making an appearance tonight. But would I want to go to see to see an experimental West Ham side play? No. It is cold and wet and it is Wigan we are playing. Wigan is a piss poor team who everyone hopes will be relegated in May as they add nothing to the Premiership. For Wigan the Capital One Cup is a distraction and so they will field a second string side as they focus on grinding out points in the Premiership. So a second string line-up from a piss poor and boring team versus an experimental West Ham side in a competition no-one cares about ( unless you get to the quarter finals when you start to care a bit) on a cold and wet night in East London? Ta. But no ta.
Instead we have a Midsomer Murders special. Now this is an embarrassing confession. There have, to date, been 210 murders in Midsomer over 94 episodes. And I have watched every single one of them. I have stacks of Midsomer box sets waiting for a time in my life when I can happily watch them all over again.
I had doubts as to whether the original Inspector Tom Barnaby, John Nettles (ok, this is really embarrassing, I also have several Bergerac DVDs), could be replaced. His relationship with his original sergeant (Troy, played by Daniel Casey) was an excellent two-way interplay (right up there with Morse/Lewis and Lewis/Hathaway – yes I have all the Morse and Lewis episodes on DVD as well). But the one liners delivered by the new Barnaby, Tom’s cousin, played by Neil Dudgeon are excellent. His relationship with his dog, his eccentricity and his relationship with sergeant Jones (Jason Hughes) are very entertaining. If anything the new Barnaby/Jones interplay is the best yet.
Tonight’s special promises an all star cast including Maureen Lipman who in the preview seems to be wearing exactly the same clothes she wore as a dippy flatmate who took an overdose in Educating Rita 30 years ago. I am sure that it will all be nonsense. But as to what i shall be watching at 8 PM it is no contest…Midsomer here I come.
And so I left London on Saturday night. Chocolate pizza with my daughter, a spot of business in Wandsworth and then the 9.30 from Paddington. Is there an Agatha Christie novel with a title a bit like that? Since I am now on the 4.47 AM from Bristol and cannot access the internet I do not know the answer. And feeling a bit tired ahead of a hard day in London I am not sure that I care.
The journey down to Bristol was one that made me feel old (as I was surrounded by young people) and sad (as they were all such morons.) There were a crowd who got on at Chippenham. Seven young lads and 2 very fat girls in short skirts. These are the sort of women for whom the Burkha should have been designed but instead they braved the chill night air displaying ample amounts of body fat and leaving little to the imagination. At least they were already well oiled and happily singing football songs – not knowing all the worlds to I’m forever blowing bubbles – as they ostentatiously smoked dope in the corridor. No-one batted an eyelid.
Behind me were two young ladies who got on at Chippenham of Swindon. They planned to go out to a nightclub in Bristol (we arrived at 11.30) but did not actually know any clubs, had never been to Bristol before and had not figured out how they would get home afterwards. Nightclub first – a series of frantic phone calls allowed them to establish where they were going to head off to, to get totally legless. But aha… where there are sheep there is always a wolf.
At the next table was a video-journalist from “Vice” website. This is a Shoreditch based website which writes about all the sorts of things that “nice” girls and boys should not do. Our video journalist friend serves up a weekly slot where he goes to an event out in the bookies and shows how backward, unsophisticated and boring young people who do not live in N1 or EC2 really are. “They dress up as animals at some parties” Oh how banal. This smug young man was off with his cameraman and producer to a fresher week party in Bristol. “It costs £25 but we are media so we have passes” the video journalist said very loudly in his pampered middle class way so that everyone in the carriage knew how important he was. In ten years time this bloke will be writing for the Guardian and will want me to pay £2 a month towards his wages.
As soon as the girls saw the camera and heard the words media and party there was no stopping them. As we pulled into Bristol the video journalist had a bird in each arm and was filming his introductory shot. I am sure that if he could not find anything better by the end of the evening he might have even agreed to shag them as a favour. He is “in the media” after all and they will appear on a video on a website in London.
Most of the time I still feel, aged 44 and a half, that I am quite young. On Saturday night I felt both old and glad to be old.
My daughter loved the game and the chocolate pizza at Real Man Pizza Company afterwards. For me, it was great to be back at Upton Park. The same seat as ever. A bloke called Roger standing next to me as he always does. I know nothing about Roger except that we always shake hands and he is a nice chap. There were some new folks behind – Ulster Hammers. I am glad my daughter did not ask me to explain why those around us were chanting “She said No” whenever Titus Bramble got the ball.
West Ham conceded a soft goal. On balance we looked the better side and Kevin Nolan’s last gasp equaliser was the least we deserved.
The defence frailties continue to concern me. If our back four and goalkeeper keep on insisting on making howlers and giving away easy goals this will be a long season. In the middle of the park Nolan and Noble look dominant and Diame was a deserved MOTM. I think young Miss W is getting the hang of “Mark Noble … his veins are claret and blue, he’s West Ham through and through.”
Up front I am starting to lose patience with the Carlton Cole, Vaz Te formation. The latter had a weak game and the former needs more support. When Jarvis and Yossi appeared on the pitch West Ham started to look far more threatening. Until Carroll returns this could be a hard slog but how about Fat Sam rests Vaz Te and Taylor and starts with Jarvis and Yossi? At least the former will supply Cole with dozens of crosses and surely he must get his head on one of them?
Five games down, eight points and we are eighth. Put another way we are 20% of the way to safety with 13% of the season gone. The last time we were in the Premiership we reached eight points at some point in November.
PS> A great 4-0 win for my second team is a bonus. Now just two wins off the top spot, the di Canio bandwagon is starting to roll. Rock on Swindon.
No more writing for me today. Something more important…my first home game of the season at Upton Park. In 150 minutes time my daughter and I shall be belting out “i’m forever blowing bubbles” as the teams walk on the pitch. If you are not a soccer fan you will not understand but that moment always makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up on end.
No doubt we will be whingeing about Fat Sam before half time “Same old West Ham, always taking the piss”. Yup I know it. But we have not been to a game for ages. We always chat about the score after every match. But this is it…off to the Boleyn we go. Then back to Real Man Pizza. Chocolate pizza for her. A drown my sorrows, glass of red for me.
Blogging (plus video + Tomograph) resumes tomorrow.
Like me Ben Bernanke is always blowing bubbles. It is just that he does not realise that they eventually fade and die. Recorded before today’s rather dull nil nil draw at Norwich (only highlight: Nolan not booked) the weekly video is back.
Recorded in the back garden of my father & step mother’s house, forgive the relaxed attire. Step mother Helen is very kindly doing a wash.
On the Agenda
1. Looking forward not back
2. QE in China, the US and the Evil Empire
3. Not believing the equities sugar rush – but the dangers of shorting
4. Gold – to $3,350
5. Gold equities ( including Vatukoula – VGM)
6. Writing plans, including coverage of all t1ps stocks.
I founded t1ps.com in my bedroom 12 years ago. But as of Wednesday my involvement is nil. It is none the less surprising to find the site you founded publishing a vicious and untruthful personal attack on you as happened on Friday.
I do not blame the young men whose names appear on the piece and whose safe hands the site is apparently in. They were still at University just a few years ago and are innocents on a wider stage. I am happy to be judged on what I produce, not claiming credit for others actions or blaming others for failures.
And so I do not propose to comment again on what appears on t1ps.
Despite this one unfortunate misjudgement, as I noted on Wednesday I continue to believe that folk at RSH are very good people and I continue to wish them all well. Let’s put things in perspective, West Ham are playing Norwich today. That is really important.
Norwich away should be winnable. I have the Canaries down as a team that will be in the bottom six come May. But Andy Carroll is injured. Fat Sam Alladyce insists that West Ham is not a one man team (but Carroll was majestic against Fulham) and that Carlton Cole plus Maiga up front are capable of delivering. I note that Matt Jarvis is back from injury and if he gets enough crosses in Carlton should net something.
Apparently Yossi Benayoun might make a start. It is great to have Yossi back but who loses his place to make way for the great Israeli? That is a hard call. I also wonder about selecting Maiga ahead of Vaz Te who I continue to rate incredibly highly and who could torture a defence that has shipped in 7 goals in three games against sides that are hardly inspiring ( Fulham, QPR and Spurs).
The West Ham defence looked solid enough against Fulham but that was not hard as the cottagers were piss poor. On the last game away from home (Swansea) the hammers back line (and goalie) looked woeful but then again Swansea is a class act. Norwich is not. I am trying not to sound cocky here. The West Ham official website points out that if we win we go second (for a few hours) and if we win 6-0 we go top (for a few hours). Carlton Cole scoring 5 times (2 from a Jarvis cross and 3 from a long ball from defence/goal kick) plus a re-debut goal from Yossi? I can dream. But that sort of comment always makes me feel nervous.
The last time West Ham went to East Anglia when we were flying high to play a struggling side was at Ipswich last year. We were thrashed (was it 6-1?). As a West Ham supporter you are always a pessimist. If we found ourselves on 39 points in January and were in the top six, I know that the discussion would be “where will we get those 3 points we need to ensure that we are not relegated?”
I regard this game as a six pointer. Win and West Ham are a quarter of the way to safety after four games. And Norwich will be on 2 points after 4 games (none of which were against top sides) and their confidence will start to drain. Lose and Norwich will get a much needed boost to their confidence. Delia will be able to have a celebratory drink or fifteen and Fat Sam will be praying ever harder for the return of Andy Carroll. Does anyone know a pub in Shipston on Stour where the game is being shown?
I realise that my support for Paulo di Canio as the man who should be managing West Ham does not please anyone. There is the win at any cost, we love Fat Sam brigade. And there are those who say that he needs another couple of years of lower league soccer before he can be assessed fairly. Losing 4-1 away at hopeless Preston on Sunday does not help the race for a back on back promotion to the Championship but I still reckon Swindon will go up. And there are those who say that his eccentric political views are unacceptable. So what? Judge the man as a football manager, he is not running for elected office.
The latest chapter in the Paulo tale was his decision to substitute an underperforming goalkeeper just 21 minutes into the game against Preston. The goalie stormed off in a huff. He may even demand to leave Swindon. But Paulo is standing firm demanding that they guy apologises to the whole team for being so useless but more importantly for his reaction to being taken off. Well done di Canio.
It is par for the course these days for managers to offer support and justify the actions – however errant – of prima donna players. Perhaps that is why some of them become ever more wayward and inept on the pitch. If the guy was having a shocker, take him off. If a club does badly it is always the manager who gets the bullet and so it is the manager who gets to call who starts a game and who is taken off and brought on. If a squad is to act as an effective unit you cannot allow any one player to boss and publically over-rule the manager. And it is not as if di Canio was a Roeder or a Grant who has heaped ignominy on his club. He has transformed Swindon.
Paulo stick to your guns. No-one will have any sympathy for yet another prima donna soccer player who wants it all his own way whatever he does. To hear the great PDC discuss the incident check out the video below
A three nil win was a fair reflection of a game West Ham dominated. But for the failure of the referee to spot a blatant push on Andy Carroll in the 18th minute, Mark Noble could have made it four. And, since this was the early kick off game West Ham are now 4th in the Premiership. It will not last more than a couple of hours but let me enjoy it while I can.
Man of the match Kevin Nolan was imperious and managed not to get booked – his goal was a fine effort. Mark Noble was as terrier-like as ever (thank heavens he was not sold). Up front Andy Carroll was excellent ( not just a big bloke who can head the ball) and Vaz Te is going to cause problems all season against any defence ( he also links very well with Demmel). I just wish he’d try to run into the box a bit more. A few clumsy challenges and (Noble, pen) would become a regular feature. Even the defence was solid enough although I cannot say that I was sorry to see Collins limp off to be replaced by Tomkins who should be starting every game.
A third clean sheet at home (from three games) and Upton Park is starting to become a fortress (I said, starting) once again. All in all, very satisfying ( although injuries to Demel and Carroll a bit of a concern) and I stand by my prediction of this morning that West Ham can now stay up with ease. There are a clutch of winnable games now ahead (mostly at home), confidence is high and the platform is there. As for Fulham… I also stand by my prediction that the Cottagers will be a bottom six side this year. They are better than Norwich, Reading and Wigan but, today at least, not by much.
Andy Carroll on a season loan was a start. Fat Sam has managed to hang onto players where there was interest from other clubs (Carlton Cole and Mark Noble – the two longest serving first team members) and now, at the 11th hour Yossi Benayoun is back on a season loan with Chelski still picking up most of his wages. Well done Fat Sam.
Apparently a number of clubs were interested but Yossi chose to come back to where he started in British football. Is that because he had a good 72 game run at Upton Park? Because he thinks West Ham might be a good club to play this season? Or because he thinks he will get more starts with us than elsewhere? After Fat Sam’s recent wheeling and dealing I honestly think it is a bit of all three. I really am starting to think that (defensive question marks aside) West Ham have a good enough squad to stay up. I cannot remember starting a season feeling that way for a good while.
And so today we have an early kick-off again, at home to Fulham. Will Carroll start? I hope so. Iain Dale reckons that he will be joined up front by Jarvis and Vaz Te. But my fellow diabetic, Abba loving, West Ham supporting blogger (and there the similarities end) Iain Dale reckons that there is an outside chance of starting Carlton Cole instead of Vaz Te. Jarvis is a given. That West Ham also have another class act up front (Maiga) who is also seriously competing for a place just adds to the fun. I cannot remember having such strong competition upfront (and now also in midfield) for many a year. As ever it is the defence that concerns me a little. Tomkins and Reid are class acts. Demel and Linda (McCartney) could be up to the mark but they need to play rather better as a unit. It would help if Collins found the form of a few years ago – last week’s appearance was a shocker and I agree with Iain that he will not start against Fulham.
This is a winnable game. It is not easy but if West Ham are to aim for a safe mid-table finish this is the sort of match we need to win.
Not a great tie in the 3rd Round of the Capital One Cup. The League Cup to you and me. Wigan at home. It hardly sets the pulse racing. Neither team is going to win the trophy (well it is a long odds bet). Both are far more concerned about avoiding relegation from the Premiership. Wigan are piss poor and surely this will be the season that they go down. But then we say that every season and they always survive. Fingers crossed that this time they are relegated. They add little to the top flight.
The good news is that West Ham can win and so too can my second team, Paulo’s Swindon. A home tie against a mediocre Championship side like Burnley should be winnable for a form side like Swindon (albeit a League One side). In describing his team as being “like Barcelona” as they defeated Stoke 4-3 away (AET) in the second round, I think Di Canio is getting a little carried away but he is not one for understatement. But this is a winnable tie for di Canio’s men. And so the dream of Swindon coming to Upton Park (where Fat Sam can come face to face with the man who should replace him as soon as possible) is perhaps only postponed.
He does not really wish to join the Hammers but bad boy England striker Andy Carroll is to join us on a season loan from Liverpool. If we stay in the Premiership we have the option to buy him. Apparently he will earn £80,000 a week (after tax) which is not a problem – West Ham has just sold Nicky Maynard to Cardiff for £3 million so that will pay the wages until next summer.
So as far as I can see the game plan is now Noble/Nolan lobs it up to try and land it on Carroll’s head to score or Noble/Nolan lobs it to Jarvis on the wing to cross it onto Carroll’s head to score. Great. Really attractive football.
Supporters say that Carroll may have had a shocking time at Liverpool but he had two blinding seasons at Newcastle before that; that he is more than just a tall bloke who can head the ball and that 20 goals from him (plus no doubt Noble the second top scorer from penalties won) will be enough to ensure Premiership survival. Critics will say more dull Alladyce football. I would add that since there was no evidence that we could land the ball within 10 yards of Carlton Cole I cannot see how having a different front man will necessarily change anything. I also doubt the motivation of such a reluctant mercenary. It reminds me of Lucas Neill.
On balance I suspect West Ham is more likely to stay up as a result of this deal. And if we go down it is bye bye Carroll. Bye Bye Fat Sam and the door is open for Paulo di Canio (who will have guided Swindon to a second successive promotion plus cup glory) to apply for the job he really wants and for West Ham finally to get a manager we deserve. I cannot say that I am rushing down to Upton Park this Saturday in order to see Carroll play but I might watch the match on TV with a slightly increased interest and hope that three points can be secured against Fulham. Now to wait for the 3rd round draw in the Capital One Cup. God, if you are reading this…Swindon at home please.
The West Ham starting line-up last night featured in the backs a guy called Potts. Coming on as substitute was a guy called Moncur. Instantly I think of Steve Potts (Pottsy), the very short West Ham stalwart of 17 seasons and John Moncur (a midfielder who never really fulfilled his potential from the same era – early mid nineties). But it is Daniel Potts (son of Steve) and George Moncur (son of John) who wore the claret and blue last night. Am I really that old?
The match was in the Capital One Cup second round. It took me a while but that is the League Cup to you and me. The opponents were Crew Alexandra from the first division (3rd division in real money). The Capital One Cup has been incredibly devalued as a trophy in recent years. The biggest clubs play scratch teams against weaker sides because this trophy does not really matter and occasionally they do come a cropper. West Ham played a team with lots of youngsters from “The Academy” last night to rest players for the League match against Fulham on Saturday. Given how woeful the “stars” were at the weekend the youngsters could not have been worse and the Irons sailed through 2-0.
Do I really care what the 3rd round draw brings on Thursday? With one caveat, no. The League Cup is the best, okay only, chance of a trophy coming back to The Boleyn this year but it is so devalued that I would far rather the Hammers won their next 5 games ( all winnable) and so built a platform for avoiding relegation than that they won this trophy.
My caveat is that Swindon (from league one) defeated Stoke (from the Premiership) 4-3, playing away last night. I suspect Stoke fielded a weaker side but this is still a momentous achievement for a team managed by Hammers legend and one of my blog roll idols Paulo di Canio. I would have appointed di Canio not Fat Sam Alladyce as our manager – he wanted the job not for the money but because he feels for West Ham as we do. And so a home tie against Swindon would be a dream result from the draw. Whatever the result come 90 minutes the whole crowd would be singing Paulo’s name. For the first time in ages I would care about – and would desperately want to attend a League Cup tie. Fingers crossed for Thursday.
Away at Swansea was not a must win game for West Ham. The teams we must beat are Wigan, Villa, Reading, Fulham, Norwich, QPR – sides who we hope will finish below us at the end of May. Having said that, West Ham were dire today. Two goals were gifted to Swansea by utter howlers and the less said about them the better. The third Swansea goal was well worked and they could have scored more.
For West Ham there were few reasons to be cheerful. New signing Jarvis looks useful. Vaz Te will score goals this season. And Kevin Nolan was not sent off. That is about it. If Fat Sam Alladyce reckons that booting the ball up into the final third in the hope that it will occasionally find Carlton Cole and that, on his own, Cole can then score enough goals to keep us up, I think he is mistaken. Fat Sam’s Plan A will not work at this level and he needs to look at a Plan B sharpish.
Now we have a run of winnable home games. These do matter. Let’s hope this can be forgotten as a bad day at the office and that against Fulham next week at Upton Park we can get back to winning ways. As for Swansea…
They are, as I write, top of the league. They will not be there next May but they look like a top half side. They thoroughly deserved to win and play some attractive football. My only caveat is that one or two of their players seem unduly keen on rolling around on feigned agony after a stern tackle in an attempt to get a yellow card for a player on the opposing side. This is one of the most unpleasant aspects of modern football ( although there are many) and Swansea are too good a side to have to play that way. It is beneath them.
For West Ham…this feels as if it will be a long season.
I shall not reveal which CEO of an AIM listed company sent me the following piece from the Sun Newspaper. I am shocked that this fairly cerebral fellow (though he hides it well) is a Sun reader but lets his shareholders also take a dim view, I shall not name him. The gist of the piece is that in terms of the cost of my season ticket at West Ham per home goal scored/home win I will get the worst value in the League. For the best value I should support Man City instead. Hmmmm… It reads:
MANCHESTER City offer fans the best value for money in the Premier League, a study found. Based on performances and season ticket prices, supporters of last year’s champions pay just £7.73 per goal and £23.61 for each home win. Hotshot Sergio Aguero scored the last-minute title winner.
West Ham fans face the most costly season. Experts predict each home victory will cost £123.33 and £19.47 per home goal. Liverpool fans pay the most per goal — £30.21 — after a low-scoring season.
The study, by money saving website vouchercodes.co.uk, also worked out which supporters pay the most over a season.
By calculating the cost of a season ticket, shirt, scarf, pie and pint at each home game, Arsenal fans will shell out £1,175 — while for Wigan fans it is just £462. A spokesman said: “Fans need to consider wider cost implications before they commit to following a team.”
I shall not use vouchercodes.co.uk ( not that I ever have) on principle and I hope no-one else does. You support a team for all sorts of reasons but not because it is cheap or expensive to do so or because you get more home wins/goals per pound spent there. That is not what Sport is about. I grew up as a rugby player but moved to London and while off rugby started supporting my local team – West Ham. Earlier in life, the great Neil Masuda had to tried to steer me that way anyway so the door was wide open. I have never once considered that it might be cheaper to support Southend or that I might get more goals per pound by supporting Chelsea. What rot.
I sense the folks at couchercodes.co.uk do not understand the idea of supporting a team in a tribal sense and what sport is all about. I bet they support Man United.
The other thing that grabs me is this obsession with goals. A goalfest does not necessarily equate to a great game or great football, although I admit that West Ham’s lack of goals might reflect the underlying fact that they are not very good. But modern sport is all about goals, points, home runs – not necessarily skill, guile or what really makes great sport. And so baseball bats and cricket bats have become heavier. That means more home runs/sixes. Does it mean more skilful placement of the ball to get players on second and third bases home/ a clever single? No. It is not about skill it is about slogging it out of the park/scoring goals.
And so a great penalty box diver in soccer is feted as he delivers goals. Does that make for more entertaining sport. Is a brutal slog for six more of a delightful shot to watch that a delicate cover drive for four?
I am afraid that this article sums up so much of what is rotten about modern sport.
One of the minor matters that I have resented during the past few years has been the idea of dressing to a corporate standard. There are greater issues that have caused me angst but this is an easy one to address going forward. When I started t1ps my attire was T-shirt and shorts/jeans. When the office was in my home I used to work in my underpants. It was a time when life was simple, work was fun in that I did only what I enjoyed (mainly writing) and was – I think – quite good at what I did. And no-one told me what to wear. I remember Algy Cluff being a bit surprised to find me wearing Irish rugby shorts and a T-shirt with some vaguely controversial message across the front, but most CEOs judge you on your work, not on what you wear.
Gradually, the pressures increased to smarten up. I found a review of a talk I gave a long time ago where I was lambasted for wearing a crumpled shirt. Heck did the reviewer know that was an upgrade? Looking back I can see some inverse sort of correlation between freedom to wear what I want & to write what I wanted and my move to do other things and an increasing sense of frustration and unhappiness. However that was suppressed at the time. Maybe weight gain was a symptom of that.
And so, going forward, whatever I do it has to be on the condition that I will be looking rather casual as I do it. I guess that rules out a career at Morgan Stanley. Drat. But my lifetime love affair with the T-shirt can once again come out of the closet.
My first T-shirt arrived in 1975 and was a red creation with the word cocaine in a coca-cola logo format. At the time I had no idea what that was all about but I wore it often. It is, sadly, no-longer in my collection but maybe Louise Mensch MP has an one like it from her youth that she is keen to get rid of lest it gives her more crazy thoughts? Nor can I find the Springsteen Born in the USA Tour T-shirt I picked up at Wembley in 1985. I think my oldest T-shirt is a black (my favourite colour) wombles creation. It must be 20 years old and has been fit for the bin for at least a decade. It is almost as much rip as shirt. But, although I have no interest whatsoever in the early eco-warriors, that shirt is with me on this break.
What your T-shirt says, reflects your interests and tastes. Thus I wear a Viva Steyn (Mark) shirt with pride, several West Ham and Ireland shirts and a few from Israel. Yes I do “stand with Israel” as it says on the shirt. Sometimes you have to explain the logo. 48 seconds is the time it takes for the alarm to go for you to get into a shelter when a rocket sent from those nice “peace activists” of Hamas lands on an Israeli settlement. So I wear a 48 seconds T-shirt.
The “Empire Needs You” shirt (with a picture of Darth Vader not Lord Kitchener) reflects my intense interest in Star Wars, though of course it was Vader’s daughter (who would have understood my first ever T-shirt all too well), not Darth himself, who was my pin up. There is no “Piss off Argentina” shirt with me here but I will be wearing one from this September. Those of us with strong views on civil liberties and Austrian economics do not always find T-shirts to convey our sentiments and so I shall be designing a few for the shop on this site. They are for my wardrobe first, if anyone else wants one (and, amazingly, Piss off Argentina is selling) I am happy to assist.
Abbe Aronson has threatened to post on this blog photos of us as a couple (I still cannot remember anything happening, bar rejection, despite trying extremely hard) from 1986 in which, I think, I was wearing a Ramones Rocket to Russia T-shirt. Nothing changes, I sport the same design to this day. And darling Abbe is still not interested in me. Hey, Abbe: if I chuck the Ramones T-Shirt and try a Go-Go’s one instead might you change your mind? Can we finally get the beat or am I just beat?
After 4 weeks living from a rucksack, none of my clothes can remember what an iron looks like and I sense that most could do with re-acquainting themselves with detergent. And so with some very dirty Ireland rugby shorts and a very crumpled T-shirt I was surprised as I waited for the ferry from Corfu to Albania (a boat the size of a Thames pleasure cruiser, from where I am now writing, as it slips across the channel to dock in Europe’s fastest growing, low tax economy), when a man rushed up to me asking if he could take my picture.
Sure, whatever. At once his two sons grabbed my arms and made thumbs up signs and grinned like jackanapes. Whatever. Then they disappeared and it was a photo of me by myself. The man seemed terribly excited. Perhaps he thought I was someone else? Someone famous? Or maybe he had bought shares in Centamin Egypt (CEY) after my tip at 8p and had sold at 134p as I advised and just wanted to say thanks.
But no, my new Italian friend explained it was my T-shirt he loved. I looked down, not exactly sure what crumpled and smelly garment I was wearing and saw that I am today advising folks to “KEEP CALMANDSUPPORTWEST HAM” in the style of the WW2 poster campaign. It turns out that the man is a big admirer of Paulo di Canio. Me too. I love his footballing skills, his charisma, his flair and his enthusiasm and commitment. I am not quite such a fan of his politics (“I am a fascist not a racist” says Paulo who has a tattoo of Mussolini as well as a large West Ham tattoo somewhere on his body). Actually Paulo, sorry to say this but your politics stink but I would still love you to manage West Ham.
Anyhow, my career as a male model has started. Somewhere I shall appear with two grinning jackanapes, as well as alone, modelling a West Ham T-shirt on the facebook site of an Ultra from Italy. I suppose we all have to start somewhere.
PS About half the passengers on the ferry are a party of Polish schoolkids. I have no idea why they are here. They are being shepherded by a thirty something 5 foot 5 (guess) woman who just has the most enormous breasts on this planet. This is not me being a Dirty Old Man in noticing them. If you were here you ( whether male or female) would agree that you cannot avoid noticing a silhouette which just dominates the cabin. There is something not quite natural about her 48 G physique. This is not a matter that I intend pursuing in any way but I mention it en passant. And anyway, it is time to go. We are about to land in Albania.
There are two big soccer stories today both of which make me fall a bit more out of love with a game that is now anything but beautiful. I start in Scotland with Rangers FC who have gone bust and have now been voted into the Scottish 3rd Division. This means three things. Firstly, Celtic will win everything for half a decade because (apart from the brief Fergie driven glory years of Aberdeen) Scotland has only got two decent teams. Secondly, tiny Scottish clubs will get a cash windfall for a few seasons when Rangers come to play them. And thirdly within a decade we will be back to the normal duopoly.
Who cares? Scottish club football has not got enough money. I know Celtic were the first British side to with the European Cup ( 1967) but for two decades Scottish League football has been a third rate affair. We used to joke about how Scottish goalkeepers were all useless. You can make the same joke about the other 10 players in any given Scottish team these days. Scottish football serves only two purposes. To allow the rest of us to feel superior as club football always boils down to narrow minded sectarian bigotry. And to give us all a good laugh as the National Side loses to the Faroe Islands reserve team and continues to perform at an abject level. And you can always get out those videos of Ally’s Army heading off to the 1978 World Cup with such high hopes if you want another laugh at the expense of Scottish Football. And so to those of us south of the Border, Rangers relegated we just do not give two hoots.
And now to Mr John Terry who was accused of calling Mr Anton Ferdinand a “black cunt” and a “fucking knobhead” during a football match last year and was thus brought up on a charge of racially motivate abuse. Mr Terry has been found not guilty.
Mr Terry is not, in my view, a very nice or appealing man. He shags other bloke’s wives and indeed anything in a skirt to the angst of his long suffering WAG, he has a penchant for financial deals which look a bit iffy, his parents are a drug dealer and a shop lifter and we could go on at some length. In short he is perhaps best described as, to use a term he would understand, a “fucking knobhead” I am afraid that Mr Ferdinand and his elder Brother Rio are not much better – the birds, the cars, etc, that failure to do a drugs test (Rio), it is all rather unappealing. That Mr Terry called as a character witness a gentleman who betrayed the lovely Cheryl Tweedy and has form for shooting apprentice footballers with an air gun just for kicks adds to the circus atmosphere. The whole bunch of them sum up so much of what is wrong about English football and the English national side. It is just depressing.
But this was a show trial with a politically motivated agenda. It is a monstrous waste of time and money and it is a scandal that it got as far as it did. The evidence against Terry was so unclear that the CPS should not have brought the trial and anyhow, is what is said in the heat of an intense sporting fixture really something that should go to court? As a London Irish player you were regularly abused on the pitch by some of the snootier sides (Rosslyn Park, notably) and that abuse was clearly racially motivated. For the avoidance of doubt should any of the pompous twits responsible for that abuse be reading, I am not a member of the IRA or a terrorist and I have no particular aptitude for picking potatoes and I reckon that I am not half as stupid as you are. But receiving such abuse just makes you think about making the next tackle that little bit more intense.
I view Mr John Terry with contempt but am delighted that he has been found not guilty. But no-one emerges from this trial with any credit at all. It is just another reason to be that little bit less interested in football when the season starts again. And I say that with sadness as a season ticket holder at the club where Terry and both Ferdinand’s started their illustrious careers.
A personal note follows at the end. West Ham supporters will understand the reference to Paul Ince, a man who is – unfairly in my view – known by Lucian and his pals as Judas. I digress. I have today signed two contracts with the UK’s largest website ADVFN. This does not mean that my relationship with t1ps.com changes.
The first is the book deal I referred to a while back. Somewhere the contract was mislaid and so I resigned it again today. By August 31st I am contracted to deliver my copy for an e-book ADVFN wishes to publish on why gold is heading through the roof and how to profit from it. That is my summer project.
The second is to start writing a blog for ADVFN. I should start posting my first content this weekend. This may seem the Paul Ince act. Well it is not. My contract comes with the blessing of those running t1ps. I will not be covering small cap t1ps and doing CEO videos etc for ADVFN. The premium site where I focus such energies will – as long as I am comfortable with the management, its commitment to free speech etc – always be t1ps.com. I have a firm writers contract with t1ps and a promise of a far better one if certain changes happen.
So ADVFN is an outlet for some of my macro burbles, thoughts on the US market etc which do not fit easily with t1ps.com. TomWinnifrith.com will carry my content from ADVFN, ShareCrazy, The Christian Science Monitor as well as my own non financial burbling on Debbie Harry, West Ham, the Evil Empire, Greece, Vlachs, Lesbians, the Argies, Global warming, the only true democracy in the Middle East, etc, etc. For small cap share tips etc you should, as always, go to www.t1ps.com – where I believe that some major improvements are planned.
From a personal perspective I now have almost all my ducks in a row for a career as a full time writer, organiser of Master Investor and video presenter. Writing is what I want to do and enjoy doing most of all. My keyboard is humming and I am happily writing with a freedom and enjoyment I have not had for many years. Pro tem I plan to take a break from England to a place that is hotter and even more bankrupt in order to purge my mind fully of Rivington matters and to purge my body fully of nicotine. In the middle of nowhere, but online, I aim to complete the book before I return, relaxed, 21 llbs lighter and lightly tanned. Blogging will continue as normal but the phone will be switched off at Gatwick airport and will stay switched off for well over a month.
Judas, Judas go out the cries every time Paul Ince shows his face at Upton Park. Those photos in a Man United shirt ahead of his transfer in the dim and distant past have made him a hate figure at the club for whom he signed at 12 and where he enjoyed a heroic career. Ince was a lifelong West Ham supporter and other photos seem to have emerged showing him drinking from a West Ham mug years after he left the club. It seems as if, despite it all, he has a soft spot in his heart for the club and that “that photo” was a youthful error and the fault of his grubby agent. I can believe it – soccer agents are lowlife and most football players are borderline thick/naive.
As such I cannot really feel any bitterness towards Ince and would hope that one day he comes back to Upton Park and is appreciated for what he did for West Ham not abused for the manner of his leaving.
The sins of the father were, at Wembley visited upon his son Tom who plays for Blackpool and who received a predictable reception from some West Ham supporters. I saw Ince younger ( who is rumoured to have been brought up by his Dad to support West Ham) on the TV several times last season and he looks superb. He is just the sort of player we would love, ceteris paribus, to see wearing claret and blue. Ince playing behind Vaz Te and Carlton Cole would surely be enough to see West Ham stay up, on the basis that the defence does not allow too many goals to be conceded. Ince has said that he will stay at Blackpool but I am sure if “The Guv’nor” had a word in his ear he would move and I would be thrilled were he to join West Ham.
I am not universally forgiving. Whilst I would be delighted if Joe Cole returned any signing of Jermaine Defoe would be a step too far. And as for Fat Frank Lampard….
Having committed West Ham heresy by saying pleasant things about the Ince family I will go one step further and say how pleased I am that Robert Green is leaving this summer. Green has been a great servant of West Ham and for that we are all grateful. I look forward to applauding him as he steps out – for whoever – at Upton Park next year. But a) he wanted to leave because WH would not meet his greedy wage demands and b) after that world cup incident he has just not been as good as he was. And having a goalie who is not always 100% reliable unsettles a defence. Green made some great saves last season, saving West Ham valuable points. But he also suffered howlers and cost us points.
West Ham’s back line needs strengthening in the summer but it should be solid enough if it has behind it some who game in game out can be relied upon as a safe pair of hands. Rob Green, for whatever reason, is no longer that man in my book. I wish him all the best but am not upset that he has gone.
The fixture list is now out. I know West Ham are not a brilliant team but looking at the first six games they all look ones that could be won. There are enough mediocre teams in the Premiership (Villa, Swansea, Fulham, Norwich, Sunderland, QPR – the first six opponents – plus Reading, Southampton, Wigan, Stoke ( sorry David Rowley, see you at Upton Park on 17th November) and West Brom) that survival is more than possible. Real Man Pizza Company has renewed its three season tickets and this blog will occasionally be offering up a spare seat to readers.
I have rather given up on radio when driving. The adverts on Absolute (and the inane DJs) drive me absolutely mad. The non-stop plugging of the Absolute brand is infuriating. I got the message the 94th time (which is normally after about 45 minutes of listening). The station promises no repeats of the songs it plays. That is not hard if you only play 5 songs an hour with the rest of the time being oft repeated adverts, usually for the station you are already listening to. Moreover, since at least one of those five songs will be a deathly dull offering from Coldplay, I have given up on the station. And so the drive up to Heysham last night was a CD drive with, as the main course Blondie, whose lead singer, as all men my age know, was Debbie Harry.
Music is, as you may have guessed pretty central to my life. Not all music. I rarely listen to classical music and, as far as I can see, the last 15 years have produced only about a dozen half memorable tunes. For this grumpy old man, music effectively ends in 1997. Listening to non stop music is not just about the tunes themselves but about the memories they bring back and where those thoughts lead you to. I can happily bark along to Union City Blues, Hanging on the Telephone or Atomic (a rare song where the later electro remix is actually very good) with the best of them. The volume goes right up and I accompany Debbie in my own style. Since I was travelling alone there could be no complaints.
For some songs the lyrics themselves always bring back a smile or a tear. On my journey I also found myself listening to “From a land down under” – a one hit wonder for Men at Work. The way language is made to rhyme with sandwich (I asked if he spoke my language, he smiled and gave me a vegemite sandwich) is wonderful.
With Blondie it is the memories. Now this is not a smutty reference to the fact that in 1980 every boy my age had a poster of Debbie (by then in her thirties) on his bedroom wall. She was the most gorgeous woman of that age. No argument. Although from the pop world if that sort of era I also had the hots for Nena (Neun und Neunzig Luftballoon/ 99 Red Balloons) and half the Go-Gos and half the Bangles. I digress. With Blondie there is more. Clearly at all of the parties I attended when young, Atomic or Heart of Glass was played and so you think back to them. Both songs were on my 40th birthday play list, something I spent many happy days compiling and both will be on my 50th Birthday playlist as well.
The Bangles I saw live in their prime – in fact before they hit the big time when they played to 3-400 at the Powerhouse in Birmingham and Jon West and I drove in after school and stood right by the stage. I was that close to Vicki Peterson and Susanna Hoffs. Great. Blondie I saw much later in Victoria Park, Bow. By the 2000s Debbie Harry was wearing odd glasses and jumped around looking like a deranged granny who had enjoyed one or two sherries too many. It was all a bit odd. But the music was still the music of my early teens, the music that accompanies the poster on the wall.
The music also makes me think of Neil Masuda, one of my father’s students who would act as babysitter for my sisters and me when my father was away. It was Neil who introduced me to West Ham, who buried my first cat with me and who has popped up every few years in the two decades since then. While finishing his PHD in Classics Neil became a journalist via the traditional route.
Starting on his local paper his big break was scooping a three in a bed splash on a local celeb: Howard Jones. Like to get to know you well. It appeared that Howard did. That got Neil onto the red tops in London. He tells a tale that after an equerry to Prince Charles dies of AIDS (in the early AIDS years) he was – as a handsome young reporter new to Fleet Street – sent to trawl certain gay bars to try to find men who had slept with this poor fellow. Such was Fleet Street at its nastiest and most sordid. In keeping with this image I remember Neil popping in to see me at University clutching a large bottle of pink champagne. Why does Neil spring to mind when I hear Blondie? As he moved back to a local paper in Oxford, he got to interview Debbie Harry, slightly before her deranged granny phase. What would I have asked? How did you feel about being pinned to so many bedroom walls? What was it like singing and partying on the Lower East side of New York in the 1970s in the pre-punk/ early punk era? Why did you bother with some fairly dire comeback records? Explain your relationship with Chris Stein? Do you share my views on music since 1997?
For me – as someone who partied in the lower East Side in the mid 1980s (seeing the Ramones live for the first time) that subject would be of most interest. Did Debbie ever go to Downtown Beirut? I am pretty sure she must have as it was round the corner from King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut and CBGBs where everyone hung out. Lucky Neil for having such an opportunity. And so Neil Masuda (who I must look up as he still lives in Oxford) springs to mind when I hear Blondie as does that poster, teenage alcohol fuelled parties and a deranged granny singing beautifully in the East End. You need to have something to think about on a 4 hour drive ahead of what promises to be a stormy crossing.
Heaven knows why I find myself reading Carlton Cole’s twitter feed. Okay the guy is a legend and a loyal West Ham servant but… I must be bored. But a few things strike me as odd. The first is his language. Carlton is a good striker but he is not that articulate. Would he really use the word conundrum in a tweet? What about protracted? Encapsulating? Secondly all his tweets seem to redirect you to a website on Facebook which is a commercial enterprise. And thirdly he appears to have tweeted during the playoff final against Blackpool at Wembley when I distinctly remember he was on the pitch and cannot remember him finding time to tweet before he scored our first goal. I am sure this is no conundrum but that there is a perfectly rational explanation.
Historically England prepares for a big tournament thus: Appoint a new national saviour as manager on a multi year telephone number contract. Talk up the Premiership prima donnas as being the heirs to Hurst, Peters and Moore. The nation expects. Go to the tournament and play atrociously but scrape through to a knock out stage and lose on penalties as soon as possible.
This time it is different. The national manager is someone no-one thinks is much good. I presume that he is still on a multi –year telephone number contract. But everyone knows that the national side is pretty mediocre and therefore expectations are low. Today’s dire performance against a second rate team from a country where the average age is 87 and where the only thing they excel at is child molestation shows just how dreadful England are. And so expectations for Euro 2012 are very low indeed.
And so might we expect a different outcome to normal? Sadly i suspect not. Expectations are low because England are not very good. If they make it past the group stage that will be a pleasant surprise but they will not make it much further. Perhaps the only difference will be that since Roy Hodgson was dealt such a duff deck to start with he might not be sacked within days of the team taking an early plane home.
As an Ireland supporter I know that my team will crash and burn. But who cares? It was a miracle that we qualified in the first place. The only joy I can usually take from tournaments is that of watching England crash and burn after arriving with such high hopes and everyone talking about its “golden generation.” The, justifiably, low sense of expectation in England this time means that in 2012 even this petty and mean spirited pleasure of schadenfreude will be denied me. A summer of football misery is thus in prospect.
To be followed by Autumnal misery at Upton Park. Woe is me.
— Tom Winnifrith
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