Thursday, April 17

West Ham fans only 82nd in league table of fan suffering

West Ham are only 82nd in a league table of long-suffering fans, according to a study commissioned by the Makers of ITV4's new animated sitcom Warren United, starting on April 22. Rochdale came top, just beating Hartlepool and Exeter. While Man United came bottom as the club with the least-suffering fans, followed by Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea.The show’s producers commissioned statisticians at the English National Football Archive (ENFA) to compile a “Long-Suffering Fan Index”. ENFA’s top stattos crunched data from 220,000 match results since the first Football League season in 1888-9 to rank the current 92 Football League clubs by their lack of success, weighted by extra factors including the size of their average home crowds. In the Premier League we're not even as long suffering as Stoke City fans. Seems West Ham have ruined all those years of underachievement with the odd FA Cup win and promotion. Doh! Click on the link to read the complete survey.

Wednesday, April 16

Three-one to the Librarians

Celebrating Matt's programe purchase
Arsenal 3 West Ham 1

My gaff, uncomfortably close to the Emirates, has become a safe house for West Ham fans as Fraser, Matt, Lisa and Nigel, along with token Gooner Simon arrive for a pre-match bottles of Fuller’s Organic Honey Dew, Spitfire and Hobgoblin.

On the way to the Library there’s a major crisis by the bridge as Matt tries to buy a programme only to discover they’ve sold out. He hasn’t looked this desperate since they sold out at Wigan. He looks the most relieved man at the Emirates as we finally track one down outside the away end.

IT'S QUIET IN THE LIBRARY
The away fans are in good voice reprising old favourites, “It’s quiet in the library!” and “Sixty thousand muppets!” We’re close to an Irons banner reading, bizarrely, “I’ve got chickens in my back yard.”

Nolan is out injured and Nocerino, sporting a swarm of bees on his chin, is in, as we play with two wingers. West Ham start well, looking sharp and knocking Arsenal off the ball, with Tomkins and Reid solid at the back and Diame, Noble and Nocerino winning tackles. We get in lots of good crossing positions with Jarvis and Downing, but as always, seem to fluff the final ball. Carroll heads well over and then Jarvis has a penalty appeal turned down when Sagna catches him. We can’t see it properly from our end, but Big Sam says he should have gone down, though personally I’m pleased some players remain honest.

Rosicky looks Arsenal’s best player and slowly the home side start to create chances. Podolski fizzes a cross across the box and Giroud beats our offside trap only to make a very weak flick when one-on-one with Adrian, allowing the keeper to save.

MATT FINISH 
But we keep it tight and take the lead on 40 minutes. Nocerino makes a great burst down the right, fires at the keeper and as the ball bounces off him, Jarvis bravely heads home despite a flying Arsenal boot.

“Top of the league and you fucked it up!” rings round the gleeful away end. We start to dream of another famous win at the Emirates. We just have to keep it 1-0 at half-time.

All seems to be going to plan until two minute before the break, Downing has the ball wide on the right of defence and instead of hoofing it down the line slices the ball inside. It turns into a perfect pass to Cazorla, who finds Podolski. The big effing German, who always scores against us, swings his sledgehammer boot and it’s into the corner of the net. Bit of a Scaloni moment as the Muppets explode with relief.

We urge Downing to make up for it a minute later as he gets into another good crossing position, only to hopelessly overhit it. Still, drawing at half-time isn’t bad, though as Nigel reminds us, it was 1-1 at half time last season after we took the lead. Though I counter that we would have won if Dan Potts hadn’t been injured, as we were just coming back into it at 5-1 down.

BIG EFFING GERMAN 
We begin the second half looking quite comfortable, only to be undone by Vermaelen’s long ball ten minutes in. Reid and Carroll appear to get in each other’s way and Giroud sneaks behind them to control with one sublime touch and fire through Adrian’s legs. Bugger.

Arsenal start to ooze confidence again. Cazorla makes a great run and fires just wide and then Podolski’s free kick forces Adrian into a save.

From the away end we get a great view of Mertesacker playing really well against Carroll, though when it became obvious Carroll wasn't winning much in the air West Ham should surely vary their tactics.

Just as Sam is preparing to bring on Joe Cole and Vaz Te Arsenal score a third after 12 minutes from time as sub Ramsey heads down for Podolski, who has momentarily lost Tomkins, and fires home another fine finish.

Jarvis, who has played well on the left, and Downing are taken off, Carlton Cole comes on for the labouring Carroll and there’s a bizarre cameo from Vaz Te. Carlton Cole does well to find Vaz, only for him to balloon a cross towards the full moon. Vaz Te follows this by lunging in to a Gooner and trying hard to get red-carded.

ALWAYS DIFFICULT PLAYING AGAINST TIRED MEN
Another misplaced pass from Diame inspires an outburst of Tourette’s from the gentleman behind us: “F**king learn to pass before you talk about signing for f**king Liverpool you f**king Bag of f**king s**t Diame!” Must be a Vicar’s Son.

At least there’s a rousing Bubbles at the end and we’ve played reasonably well, though no sign of Arsenal being tired after their 120 minutes against Wigan

We brave the cries of “Your ground’s too big for you!” from the Muppets on Drayton Park and head back to Pete’s bar. With real ale, herb tea and toasted maize on offer it’s a step-up from the Central, though perhaps I should offer them some iffy dvds as well.

A frustrating evening, but we have been away to a side that is back in the top four. It’s now important we get something from the game against Palace so we can finally relax.


TEAM RATINGS: Adrian 6; Demel 6, Tomkins 6, Reid 6, Armero 6; Downing 4 (Joe Cole 5), Diame 6, Noble 6, Nocerino 6, Jarvis 7 (Vaz Te 3); Carroll 5 (Cole 5).

Tuesday, April 15

Can we still snatch relegation from the jaws of safety?

Old habits die hard. It's still difficult not to glance at the bottom of the table and ponder what happens if West Ham lose all five remaining fixtures and finish on 37 points. For Norwich to catch us, they would have to win two games out of their run in of Liverpool, Man United, Chelsea and Arsenal, which is very unlikely. Cardiff and Sunderland have to play each other so neither can get full points, while Fulham would have to win three out of four to overtake us as we have a better goal difference. West Brom will surely lose away to Man City and Arsenal, while Swansea and Aston Villa have to make up four and three points on us. So it's unlikely we would go down, but mathematically possible. And if it can go wrong at West Ham it invariable]y does, so I'll still sleep much easier if we can get a point at the Library tonight.

Go go Mo Diame?

Mo Diame seems to have a very inflated opinion of his self-worth. He's been quoted in several papers as saying: "Two years ago I wanted to join a team with ambitions. Overall, my season has been okay, although I think it is not up to last season. I started badly, but gradually I got my bearings. Liverpool? I can't tell you if I will be a Liverpool player next season. But I think my name is still on their wanted list. I don't hide it, I'm ambitious and I want to join a top-six side. I am 26 years old and it's time to take that step."

He might have been on Liverpool's radar on last season's form, but not on this campaign's. Sure, he's improved in recent weeks, but Diame's still only scored four goals and been kept out of the side by Matt Taylor for a long spell, so he's a long way from being signed by the possible champions. And I'm not sure that mouthing off about other teams wanting to sign you when under contract is a great way to impress Brendan Rodgers either. 

Monday, April 14

Rush Green romance

My fellow season ticket holder Matt certainly knows how to show a girl a good time. On Friday afternoon he took his partner Lisa to Romford, and then on via a bus to Rush Green, to watch the WHU Academy Development Squad play Blackburn in what is possibly Grays' old ground. Matt seemed very happy to have spotted Colin Hendry, still with his blonde mullet intact. He reports that Joe Cole got a game in and signed a lot of autographs in our lads' 1-0 defeat, while young Jordan Brown played pretty well up front, although there was no sign of Vaz Te or Diarra, who was possibly busy preparing to serve drinks at David Gold's open day at his Surrey gaff last weekend.

Friday, April 11

Warren United

Went to the bloggers' screening of Warren United last night at the Prince Charles Cinema, the new football comedy starting at 10pm on ITV4 on April 22. It's about Warren Kingsley, a 37-year-old fanatical fan who supports Brainsford United, nicknamed the Meringues, a useless underachieving football team who haven't won any trophies since the Co-operative Tarpaulins Trophy in 1971— although in one episode they draw 0-0 with East Ham United (not at all based on West Ham). 

Brainsford United are managed by Fat Baz, voiced by Johnny Vegas, and owned by iffy Egyptians the Luxor Borthers. Strangely Warren's wife Ingrid, moody teenage daughter Charlie and son Harrison don't quite share his passion. The episodes I saw also featured talking police horses and characters such as Burger Al, a fast-food vendor who makes our Green Street vendors seem haute cuisineThe first three episodes are by Simon Nye, who wrote Men Behaving Badly, and the series is co-produced by Bill Freedman and Henry Normal, of Steve Coogan fame, so it has a good football pedigree. 

A hapless middle-aged man supporting an underachieving team? Nothing at all for us West Ham fans to identify with, but it is pretty funny from what I've seen and worth checking out…

Wednesday, April 9

Chelsea back in the 1890s

Good to see Chelsea launching endless long balls towards three strikers last night. Looked to me a bit like football from the 1890s. Another thought: wonder if Big Sam could do a Mourinho-esque sprint down the touchline?