Monday, October 5

Drawing drawing West Ham

West Ham 2 Fulham 2

It’s surely the first time “deforestation” has ever been mentioned in Ken’s Cafe. But it impresses my green missus. The two blokes on the table next to us are discussing carbon footprints and how it’s deforestation that is the real contributor to climate change.

“See I told you it was a ferment of intellectual debate in Ken’s before home games…” Blimey. There are geezers here who’ve seen The Age of Stupid without thinking it’s a movie about West Ham.

Our daughters Lola and Nell tuck into eggs chips and beans with salt and ketchup and white bread, while Nicola dreams of pumpkin seed salad. Nicola is berated by Carol for not buying her programme at the counter while I’m loudly denounced a “cheapskate” after asking for tap water to fill up our water bottle. I try to argue that we are saving plastic and carbon by refusing to buy bottled water, but Carol remains unconvinced.

Big Joe arrives in his tweed racing jacket, TV star Phill Jupitus pops in and Michelle, sister of Steve Rapport (ex North Bank Norman) discusses his progress with his San Francisco eco-home. By the end of lunch I’ve convinced Nicola that Ken’s is the hottest literary salon in London, the haunt of the modern Bloomsbury Set. Apart from when we play Millwall.

In the first half we play quite well. The passing is lively and we take a deserved lead when Faubert is hacked down by Hangerland. Diamanti whips in a wicked free kick and Carlton Cole outjumps the huge Hangerland to head into the top corner.

Tomkins then misses the target with a free header from Diamanti’s corner and Hines curls a shot just wide. Johnson pulls his shot wide when through for Fulham, but we appear to be in control after Dikgacoi is sent off for an off-the-ball bout of slapping and handbags with Scott Parker. Even West Ham will beat ten men, won’t they?

Maybe it’s the throaty-voiced US wrestler they bring on at half time to do some whooping for the Hammers that upsets the lads. We’re 30 seconds into the second half when Upson wrestles Kamara to the ground in the box and it’s a penalty for Fulham. Murphy scores and the scattered outpost of Fulham fans begin to sing “We’re by the far the greatest team the world has ever seen!” Which isn’t strictly true.

Our belief goes and simple passes go astray. Ten minute later Green flaps at a Fulham corner and misses, leaving Gera to prod home. There’s only one ‘F’ in Fulham.

Upson is looking unfit after his layoff as he fluffs a couple more challenges, while Ilunga looks like he’s carrying an injury too and is failing to overlap with his customary verve. Noble is jaded, Jiminez peripheral, Hines has disappeared and Diamanti tries too many tricks. Fulham appear to be playing against ten men.

“Fulham are poopsicles!” chants eight-year-old Nell. Her mum tries to convince her to adopt a more sporting outlook. Although in her defence, Fulham clearly are poopsicles.

Nell is hiding her head inside her hood and 11-year-old Lola asks “Why do they always attack from the wrong place” as we pump high balls towards towering defenders, always try one pass too many and never get to the byline.

Lisa, the vicar’s daughter in Matt’s seat is tempted to start swearing. Fraser maintains a Zen-like detachment through chanting an internal mantra of TV and Satellite Week listings.

“There’s too much passing… It’s too technical and not enough emotion,” suggests Nicola. “And why do they never attack on the left?” Sure enough Zola agrees with her and brings on Stanislas on the left and Behrami to beef up the midfield.

The changes make a difference. Behrami gives us some energy in midfield while Junior Stanislas is an outlet on the left and isn’t scared to shoot.

“If we could clone 11 Behramis we’d be fine,” suggests Lisa.

But it seems inevitable we’re going to lose as the part-timers head for the tube. I tell the kids to have faith, it’s never over until the fat bloke leaves, and others things I don’t really believe.

Four minutes of injury time. Come on you Irons! Stanislas shoots on the left, the ball takes a crazy deflection and veers into the net. Yes! It’s 2-2, but being West Ham we contrive to nearly ruin my kids' Academy day out again. Green rushes several acres out of his goal, loses the ball and loss the ball to Eddie Johnson, who looks certain to score, but ably held up by Upson before prodding lamely wide. Phew.

“Why was Robert Green trying to play on the pitch?” asks a bemused Nell.

At least we haven’t lost. We’ve played rubbish in the second half, but it’s the sort of game we’d have lost in the Roeder relegation season. I still think we’ll be OK if we keep the team together as the fixtures in the second half of the season are much kinder. Although on this evidence it’s starting to get worrying…


Pete May said...

Mike leaves a doomsday scenario via email:

Somebody putting tranquilizers in the team tea ? Slow motion match. Don't think the new 'buys' are going to make much difference to performance either. Can't see Green, Upson, Parker sticking
around at this rate.

Ultimate horror scenario: Zola sacked by December, David Gold buys in and brings back Curbishley for new year relegation fight. Anybody agree with this possibility ?

steve said...

Still am North Bank Norman, mate! You can find me twittering away about West Ham and the San Francisco Giants @NorthBankNorman.

Oh, and here's Zola's half time team talk:
"I'm bored. Whaddya say we make this interesting? Matty? You with me?"

Pete May said...

North Bank Norman lives! And we need him at Upton Park along with the other twitterers in our defence...

Yes, routine home wins are very passe, four goal thrillers much better. Shame Green ruined it by giving the ball to a rubbish Fulham striker though when were were trying really hard to lose 3-2!