Monday, November 30

It's just like watching West Ham (in the sixties)

West Ham 5 Burnley 3

Matt reveals his conspiracy theory, as we sit in the unusually busy Ken’s Cafe. Upson and Behrami are going to be sold as they are both apparently injured for today’s match. Although that presumably means Ashton and Boa Morte are on their way to Man City too and that JFK was shot by Ronnie Boyce from the halfway line…

It’s catching. Mike claims that Robert Green is definitely going and we’ve signed a replacement. While North Bank Norman’s old mate Matt says he’s seen David Gold’s motor in the car park with the subtle number plate of “GOLD 1” and that he and David Sullivan must be preparing a bid.

And this one is really unlikely. Nigel says there’s no sleep til Hammersmith as he’s going to see Motorhead, the Damned and Girlschool later. He gets his fry-up at 2.50pm, Gav helps with the chips and it’s a late dash to the match.

Noble is injured and on the bench, Kovac and Stanislas come in to midfield and Gabbidon replaces Upson. This is one game we have to win, against notoriously poor travellers.

Burnley start quite well, knocking the ball about confidently, and Carlisle has an early header cleared off the line by Parker. Collison crosses and Franco hits the bar with a great header, and then has another header into the roof of the netting.

Parker is fouled and plays a quick free kick into the path of Collison, who is onside, and strolling through deserted Clarets’ rearguard. Jack coolly slots home. One-nil in our cup final.

“Just as long as we don’t get a second we’ll be fine,” I tell the lads, “and as long they don’t go down to ten men.”

It gets better. Franco, now looking a great signing, controls the ball fairly, despite Burnley claims for handball, and plays in Stanislas who shoots at Jensen’s legs. But he still has time to gather the rebound and shoot past the corpulent custodian. There’s hysteria in the East Stand and the bloke behind me falls over his seat into our row, such is the excitement. Burnley’s defence is starting to look leakier than a nautical craft imagined by Edward Lear.

“We could get a hatful here!” I exclaim and am instantly told to shut up by a mortified Nigel. Kovac plays a great ball through to Spector and the marauding full back races into the area, turns inside and is felled for a clear penalty. Carlton Cole recovers from an injury a few minutes previously to stroke home the penalty.

“Remember Wimbledon and West Brom?” counsels Matt. Although it has to be said a clean sheet at half-time has even a seasoned Hammers watcher doubting our ability to blow this one.

CQ sends Nigel a text saying “stay pessimistic”. But it’s hard, because we score a forth after the break. Stanislas takes a free kick from the right and Franco heads home, running to the Bobby Moore Stand exclaiming Scottish epithets (well the programme has revealed his Scottish ancestry).

Zola then makes a bizarre substitution, taking off Franco and bringing on Jiminez, leaving us devoid of a focus up front for the final 30 minutes. It seems to pay off when Jiminez is brought down by Jensen and the Chilean himself knocks in our second penalty. 5-0 in our cup final! “You’re just a small team from Blackburn!” chants the Bobby Moore Stand.

What spin will Alistair Campbell put on this? Will we get nine like Spurs? As if to punish us for thinking such things, Eagles starts to roast Spector on the left, and crosses for Fletcher to sneak past a statuesque defence to tap home.

Nigel suggests that Charlton once lost a five goal lead in the 1950s.

“We’re going to win 6-5!” chant the Burnley fans. We stop running. Eagles crosses from the left again and Fletcher nips behind Da Costa to score again, as Green stamps his feet in frustration.

We’ve grown bored of throwing two goal leads away and are now trying to lose a five goal lead. Hines can’t hold the ball up alone up front and we’re showing an utter lack of professionalism. Are the lads, like Nigel, distracted by the prospect of watching middle-aged rock chicks Girlschool later tonight?

A free kick from Eagles then clips Green’s post. “We need to take it in the corners,” I suggest, no longer joking. “Blow your bloody whistle ref. It’s worse than the Cup Final…”

In a rare attack substitute Faubert finds Hines who outspeeds the ponderous Caldwell. The defender hauls him back and is red carded. Oh no, now we’re playing ten men… definitely lost it now.

It's a relief that Caldwell's dismissal wastes some time. Stanislas blasts the resulting free kick into the wall. Deep into added time Tyrone Mears crosses for Eagles to score a third. Unbelievable.

The whistle blows and we’ve somehow managed to make the fans feel bad after scoring five goals at home. Jeremy Nicholas plays Twist and Shout but we feel more in need of a pacemaker.

“It was just like watching Ron Greenwood’s side in the sixties,” says Fraser as we walk to the Central. “I saw a 5-5 draw once.”

We’ll take the points, but this season we’ve less chance of keeping a clean sheet than Russell Brand and Katy Perry. On the positive front Parker had a fantastic game and Franco scored again, while we’re scoring (and conceding) from every position. At least we can’t complain about the entertainment value… but best not to think what Rooney might do to our defence next week.


matt said...

As the legendary John Lyall said after we won 5-3 at Burnley in 1974"What do you want, 0-0 draws?"

On the conspiracy theory front, Behrami apparently needs another operation and will be out for a few more weeks. Hmmmm.

And Upson won't be available any time soon either.

Just saying....

Pete May said...

And it looks like the CIA might have taken out Carlton too... the Sun reckons he could need surgery and might miss the rest of the season with knee ligament trouble. Although other rumours say it's just till Xmas he'll be out.

Can't see a team moving in for Behrami if he's still injured in January (we're the only side that buys injured players).

Matt said...

I understand Carlton was shot from a grassy knoll, somewhere in the old Chicken Run. I was going to discount the single gun theory - but then I remembered West Ham often have just a single shot in games. Meanwhile I am begining to suspect that Kovac is a KGB plant, working to sabotage us from within. Does anyone know Woodward & Bernstein's pnone number?

Pete May said...

Yes, Kovac is indeed the third man. And Intelligence suggests West Ham are capable of launching a lethal attack within 45 minutes…