Sunday, November 14

Do I not like orange

West Ham 0 Blackpool 0

Should you use your children as hostages to footballing misfortune? Lola (20 games, won 11, drawn 7, lost 2) and Nell (13 games, won 6, drawn 6, lost 1), have impressive records at Upton Park. Taking them worked for the Wigan game last season, so why not today… even though Nell has returned from a sleepover at the Science Museum. Things are desperate.

After luncheon in Kenneth’s CafĂ© we leave the home of salt, vinegar and ketchup for the Newham Bookshop. Not only is Penguin’s Tony Lacey perusing his literary salon of choice, there’s also Danny Dyer.

“Where’s your famous Danny Dyer?” sang the Man United fans last season. Well, he’s here in the Newham Bookshop. Fans were queuing from 8am for his signing session and Vivian has sold 110 books. As the girls browse the children’s books we hear Danny imparting nuggets of geezerdom, but thankfully no dodgy agony uncle advice. Then it’s on to the stadium.

Good news is that Mark Noble makes a shock return 11 days after having his appendix out. Kieron Dyer starts after playing 90 minutes against WBA, but surprisingly enough, has to go off after 15 minutes with a dodgy hamstring, and is replaced by Pablo Barrera.

Barrera makes a speedy impact, having a penalty claim turned down. He shoots wide when well placed and has one shot blocked for a corner, even though the ref says it’s a goal kick.

Obinna volleys for goal after Barrera’s back header and the ball is blocked by a defender’s hand. The ref ignores our claims and is regaled with a chorus of “The referee’s a wanker!”

Vaughan shoots wide for Blackpool and Green makes a decent save by his post.

We’re at least trying to play some football, but we need a win. The second half begins with Kingston on in goal for Blackpool and Charlie Adam nearly catching Green off his line with a shot from just inside our half.

Phillips comes on for Pool and causes big problems for Ilunga on the right. The Tangerines look increasingly confident. Sub Marlon Harwood receives a great reception from the home crowd and scores from Vaughan’s blocked volley, only to be wrongly ruled offside.

We have a good spell after Grant belatedly brings on Cole to test the new keeper — why wait so long Avram?

Superman Scotty Parker crosses for Barrera to shoot weakly at the keeper and then Obinna finds Barrera on the left and a decent cross is knocked on to the inside of the post by Cole.

“We’re struggling to score against a side who were favourites for relegation from the Championship last season,” sighs Nigel, shaking his head with the air of a man who’s just been asked to dance by Anne Widdecombe.

Then it’s a wall of orange. Harewood breaks swiftly and from Phillips’ cross Taylor-Fletcher misses from seven yards.

Nell and Lola try to whip up some sustained kinetic energy by banging their hands together and eating wine gums.

Kingston produces a fantastic tip away from Noble’s clever chip. Green palms away a corner and the ball is then blocked on our line. It’s a really entertaining goalless draw but we need sodding three points in our must-win game.

“This is the best trip I’ve ever been on!” sing the Blackpool fans.

“And this is worst trip I’ve ever been on,” I suggest.

There’s still time for Harewood to miss from three yards. Feed the Hare and he will miss. And for Barrera to try and shoot when he should pass to the unmarked Cole, and Nell to take 20p for the swear box when she hears her dad say “bloody”.

“It s amazing you held out this long,” says Matt.

It's our first game against Blackpool since 1971 and it seems it will take us another 39 years to score against them. We only need four points from the trip to Liverpool to meet Sullivan’s target of seven points from four games.

Not even a trip to the Who shop afterwards and the purchase of a rather nice pen with the Seal of Rassillon on it can alleviate the disappointment.

On the tube home I ask Nell what West Ham need to do to win a match.

“The West Ham players need to go to bed earlier,” she suggests.

Yes, that could be it. Our players have been doing too many sleepovers.

No comments: