Tuesday, February 22

Der Hammering!

West Ham 5 Burnley 1 (FA Cup)

In Ken’s Café Carol sits down to bemoan to Jo not only the loss of her match day customers, but Newham Council loaning £40 million to West Ham. This she repeats is when they’re closing four care homes and Carol’s daughter who is a midwife has just three midwives coping with 25 births.

Our move, despite the commercial logic of better transport links to Essex and increased capacity, is going to cause a lot of pain in the local community. Karren Brady should surely offer Ken’s whatever it takes to relocate to Stratford - like the stadium franchise and a burger bar in the Velodrome.

Inside the stadium we’re down to Fraser, Nigel and Nigel’s Burnley-supporting pal Dave as part-timer Matt is in Istanbul, having seen Galatasary play and survived. He’s now sampling the local culture in the North Shields pub. “Rene and Renato on juke box and Iain Dowie on the TV — it’s getting ugly here…” he texts.

Burnley have marginally the better of the early exchanges with Green pulling off a couple of good saves. But thankfully we have Mystic Morris at hand.

“Hitzlsperger hasn’t really done much yet,” he suggests, moment before Super Tomas steps around Cork to fire in a 25-yard screamer over the top of Grant.

The keeper should have done better but is beaten by sheer power.

“West Ham’s goal was scored by Tomas ‘Der Hammer’ Hitzlsperger!” hollers Der Announcer Jeremy Nicholas.

It’s been a long time since we’ve had a midfielder who could shoot from distance.

“Where was I when Hitz scored?’ comes the pre-emptive text from Matt.

It’s one-nil at half-time and amazingly we improve after the break. After 48 minutes Noble plays through Carlton Cole, whose poor touch allows the ball to squirm away towards the Burnley keeper, only to doggedly prod home the rebound. Nothing wrong with it apart from the offside and possible handball. But they all count and Carlton is now our top scorer.

“Game of the season,” I text to Matt.

“We are watching you know,” comes his reply,

Two minutes later Noble again plays in Carlton, who controls the ball well and fluently curls the ball into the corner. Nothing wrong with that one.

“We could do quite well in the Championship,” I suggest.

Nigel’s pal Dave leaves the ground having seen enough. Doesn’t he know that at 5-0 we start to wobble against Burnley? Our fans find their voice and even produce a Demba Ba chant to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

It gets better. Winston Reid, who has make a couple of good blocks while looking generally shaky, rises well to head home the Hitz Man’s corner.

Matt has now missed two historic WHU moments.

Being West Ham we then concede a comedy goal. Bridge makes an ill-advised back pass to Green. The keeper boots the ball at Tyrone Mears. The ball rebounds to Rodriguez who heads home.

We’re taking it easy, having taken off Hitzlsperger, Ba and Cole for Barrera, Spector and Piquionne.

Barrera makes a mazy up the line and back again fooling both sets of players. Then he breaks through and chips hopelessly across goal.

In stoppage time Specs finds 13-year-old Freddie Sears in the box who scores with a fine finish. Our biggest score since, well, the last time we played Burnley. And for once the only Grant getting hammered at Upton Park is Burnley custodian Lee Grant.

We’re away to Stoke and they’ll be dancing in the streets of Istanbul.

“Bet we lose to Liverpool now!” suggests the glass-half empty Nigel.

Still, at least the club must be making some money out if it. Even if we lose at Stoke we’ll have played ten cup games this season.

And if we beat Stoke we play at Wembley in the semis…

Next up Liverpool on Sunday. Kenny Dalglish has been out of the game for ten years — he won’t have experienced anything like Carlton, Winston and Freddie. Now all we have do is convince the lads that the Liverpool game is a cup tie.

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