Tuesday, November 29

It's grin up north

Middlesbrough 0 West Ham 2

Caught the second half commentary live on BBC London and good to hear the 1,200 Hammers fans singing throughout. We seemed to be in control for most the game and sub Carlton Cole sealed it in the fourth minute of extra time rounding the keeper after a mistake by Bates.

A lively start and a five-man midfield helped achieve a very impressive win over the previously unbeaten Boro. The radio said Faubert had another impressive game too. Shame Southampton had to win but we're now six points clear of third place on 40 points. A great result among the smog monsters. Irons!

Stop the game now!

It's half-time at the Riverside. We're 1-0 up at Boro and Southampton are losing at home, which would leave us top. What could possibly go wrong? Well, everything knowing West Ham.

Just looked at our scorers list and noted that 14 different players have scored for WHU this season, plus two own goals, which is encouraging. Freddie Piquionne has bagged his second of the season and appears to have regained his confidence and Demel is playing at last. Stand by for a nervous 45 minutes...

Sunday, November 27

We need to talk about Kevin's goal

West Ham 3 Derby County 1

To eat or not to eat? My daughters have free Academy member tickets for the game, so we solve the iffy kick-off time eating dilemma by purchasing two plates of chips, some bread and butter and a cheeseburger from Ken’s Cafe. Nigel, Matt and Big Joe are all there, as we learn that Southampton have lost. Nigel has just knocked off his 91st league ground and claims that “only a nuclear holocaust” will prevent him visiting Barnsley on April 7 and completing his set of all 92.

Inside Upton Park, after a bright start West Ham’s progress is hampered when the lively Baldock goes off with an injured hamstring, to be replaced by Piquionne after 20 minutes.

Our first real shot comes after 30 minutes when Fielding fails to hold Collison’s shot and Faubert just fails to get to the rebound. But Derby take the lead on 34 minutes. Ward dispossesses Collison on the half way line and the ball is played through to Priskin, The otherwise excellent Tomkins loses his man and the on-loan striker finishes crisply. 

Ten-year-old Nell contents herself by writing “stinky Derby” in her programme.

We’re wondering what the anonymous Nolan is doing as WHU continue to struggle, though the skipper does come to life to produce a low cross. Matt says his mate, who’s a Bolton fan, says he “a real Match of the Day player” player who will always make the highlights but not have done much else.

Thankfully we look livened up by the goal and when a free kick is cleared O’Brien crosses first time and Carlton Cole gets a good head on it to send the ball past a despairing defender on the line.

Half-time is spent eating isotonic Jaffa Cakes. We’re a different team in the second half as we revert to 4-3-3. Faubert plays Piquionne through with a great ball. Freddie shows great control to cushion it and shoot but Fielding makes a fine stop. The floodlights help as the crowd get behind the team with Bubbles and the Claret and Blue Army chant.

Mystic Morris and Mystic Matt are just saying what does Nolan contribute and why does he never shoot first-time as Collison lobs the ball back to him on the edge of the box. Nolan waits for the ball to drop and strikes an exquisite volley into the bottom corner. Guess that’s what we bought him for. It’s a great goal, his fifth of the season, and will hopefully increase Nolan’s confidence in home games.

We start to really dominate and play some good football on the ground. Lola looks up from her copy of Harry Potter to observe a series of corners. Faubert wins the ball on the half way line plays the ball into Collison whose first time ball releases Piquionne only for the striker to be pulled down at the edge of the box. Penalty. Mark Noble does the rest.

It’s good to see Piquionne gaining in belief too and he nearly scores a fourth when his header is cleared off the line.

Derby have long since gone home. For the five minutes of stoppage time we play keep-ball to cries of “Ole!” from the crowd. Makes a change from the normal anxiety. Gustave Faubert even gets Man of the Match instead of Scott Parker. We’re now two points behind Southampton.

“Couldn’t we always play in the Championship?” asks 13-year-old Lola, still shocked by witnessing three home wins this season.

Big Sam has clearly been irked by some the criticism he's received this season. He uses the win to tell the BBC that West Ham  played some fine football to nail "all this Allardyce long ball rubbish” and give "a proper performance getting the ball down and playing as we have done all season".

As the Newham Bookshop is shut at this late hour we retreat to Westfield and W H Smith where Lola gets Startled by His Furry Shorts by Louise Rennison to celebrate. This might be tempting fate terribly, but if we win at Middlesbrough and Saints lose on Tuesday we could go top… 

Saturday, November 26

Where's our 3pm kick-off gone?

Taking my daughters to the game today, but how do I do I feed them bearing in mind that that dodgy 5.20pm kick-off? They'll be starving by the end of the match at 7.20pm. Is it just a toasted cheese sandwich in Ken's Cafe at 4.30 or try to force a full meal down them? Is it best to resort to Jaffa Cakes at half-time? I'm trying out more new systems than Big Sam. TV has a lot to answer for.

Friday, November 25

Blatter on a platter

Latest t-shirt from the excellent Philosophy Football is this Let's Kick Kick Blatter Out of Football offering. Click on the link for details...

Wednesday, November 23

Is Paolo Di Canio's West Ham shirt no longer like a second skin?

It seems Swindon might be replacing WHU in the heart of one Paolo Di Canio. PDC's latest quote is:"With West Ham I have a special relationship. I have a tattoo of them. But Swindon are my first club. I am completely dedicated to this club. Maybe at the end of the season I will extend the tattoos on my body and get a Swindon one if we win the league. West Ham was my second home but in the last six months I've had the same feeling here and I hope this story can keep going. I hope one day that I can go back to Italy and think about Swindon as my second team."
As my pal Lisa says: "What tattoo would you get to represent Swindon? A giant roundabout?"

Julien Julien Julien....

Is Julien 'Gustave' Faubert now one of our key players? It's interesting that Faubert has now made 99 appearances for WHU, leaving him as our fourth most senior pro, behind Cole, Noble and Green.

The great French novelist come utility man certainly looks a better player this season, after being alienated by Grant. In the summer he looked certain to go with the rest of the dead wood. But he scored against Leicester and made another goal on Saturday with a cross for the winner and looks much happier under Big Sam, who preferred him to O'Brien at right-back. You could say he's no longer as sick as Faubert's Parrot.

Can't see that he was ever worth £6 million, but could Julien, at the age of 28, finally be starting to play to his potential?

Sunday, November 20

The ball came over and Fred fell over...

Coventry City 1 West Ham 2

Her Indoors has left me with the kids and I’m in a heaving Westfield exploring Chip and Fish and the Build-a-Bear shop as Matt’s texts come through from Coventry, somewhere by a car park and roundabout in the Midlands. Matt is on a hot date with WAG Lisa in his version of Sugar Hut, the Ricoh Stadium (not to mention previous romantic weekends at Doncaster, Wigan and Bolton).

We’re a goal down at half-time and Matt’s verdict is: “Worst 45 minutes I have seen this this season. Surely we must improve. Lucky Dukla Praha away shirt facing retirement.”

When we turn it round to win 2-1, my text back reads “Best second half of the season?”

He responds: “Luckiest. Piq’s goal was just bizarre and after taking lead we let them back into it.”

Mike texts similar sentiments: “Worrying game yesterday, but a couple of deflections and some reasonable defending saved the day.”

Still, it’s another good result, even if Coventry are second from bottom It could be worse than supporting the second-placed team. My pal Martin, a Coventry supporter texts, “Every bloody time.”

The Football League Show reveals that our admirable 6,500 away crew shame the sparse home crowd. We go a goal down as Collison lets a weak cross come in that rolls gently across our area before Platt turns sharply to score.

In the second half Big Sam brings on Carlton for Carew and Piquionne for Diop. It works with two goals in six minutes. From Green’s goal kick Cole wins the ball and the Coventry defence parts as if they're St Paul’s clergy confronted by a difficult decision. Carlton blasts home his fifth goal of the season via a deflection.

Then Gustave Faubert lobs over a high ball that a City defender bizarrely heads at Freddie Piquionne’s knee and the ball somehow deflects over the line. It’s the luckiest WHU goal since David Kelly scored against Derby when Peter Shilton punched the ball on to the back of his head. After a sending off and a red card for fly tipping in Essex, maybe this goal will turn the season round for Freddie.

We should make it three when Noble finds Freddie Piq, he plays in Noble who scuffs it to Collison who blazes high and wide from six yards out.

A scrappy win but some bold substitutions by Sam and part of the art of promotion is winning when you play badly. One away defeat all season is some record so far.

Friday, November 18


More hacking than Julian Dicks in his prime.
At the start of Karren Brady's court case a High Court judge has confirmed that, "At the height of the dispute about the Olympic Stadium Ms Brady's phone records were unlawfully obtained by subterfuge." He said they found their way to PKF, a firm of accountants engaged by Tottenham. The judge was told Spurs were given copies of the records, though Spurs denied that anyone at the club had received them.
Fire up the Quattro!

Sunday, November 13

Grounds for concern?

Will we move to the Olympic Stadium? Last week The Standard revealed that the athletics track will have a guaranteed 100-year-lease and that home matches would have to be moved if an international athletics tournament clashed with the football season. Now David Gold has told TalkSport of his doubts, saying:
"I have mixed feelings. The Olympic Stadium is very exciting, but we need a consultancy procedure with our fans, that is important. I am ruling out developing the Boleyn, that would be pouring money down the drain. But what we can't do is nothing. West Ham have been at the Boleyn for over 100 years. I believe we are the eighth largest supported club in the country, and yet we perform more like the 20th biggest, and that's because we are at the Boleyn. So we have to change that. The obvious change that everyone is looking at is the Olympic Stadium. But there is a doubt, there are issues unresolved."

Not sure why he blames the Boleyn for our ills, we could still redevelop it to a 40,000 plus stadium by rebuilding the East Stand. But the alternative, the Olympic Stadium is far from a done deal.

Super Scotty Parker

Watching Scotty Parker play so well for England against Spain, and hearing Spurs' fans endlessly eulogising the man who has inspired their surge up the table, you ask yourself one question. How did we ever manage to get relegated with Parker in the side?  Quite an achievement by Avram Grant and the other ten players.

Admittedly Scotty missed the crucial final games, but even so, a player of his class should have guaranteed a mid-table finish. At £5.5 million he looks one of Harry's best ever signings - which might cheer up the Spurs gaffer as he contemplates his coming date with the Inland Revenue in court.

Wednesday, November 9

West Ham meets Life on Mars

Extraordinary developments in the stadium battle. A 29-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of fraud after complaints by West Ham and the Olympic Park Legacy Company.

The arrest occurred hours after the OPLC chair, Baroness Ford, had claimed at a London Assembly committee that Spurs chairman, Daniel Levy, had put all 14 members of her board "under surveillance". A Sunday Times article in August had claimed that an OPLC member had moonlighted for West Ham. The OPLC and West Ham then complained to police about possible phone and bank account hacking by private investigators.

Meanwhile Spurs issued a statement denying everything, reading: "The club did not undertake, instruct or engage any party to conduct surveillance on any member of the OPLC committee and we consider the making of this baseless accusation to be wholly inappropriate and irresponsible. We totally reject the allegation in the strongest possible terms."

Well done to Karren Brady, Sullivan and Gold for fighting back. Sounds like a case for Gene Hunt to me.

Monday, November 7

Where's your famous IVF?

Interesting story in the Mail on Sunday. One of Britain's oldest IVF (no, that's not an offshoot of the ICF) mothers Susan Tollefsen from Laindon, aged  61, has dumped her "toyboy" partner Nick Mayer, 50,  over his love for West Ham. Their IVF child Freya is now three-years-old.

"Every Saturday he wanted to go and watch them, either home or away, and some weekdays. I felt as if he didn’t want his life to change at all after Freya came along, even though mine had changed completely. I felt as if my whole world revolved round Freya and yet Nick was passionate about West Ham. I felt there was four of us in this family – me, Freya, Nick and the Hammers," she told the MoS.

You have to have some sympathy for Mr  Mayer. They keep you all up night, take over your life and cause uncontrollable mood swings and strange hormonal surges. And kids are pretty demanding too.

Sunday, November 6

Hull is for heroes

Hull City 0 West Ham 2

Another great result on the road. Looking at The Football League Show highlights, Hull kept going right to the finish and Robert Green had a fantastic game, producing a string of fine saves. But we took our chances expertly; Baldock showed sharp reactions to turn in Cole's header from a Hammers' corner after the break and a few minutes later influential substitute Carlton Cole found Collison with a great through ball and Jack did the rest.

Best moment was Green parrying the ball after a one-on-one with Matty Fryatt and Abdoulaye Faye rushing back to clear before going mental, as they say in Educating Essex, at the rest of the defence. We haven't had an organiser at the back for many a season. Baldock now has 11 goals this season if we include six for MK Dons and is starting to justify a £2 million investment, while we look better with Collison back in the side. And a nice chant of "Is there a fire drill?" from the 2,900 Hammers fans at the end too.

Say what you like about Allardyce, but we're no longer a soft touch away from  home.

Saturday, November 5

We want Pottsy on the pitch...

Nice to see Danny Potts, sone of Steve, on the bench against Hull City. Let's hope he shares the goalscoring prowess of his dad against Hull. Whenever Pottsy scored we always got seven...

Friday, November 4

Cold comfort

Wouldn't a cold lager in the Black Lion do the same job? The club website reports:

West Ham United's players are embracing the use of cryotherapy - cold therapy - to help them to recover quickly from the strains of a 46-game npower Championship season.
On Wednesday, a number of players visited the cryotherapy chamber as an alternative to jumping in an ice bath, spending three minutes at temperatures of minus 120C (minus 184F) to aid recovery in their muscles following Tuesday's draw with Bristol City.

Wednesday, November 2

The Only Way Isn't West Ham...

West Ham 0 Bristol City 0

In honour of Julien Faubert deciding he’s staying Nigel has told CQ it’s going to be a cricket score. In Ken’s Cafe Don P is discussing how to press olive oil in Italy (surely Ken's should feature in Jamie's Great Britain?) and Big Joe appears for a few minutes before heading off to the executive egg, chips and beans.

It’s down to myself, Nigel and Mike in the East Stand tonight as Matt’s at the Union Chapel watching some indie band, while Fraser arrives at half-time after a dash from a crime-show in Liverpool, but they’ll only let him in the Bobby Moore Stand. He later wishes they hadn’t.

Though after my strange omission in the Leicester report, Nigel is very keen for readers to know that Swindon Town is the only team in the League not to have any letters from the word ‘mackerel’ in its name.

Freddie Sears looks our liveliest player and may have found his best position floating behind the forwards. After 16 minutes he hits the post with a fine curling effort from the edge of the box.

Freddie Piquionne heads straight at James from Faubert’s cross but while looking the better side we don’t really create that much. City have a couple of efforts just wide and over the top on the break before half-time.

The most exciting moment is when Harry Durbidge and Amy Childs from The Only Way Is Essex appear on the pitch at half-time, only we’re in the bowels of the East Stand and miss it. It’s possible Amy believes Bristol City is a new cosmetic surgery salon in Brentwood. Harry is wearing an “I only kiss West Ham fans” t-shirt. Though Big Sam probably thinks “Shu’ up!” is Harry’s plan to see the game out.

In the second half Nolan shots too close to the keeper, Sears has a chip saved and Piquionne plants a header wide where Carew might have scored.

Amdy Faye, on for the injured Reid, makes a fantastic block after Green spills a shot and the ball rebounds to a City striker who looks certain to score.

Noble has a poor game, Nolan doesn’t contribute much either and we look strangely jaded for a side that has only played 15 games. Sam makes a strange substitution bringing on Cole for Baldock, presumably to test City’s defence with two big men, and replaces Sears with Diop. Freddie is perhaps a little tired after trick or treating the previous night.

We miss the creativity of Taylor, Collison and Lansbury and end up just lumping high balls into the box that City clear easily. Cole has a turn and blaze over the bar and that’s about it.

The only encouraging thing is that we take a point when last season we might have lost this banana-skin game. Three games in eight days appear too much for this squad. We still desperately need a playmaker that can create and beat players.

At least we’re away on Saturday. After a couple of drinks in The Central with The Gav, fresh from an evening with Brian Dear, Ronnie Boyce and Billy Jennings in Romford, we return past the players’ car park and see Harry from TOWIE leaving with a child on his shoulders and surrounded by autograph hunters.

Could Harry be the solution to our injury crisis? The lad’s only 17, wonder if he can play a decent through ball… Shu’ up!