Thursday, April 18

Part-time Van Persie saves United

West Ham 2 Manchester United 2

In Ken’s Café Nigel, CQ, Matt and Michael the Whovian are loitering by the counter with cups of tea while even DC makes a fleeting 30-second appearance. Nigel suggests that the Man United fans will have a special Thatcher tribute of 90-minutes silence. Nigel’s feeling positive as he met Deep Purple’s drummer Ian Paice at the Joe Bonamassa gig. Paicey bought his own drink at the bar too.

Inside the stadium it’s a bright start from the Hammers with O’Neil making one great tackle, Carroll looking full of confidence and Demel making some positive runs down the right.

We take the lead on 16 minutes as Diame finds Jarvis on the left. The winger gets in a fine cross that is knocked down by Andy Carroll for Vaz Te to stoop to head home. Michael the Whovian says he never doubted Vaz.

“Sold in the summer… You’re getting sold in the summer!” chant the Hammers fan as Rooney fluffs a chance.

Collins is having another great match alongside Winston Reid. United keep calm, but don’t really threaten until the 31st minute when Van Persie nutmegs Collins and finds the Kagawa who eludes Reid and gets to the goalline to pull back for Valencia to tap home. Oh dear.

Just before half-time West Ham force a corner, Carroll launches himself at the ball but clatters De Gea instead. Ferguson later whinges on and on about this, but looking at the replays it should probably have been a yellow card rather than red. And it makes up for the fact Vidic inexplicably escaped dismissal at Upton Park two seasons ago.

The teams leave the pitch to the sound of Walls Come Tumbling Down by the Style Council. Is this an omen? West Ham start the second half to some purpose, with Carroll flashing a fine volley just over the bar. Ten minutes into the half we take the lead with a fantastic goal. Vaz Te backheels to Demel who finds Diame on the right side of the box. He eludes Rooney and thumps home a fabulous curling shot into the corner.

It’s a cracking atmosphere as Bubbles wafts over the stands. But have West Ham scored too early? We never feel less confident than being a goal up with half an hour to go.

Predictably United come at us. O’Neil has to clear off the line from Rooney and Jussi makes a couple of fine saves, one of which was offside anyway.

On 77 minutes Kagawa fires against both posts and just as we’re thinking the luck is with us, Van Persie taps home the rebound, from what TV replays later prove is an offside position, though to be fair to the referee’s assistant it was very difficult to spot in real-time. Even if we was robbed.

Matt has to leave early to work the night shift at the typeface, Bruce Springsteen-style, and pleads for no texts winding him up saying we’ve won with a last-minute screamer. The returning Noble comes on for O’Neil and Taylor for Diame.

“Sir Alex Ferguson has indicated there will be four minutes of Ferguson time…” Nigel counts down the clock as Matt Taylor suddenly breaks and briefly threatens to bust the net in the style of Geoff Hurst in 1966. But instead he balloons it into the Bobby Moore Stand.

Thankfully there’s no Gareth Bale moment as we hold on for a deserved point from an entertaining tussle. Inside the Central, Al Jazeera TV features Deadly Don Hutchison, Alan Curbishley, Leroy Rosenoir and Man United fan Donny from South Africa, who is one of their more local supporters.

There’s a surreal tube journey home as the conversation turns to the new series of Mad Men, inspired by the fact Fraser has come dressed as Roger Sterling. High Court Judge Michael the Whovian claims to be unaware of the series. A fellow passenger then suggests to Michael that ‘solecism’ is the word he’s looking for as he discusses his trip to Orkney for the Jo Grimond tribute night. Not sure if Deep Purple’s drummer is going. Then the body of a West Ham fan appears between the two carriages. Has he done a Lane from Mad Men? No, turns out he’s urinating between carriages, while perched between them, as you do. Who knows what went on after I changed at Aldgate East?

Thirty nine points, eleventh place, and a point off the Champions in a game where we had them worried. Not a bad night’s work.

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