West Ham musings by Pete May, author of Hammers in the Heart, West Ham:Irons in the Soul, Flying So High:West Ham's Cup Finals and Goodbye to Boleyn
Saturday, January 11
How s••t must you be? We're winning abroad!
Cardiff City 0 West Ham 2
on to the 10.36 train to Cardiff, followed by a 40-minute walk down Ninian Park
Road to Cardiff’s new stadium. There’s a crowd gathered to watch the West Ham coach
arrive and I’m excited to see that He has risen – there’s the Biblically-bearded
Andy Carroll walking on tarmac and looking like an extra from The Life of Brian.
Gate 7 the steward asks me if I have any books in my bag and discovers a
hard-backed Redemption Song: Muhammad Ali
and the Spirit of the Sixties by Mike Marqusee. Despite such pugilistic
reading matter, he decides to let me take it in when I tell him it’s very good.
Inside the concourse I find Nigel and his cousin’s son Anthony, a Watford fan
from Brussels. We’re a couple of rows from the back and have fine views of the
endless electronic red adverts for Malaysia, which must be a small town in
is out and Collison and Taylor in, with Adrian keeping his place in goal and
the Irons playing two wingers. West Ham begin with some intent, actually
passing the ball around having abandoned the nullify-the-opposition-first
approach that has failed in most away games. After two minutes Downing’s cross
goes through the area and hits the post, with Tomkins forcing a Marshall save
from the rebound. We’re closing defenders down and the lads look like they’re
playing to save Sam Allardyce’s job. They’re doing everything that didn’t
happen at Manchester City and look hurt by the recent criticism.
fire in a dangerous cross and Johnson collides into Demel resulting in a long
stoppage, during which the West Ham fans serenade the home crowd with “You’re
shagging your livestock!’ to the tune of Seven Nation Army. Demel is
stretchered off with concussion, face and elbow injuries and spends the night
in hospital. It’s more terrible luck with injuries and we hope Guy makes a full
recovery, but in a way also a positive sign that the defenders are clattering
each other in an effort to clear the ball.
commitment is shown again as substitute McCartney races out to block Noone’s
goalbound shot. The defence looks much better with two specialist centre-backs
in Tomkins and Johnson, Collison is having a decent game in midfield, while
Mark Noble is excelling in front of the defence. Carlton Cole goes close as he
muscles the City defence away before falling over at the crucial moment.
ALWAYS BELIEVE IN CARLTON COLE
gets in some good crosses and on the half hour Cardiff nearly go ahead as Kim’s
shot deflects off Johnson and on to the bar with the ball bouncing on the line.
Adrian is then barged over the line, but the goal is correctly disallowed.
42 minutes we take the lead. Taylor dinks a fine ball over the Cardiff defence
to Jarvis, who sends in an inviting cross for Carlton Cole to lose his marker
and fire home. Cue pandemonium in the away end and a chant of “Always believe
in Carlton Cole!” Followed by: “How shit must you be, we’re winning abroad!” We
have a shot just past the post before the break and it’s a very satisfying
conclusion to the first half.
Hammers look lively at the start of the second half too, with Jarvis running
between the centrebacks and firing just wide. Cardiff come back into it and throw everything at the Irons. Substitute Craig Bellamy crosses for
Campbell to shoot and Adrian pulls off a brilliant reaction save. How tense is
this going to be?
survive a couple of penalty appeals, but the defence is blocking everything and
when Cardiff do get a shot they tend to fire straight into Adrian. Let’s praise
the maligned Roger Johnson too, who is winning some good headers and
interceptions. Jarvis and Downing are also offering attacking outlets and Noble
is brilliant at cleaning up and starting counter attacks.
ARE YOU JESUS IN DISGUISE?
biggest cheer of the afternoon comes on 72 minutes as Andy Carroll replaces
Carlton Cole, who gets an ovation from the Hammers fans. “Are you Jesus in
disguise?” chant the Hammers’ fans. It’s good to see him bouncing around the
pitch again in his white boots. Carroll wins his first header, but then
miscontrols a couple of times, looking a bit rusty as you might expect.
comes another disaster. Tomkins has already been booked for some silly arguing
with a linesman before going for a ball with Campbell. He misses the ball and
his boot accidentally catches Campbell in the face. It’s another yellow and
he’s off. Oh no, another plucky 2-1 defeat coming up. Diarra comes on and does
a decent job at centre back and even with ten men we still look threatening on
the break. Adrian still looks solid and now has his own chant of, erm, “Adrian,
puts a City header wide. We get a corner and Andy Carroll holds it up. Four
minutes of added time. Oh no. But here’s Andy Carroll on the right wing,
playing in Mark Noble with a finely weighted pass. Nobes is through the Cardiff
defence and fires into the corner. Allardyce is hugging Kevin Macdonald and Noble
disappears under a mass of white shirts.
men, we’ve only got ten men!” sings the Hammers’ end. The West Ham players hug
each other at the end like they’ve won a Cup Final and salute the
away fans. Adrian comes over and pumps his fists, looking like he might soon
become a cult figure. Andy Carroll hugs Mark Noble then treks off to preach the Gospel on the Barking Road.
a happy journey home for once and by Reading the West Ham fans have drunk the
bar dry on the Paddington train. At Paddington puzzled travellers on the
concourse are told that Carlton Cole is indestructible. Not over yet, but a big
Team ratings: Adrian 8; Demel 6
(McCartney 7), Johnson 7 Tomkins 6, Rat 6; Noble 9, Taylor 7; Downing 7,
Collison 7 (Diarra 6), Jarvis 7; C Cole 7 (Carroll 6)