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
Sunday, November 30
All's well that ends Cresswell
West Ham 1 Newcastle 0
In Ken’s Café Matt’s been on
the night shift and is being revived by cheesy chips. Michael the Whovian is
discussing Braintree trivia over fried bread, bacon and mushrooms, while Jo dispenses her wisdom about the daily papers. Nigel
arrives late for his takeaway tea, fresh from a Procul Harum gig.
Within the East Stand we take
a selfie for two Dutch fans from Delph, as Mark Noble receives massive applause
for breaking West Ham’s Premier League appearance record.
Strangely, Big Sam has
preferred Jarvis to Zarate. It’s a pretty dire first half. Perez twists past
Collins to fire wide after three minutes and later flicks a shot wide. Downing
has one tame shot saved and that’s it; neither goalkeeper is forced to make a
proper save. Nigel starts to turn a whiter shade of pale as Fraser, fresh from
his creative writing course, ponders on how to turn this dire material into a
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE LIKELY LAD?
“You’re not Geordie anymore!”
the away fans sing at Andy Carroll.
“Andy Carroll — he left ’cos
you’re shit!” suggest the Irons’ aficionados.
Tomkins makes one great
tackle and our back line looks solid but that’s about it. Carroll gets a couple
of decent flicks in, but Downing doesn’t look fully fit yet, Amalfitano has a
poor game and Jarvis fails to get crosses in as both sides cancel each other
out. We really miss Song in midfield and Valencia and Sakho running down the
channels. The most exciting event of the first half is the announcement that Mr
Moon is in the stadium.
At half-time we’re reduced to
talking about our holidays. Matt announces that he’s taking a trip to the
Galapagos Islands, as Nigel asks, “Do they play turtle football there?”
The second half begins with Cresswell
blazing wildly over from 30 yards as Downing and Carroll await a pass.
“What did he do that for?”
”It’s not as if he’s got any sort
of goalscoring record…” suggests Mystic May.
AARON IN THE SOUL
The game looks to be
meandering towards a goalless draw as Kouyate swipes at a shot from the edge of
the box on 56 minutes. He mishits the ball hopelessly, but it drifts through to
Aaron Cresswell, who has continued his run, and the left-back expertly pokes
past Elliot. The full-back peels away in front of the Bobby Moore Stand as the
ground (and Mr Moon) erupts in relief.
“Always said he’d come good,”
“Never in doubt!” I agree.
The half livens up. Newcastle
bring on Cisse and Cabella, only for Sissoko to be sent off for first kicking
the ball away and then kicking Andy Carroll. It’s always difficult to play
against ten men…
Zarate arrives after 70
minutes and holds the ball up well in the box only to be let down by a lack of
support. Then he fires in a stinging shot that Elliot does well to parry.
Collins and Tomkins stay
strong at the back as the Vicar’s Son gets very irate as we don’t sub a
visibly tiring Andy Carroll and our corners turn into Newcastle
Zarate almost breaks for the
third but is let down by a lack of pace. But we hold on to grind out a very
welcome three points. I forgo the Central to go on a Jack the Ripper Tour at
Aldgate with Her Indoors, and at times it’s been murder today. Not the sort of
good football we’ve been used to this season. but a different sort of character
was needed today and we’ve stopped the Geordies’ run of six successive wins.
More of the same required against West Brom and Swansea now.