Thursday, March 3

Tottenham Hotspur… it's happened again!

West Ham 1 Tottenham 0

There’s another big queue in Ken’s Café, but Lisa and myself get our orders in by 6.30pm hoping to avoid another missed kick-off. There’s a bloke opposite us who says that he’s been coming in Ken’s since 1979 and wonders when it first opened. I’m able to tell him that according to the newly-discovered Ken Café Facebook page, it’s been going for 47 years, since 1969. We then discuss the absurdity of selling half and half scarves for this game.

Michael the Renaissance Fan arrives carrying a Rough Trade bag containing X-Ray Audio, a book about Russian music fans who made bootlegs on x-ray plates. Bit of a niche market that. His big breakfast arrives suspiciously quickly and we suspect that he might finally have qualified for VIP treatment from Carol.

Then there’s a late appearance from Nigel, who’s been warm weather training in Dubai, where he managed to see Toto live. He’s also very pleased to have watched the Metropolitan Police play at Imber Court, where they presumably got out of jail after some criminal defending.

We try to get to the East Stand only to be turned away by riot police. It all seems a bit over the top, with the Moore, Hurst and Peters statue being boarded up and police vans all the way up an unnecessarily congested Green Street. Even Fraser misses the kick off for the first time in living memory.

It’s a cracking atmosphere, as chants of Bubbles, “Come on you Irons!”, “Who are yer!” and “Lasagne…. whoooah!” ring out in the riotous theatre of E13. We score after just seven minutes. Lanzini forces a corner. From Payet’s kick Antonio loses Chadli to head in off the post, with Lloris slow to react. Michail runs to the Chicken Run and does another strange dance routine — apparently the Carlton Dance from the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air as Upton Park erupts.

 “This is almost as good as watching the Met Police,” suggests Nigel.

It’s a really impressive first half from West Ham. Bilic has made a clever tactical tweak, playing Kouyate in the back three with Antonio and Cresswell as wing backs. The team work immensely hard and out press Tottenham at their own game. Emenike closes down Lloris and almost forces an error to show our intent. Noble has another long-range humdinger pushed wide and only a last-ditch tackle denies Antonio. Emenike works the channels well, with Wimmer booked for bringing him down. 

We’re a bit mystified as to what to complain about at half-time, though Nigel, munching a lucky smoked salmon bagel, counsels caution as Spurs will surely improve in the second half.

Sure enough, Spurs start brightly with Adrian having to parry Alderweireld’s long-range effort and Kane missing the rebound. Eriksen then cuts in from the right to force another save from the Hammers’ custodian. But we retain our work rate with Obiang and Noble excelling in midfield and Antonio never stopping running. Emenike is brought down by Wimmer, when he could possibly get a shot in, and the crowd demand a red card. Instead the ref awards a free kick to Spurs. Good job Matt, working on the night shift, wasn’t here to see that. “Fie on your face, referee!” suggests Michael, our resident Shakespearian.

Antonio prods a Payet free kick over the bar, before James Collins has to go off injured to be replaced by young Reece Oxford. A big test for the youngster in the last 25 minutes but he’s assured throughout. Then we’re getting Sakho in the evening as Diafra replaces Lanzini and Andy Carroll comes on for Emenike. Harry Kane slashes a cross wide to the derision of the home fans as cries of “Super Slaven Bilic!” fill Upton Park.

There’s four minutes of added time as Cresswell shoots over and the Bobby Moore Stand break into a rousing, “Fuck all! You’re gonna win fuck all!” Sakho runs it into the corners, which he’s good at.

The whistle blows to huge acclaim as Slaven’s men leave the pitch. That’s our last ever Upton Park win against Spurs and it’s been some night. Fraser suggests we’re making a late bid for the title. And I think we’re definitely safe now on 46 points…

We retreat to the Central where the barmaid is baffled by a request for Old Speckled Hen and we’re joined by Nigel’s chastened Spurs-supporting mate Andy and his son Tom. Michael suggests that standards are dropping at the Central as there’s no woman selling dodgy dvds and no clearing the tables early for backpackers’ breakfasts. Nigel offers support for this by saying he’s discovered soap in the Gents. But we're so happy we can cope with anything. Meanwhile the TV provides astonishing proof that we’re only one point off fourth sport.

As we leave the Central and traipse past the illuminated stands of the Boleyn, Fraser lights a celebratory cigar. Tottenham Hotspur, it’s happened again…

PLAYER RATINGS: Adrian 8; Kouyate 9, Ogbonna 8, Collins 8 (Oxford 8); Antonio 9, Payet 8, Noble 9, Obiang 8, Lanzini 8 (Sakho 7); Emenike 8 (Carroll 7).


matt said...

So, did I miss anything?

mj said...

You missed a lovely pint of doombar - or 3-in the black lion!

matt said...

It's been a decent season but am I the only one thinking it could have been a sensational one had we had a proper medical team? We've got 3 centre backs injured for Everton, as well as two right backs, and one suspended. Plus Valencia and Moses, another player to come back from injury and promptly suffer another one. Meanwhile it is highly unlikely Sakho and Carroll will stay fit for the rest of the season. Compare that with Swansea, WBA, or Spurs. It could have been a 1985-86 season - when we played loads of games and had virtually no injuries. The board just complacently talk about bad luck, but there's more we can do. Lots of talk of signing a £20 million striker this summer, but our main priorities must be signing someone who can identify players to bring in who aren't injury prone; and someone who can prepare them properly, ensure they don't get injured in training, and do their rehab properly if they do get hurt. Then Super Slav wouldn't be constantly down to the bare bones, and the sky really would be the limit.

Pete May said...

Very envious of the Doombar MJ! Fair point about the injuries Matt - several due to the Chadwell Heath pitches in winter. Though Payet was caused by poor reffing. We might have to get Burke back from Bradford at this rate. Though Oxford did well against Spurs so might be worth a start at Everton.