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
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
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
MICHAIL WINS HIS SPURS
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.
YOU'RE GONNA WIN F**K ALL
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…
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).