DER DER DER ANDY CARROLL!
Sunday, August 7
3-2 in our cup final…
West Ham 2 Juventus 3 (Betway Cup)
It’s an experimental journey to Hackney Wick with my elder daughter Lola, who is impressed by the hipster quotient outside the station. Walking from the Overground is easy enough, past the Copper Box and then up to the sculpture of a giant bell, inscribed with Shakespeare’s lines from The Tempest, “Do not be afeard, the isle is full of noises.” Well, Shakespeare did come from Stratford.
The stalls outside the ground are predictably expensive, and we pay £6 for a pastie and £3 for potato wedges. But the branding is looking good and an hour before kick-off fans are posing before the crossed hammers and “We’ve got Payet” murals.
It’s difficult to read too much into the game as it’s essentially a pre-season friendly and with unlimited subs both teams change virtually their entire starting elevens. But it’s a pleasure to see stars such as legendary goalkeeper Buffon, Dani Alves, Dybala and latterly Higuain and Chiellini. Matt reveals that he last saw Buffon give way a rubbish goal for Italy Under-21s at Bristol City in 1988, not that he remembers every game.
Juventus play some really nice passing football early on and after Valencia hits the post, Juventus go ahead through the impressive Dybala. Winston Reid goes to ground for the second as Mandzukic finishes well.
“We can’t lose our own cup!” says Lola at 0-2 down.
“Well, we might get runners up medals,” I suggest.
Should we make a comeback we wonder if the Betway Cup will be added to the list of three honours on the Betway Stand. Fraser is still upset the Intertoto Cup hasn’t been included.
But better news for the Irons is that Andy Carroll is looking sharp. Byram’s cross sees Buffon make a great save from Carroll’s header, but Andy is sharp enough to poke home the rebound.
At half-time we retreat to the concourse where Lola and Michael discuss the musical Hamilton and Matt wonders why there’s a musical about Ukip’s leader in Wales.
DER DER DER ANDY CARROLL!
The second half sees sub James Collins raise the crowd with some timely clearances and Andy Carroll score with another thumping header from Noble’s free kick. The dream is back on. A bewildering number of substitutions follow but it’s good to see the likes of Reece Burke, Marcus Browne, Martin Samuelson, Ashley Fletcher and the lively Domingos Quina get work-outs. Though the biggest cheer is reserved for sub Dimitri Payet. When “We’ve got Payet!” rings round the stadium there’s some hope for a real atmosphere developing for future games.
Ginger Pele gets a huge cheer for tackling Higuain, meaning Collins is worth at least £100 million. But Juventus still continue to threaten and Simone Zaza hits the winner with five minutes left after the West Ham defence fails to counter a high ball.
We stay to see the Betway Cup presented to Gianluigi Buffon. “He might have won the World Cup, but the Betway Cup is the big one,” suggests Matt.
We find the walk to Hackney Wick is easy, though we discover that Number 90 doesn’t admit anyone in football shirts. The hipster bar Grow with its waterside terrace is more inviting for future visits. The station is surprisingly crowd-free and we even get a seat on the Overground.
We might have lost our first cup final of the season, but it’s been a fairly relaxed afternoon in the sun. Next week the real stuff begins.