WHUFC (2) vs Rapid Vienna (0) 30/09/2021 Europa League


Champions of Europe, you’ll never sing that !

European football is upon us for the first time in a few years and not in a qualifier. Last season got us straight into the group stages and tonight we were looking to keep our place at the top of our group, after beating Zagreb on the road 2 weeks ago.

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WHUFC (1) – Man Utd (2) 19/09/2021. EPL 2021-2022


A damp day in East London

If this was a movie it would be binned at submission for being too far fetched.

We have the return of the once great one to save the day again. We also have hero returning to the site of his recent exploits to see if he can repeat the formula from the dark side. And we have the introduction of a former hero, now into his dotage, to see if he can just one more time recreate the magic that made him famous throughout the land.

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WHUFC (2) vs Crystal Palace (2) – EPL 2021-2022 28/08/2021


West Ham have never won their first three games in the Premier League but with 2 down and a 0 point Palace rolling into town, things were looking good for another small piece of history this weekend. Not to mention the chance to remain top of the league through the International break.

Getting into the ground was considerably easier this time around, but getting there 90 minutes before kick off helps !

Continue reading “WHUFC (2) vs Crystal Palace (2) – EPL 2021-2022 28/08/2021”

WHUFC (4)vs Leicester City(1) EPL 23/08/2021


Welcome home. well I don’t know about home but definitely welcome back. 18 odd months since my last attendance at a live football match, Monday evening was a time to see if it was all worth it. It also means these missives should be more regular. Hard to report on something that you watched on the TV.

I’ll be honest, after nearly 35 years of continuous attendance, a season off actually worked well for me, and it was good to do other things at the weekends. Like watch West Ham on the telly !

So last season was beyond all expectation and with little or no change to the team we started this year beating a team that beat us twice last year, and winning away, and winning our first game of the season for a few years.

However, our opponents today had beaten Man City in the FA Cup final, and the Charity Shield and just missed out on top four (as did we, grrrr) . But in our favour was the fact that last time we played them we, destroyed them at their own ground.

Getting in was an absolute shambles, one it appears shared by a few other clubs this season. We have moved to digital tickets. Taking away the accessibility issue of this, that should not be too difficult a transition, with options to print, etc. But also asking people who are not qualified to verify COVID staus was always going to be ridiculous. What if I show them someone else’s status, or show them mine in my digital wallet, but the date validation data has past. Are they really going to spend all that time with each supporter, while queues were getting somewhat silly . I queued nearly 30 minutes to get in. Due to it being the first game, most people were OK with this. I imagine in December with some rain flying about, this will not be sustainable in any way. I understand Spurs have already announced “random” checks to speed this up. Not to mention that this was to “keep us safe”. I can honestly say that since March 2020, that was the tightest crowd of non masked individuals I had spent my time with . Sort of defeats the point.

Also there is a safety issue. The queues were out to the edge of the concourse all round the ground , meaning you had to push through other queues to get to your own. With people waiting up to 40 minutes to get in they were getting concerned about other people pushing in and there we have the issue. Tempers can flare easily in these situations, and I think being the first game, probably kept a lid on this. Once again, a league cup game in late October may have a different outcome.

The game itself was different entirely. We dominated from start to finish, and the score reflected that. Yes they had someone sent off (VAR actually being used properly, eg for catching a clear and obvious refereeing error), but in reality we were by far the better team.

The atmosphere was almost Upton Park ish, but maybe that’s what happens when you haven’t been to a game for 18 months ! Even the stadium announcer got in on the act singing the Antonio song, when he broke Di Canio’s record for most Premier League goals. That said, I would still prefer a real striker, who can complement our fantastic attacking force. One injury blows that all up, and backup is essential.

If we manage to secure a striker, Lingard and Zouma before the 1st Sept, I will be a happy boy, but we know how that goes over here. The board over promise and deliver nothing. We are still crowing about signing Dawson as a new signing, despite him being on loan all last season.

Palace up next and we should remain top of the pile going into the break. No complaints with that.

COYI

MOTM: Fornals. The fella just holds everything together and has been rewarded by getting called up for Spain in the upcoming break. Well played Senor.

West Ham vs Southampton 29/02/2020 – EPL 2019/2020


Match reports have been few and far between this season as to be fair there hasn’t been a lot to report. Injuries , poor placement of players into positions, and non form of key individuals meant things have not been too great.

This report will not really add to this. We played a sub par Southampton team, but we had all our players in the right places, and Bowen got his long awaiting start, and we just tore them apart.

Haller proved the doubters wrong. Completely different player with others around him.

Today was mainly around the other big WHU event of the day. The supporters “stroll”. Basically this was a marched protest from about 1.5 miles outside the stadium ,picking up more and more people as we traveled in. Alone it proved nothing, but maybe it does give cause for concern with the owners that its not 200 “Old men”. There were women and kids and a few old men, who united in the cause that the lies are enough and we need to move forward.

This is where the issue is for me. The cause seems to be to get them out, fair enough. But we need the alternative, and that doesn’t appear to be forthcoming. There are rumours of American Billionaires and Red Bull, but that’s all they are. Best we can get is a climb down and engagement as we continue the relationship.

But lets keep the pressure on. They have already shut down their undemocratic “Supporters Board”. They have suggested holding elections for supporter positions. They will bend over backwards for this to go away, and we need to be constructive with how we use that leverage. First up for me , is let’s test the mettle of the stadium operators and put in a bid. They are losing money hand over fist, and I imagine will take a lowball bid. Once we have control of the stadium, move all athletics duties to Birmingham post 2022. The anniversary games is not a sell out anymore and must cost money to put on.

Once that’s out of the way, we can dig down and reseat the lower tiers into being next to the pitch, a la the Etihad. Yes we may be out of the ground for a year or 2, but it’s not such a big deal ,when we don’t feel we have played at home since 2015 !

So that’s it , the march was good start and hopefully the numbers will get bigger, but we have to have an objective that is achievable else we will be accused of pedaling pipedreams , just like GSB.

Paris – Jan 2020


Our first trip of the year, and we get the train for 2 hours all the way to Paris.

Weather was very good albeit chilly and despite the press suggesting the city had been closed since before the holidays, we managed to get around using public transport with no problems.

In short , a lot of walking and some amazing eating including the 15 euro cake (amazing), the savory buckwheat crepe with Egg, ham and mushrooms. Also amazing. And lastly a perennial favorite for us travelling to the French capital, Dim sum in the Galeria Lafayette.

Click on photos for comments.

The return of the Moyesiah


Image result for david moyes

OK, first off , slightly joking with the title.

Here we are again, nearly 2 years to the day since i wrote this . And we find ourselves back in the same boat, calling the same batphone. But we also find ourselves in a better cabin on that boat.

Slaven went as he tried to work with players Sullivan bought, who were clearly not good enough. Pelle went as he made good signings , based on recommendations from his team, but couldn’t get them into a formation suited to their skillsets. Which for someone with his experience, is odd and backs up the Man City fan opinion regarding stubborness and unwillingness to change.

So once again, in comes David Moyes, And once again the team he has inherited is way better than he maybe expected. Subtle tweaks here and there are already producing results.

I have been saying for ever we need to get two up top (since Allardyce) and DM has moved Anderson into the space behind Haller to great effect. We seem to to have changed to a back 3 with pushing full backs, which definitely plays to the strengths of Fred and Arthur. However this may be curtailed with the injury to Fred during the Gillingham game. I cannot see Zaba charging up and down against Sheffield United this Friday.

Despite me doubting him massively when he signed , DM needs to find a space for Fornals. His recent performances, cannot be dismissed, and he could be Pelle’s last present to the faithful. Either Snodgrass or Lanzini needs to make way. Snods would be the easiest, however Lanzini doesn’t appear to be at it at all. His Instagram shows him in London very rarely and maybe January would be a good time to move him on for a few quid for someone who needs a playmaker.

Which brings us to the one remaining puzzle. Defensive midfield. Pushing Noble further up the pitch is always good for him (this has also been discussed by me ad infinitum). But 5 at the back and 3 towards the front (Anderson, Haller, Lanzini) leaves 2 . With Noble pushing towards Lanzini, leaves Rice in that hole. Are we good enough for one holding midfielder ? 3 center backs suggests we are . What we cannot do however is this insane substitution of subbing Noble for Sanchez. Sanchez is not equipped to play up the pitch, so invariably plays further back, which when we are chasing is counter productive and brings teams on.

DM will (and has already) upped the tempo of play. He has also dealt with the Haller issue (for now. Against better opposition we may see a switch back). He seems to have brought Diop back in from the cold, and put Noble in his natural position. So far so good.

The real test will be Friday against Sheff Utd. A team on the up, and a team that will fancy their chances against us (home or away). Another clean sheet will be a result for us. Draw or win , I’ll be happy with.

Personally I thought Moyes should have had the job longer term than he was last time. He has enough experience and is young enough to still be hungry. Lets get behind him and see this season out, and hope this time he sticks around !

Before we finish, can we just take some time to digest that Mark Noble is currently the Premier Leagues highest scoring player this decade !

Abu Dhabi and Dubai Nov 2019


Due to poor planning by British Airways we had to cancel a holiday to Dominican Republic and find somewhere else sunny and relaxing.

We decided on the Middle East. Somewhere we both know very well through work , but we hadn’t been to AD (together) since about 2006, so assumed it had changed a bit if the ever increasing size of Dubai was anything to go by.

We landed at about midnight, so it was collect the car, hit the hotel and it’s bedtime. A quick look around suggested standard top end ME hotel. Massive lobby, lots of staff buzzing around and copious gold fittings.

Our room was very nice, and quite sizable, with separate bathrooms, his and her sinks, and full wall windows. We were lucky enough to be on an”exec” floor meaning we didn’t have to go to a restaurant for breakfast, got snacks during the day and a few free beers pre dinner in the evening.

We did two trips during our stay, both recommended. One was the Formula One track your. Very knowledgeable guide, and there was stuff happening on the track, as well as preparation for the upcoming AD GP. I won a competition to do a lap (driven) of the Drift course. Great fun, not as terrifying as it looks. It was on the actual F1 track. So if anyone spins off due to excess rubber on the north end of the track, apologies.

The other was the Grand Mosque. Not normally a visit for me but the scale of this place is amazing, and just the fact they can keep the whole building that clean and white in a desert is amazing in itself.

The drive down to Dubai was strange, There only seems about 15 miles of gap between the two now, where it used to be long periods of open desert.

We arrived at the palm in no time at all. I discovered the joys of valet parking this trip, so we dumped the car and got our room. Once again very nice, but no fancy extras, but a balcony. This was nice as the weather got cooler.

Very little sight seeing, as we have spent so much time there, but we did find some new places. The pointe, a shopping centre on the palm, not so fantastic but functional.But it has amazing views of the Atlantis Hotel at night. Bluewater is another “coastal” location, but has what will be the Dubai “Eye” being erected currently. It also houses Caesars Palace, which for a country with no casinos, caught me a little on the hop.

We did manage to join friends one day for a boat trip out from Dubai Marina to roughly the length of the palm. A little choppy out to sea, but a great experience.

Last but not least we went to Dubai Old city one night for dinner. Its quite ironic to knock down old buildings, build loads of new restaurants in the same shape buildings and reopen the areas as Dubai Old City. But no one ever said the place was not ambitious.

We also made our usual visit to the Burk Khalifa but didn’t go up this time.

The day before we left it rained. Hard. Very Hard. In fact some of hardest rain I have ever seen. When you live somewhere where you hardly ever see rain drainage is not top of the list. Therefore after an hour, there was some pretty serious standing water. I only have video so cannot put up here, but google recent rain in Dubai and you will see some interesting sites.

Great trip, next up the good ole US for Xmas. Maybe.

Chicago Bears at Oakland Raiders – NFL 06/10/2019


The NFL International Series (do they still call it that ?) is upon us, and once again my team the Oakland Raiders is hosting a game in London. Anything to save the rent on the Coliseum. Anyway, suits me. When they move to Vegas, I might get to see them there as well. I’ve been over there once or twice…. This was my third time watching the Raiders. All in London.

The opposition were the Chicago Bears, who were on a 3 game win streak, and on paper looked better than the Raiders. The Bears have one of the best linebackers in the game, in Khalil Mack (ex Raider) and Oakland have a leaky guard and tackle set up. The only thing in our favour was Mack and Derek Carr are best buds so maybe he’ll take it easy on him !

The trip to the ground was uneventful , and the wander up Seven Sisters Road bought back memories of old trips over here with West Ham. (Gary Lineker hat-trick on a cold wet evening, anyone ?).

The new Tottenham stadium looks like aliens have landed in an estate in Haringey. It’s seriously impressive.

Outside the stadium there was less to see and do than Wembley, but if I’m honest, the British aren’t really into the whole tailgating scene. Its more a beer, maybe some food and get in for the Anthems. They did have some stuff for the kids and things to get your photo with, but no lines of food trucks, and cheerleaders, etc.

Which is pretty much what we did. Met up with some friends (Bears fans !) pre game in a local, pub and a few libations were had. Met the Raiders Squid in the garden of said pub. Odd outfit.

Inside, the ground is amazing. Space for everyone, and plenty of outlets, and its own brewery. Pretty impressive.

Big shout for Rhys for sorting out tickets at the very last minute. Thanks to all the via-gogo, stub hub, ticket touting robbing tossers for me not getting tickets on launch!

Chicago’s starting QB was injured and therefore not playing which was a bonus, and we kept things tight and ended Q1 with a 0-0 scoreline.

The Raiders lit up the second quarter,taking names and driving in (Josh Jacobs especially) 2 touchdowns and a field goal to go 17-0 up at half time. WHHHAAATTT ! To say I was happy, was an understatement. However, things were tempered by the food and drinks service up on level 5. Complete disaster compared to the more quick food court style of downstairs. 20 mins for a packet of crisps ? No thanks.

As usual for any team I support, you are never safe, and the Bears hit back with 21 in the 3rd quarter. Carr at one point, just chucked the ball to nowhere, overturning to Mack in a bizarre move. We also had one interception ripped out on our 1 yd line. Grrrrrr

So the witching hour arrives and I am in familiar territory. 0-3 for me ? Maybe.

Carr managed to get us up the park ,using the running game that I admit I’m not a fan of. Josh Jacobs finished off his MVP performance jumping over the pile of players on the line to put us back in the lead with 2 to go.

The Bears piled it on and the game looked like going OT, but a long ball from Daniel was intercepted and that was that. 3-2 for the Raiders this year. 1-2 for me alltime !

WHUFC vs Crystal Palace EPL 2019-2020 05/10/2019


As usual West Ham fail to capitalise on a good run of form and throw away a lead to a decent enough team, but not quite at our level.

As with most Hodgson’s teams, there was a straight 4-4-2 across the board, where defence and midfield play close together meaning we have to break down. Once or twice we did get through, and as you might have seen in the build up for our goal,once we do, it was plain sailing.

Anderson and Lanzini were nowhere near their best, therefore creativity was at a premium. In fact the whole team seem to have a bout of wooliness, that stifled any smart play. Haller had chances to score that he didn’t take , and they got very lucky with a rebound. The penalty was also slightly contentious but more likely to be given than turned down. So all in all, happy with the draw.

Aha, but we didn’t draw, we lost. TO VAR. I’m OK with VAR, but for clear and obvious errors only. It’s an assist, not a judge. For a player to be adjudged 5 mm onside , there needs to be something else with the same amount accuracy. The ability to match exactly when the ball is kicked/headed/whatever. Unless you can 100% match these two, any of these too close calls cannot be made, and you have to go with the on the pitch decision (which was offside). From where I sat, it looked offside as well, but there you go. Lose 2-1 and move on.

We are seventh in a league that outside the top one, looks pretty open.