Muse September 2019 – O2 Arena

September 16, 2019 3 comments

So it’s been 5 years since a music blog. https://mrben09.com/2014/09/17/invictus-games/

Maybe its about time to do another ! This passed weekend I was lucky enough to score a ticket through a good friend to see Muse at the O2 London. Easy trip for me, so why not. This was the end of their Simulation Theory tour which had been doing the rounds this year.

I have to say , it was pretty spectacular both sonically and visually. The stage set, although massive for 3 people ,was well filled out with robots (dancers) , and screens, and the walk down areas made well to reduce the size of the Thunderdome that is the O2.

All classics were duly ticked off (Plug in Baby, Time is running out, Knights of Cydonia) ,along with other crowd favoutires and most of the new album. A 2 hour set felt right, and the band go further to cement their place as the Queen of their generation.

The over the top presentation I hope is acknowledged by the band for what it is, a great visual and no more. Easily the best screens and use of them I have seen by anyone, But as they (the band) get bigger and less attached to reality, strange things will happen.

Next Band Watch will be in 2 weeks where i will be taking in the delights of Pub Rock Mod bands in Clitheroe. Just as important and valuble. Everyone starts somewhere.

Calgary and the North – August 2019

September 9, 2019 1 comment

Recently went over to Canada for some R+R, and started in Calgary and , headed North up to Jasper and Canmore and some places in between. Had a great time but the photos are the winner here.

So heres some notes I did for someone else, and the photos:

Johnson Canyon near Banff. Bit tourist, made paths etc. 2 Waterfalls. Not the end of the world if you don’t get there, but worth taking a look if its quiet. I say that as its one way in and out, and if it’s busy I imagine a nightmare.

Peyto Lake. Just off the Icefields Parkway North of Banff. Short walk from the car park but the view is amazing. Once again could get chaotic if busy, but worth it.

Further north around Jasper you have Valley of the Five lakes. Proper hike for about 5 miles, not surprisingly, around 5 lakes. Some great views, nice bit of countryside. Bring mozzie repellent. By the state of me once we had finished, bears would have been welcomed !

Maligne Canyon. Bit touristy and made paths but worth the walk along ever increasingly deep canyons and water just crashing through.

Lake Louise and Lake Moraine. Lake Louise is the jewel in the crown and has a 5 star hotel attached. We blagged our way into the hotel car park for nish, but they will let you in for $20 if it’s not too busy. Else it’s get lucky in the nearby public car park, or its a 7km park and ride. Canoes for $100 an hour. No thanks !

Moraine is close by and more normal and worth the short drive. Also has a shuttle service but we managed just to drive on in. I thought the actual view and lake was better at Moraine but seemed to be in the minority.

Grassi Lake. We went here on a recommendation from an old friend who now lives in Canmore, just outside of Banff, who we saw for dinner. I didn’t even know she lived there until 1 week before we left. Hadn’t even spoken to her in 10 years ! Any way. It’s a locals hike, quite a bit uphill with 2 amazing smallish lakes at the end, but the view of the main lake from the top of the hill is worth it as well. Bear country, take your spray.

If you fancy something more hardcore in that area, there’s Ha-Ling peak

WHUFC vs Newcastle United 02/03/2019 – EPL2018/2019

March 5, 2019 Leave a comment

Very late as is becoming the norm, and I know I’ve missed a couple of games, but Fulham at home was just that. Fulham at home. Despite their early lead, as soon as it went to 1-1 they really didn’t want to know. Since then their manager has been sacked and former hammers favourite Scott Parker has been installed, so good luck to him , he will need it.

Newcastle arrived on a decent run and were likely to be a better test than when we beat them at their place earlier in the season.

Actually, stuff that. The Geordies were also devoid of ideas and even their fans were (for them) a little quiet. Today was all about a real club legend. Billy Bonds. Six foot two, eyes of blue and all that.

The stand I usually sit in was being renamed after him, and he now sits alongside Bobby Moore and Trevor Brooking in getting this honour. This led to Gary Lineker winding up twitter suggesting the remaining stand was becoming the Mark Noble Stand. Although a little premature I think that would be better than what it probably will be. The Lycamobile stand ? The Betway ? The Kens Cafe ?

Anyway I say the stand I usually sit in, as for the first time since we moved I sat elsewhere for the game. In the prawn sandwich seats no less. Not quite a box, but very corporate. We (me and @mrsmackay) were kindly hosted by a supplier of hers to enjoy the game in a different atmosphere. This involved getting there considerably early and me seeing the “dark side” of the stadium I have never been around to that side, not even for other events.

Its very much what you would expect if you have been in the Club England section at Wembley. Lots of escalators and people knowing where they are going (except for you). We ended up in a lounge called the Forge for our lunch. Whilst munching, we enjoyed an interview, on a stage about 10ft away, about Mr Bonds, from some ex players. Namely, Alvin Martin, Ray Stewart, Stuart Slater, Pat Holland and Kenny Brown (jnr). Being the game was against Newcastle, Alvin was given the liberty of retelling his historic hatrick against the magpies (again!).

Food was 7/10. Entertainment was 8/10. Half time was interesting , listening to a guy on an acoustic guitar, playing Jump Around by House of Pain. Different, but he just about got away with it. Service was as you would expect, polite.

Don’t get this in Block 232

Anyway we filtered out early , as Bonzo was getting his presentation 20 mins before kick off. We were greeted by a great sight.

Billy was led out though an honour guard of ex players

And then was interviewed by Alvin Martin

Billy and Alvin

And then cut his ribbon, to open the stand. During his lap of honour there was not a dry eye in the house, especially from the man himself. as he made his way around the stadium a tribute played on the screens.

Billy Bonds is after you !
Bill finishing his standing ovation.

All parties have to end, and if you know where to look you can see my empty seat !

Then there was the little matter of the game. Mark Noble is the closest we have to a Billy these days, and we are all hoping that the mantle will be taken up by Declan Rice in the future. He did himself no harm by netting a header after 7 minutes, much to the consternation of @mrsmackay who wanted a bet on him to score the first goal only to be dissuaded by yours truly! From then on there was only one winner and a mistimed tackle on Hernandez gave us a pen just before half time. Ably converted by Mr Noble. The second half was only notable for me for 2 reasons. One, Longstaff at Newcastle is being touted as better than Rice, and was hooked at half time while Declan was picking up another MOTM and more plaudits. Secondly, and more interesting was Marko entering the fray (mystery illness from Wednesday cleared up). Clearly not happy at being a sub and not the darling of the fans anymore, outside of 2 runs it was Marko pre Moyes of sulking and and waving arms. He needs to sort himself out or the manager has no option but to start him from the bench every game, which actually is doing peak Marko a disservice and could actually cost us points along the way.

So, another good day at a stadium that is slowly (very slowly) becoming home. Not sure if I could do corporate every game but it has its advantages.

Handy to be able to watch replays in real time !

WHUFC vs Arsenal 12/01/2019 EPL 2018-2019

January 14, 2019 Leave a comment

My second visit of 2019 to the London Stadium also brought home the harrowing fact the in the Premier League era, Arsenal have beaten West Ham more than any other club. But the early kick off normally upsets the apple cart (and the Acca punters) and this game did its bit to keep up that tradition.

Rumours abounded around Arnie. He’s going, he’s staying, his brother is a shit stirrer, allsorts. My take is this. If he wishes to leave to play in empty stadiums, in a league that will also most likely mean he loses his international place as well, just for cash, then good luck to him. He earns more than he can spend already.

Also lets be realistic, if someone offered you twice your wages to do the same job somewhere else, you would take it. Maybe not in China, but at least your head will be turned. He left Stoke quick enough, and we are no different, such is the way of the modern footballer. They chop and change all the time. Reece Oxford is our 5th longest serving player currently !

So Arsenal, Wengerless and let off the leash. 22 game unbeaten runs, new broom, and no win in 4 away from home in the PL.

We started with probably with as good as team as we could, but this was no plucky little West Ham. All the big guns were there with the exception of Balbuena. Ogbonna has scared me this season, and early on did nothing to shake that feeling, as Rice had to get him out of a hole a couple of times as Lacazette gave him the run around. However , once the early nerves went, everyone did their job. Antonio was making the runs down the wing we got used to a few years ago. Diop seemed to get his confidence back (it took a few games with Balbuena as well, obviously doesn’t mix well with others!)

Rice and Noble dominated. Rice especially. I’m not the only one saying every game he gets better, but he does ! We have started passing instead of lumping. Nasri I thought was quiet after reading the report of the previous week but he did nothing wrong. Arnie was quiet, and I’m sure I saw Anderson make a tackle !

Just after half time (0-0), we get a bit of a ricochet ball in the box, which Nasri calmly tees up for Rice, and its top corner , one nil. Declan’s first goal for the senior team on his birthday weekend, 2 weeks after getting a new contract. Arnie take note.

After that , we looked assured and controlled the game. Arsenal had some longer range shots and did actually get the ball in the net twice, but with comically offside attempts. And that was that, no panic, no last hurrah from the opposition. A relatively painless win, except for Arnie who left early to be replaced by Carroll. He applauded all round the stadium as he left the field. I have commentated above on my opinion around this, so that’s that, or is it? Would you pay a potentially injured player 200k a week ?

Carroll looked sharper again, and closed down well, as did Snodgrass when introduced. We finally have a proper squad.

Obviously a lot of the credit has to go to the manager, who had kept banging on about installing a big team mentality into the team. But this needs to translate across to the fans as well. We can live in the past glories of being there just about in the league but always having a say in the title with a couple of big scalps a year or we can become the team that plays in front of 60k every week ,with big players, and expectations to match.

Gary Firmager used to say the worst thing to let loose at West Ham is expectation and back then he was right. But we have to accept that the fan base and the club has changed dramatically over the past few years, and we should now demand this level of team from our board.

MOTM Declan Rice. All day long. Happy birthday !

Little bit wobbly.

WHUFC vs Crystal Place 08/12/2018 EPL 2018-2019

December 10, 2018 Leave a comment

WWW. Nothing to do with Tim Berners-Leigh but WHU’s current form stats.

Helped out by playing those around us in a fortuitous  fixture list, only interrupted by the visit of Man City (describes by the Stop HammerTime podcast, as a “contractual responsibility”)

But the style of the wins has been the most encouraging. 3 goals in each ,and most of the action in the second half. So why the slow start ?

Against Palace, it was because they (Palace) came out like lunatics, having probably seen that the Cardiff game could have been all different if the penalty went in. Cardiff and Newcastle were more us feeling our way into the game. Against City that cost us the first goal.

So Palace go one nil up with a soft goal. No panic for West Ham and by half time , although still one nil down, I knew we would not only come back but would win easily. All we needed was a mistake and as all the teams around that position in the league know (including us) , it will happen.

Or you can just pop in a worldie, as the ever improving Robert Snodgrass did straight from the kick off. Surely that completes his transformation back into a West Ham player. He bent one in that didn’t look anywhere near the goal until the last second . From then on it was all WHU, with Hernandez taking a typical poachers goal to secure the lead. The game was over (nearly) when 2 minutes later Anderson bent in one that was better than Snodgrass’s and almost identical to the one he scored against Burnley.

Last month we met some Italian lads on holiday and they told me Anderson would be long periods of frustration interspersed with genius and the case seems to be in their favour. He cannot tackle despite making the run and taking the position, his passing sometimes is off, but boy can he shoot !

As we approached the end of the game we started to go backwards a bit defending our 2 goal lead. By now, with Grady and Anderson on the pitch we were a little lightweight in the tackling dept, and Palace kept coming, eventually getting their second, and making the last 10 more exciting than it needed to be.

So we go 3 for 3 and 10th in the league with struggling Fulham, Watford, Southampton and Burnley next up. 30 points for the new year would be lovely, but let’s not get too carried away.

Best encouragement for me, and worst for non Hammers, is we have proved we are not a one man show. we have won 2 games now with no Arnie. Perez is not his replacement however, and Carroll looked massively sluggish. But with the midfield chipping in with the goals, it will paper over the cracks. Noble looks like he’s back his own self as well, which is no bad thing.

January is coming and I think if we can pick up a couple of full backs maybe Byram and Masuaku can go. With Arthur it’s a shame, as the talent is there but the mistakes can no longer be ignored.

Once again Rice was awesome and this transfer window does worry me. Don’t forget anyone who is still in Europe can buy him and play him. Leaving the negotiations until the end of the season is madness, but lets hope it works.

MOTM Rice.

WHUFC vs Burnley 3/11/2018 EPL 2018-2019

November 6, 2018 Leave a comment

IMG_6705Once again a late submission, but times are busy these days.

A game we really needed to win as our opponents are not having the best of seasons and we need to close the gap on the middle tier, as we hit our supposedly easier run of games (including city in the middle), which takes us to December.

Injuries mean Grady held his place on the right (ahead of Antonio) and Obiang came in for suspended Noble.  Anderson also started of Antonio, for reasons best known to the manager. He has had no issues dropping players for poor performances previously, and surely Felipe is in that category.

Anyway we get going and seem to be in no problems , moving the ball around comfortably and they don’t overload the midfield which probably does us a favour.

After 10 mins Marko robbed an outgoing ball from their defence to slot home the first, and to be honest it was going to be a case of how many. But Burnley defended well and in spells had the ball, but didn’t trouble the hammers. Until just before half time when with pretty much their first shot on target they scored.

We retook the lead when Anderson bent one round Joe Hart, only to be pegged back again from a corner (again).

For the last 30 mins we brought on Hernandez and having 2 up top made such a difference. I know I have been banging on about this for some time , but we really need to bite the bullet and just bloody do it. It gives Marko licence to go wide if needed and it was him linking up with Anderson that got our 3rd, sealed with a typical assured finish by Hernandez in injury time to take all the points and cushion the gap to the bottom 3.

So , is the heat off Anderson ? From this house, no it’s not. Still not willing to put in a tackle. He woke up once he realised the competition wasn’t much. We cannot carry flat track bullies, but maybe the 2 up top option will give him more space in front to do his stuff, but the jury is still out.

Balbuena and Diop were fantastic again ,but need more help because letting in 2 goals at home normally means 0 points.

Rice is getting better and better and I imagine that contract is getting more expensive. It also looks like Zaba might be on his way come the end of the season, so Frederick’s needs to up his game if the cup game against Totts reserves was anything to go by.

MOTM Balbuena.

IMG_6709

WHUFC vs Tottenham 20/10/2018 EPL 2018-2019

October 22, 2018 Leave a comment

I’ll be brief as its a late file (not feeling too clever). Lets get to the ending first , the spuds won their cup final, but once again , like Wolves a draw would have been a fair result.

We started Cresswell for Masuaku (required) and Snodgrass came in for the injured Obiang. The bench was attack heavy, so we needed to play well.

We actually did. Just one lack of concentration by Declan Rice just before half time let Lamella in to score the only goal of the game.  Maybe this might bring him on that bit more (as would giving him the contract he wants!).

Cresswell gave us balance at the back, however having Anderson in front of him hindered him somewhat. The fella was useless, like really poor. When you have 3 attempts at a corner and cannot get it over the first man, you really need to take a  look at yourself. Noble used to do this and we took him out of the firing line. But at least Noble would win a tackle and not dally around doing the root of nothing. Once flash goal against Man U doesn’t make a season, and the boss needs to pull this fella in before he really flops at the club. Especially when our U23 player Grady Diangana came on early for the injured Yarmalenko and didn’t look out of place at all. Which doesn’t bode well for  Antonio, who didn’t see game time until well into the second half.

It was nice to see 2 up top with the introduction of Hernandez ion the second half to play alongside Arnie, but it may have been too little too late.

One thing that I did see, which I hope was just the ref having a a bad day at the office, was Harry Kane seemed to get away with murder. Diving,  shoving, fouling, all not penalised. It was like Shearer had never retired.

MOTM by a mile was Diop. He’s forming a great partnership with Balbuena and long may that continue. I just hope that some of these poor results but massive reviews for him, don’t turn his head.