First off , all back to normal on the seating front, with my European neighbours not in attendance (see Genk post) made the day a whole more enjoyable. And its always nice to get one over on the Totts, if nothing else just to chip away at the myth that they are a big club, which they held onto despite not beating us last season, and finishing below us in the league, and being part of the failed breakaway league with some real big clubs.Continue reading “WHUFC 1 Tottenham 0 24/10/2021 EPL 2021-2022”
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”
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.
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.
Warning Explicit content early on:
Really, really not a lot to say here that wasn’t summed up by Slaven, who stole my thunder with his “A draw was fair, as neither team deserved it”. Spot on big fella.
So let’s have a look why.
It’s often said in Boxing that styles make matches, and i think it’s fair to say that this was part of the issue yesterday. West Ham set themselves up in their new look 3-3-3-1. Stoke set up in a traditional 5-3-1. What this meant was as West Ham attacked they were swallowed up by the Stoke back 5, and Stoke’s natural defensive play with the ball was negated in the packed midfield. Continue reading “WHUFC vs Stoke City 05/11/2016 EPL 2016-2017”
So another interesting day of growing pains in the OS yesterday tapped off with a poor performance.
Payet was back, and Antonio was placed back in his rightful position in midfield. Zaza started up top, and with the exception of Byram being played in front of Arbeloa we probably had our strongest team in my opinion. That opinion has now changed, but lets get onto that later.
After our small adventure in Europe and our last minute loss to Chelsea we start our home campaign in the new shed against Bournemouth hoping for no repeat of last season.
Last season saw us lose 4-3 in an end to end game (see here WHUFC vs AFC Bournemouth EPL 22/08/2015). Our team was missing Andy Carroll that time and it turns out he was absent again today, making it 3 for 3 for the Geordie with respect to injuries and first league home games ! As well as AC, we were also missing Ayew, which gave Valencia another chance to redeem himself as our main attacker. Slaven has obviously been listening to the critics and took Antonio out of the right back slot only to put him into left midfield. So we have to assume he fancies both Feghouli and Gore in front of the best attacking right winger we have had since Kevin Keen. Wrong, wrong, wrong. And Payet was missing. This made me think that maybe 0-0 wouldn’t be too bad.
It appeared that everyone else had the same thoughts as the game itself was dull as hell. Nobody really took it by the scruff of the neck. The first half flashed by in a series of mediocre football, only livened up by the standing West Ham fans bickering with the Stewards. How anyone thinks that 5 teenagers will make 200 fans sit down is beyond me, and so they just kept going backwards and forwards almost pleading to no avail.
As we all got an email regarding this last week, means something will happen and there will be a few empty seats for the next game I imagine.
I got to meet my new seat mate, and I think although nice enough there will be some interesting conversations as the season goes on. Hi Steve if you are reading this..
The goal came late on when Antonio was allowed to play on the right and made the run and got the cross in. Gore picked it up at the far post, put it back in and Antonio nods it in to keep our competitive 100% record at the OS. Food for thought Slaven.
Bournemouth looked a shadow of last season, although Ibe looked useful when he moved into the middle.
Key takeaway from today was that we need Lanzini and Payet back as soon as possible, and Calleri needs to start. He got a chance late on when Noble put him through , that I think will be bread and butter later on if he gets the game time
MOTM Antonio. And a big shout out to debutant Arthur Masuaku, who looks very comfortable at left back.
The 80’s are fashionable currently so I hear. Jordan 1’s are back in stores, as is garish gym gear. Women’s fashion seems to be very 80’s based currently and last week I swear I saw someone playing with a Rubik Cube on the train.
West Ham join in the revival and we get castigated ! I remember a time when smashing the opposition bus, having several thousand fans locked out the ground, starting the game an hour late, throwing bottles at their keeper (plus the obligatory, should be old enough to know better, pitch invader) , running a bar dry, and leaving the ground to make your way through riot police was a staple of most Saturdays. But now people just get hot about it.
OK I jest, but anyone who wasn’t there and has just read the websites and papers, and listened to Adrian Durham drone on (who wasn’t there either) will think (once again) WW3 broke out in Upton Park last night. I’m not condoning any of the above (except the bar bit) but lets be real. Yes the streets were packed, yes loads of people without tickets were there, but a few idiots throw some bottles at a bus and it’s the ICF comeback. Nonsense. Absolute nonsense.
I spent about 5 hours there, and never heard a raised (angry) voice. But I heard many voices, all raised. The atmosphere was just something to behold. This fixture is always an occasion, but last night was off the chart. I was there for the last game of the South Bank, the North Bank and the West Stand, but this was something that will live with me forever.
All the stuff afterwards with the fireworks and all that, although I see some people liking it, isn’t for me and I scooted prior to the Rejects playing, which is a little annoying but like I say, that stuff isn’t for me
There was a video played on the screens, listing many of the players that had passed away but would technically been “young enough” to be there, and although John Lyall, and Graham Paddon were up there, obviously the big one was Sir Bobby Moore. The Man U fans spontaneously burst into a chant of his name. Class Act all round. It was that kind of night.
With all this going on there was a football game on as well, and although late, it was probably one of the best Premier League games of the season. Both teams still have their eye on 5th, and both put out very strong teams. Our nemesis, Mr Rooney, started for United which is usually ominous. But we seemed to contain him ,and he seemed a little off form, which doesn’t bode well for the Euros. Misplaced passes out wide were common place and we started to get the upper hand. For the first time in a long time we played two real strikers up top, I assume to keep the Utd centre backs busy, and it seemed to be paying off. Then Sakho bent one round De Gea from distance, and it was game on after 10 minutes. We had another chance when Carroll went clear from a great through ball from Payet but hit it straight at the keeper. Anyway, we held onto our lead to half time, and it looked like the dream night would happen. In the 2nd half Man U came out firing, and the wingers seem to be on their A game. In fact one of them, Mr Martial strolled though our defence to pick up a straight pass/cross and draw the visitors level. Did I expect it it ? Yes. Did I expect a re run of the first 2 Swansea goals? No. Slaven needs to get the CB’s to work on position when there is an overlap, its just too easy for the opposition.
Soon after Martial got another one by getting into a stoppable position again, and the wheels were coming off. But the team fed off the incredible crowd, and in only 4 minutes, Antonio had equalised with a great header. Once again he had a set celebration ready, but Andy Carroll dragged him up the pitch. He knew it, we knew it, this was our night, and ours only, even if you are the most decorated team ever in the English game. Another 4 minutes, another goal, this time from the unlikely source of Winston Reid, whose other goal was pretty famous on the terraces as well, but will always now be the scorer of the last ever goal at The Boleyn.
We played out the last 10 minutes on the edge but for a change in control. So who won the game? The players played for the fans, the fans went berserk for the players, and Slaven was the architect. Did it mean as much to him as everyone else? Considering he was in tears at the final whistle, I think the answer was yes.
5th place is in the hands of others now, and I think the game at Stoke is a bit after the Lord Mayors show, so we have to see the shake out of FA Cups and UEFA cups to see if we get another shot in Europe in our new shed in season 1, but I for one will never forget this evening. Leaving earlier than most gave me a bit of time on my own taking one last look at the old girl and I left with a heavy heart, but hoping we can build this club on the potential that is now in place. Whether I will be along for the full ride will depend on how the new “experience” plays out, but I have my ticket, and we shall see.
Thanks for the memories, old girl..
MOTM: The Stadium and the Fans
Last week’s win against WBA secured 2 records for WHU. Our highest points tally in Premier League history and our longest unbeaten streak in PL history. On Wednesday was the end of season awards do. I think all 3 contributed to WHU turning up with their minds on their holidays and getting spanked by a fully focused Swansea team who took their chances when they got them, and were clinical in the finish.
Also the fans were the same as the final days of the Boleyn are upon us, with only one game left. Will we win that ? I hope so, just to send the old girl off in style, but we cannot play like we did yesterday. Lanzini and Payet need to cover more ground, and be more clinical in their passing. The only WHU player who came out of yesterday with any credit was Antonio, who was once again out of position and superb. Why Byram cannot play back is beyond me, and then we can drop Moses who was also useless yesterday.
Anyway, for today and the final game against Man U, I have my camera with me, so hopefully the pics are better than usual from the phone.