Filed: Sunday, 27th May 2012
By: Gordon Thrower
There's a theory that sunlight has the same effect on Gordon Thrower as it does on vampires. Which could account for why he locks himself away in a dark room for days on end this time of the year. While he's there he writes our end of season review, part two of which covers September-November 2011. Seems so long ago doesn't it?.......
The month starts with us in 5th place, 3 points behind leaders Brighton . This doesn’t change after the first weekend of the month thanks to an inconveniently-placed international break. FIFA apparently use the same scheduling software as Transport For London so that, much like engineering works, international breaks come at precisely the point when the maximum number of sides don’t want them.
The contingent of Hammers in the England squad is reduced to nil, Green withdrawing with a minor injury whilst Parker no longer counts. The U21’s kick things off with a nice 6-0 win over Azerbaijan, with Angela celebrating his escape from Arsenal with a couple of goals and a couple of what I suppose we must call 'assists'.
Remember the transfer window? You know, that thing that slammed shut in part 1 at the end of August? Well it’s very warm in Turkey this time of the year and so they left their window open, enabling Galatasaray to slip in a cheeky bid for Carlton Cole. 4m is the bid apparently – though nobody seems to know whether that’s pounds or Turkish Lira. Whatever the currency the bid is rejected out of hand as the Turkish window is closed and the airconditioning finally takes over.
Rob Green is at the centre of a mystery as one of the Sunday tabloids that hasn’t been caught hacking phones yet claims that the club has been touting the player for transfer using an unnamed agent – not the player’s own. 12 year old Jack Sullivan, whose twitter account is being increasingly used as a quasi-official mouthpiece by his dad, claims that Sullivan senior is livid and muttering stuff about legal action.
Back on the international front Angela picks up another goal in England U21’s 4-1 win over Israel whilst Collison plays about two thirds of Wales’ match against England. England run out slightly fortunate 1-0 winners as Rob Earnshaw manages to put the ball over the bar from 4 yards, presumably as a thank you for all those free prescriptions that we English subsidise for the third world part of the UK.
After what seems like years, but is in fact only a couple of weeks, we return to action at home to Portsmouth. Of the new boys, only Lansbury starts and he is on target, netting our second in an eventful 4-3 win. A Taylor free-kick cancels out a Pompey opener before Angie’s effort gives us the lead. They equalise before skipper Lawrence sees red for a second X-rated tackle. A Noble penalty and a fine Cole header complete our scoring whilst Piquionne lasts four minutes as a sub before his shove on Halford’s chest somehow sets off some sort of pain in the defender’s face and Piquionne is rather harshly red carded. A penalty “earned” by a late Ben Haim dive cannot prevent what turns out to be our first home win since March.
Time for some nostalgia. Remember Savio? You know, the player we brought in for not nearly as much money as everyone said, honest, and who definitely wasn’t a replacement for Craig Bellamy (that much was right anyway). He’s gone missing again apparently. On loan to Serie B club Juve Stabia from Fiorentina he calls in to say that he won’t be in for training and that a note from his Mum will follow shortly then promptly disappears. Not being as well-versed in these matters as we are the Italians don’t think to look for the nearest caravan park.
Talking of caravans, our next match is the small matter of a trip to Millwall. Having got things spectacularly wrong for the last meeting between the clubs, the Met decide to actually send a few officers along to this one. All of them by the look of things. Lansbury nearly sparks crowd unrest by having a shot in the first few seconds while the Millwall ‘keeper is fiddling about with the goal net, the shot unfortunately going wide. Bentley misses a late sitter as the game finishes 0-0 to send the home side further into relegation trouble. Segregation of the supporters mean that the home fans lose a fortune in unsold clothes pegs and lucky heather.
Hammers fans are up in arms as yet again the ordinary supporter is dumped upon by the tv companies. This time Sky have rearranged the Brighton match for Monday 24 October, messing up everyone’s plans, mine included, for a weekend on the sauce by the sea. This reminds us of the time a few years back when a late change of plan by the same tv company left us with plane tickets for Newcastle that we couldn’t change. So we went anyway and brought you a match report on the Northern Premier League clash between Whitley Bay and Billingham Synthonia.
Having not won at home since March we make it two on the trot as a Mark Noble spot kick is enough to give us all three points in an unconvincing 1-0 win over Peterborough. However, the plan to make it three in a row at the Boleyn comes unstuck as a poor performance and yet another late goal, this time from ex-Hammer Lee Bowyer (again), see us go down 1-0 to Ipswich. Other results are kind to us though and we remain in 4th place.
In other news, Man Utd ‘keeper David De Gea is caught nicking a doughnut from his local branch of Tesco. Clearly Fergie has told the thin as a rake ‘keeper to bulk up, though most amazement is directed that De Gea managed to get to the front door of the shop without dropping the confection. De Gea is let off with a telling off when he stumps up the £1.40 to pay for the item, prompting Frank Lampard to own up to 250 similar offences, all committed the previous Thursday.
In the Sheikhdom of Manchester all is not sweetness and light as Carlos Tevez appears to refuse an instruction to warm up during the Citizens’ So Called Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich. The club immediately suspend Tevez for a minimum of two weeks while they decide what action to take. Tevez maintains that it is all a “misunderstanding”, though transcriptions prepared by lip readers are pretty damning. SuGoBra take advantage of the player’s forthcoming inactivity to put in a cheeky bid to take the player in on loan, receiving the same response from Man City as the player allegedly gave them when asked to run up and down by the touchline in the Allianz Arena a few days previously.
Our first match of the month is a trip to the grotty edifice that is Selhurst Park to play Palace. The match is played in 80 degree heat which, whilst not being that great to play football in, is glorious for the spectators. I make a mental note to use as many aerosols as possible. Manuel Almunia comes in for his first game on loan as Rob Green has a knee op. We draw 2-2, coming from behind twice with goals for Nolan and Carew who opens his account for the club. 4,500 away fans show that they’ve read the morning papers with the chant “Caros Tevez, he wants to come home”, and, whilst the player probably wouldn’t disagree with the comment, he probably has Buenos Aires more in mind than the Boleyn.
The Palace match is followed by yet another international break as England travel to Montenegro (the country not Brian) for their final Euro 2012 qualifier. During the build up it transpires that Wayne Rooney’s dad is amongst several people arrested following an investigation into “irregular betting patterns” in relation to Scottish football. England manage to get the point required for qualification in an unconvincing 2-2 draw that sees Rooney sent off for petulantly kicking an opponent.
Despite the fact that John Terry is only in the correct position once throughout the whole evening (during the singing of the anthems), Mirror journalist Martin Lipton proclaims the third-rate defender as “England’s Greatest Ever Captain”. One can only presume that Lipton won his bet for printing that one.
The England rugby team prove that it’s not just our footballers who can cover themselves with glory abroad. A series of unconvincing wins in the group stages of the World Cup does at least have the consolation of knocking Scotland out of the competition, though tales of nights out dwarf throwing and the sexual harassment of female hotel employees grab more of the headlines. Meanwhile Mike Tindall is caught on CCTV cavorting with what the tabloids always like to refer to as a “mystery blonde”. Clearly Tindall is not one to set much store in the conspiracy theories relating to earlier commoners who married into, then annoyed the Royal family, though he is seen double checking his seatbelt on subsequent car trips. The whole sorry enterprise ends with defeat in the quarter finals to France as Manu Tuilagi picks up a fine for jumping off a ferry into Auckland Harbour. Although the tabloids note the incident, their reaction seems relatively restrained and one can only speculate quite what would have happened had, say, John Terry been the one to jump. Apart from a resulting major improvement to the England defence, obviously.
Back on the subject of real football, a bombshell is dropped as the Olympic Legacy folk announce that they are withdrawing from the agreement to sell the stadium to the West Ham/Newham joint venture after the Games. As the dust settles it transpires that the Machiavellian legal delaying tactics employed by Spurs have meant that the sale could not be processed in time for West Ham to move in by 2014 as originally planned. Instead, the stadium is to remain in public ownership with tenants to take occupation in 2014. Since the sale will not go through, the Spurs legal challenge is neatly sidestepped with the possible added benefit of Spurs losing out on £17m of infrastructure payments for the redevelopment of their own ground, the Olympic deal having partly foundered due to a complaint to the EU over “illegal state aid”. The complainant remains anonymous, though in the run-up to the proposed judicial review of the case Barry Hearn was quoted as saying “I know a bung when I see one”. Quite, Barry, I’m sure you do.
Meanwhile the international break silly season gets a bit sillier as Swindon boss Paolo Di Canio (nope, still doesn’t sound right) admits to having “accidentally” run a half marathon. Easily done I suppose. It transpires that, having been the celebrity starter for a fun run event, he accidentally took a wrong turning joining the bunch that were doing the full 13 miles rather than the lot dressed up as pantomime horses etc. Obviously the wrong turning never took him north.
Back on the pitch, or at least back in the treatment room, David Bentley’s season-long loan is under threat as he returns to Spurs for a knee operation, presumably to have the bugging device implant surgically removed before it gets discovered.
More egg-chasing double standards as we are all urged to become Welsh for the Rugby World Cup semi final. I dutifully try this but when I annoy all my friends by constantly whining and getting them to pay for everything I decide to become English again. Wales have their skipper sent off and lose 9-8. The referee takes the blame rather than the kickers responsible for 5 missed penalties, which, in any case were probably all the English’s fault anyway.
We return to action after the international break with a comprehensive 4-0 drubbing of Blackpool. Carew, Baldock (2) and Collison are on target. The supporters still find something to boo at however, as the groundsman charged with replacing a broken corner flag refuses to give the fans a wave, resulting in some good-natured abuse from both sets of supporters.
The win takes us to second and, as luck would have it, the very next fixture takes us to Southampton who happen to be top. A very late first half goal gives the home side all three points, though we have a number of chances to level including hitting the woodwork and a goal line clearance. Other results mean we remain in second spot.
In other non-football news, the eviction of some “travellers” from Dale Farm in Basildon hits the headlines, with nobody being quite able to explain why they are called “travellers” if they’ve been there (albeit illegally) for ten years. Meanwhile there is much hand wringing on the part of those who like to wring hands with some even going as far as to use the term “ethnic cleansing”. It is revealed that the “travellers” have turned down numerous offers of replacement sites as they were just that little bit too far from the New Den to be convenient.
The world is rocked as the death of Colonel Gaddafi is announced. The circumstances surrounding the unlamented dictator’s demise are unclear but nobody is over convinced by the official explanation (delivered with a nearly straight face) that he was captured alive before being “accidentally” caught in crossfire whilst being taken away. Yeah right. Meanwhile breakfast coffee is spat out hereabouts as a BBC 5Live interviewer shows superb interview technique when he genuinely asks a passer-by in Tripoli “now that Gaddafi is gone are you hoping for a better life?” I guess we can be grateful that he didn’t give her multiple choice options for the answer.
Back on the subject of football, sort of, and all hell breaks loose at KUMB Towers as it is revealed through the medium of John Carew’s camera phone and twitter that El Hadj Diouf has been training with the club. Those who he spat at at Anfield are less than impressed with Sam for considering the signing and are further unimpressed by those who choose to accept the disgraceful snow job put up by Liverpool FC and Merseyside Police, a stitch up exposed for what it was worth by subsequent events.
“England’s Greatest Ever Captain” ((c) M Lipton) is in hot water again over alleged racially offensive comments made towards Anton Ferdinand during a bad-tempered match between QPR & Chelsea. Mr Lipton, if Terry is “England’s Greatest Captain” I really don’t want to know who the second greatest is.
Racial stuff again as Liverpool’s Uruguayan diver Luis Suarez is accused of using racially offensive language towards Moan Utd’s Patrice Evra. Typically, Liverpool lie through their teeth and deny anything happened and, even if it did it was Evra’s fault. The FA decide to have a long close look at things.
We return to second spot as we grind out a 1-0 win over Brighton & Hove Albion at the Amex stadium and, whilst “that’ll do nicely” for the three points the defensive manner of the performance raises eyebrows. Brighton end up having over 60% possession but, tellingly, Almunia is forced to make only one real save in the whole match.
Sam announces that El Haj Diouf won’t be joining the club. The player is out of condition apparently and his gobs barely reached the touchline at Chadwell Heath. The player ends up signing a short term deal at Doncaster.
The team celebrates with a 3-2 win over managerless Leicester. A Baldock header and a low Faubert drive give us the lead. Leicester pull one back in the second half before Baldock’s second effectively wins the match. A second Leicester goal turns out to be academic. One major talking point in the match is the performance of referee Pinnington who gives a succession of fouls against John Carew without the player actually committing any offences. After the player is cautioned for “persistent foul play” Sam withdraws the player to save him further punishment lest the ref actually spots a real foul and sends him off. The match marks the return from injury of Rob Green as Almunia goes back to Arsenal.
We end the month in second place which is good, bit with a hospital wing full of injuries, which is bad, if not exactly unusual. We ask the computer Boffin (not Ruud) we spoke to in pre-season how the new computerised injury monitoring system is going but all we hear down the phone is shouts of “we need more memory” followed by sobbing.
We start our latest chunk of our season review in second place despite a good old fashioned injury crisis that gets worse early on in November’s first match. Winston Reid is latest to fall foul of the bad luck curse hanging over the club as he lands awkwardly and dislocates his shoulder early on in the midweek 0-0 draw at home to strugglers Bristol City. The match itself is poor with the team simply having no idea as to how to break down an eleven man defence.
The fans are unimpressed by the manager’s claim (using the usual array of statistics, graphs and pie-charts) that the performance was “outstanding”, preferring instead to mull over the fact that City ‘keeper David James had but one proper save to make all night.
A number of happenings early in the month put football into perspective. Doncaster striker Billy Sharp plays and scores only days after tragically (and that word is, for once, appropriate) losing his infant son. On scoring he reveals a t-shirt tribute that referee Darren Deadman laudably ignores, applying a level of common sense unusual in modern day refereeing by refusing to issue the standard yellow for such “offences”.
The Hull match is preceded by a period of silence in advance of Remembrance Day. Both sides wear poppy-embroidered shirts as we take home all three points from the KC stadium with goals from Baldock and Collison. Rob Green pulls off a number of good saves to preserve the points and the clean sheet. Meanwhile Billy Sharp is in the news again receiving generous applause from Ipswich fans as he scores in Doncaster’s surprise 3-2 win at Portman Road. Someone called El Haj Diouf scores the other two for Rovers but gets no applause whatsoever for some reason.
An international break follows the Hull match giving journos an excuse to start the pre-window silly season a bit early. Alessandro Del Piero starts it all off with rumours that he is looking for a move to either us or Spurs during the summer. I’d join us mate – the lasagne’s safer.
Talking of N17, the Metropolitan Police confirm that they are still looking at allegations that the tawdry little club based in that area are still under investigation following allegations that illegal surveillance techniques were used over the Olympic Stadium affair. In fact so closely are they looking they have actually managed to arrest somebody after Baroness Ford (chair of the OPLC) complains that all 14 board members were the subject of Tottenham’s scrutiny.
Predictably, Tottenham deny any involvement, stating “we did not instruct, undertake or engage any party to conduct surveillance” adding, “We hired PKF’s Olympic Bugging & Covert Surveillance Services Team in the utmost good faith and are shocked and dismayed at the idea that they would involve themselves in Bugging and Covert Surveillance in this manner. By the way Baroness, you have a small leak under your kitchen sink you might need to get repaired sooner rather than later and, if you could snore a little quieter of an evening, the person that we have not instructed, undertaken or engaged to listen in would appreciate it all the more as the microphones that we know nothing about are really quite sensitive”. Allegedly.
Christiano Montano returns a week early from a loan spell at Swindon following criticism over his attitude by Swindon manager Paolo Di Canio (no matter how many times I say that it still doesn’t seem right). PDC claims that the player seems to lack the desire to play for Swindon Town. Be fair Paolo – most people feel like that. And it’s not as if the player was “injured” every time there was a fixture north of Oxford is it.
Montano returns for a Development Squad match at Gillingham, a match that features an unnamed “triallist”. Given the furore over El Haj Diouf we reckon Sam is playing it cagey lest it is discovered that someone equally universally loathed and reviled is in line to sign. Our money’s on Simon Cowell or Pol Pot. We draw 2-2 as Guy Demel (yup we’d forgotten about him too) manages 45 minutes without exploding. Speculation suggests that the trialist is either the exotically-named defender Calum Angus who is currently playing in Sweden, or the equally exotically-named Pelly Ruddock who is playing in the Blue Square something or other for Borehamwood.
The FA pick another argument with FIFA this time over England’s friendly v Spain. As has become prevalent in domestic football in recent times, the plan is to wear shirts emblazoned with poppies in the match against the World Champions, the match taking place as it does on the day between Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday. Those who think that even FIFA can’t object to this are sadly mistaken as the increasingly sad organisation bans the shirts on the grounds that “political” statements are forbidden. The Prime Minister gets involved as there is talk that the match could even be abandoned if England take to the field in the “offending” (and I use that word quite incorrectly) shirts. Finally FIFA – whose head let us not forget owes his position to bribes given to African delegates- relent after FA Patron Prince William gets involved. After William threatens to send what’s left of the Army round (or, worse still his stepmother) FIFA relent enough to allow poppies to be worn on black armbands, though sadly nobody thinks of sewing the armbands to the front of the shirts just to be bloody minded. Meanwhile FIFA continues its purge of all delegates caught receiving bribes, taking care to investigate only those not bribed by Blatter.
When the match is finally played England nick a 1-0 off the World Champions with a goal from some fat bloke who clearly won his place in the team as a result of a competition. The win is followed up with another, an own goal being enough to beat Sweden despite England fielding a fit John Terry.
Montano has barely unpacked before he goes out on loan again, Dagenham & Redbridge being the lucky recipient of his services. The Development Squad (“give us a D.....”) win 2-0 at Whyteleaf with Demel getting another 45 minutes.
Just when you thought Blatter couldn’t make more of an arse of himself than he already has up he pops with his views on racism. According to Sepp it doesn’t exist on the pitch and even if it does, why, a good solid handshake should be good enough to settle matters. The clamour for the corrupt fool’s resignation is deafening, though the faint sound of “for he’s a jolly good fellow” being sung can be heard in the background coming from the John Terry household. The row escalates as Blatter claims that he was misquoted, or misunderstood or just about everything other than caught red handed. “I’m no racist” he is heard to claim. “Why just look at how many Africans I bribed to get my position in the first place” he added, or at least would have added had we gotten to him first with a syringe full of Sodium Pentathol.
Karren Brady goes to court over allegations that her phone records have been obtained by PKF’s Olympic Bugging & Surveillance team. PKF (and for PKF read Tottenham) argue that the case should be heard in secret. The High Court judge involved refuses to sanction such an arrangement. We therefore find out that PKF do, in fact have copies of Brady’s phone records. “Oh those phone records” PKF exclaim. “We found them, in the street. Or was it a pub. We haven’t looked at them honest. In fact we were just on our way to return them. We were just taking a peek at the address. Of course we didn’t copy them and share the details with Spurs. Perish the thought".
We next go to Coventry. The eve of the match is punctuated by laughter as a recently-resigned Coventry director comes up with the idea of allowing fans to decide on substitutions by submitting (no-doubt premium rate) text messages to the club. The idea is given shrift so short it barely qualifies as shrift at all. We can’t help but speculate as to what might have been had such a system been in place for the past. One text we might have sent would have read “arry don’t bring on that manny bloke whateva u do lol”
The match at the Ricoh stadium sees us take another three points from an away trip. This time a lacklustre first half sees us go into the break 1-0 down. However, the introduction of Cole and Piquionne changes everything as both subs score to give us a 2-1 win. Piquionne’s effort is particularly noteworthy. Having missed his header the ball ricochets off a defender and hits the floorbound striker to rebound past the stranded keeper to beat Carlton Cole’s previous record for funniest comedy goal scored by a West Ham player.
It’s rumour time again as the attempts to beef up the central defensive area, which currently is comprised of Tomkins, Faye and, er, that’s it, are stepped up.
Ex-Real Madrid defender Francisco Pavon turns up, trains then turns his nose up at a short term deal (if you believe his version) or, alternatively, turns up, trains and fails to look fit enough for the first team (if you believe ours). Leeds defender Andy O’Brien is next on the list. O’Brien is originally linked with a loan move to the Boleyn due to being out of favour at Elland Road. However things come to a head when Leeds boss Simon Grayson states that the player will not be allowed out on loan. The player reacts by refusing to play for Leeds again. The manager reacts to the player’s refusal to play for Leeds again by stating that the player will never play for Leeds again.
Barcelona beat AC Milan 3-2 at the San Siro (or Stadio Guissepe Meazza if you prefer) in the so-called Champions League. Entertaining as the game is it is noteworthy for the fact that, in scoring for the 27th consecutive match, Barcelona have finally equalled the 30 year-old record held by ourselves. Pep Guardiola is effervescent at finally being elevated to such company, though his mood is returned to normal on being reminded that they still needed Real Madrid’s help in the World Cup.
A 3-1 home win against Derby coupled with a surprise defeat for Southampton at Bristol City sees us narrow the gap at the top to 2 points. A Cole header sees us go in at half time on level terms. A wonder volley by Kevin Nolan – his first of the season at the Boleyn – and a Noble penalty give us all three points. The win is only spoilt by an injury to Sam Baldock, whose hamstring keeps him out for a bit.
Not for the first time Karren Brady’s column causes consternation as a poorly worded commentary on racism in football suggests that Clyde Best suffered racism from West Ham fans at the Boleyn, including the frequent launching of bananas in his direction. That’s certainly a new one on me and, whilst my memory may not be the greatest I do have the advantage of Ms Brady on this one by virtue of the fact that I was actually there. When asked, Best, ever the gentleman, merely confirms the mutual affection between him and the supporters of that era. All in all not our vice chair’s finest hour.
Back on the pitch the away form continues to inspire as we go up to Teesside and beat Boro’ 2-0. A proper header (unlike his previous goal at Coventry) from Piquionne in the first half would probably have been enough for the points even without Carlton’s stoppage time effort which sealed the match.
Five months to go then. Or possibly six...
Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.
09:39PM 29th May 2012
''Top writing, very funny, incisive.''
08:24PM 29th May 2012
''Brilliant. Next please.''
by Trevor Whatever
10:32AM 29th May 2012
'''We draw 2-2 as Guy Demel (yup we’d forgotten about him too) manages 45 minutes without exploding' made me laugh out loud. Great stuff.''
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