Filed: Thursday, 31st May 2012
By: Gordon Thrower
It's been dry warm & sunny over the last few days so, quite naturally, Gordon Thrower's thoughts have been on Christmas and New Year as he wades through the latest part of his look back at the season just ended. At this rate he'll be lucky to finish by the time the next one starts!....
The month starts with us falling back to earth with a bump on the Saturday as a team that looks as if it’s played three games in five days somehow contrives to lose 2-1 at home to Burnley, despite hitting the woodwork more times than one would have thought possible. Southampton also manage to lose at Doncaster so no harm done.
There’s a welcome sight as Henri Lansbury and, more heart-warmingly Gary O’Neil both get runouts in the Development squad’s 3-0 win over Brentford. Two goals come from a mystery trialist with the improbable name of Habib Habibou, who, along with Papa Bouba Diop would add to the list of Cleo Laine songs to be sung in E13.
One player definitely on his way in is 17 year-old Borehamwood midfielder and oxymoron Pelly Ruddock. He is so highly rated that he bypasses the youth team and goes straight into the Development Squad set up. Meanwhile we all start looking for players with similar names – with Cruyff Quinn, Beckenbauer Radford and Frank Lampard all looming on the horizon.
Disaster strikes as we travel to Reading. Guy Demel pulls up lame with what looks like a torn thigh muscle after less than 90 seconds. His replacement Joey O’Brien somehow contrives to pick up two yellow cards whilst Jack Collison picks up a straight red for a girly push on Kebe following a rather childish bit of mickey taking in which the Reading winger mimes pulling his socks up. We lose 3-0 as Southampton scramble an unconvincing point in the 93rd minute of their match, drawing 2-2 at home against Blackpool.
Spurs fans cement their reputation as the Premiership’s thickest by bombarding cycling legend Sir Chris Hoy with abusive tweets (as I believe they are called) over his refereeing performance in their 2-1 defeat at Stoke. When the multi-medal winning Olympian helpfully points out that it might be (admittedly poor) Premiership ref Chris FOY they are after, the special needs ones remain defiant: “@chrishoy now denying that he's even a ref. What kind of mugs does he take us for?” tweets one particularly intelligent specimen. Presumably, Mr Don Logan (for it was he), he takes you for the sort of thick mug who can’t tell the difference between a cyclist and a referee. Meanwhile, the lovely actress Diane Keen switches off her twitter account when she hears that Mike Dean is in charge of the window lickers’ next match and local branches of Halfords are put on red alert in case the riots start up again.
Reading boss Brian McDermott defends his idiot winger Kebe against charges of bad sportsmanship claiming that Collison could have ended his player’s career. Only if he had plans to appear at the National Theatre, Brian. McDermott applauds Allardyce for not defending Collison. Shame he couldn’t display the same sort of honesty himself really. There again when you have Madejski as chairman I expect being economical with the truth is pretty much par for the course.
Despite scoring twice in his trial match Habib Habibou-be-do-be-doo fails to impress the management sufficiently for a deal to be offered and he returns to Belgium. His place is taken in the “Player to be signed by the Hammers?” section of the papers by Ryoichi Maeda who, according to his agent, is the hottest thing to come out of Japan since that green radioactive horseradish stuff that stings your nose when you eat it.
The injury list gets worse as we entertain Barnsley at home. Abdoullaye Faye pulls up lame during the pre-match warm up, prompting a debut for Daniel Potts who, as son of kids’ coach and goalscoring legend Steve, makes us all feel simultaneously proud and bloody old at the same time. As it happens the youngster has a fine debut at left back as Papa Bouba Diop’s first goal for the Irons gives us a 1-0 win. The manager’s programme notes bemoan the lack of discipline shown in the Reading match. We can therefore only presume that Mr Allardyce had a strong word with himself after being banished to the stands after complaining about a number of poor refereeing decisions. The win, coupled with Southampton only drawing 1-1 at Pompey leaves us one point off the top.
The club announce that, following a successful loan spell at Oxford United, Robert Hall is to have a further month at the Kassam Stadium. 24 hours later, the club announce that, following a successful spell at Oxford United Robert Hall is not to have a further month at the Kassam Stadium after all. Presumably the club’s injury crisis deepened in that 24 hour period.
Birmingham City are our next opponents. A decent individual goal from Cole following a defensive slip sees us take the lead early on. David Murphy’s handball of a goalbound Faubert header is missed by the ref, a mistake made even more costly by the fact that the offender remains on the pitch to head a late equaliser. The ref did spot infringements by Faubert, Nolan and McCartney, issuing yellow cards leading to suspensions for all three in the upcoming match at Derby.
The FA conclude their long close look at the Suarez affair and decide that the player is guilty of using racially offensive language and give him an 8 match ban. Even by the disgracefully low standards of Liverpool FC (which seem to match those of the city’s inhabitants) the club’s reaction is breathtakingly arrogant. “How dare the FA charge anyone to do with Liverpool with anything” is the general tone of the statement, a press release which is almost as offensive as anything Suarez has done. After years of having the BBC being in love with everything connected with the red half of that city, suddenly nobody is turning a blind eye to the goings on Anfield, a smell that gets worse as players warm up in T-shirts bearing Suarez’s image in support of the “Uruguay One”.
Back in the fresh air, the calendar year (and a rotten one it was too) ends up with another defeat as a nightmare start at Pride Park on New Year’s Eve sees us go 2-0 down within ten minutes. Frank Nouble pulls one back before the interval but the injuries and suspensions take their toll as a third string XI finally go down 2-1. Annoyingly, we’d have gone top with a win as Bristol City complete their double over Southampton.
And the Jools Holland programme was crap this year too.
Happy New Year! The Derby defeat having temporarily evicted us from the automatic promotion places, a win against Coventry is a must. And we get it as all those suspended return. A cricket score is avoided as Sky Blues ‘keeper Murphy saves everything bar a Kevin Nolan effort on 66 minutes. Both Southampton (at Brighton) and Boro’ (at Blackpool) go down 3-0, a series of results that see us join Southampton on points at the top.
Of course a new year means new window and we miss out on Spurs kid Andros Townsend who ends up at Leeds on loan. Silly bids start to come in for the likes of James Tomkins, for whom Newcastle have stuck in a derisory offer. Worryingly it appears that Tomkins has a new agent, often the precursor to a move.
Jordan Rhodes at Huddersfield Town is one player we are continually linked with, with offers of varying sizes said to be on the table from us. Unfortunately his five goal haul in the Terriers’ 6-0 demolition of Wycombe only sees the price go up again.
Should Rhodes arrive at the Boleyn, being cup-tied will not be an issue as we contrive to lose 1-0 at Sheffield Wednesday. A largely inexperienced XI still miss a shedload of chances – including a penalty from Sam Baldock – before going out to an 88th minute winner from O’Grady. Another late one then.
The central defensive area receives a boost in personnel as our first signing of the window is announced. George John comes in from FC Dallas after we see off a late bid from Athletico Knots Landing. John arrives on a loan with an option deal.
Espionage news and police arrest a third person in what nobody is referring to “Olympicgate”. Spurs continue to deny any involvement. A Spurs spokesman says: “As we have said before when we hired people to spy on those involved in the Olympic Stadium process we had absolutely no idea that they would spy on those involved in the Olympic Stadium process. When we were given the invoice for the Aston Martin DB5 with ejector seat we were assured that this was standard equipment for those involved in spying on those involved in the Olympic Stadium process. The fact that some of the interchangeable licence plates turned out to be false is therefore nothing to do with us”.
Freddie Piquionne is linked with a departure from the club as efforts to secure another striker are stepped up. The Daily Mail informs the world that the player has signed for Wolves, either for free or for a “cut-price fee” depending on whether you believe the start or the end of the article. Unusually for the Mail, no comment is made on the effect that the deal will have on house prices. Unsurprisingly, the article turns out to be complete twaddle with the player still on the books at the Boleyn.
We return to league action with an unspectacular but solid win down at ten-man Pompey, Mark Noble netting from the spot to give us all three points. This leaves us still level with Southampton on points at the top, though Boro’s defeat at home to Burnley gives us a slightly more important four point cushion from third place.
Another signing arrives, though this is firmly in the “one for the future” box. Joe Dixon comes in as a free agent having last turned out for Grays Athletic. The former Moan Utd trainee is given a two month contract to see if he’s up to it.
Police arrest yet another man in what I will get people to call “Olympicgate” if it kills me. Tottenham deny involvement yet again: “We asked Dame Judi Dench for her best man. With some gadgets. That’s all.”
Croatian Nikica Jelevic is the next striker to appear on the transfer radar. Although much liked at Rangers, the Scottish club’s run-in with the taxman has potentially left the Ibrox mob in financial trouble, leaving them vulnerable to bids for their better players.
There’s a spot of welcome news as James Tomkins, despite or because of (you pays yer money...) the attentions of a new agent, signs a new contract. The announcement is made prior to kick off in the home match against Forest. We win 2-1 with two penalties from Mark Noble, one dodgy, one not. Forest’s goal is too late to be anything other than a consolation. The manner of the home team’s performance causes some disquiet despite the fact that the victory sees us go clear at the top with Southampton not playing until the following Monday.
The Forest match marks the final match in charge of media things at the club for Greg Demetriou, who is moving on for a quieter life in a similar role at the FA. The players mark Greg’s departure by throwing him fully clothed into an ice bath. Family commitments preclude my attendance at the post match leaving do which, I am reliably informed, got “a bit messy”. Best of luck sir!
The weekend sees some sad news as the death of former ‘keeper Ernie Gregory is announced. Gregory, who was in his 90’s, spent over 50 years at the club as player and coach and was rated by my Dad as one of the best ‘keepers he’d ever seen at the Boleyn. And trust me my Dad knows his stuff.
Someone with whom Gregory would have been all too familiar is Harry Redknapp whose long-awaited appearance in court on tax charges finally commences. As expected the “Father Ted” defence (“that money was just resting in my account”)is much in evidence, though legal and tax experts are also impressed by the use of the “Father Dougal” variation (“what’s going on? Where am I?”) of that defence.
Herita Ilunga departs. Having spent most of the season so far at Doncaster on loan, the player returns to find he is still surplus to requirements. One of those “by mutual consent” announcements is cobbled together and his contract, that has another 18 months or so to run, is torn up.
We get involved in talks to sign Portuguese striker Eder from Academia de Coimbra. At least we do until he disappears. Seemingly unaware of the tradition that you have to sign for the Irons before going missing (Boogers, Savio etc), the player elects to go walkabout while talks are going on. “Something didn’t feel right” claimed the player. You’re not kidding mate.
Next on the list seems to be Brazilian striker Ze Eduardo who is set to come in for a medical at The Shaun Wright-Phillips Memorial Medical Centre. We are set to become the player’s sixteenth club in seven years (how is that even possible?) until things get put on hold as talks are opened with Bristol City’s Nicky Maynard. We also stick in a bid for former Allardyce protégé (Bolton again) Ricardo Vaz Te, which Barnsley reject as “derisory” despite the fact that the player will be available on a free at the end of the season.
The Jelevic deal finally dies on its feet allowing Everton to come in and sign the player as we are linked with Moan Utd bad boy Ravel Morrison, who is apparently both talented and wayward in equal measures.
Rather inconveniently, deadline day coincides with a visit to Portman Road. Rather inconveniently the team choose to have their worst performance of the season going down 5-1 with barely a whimper, never mind a fight. Collison heads the goal that temporarily pulls us back into the game at 2-1.
The transfer window closes with three more signings completed as Maynard, Vaz Te and Morrison are all added to the squad. Vaz Te’s arrival puts a temporary halt to Ze Eduardo’ s attempt to break the record for the most clubs played for as we withdraw our interest. Morrison immediately reminds us of his problems by getting into a verbal spat with some idiot on twitter, the FA asking for Morrison’s comments over his use of the word “faggot” as an insult, eventually slapping a misconduct charge on the player.
The closing of the window is a historic day for West Ham United FC as thousands of fans gather round outside the Boleyn Ground to celebrate the fact that, for the first time since 1895 we have gone through an entire transfer window without once being linked with Eidur Gudjohnsen. Grown men cry at the passing of an old established tradition, which the club shop marks by dishing out commemorative t-shirts and mugs.
You will recall (if you’re reading this in the correct order and don’t have some sort of memory loss problem) that back in January former Hammer’s media boss Greg Demetriou left the club to take on a similar role at the FA. If you don’t recall then you know now. Any plans that Greg may have had for a quieter life are immediately thrown into some disarray by the English legal system. John Terry pleads not guilty to charges over his alleged racial abuse of Anton Ferdinand. All hopes that the issue will be dealt with quickly are dashed, with the full hearing into the matter slated for a date after Euro 2012. The FA elect to strip Terry of the captaincy, it not having occurred to them previously that the loathsome excuse for a human being ought never have been within a million miles of the job in the first place. We’re just surprised that M Lipton esq hasn’t started a campaign to have a statue erected in honour of Terry at Wembley, “like the Bobby Moore one only bigger because Terry’s England’s Greatest Ever Captain”. They’d save money on the plaque of course. Whereas Bobby’s statue bears a 42 word inscription, Terry’s could make do with just the word “twat”.
Back on the domestic front a major police operation takes place as we face Millwall in a lunchtime kick off. Team selection is interesting after the Ipswich debacle, with Tomkins selected to play in a role just in front of the back four. The idiot contingent amongst the visiting support make great claims about walking around Plaistow unopposed, strangely forgetting to mention that anyone who might have been interested in debating the point with them was happily tucked up in the ground, what with the match having kicked off fifteen minutes earlier and all.
By that time we had been reduced to ten men with following a two-footed Nolan tackle that had the merit of going for the ball but little else going for it. Other bad challenges – including a slow-mo thigh high kung-fu assault on Matt Taylor bizarrely escape sanction from ref Mike Jones for whom competence still seems to be a major problem (see Stoke last season).
Thankfully Millwall the team is every bit as useless as its support and, with Tomkins pressed into a more formal midfield role after Nolan’s dismissal, we dominate the match taking a lead through Carlton Cole just before the interval. Millwall somehow pull back an equaliser but we controversially regain the lead shortly after as ‘keeper Forde elects to punch a catchable one before being clattered by Faubert, Reid volleying the ball straight back in to the unguarded net. It’s as if ref Jones had remembered his disgraceful performance at the Britannia last season and figured he owed us one. 2-1 to the cockney boys. I personally take all of South East London on my own by singing “Bubbles” loudly on their manor. Ok it was 2.30am (my journey home having been delayed by a concert and a lot of inclement weather) and there was consequently nobody about but apparently that counts.
Next we go back to Southwark Crown Court where, despite admitting to have opened an offshore bank account in the name of his dog, and, somehow, having forgotten to inform his accountant of said account, Henry Redknapp is acquitted of both charges facing him. As a qualified tax specialist, professional ethics prevent me from commenting further but let’s just say that perhaps the prosecution didn’t make the best of what they had.
Meanwhile our old mate Greg Demetriou has barely had time to find out where the digestives are kept at Wembley before there is more fallout from the ditching of Terry as skipper. Manager Capello is quoted in interviews with the Italian media as being unhappy that the FA have gone over his head. A meeting to discuss the matter at Wembley ends up with the Italian resigning. Absolutely nobody is upset. Unsurprisingly, Redknapp’s media pals install him as England manager elect, conveniently ignoring the fact that his record over the years isn’t that impressive. Still he’s English and that’s all that seems to matter apparently.
Our next match at Peterborough falls foul to the weather with temperatures hitting -15 overnight at London Road, an old fashioned ground without undersoil heating. Southampton take advantage of our inactivity to reduce the deficit at the top to one point.
Elsewhere and just when you think Liverpool couldn’t act more disgracefully, they do. Suarez, in his second match back from his 8 match ban for doing nothing (according to his employers) or racially abusing Evra (according to everyone else), stokes up ill-feeling by refusing to shake Evra’s hand in the (admittedly ludicrous) pre-match handshake thing. There are scuffles in the tunnel at half time and full time as the whining Mancs beat the self-pitying Scousers 2-1. Dalglish is predictably disgraceful in his post match comments: “you are bang out of order to blame Suarez for anything that happened today” the moaning Scot claims as he metamorphoses into a sort of Caledonian Neil Warnock. As usual Scouse supporters go into truth denial overdrive claiming that it was Evra who had refused the handshake despite the fact that it so very obviously wasn’t. This line of argument is quietly dropped as Suarez admits that he’s in the wrong and apologises for his actions, though the sincerity of both his and Dalglish’s apologies is highly questionable, coming as they do after instructions from the club’s American holding company who know a good PR disaster when they see one.
Back in the fresh air again we take on Southampton at the Boleyn in a top of the table clash. Unfortunately Southampton can count on a fully fit and incompetent Lee Probert who has a disgraceful 90 minutes. Probert inexplicably ignores two blatant handballs before finally awarding a penalty for a trip on Noble. Billy Sharp loses all goodwill by clutching his face as Taylor shoves him in the chest to give the midfielder a red card Sharp’s similar push on Noble goes unpunished as Probert goes into a one man attempt to rewrite the record books for most inept refereeing performance. Noble finally puts the penalty away to give us the lead. Southampton ‘keeper Davies then handles outside the box flattening Cole in a “Shumacher on Battiston” style challenge that Probert decides is perfectly legal. Southampton finally equalise from Hooiveld with fifteen minutes left despite an obvious foul in the build up. All in all a good point to get given the disgraceful refereeing involved – which, I am duty bound to remind you, we must respect.
In a quiet few days for the Hammers, Carlos Tevez returns to the Man City training camp to find everyone else has the day off. “Mancini treated me like a dog” claims Tevez. Mancini denies that was the case saying “we get the club doctor to do that operation on all our players”.
The London Borough of Harringay and the Greater London Authority announce a package worth £27m to spruce up riot-torn Tottenham. The package includes a whole raft of infrastructrure improvements linked to the Tottenham stadium redevelopment project. Meanwhile, in a totally unconnected announcement it is quietly announced that Tottenham’s legal obligation to cough up something like £16m towards a whole raft of infrastructure projects linked to the Tottenham stadium redevelopment project has been removed. In effect at least £16m of taxpayers’ money has been handed to Spurs. Suddenly the European Commission finds itself having to deal with dozens of complaints regarding illegal state aid, most of which seem entirely more justified than the anonymous one posted by someone called Steve Lawrence at the time of the original Olympic deal.
North of the border, Rangers take over from Hearts as the nation’s basket case. With a possible £75m owing to the taxman, the club enters administration. It is a measure of the paucity of competition up north that, despite the ten point deduction that comes with such financial shenanigans, they are still streets clear of the third-placed club.
Also in financial bother, again, are Pompey, whose owners had gone into administration a few months previously. Vladimir Antonov, the club’s ultimate owner appears in court on a European arrest warrant as the Lithuanian authorities indicate that they’d like a quiet word about the millions missing from one or two of their banks. Fans ask the Football League how on earth Antonov had passed their “fit & proper” test. “He lied” comes the answer. “He told us he was rich and it turned out that he was just a great big fibber”. Some good comes out of the whole affair though. The Football League announce changes to their “fit & proper” test. “In future we’ll check their hands so that when they tell us they are rich they won’t be able to cross their fingers”.
Portsmouth eventually enter administration themselves prompting a ten point penalty and worries over their ability to complete their fixtures, something that could end up costing us six points.
Following the opening fixture of the season when Cardiff supporters were asked to pick up their tickets at an M25 service area, ticket details for the return fixture are announced. A series of clues are to be left at strategic points on the route between London and Wales, each clue being written by the person responsible for the clues on 1980’s gameshow “3-2-1”. Those that successfully complete the challenge will be given tickets. Those that don’t will be getting a radio controlled dustbin with a stupid grin painted on its face. “We tried this successfully earlier with Millwall (pronounced Michwach)” a South Wales Police spokesman told us. “No supporters got to the ground – they found the “if tickets ye seek, to Cardiff West Services ye should wend” clue a bit too challenging, though the dustbins are now on three-year contracts at the Den. We’ll have to make the clues a bit harder than that for West Ham supporters though or you’ll go straight there. Er, I probably shouldn’t have told you that” he helpfully adds.
Boxing news, and there is uproar in Germany at a press conference when Derek Chisora, fresh from becoming the latest bit of cannon fodder for one of those Ukranian brothers whose names I can’t be bothered to check the spelling of, gets into a bit of a ruccus with Millwall-supporter David Haye. The spat starts of in verbal form but spills over into actual violence as Chisora climbs down from the platform to continue the debate. Chisora is later arrested by the Deutscher Bundesplod at the airport but is later released without charge. Haye sneaks out of the country before Das Alter Wilhelm (as I expect the locals call their constabulary) can catch up with him. Meanwhile boxing fans are left scratching their collective heads wondering why neither Chisora nor Hay could be bothered to show that much fight in their respective fights with those Ukranian brothers whose names I can’t be bothered to check the spelling of.
The weekend sees us clicking our heels as Southampton go top beating Derby 4-0 at home. Blackpool, who should have been our own opponents for the day, are otherwise occupied with being knocked out of the cup by Everton. The rearranged match takes place on the Tuesday with a win needed to return to top slot. Even by West Ham standards the match is a bit bonkers in the nut. We race into a deserved 2-0 lead through midfield maestro Tomkins and Maynard who scores on his first start. Holloway rearranges things after half an hour and sub Kevin Phillips pulls one back on the stroke of half time. In the second half Rob Green becomes the third Hammer in as many matches to see a red card, after upending Bednar outside the box. With no sub ‘keeper on the truncated bench, Lansbury becomes the second loan signing from Arsenal of the season to take his place in goal, his previous goalkeeping experience having come in England U21 colours under similar circumstances. Lansbury is barely bothered and keeps a clean sheet as we score another two through O’Neil and Vaz Te to take the match 4-1, a result that takes us back to the top by a point with a game in hand over Southampton.
On the international front John Terry announces that he’ll be out for six weeks with a knee injury thus saving England caretaker boss Stuart Pearce the cost of a “you’re dropped” text massage and also sparing the rest of the squad the embarrassment of having to be in the same room as such low life.
We return to action against Crystal Palace with a team unchanged from that which won at Blackpool. The exertions of playing three in a row with ten men are all too obvious in the first half. A few changes in the second half sees things improve but although we seem the more likely to score in the second period the match finishes goalless. According to the Sun newspaper the players leave to a “deafening chorus of boos”. This, not to put too fine a point on it, is a lie. Southampton’s 3-0 win at Watford, which features yet another dive to win a penalty, takes them back to the top by one point, though we still have a game in hand.
England – who feature Rob Green safely on the bench -lose the first match of the post-Capello era 3-2 to the Netherlands, despite clawing back a 2-0 deficit with moments to spare. Caretaker manager Stuart Pearce rules himself out of contention for the role on a full time basis amidst rumours that the not-so-cordial history between Sir Trevor Brooking and Henry Redknapp might count against the latter in the race to get the full-time job. That and the fact that Redknapp isn't much of a coach presumably.
So there you go. Second in the league with two months of the season left. A few wins in March and we could be up by the end of the month. No worries.....
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.
04:19PM 7th Jun 2012
''How generous of Mr T and the mods to welcome in non believers. Context is all.''
by Gordon Thrower
08:24AM 5th Jun 2012
I will instantly rewrite the whole thing to concentrate totally on Southampton, pointing out that Lambert doesn't dive, Lalana's booking at the Boleyn was for something else and that Nigel Adkins' discomfort at the post match press conference at the Boleyn was due not to having to answer questions about his team's antics but to having an itch in an embarrassing place.
Also John Terry really is England's greatest captain, Joey Barton really is a nice bloke who is just a bit misunderstood and Scotland will win the next World Cup.''
by Lee Byron
06:40AM 5th Jun 2012
''@Scummer Rich: Not sure who you support (from your name, Man City spring to mind), but just to set the record straight, these articles are deliberately written this way, drenched in satire and irony, for the amusement of readers who get those concepts. You yourself state how amusing it was, so why think there is even an ounce of seriousness about it (although everything in it is accurate, and this is how we all think).''
by Scummer Rich
09:07PM 31st May 2012
''I was in turn entertained and appalled by this. Absolutely no credit given to competing teams, and you would think that Southampton cheated their way to promotion when reading this. And it does add further credence to the generalisation that West Ham fans are overburdened with collective self importance, perennial underachievement and the sheer bloody injustice of just about everything. Seriously, get some perspective!
On the other hand, this was bloody amusing in places and one of the more worthwhile reads during the lull of the close season.''
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