Filed: Friday, 20th July 2012
By: Staff Writer
15 years ago this month, KUMB.com - then known simply as 'Knees up Mother Brown' - took it's first tentative steps on an embryonic world wide web. To celebrate this inauspicious occasion we will be reproducing some of the most memorable articles we've published over the years, ahead of the new 2012/13 Premier League campaign.
For today's dip into the KUMB archives we're going back to our eleventh season in business, the 2007/08 Premier League campaign - the ramifications of which are still being felt at the Boleyn Ground to this day.
Having avoiding relegation by the skin of our teeth at Old Trafford on the final day of the 2006/07 campaign all most West Ham fans wanted this year was a season of consolidation.
However even though that was safely achived - thanks to a summer of heavy spending courtesy of the new Icelandic owners - the dissent soon grew as Alan Curbishley was labelled both 'negative' and 'boring' for a safety-first approach. With that in mind, non-Hammer Tim Sansom - in his first article for KUMB - argued, perhaps prophetically, that maybe we should be content with our lot...
By Tim Sansom
First published April 2008
It does not happen often but there are occasions when a mate says something to you that sticks in your mind and causes you to think (even in your sleep) about what you heard. That honour fell to a good friend who joined me for a drink in a Baker Street pub on a changeable Thursday before Easter.
Whilst I sipped lemonade, which fizzed away under a layer of lemon and lime slices, and a mountain amount of ice that could rival an average glacier, we began assessing West Ham and the rest of their 2007/ 2008 season. It was a difficult conversation.
My fanatical, yet impressively wise Hammers mate tried to excite me with the prospect of a titanic battle between West Ham and Tottenham Hotspur for the elusive prize of 10th spot in the Premiership. I attempted to look interested but my attention wondered out of the window to the drenched punters that were huddling under the canopy to gasp at a load of moulded wax in Madame Tussauds.
I have a lot of time for West Ham. A respected BBC commentator once suggested that a successful Manchester United was crucial for the Premiership. I would argue that an attacking and free-flowing passing West Ham is needed at football’s top table.
I support a team that always seems to play West Ham on New Year’s Day or Boxing Day when we are in the same league, but lost to the Hammers in two successive play-off semi finals. However I was born in deepest Essex and know about the distinct kind of magic that West Ham has over East London as well as South Essex. Many people are attracted to Upton Park for a kind of football which is like a decent curry; hot, spicy, colourful and liable to provide runs (down the wing of course!)
My good friend turned his attention to the current debate about whether West Ham should play boring football. He argued that those who complained about the one-nils that littered West Ham’s recent results table should understand that the team can not be successful in the Premier League by playing wide and attacking football all the while. I was aghast and bit on a piece of ice in shock.
My friend sensed my shock because he knows that I love the sight of wingers running with the ball, who are more than prepared to take a shot on goal instead of passing back to the goal keeper. As the block disintegrated amongst my stinging teeth, I tried to think of a suitable answer but struggled to say anything coherent.
To be labelled ‘a boring team’ is difficult to take. You can sometimes sense that you beloved side is not that exciting when you realise that the last time they led the Match of the Day billing was in 1982 when Jimmy Hill was the anchor, there were only four television channels, and Imagination’s ‘Just an Illusion’ was flying high in the charts. Being boring means that the atmosphere at the ground represents Sunday morning church mass, and the banks of empty seats sit sadly in the vain hope for anyone to take advantage of the comfort that they can provide.
Is it fair to expect your team to play exciting football every game? The answer is that classic fudge of yes and no. In some ways, considering the amount of money that football supporters need to fork out for the game, it is not unreasonable to expect a return on their investment. What can sometimes be up to £65 in return for a war of attrition and the odd missed penalty can represent a bad return, even in this era of a credit crunch.
We hope for those 5-5 classics, which we seem to think occur on a weekly basis somewhere in the UK and every day on the European circuit. We want continuous attacking play with balls coming in from all angles. If it is 0-0 at half time, we are on the player’s backs and offer a comprehensive boo to carry them back to the changing rooms. The toilets represent a therapy chamber as we rant away whilst taking advantage of the facilities
Should West Ham fans be whinging? The easy answer is to say ‘what are you complaining about?’ You are not in a relegation battle and after a year of upheaval, it is a fair return on your money. Just enjoy the season of ‘transition!’ But saying that would be too easy!
Our teams are defined in the style that is played week-to-week, year-to-year, and decade-to-decade basis. I support a club, which along with West Ham, has a proud history of playing football ‘the right way’ and when that way is challenged, I will be up in arms if that way is compromised. Do I accept that you have to play for a 1-0 on occasions? It is difficult for me to accept without thinking that I would be throwing the great swashbuckling exploits of the great players of the past.
You will be pleased to know that my friend and I did not have a major row over whether West Ham play, or should play, boring football. We dodged the hail storms and entered the maze of escalators and tiled tunnels of Baker Street underground station with a renewed sense of hope for the remaining weeks of the 2007-2008 season. However our chat did make me think whether any football team, like West Ham, will need to play ‘boring’ football to achieve something in future seasons.
2007/08 Fact File
League: Premier League
Manager: Alan Curbishley
Final Position: 10th
Record: Won 13, Drew 10, Lost 15
Goals: For 42, Against 50 (GD -8)
FA Cup: Third Round - lost 1-0 to Man City (a, replay)
League Cup: Quarter Final - lost 2-1 to Everton (h)
Biggest Win: Derby 0-5 West Ham Utd (November 2007)
Biggest Defeat: West Ham Utd 0-4 Chelsea (March 2008)
KUMB.com Player of the Year: Robert Green
KUMB.com Young Player of the Year: Mark Noble
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.
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