Filed: Monday, 13th September 1999
By: Graeme Howlett
Last week I opened this column by reflecting on what a good week it had been to be a West Ham supporter. So predictably, and in typical fashion, this week turned out to be completely the opposite.
Apart from the poor result against Metz (which means we've now got a mountain to climb in France next week in order to make the UEFA Cup proper) there was the ongoing transfer fiasco with Benfica's Gary Charles (and Rangers' Colin Hendry and Liverpools' Phil Babb), plus the bad news that big Ian Pearce could possibly miss the entire duration of this season as a result of the injury sustained against our friends the Spurs on the opening day of the season.
Anyone who watched that game with Metz must have come away disappointed (well, apart from the thirty or so die-hards that ventured across the channel with their Gallic chums). It really seemed like we could have played all night and never scored. Frankie of course missed that penalty (following what can only be described as a shocking swan-dive from D-I Canio), and the rest of the side were guilty of squandering chances that wouldn't have proved too difficult for the average pub footballer.
So it all comes down to the fact that we have to go to Northern France and win - a tough proposition indeed considering the quality of the opposition. But those (slightly) older Hammers out there will be able to cast your minds back to the mid-seventies when we found ourselves in ever deeper brown stuff, in a Cup Winners Cup tie against Den Haag of Holland.
4-0 down at the break in the first leg and the future looked, well - bleak would be an understatement I guess. But the boys pulled their socks up and managed to get to the final whistle losing a far more respectable 4-2.
What followed was one of those great nights at Upton Park. As I'm constantly reminded by my father (who knows how much it grates every time he tells me) he was there, but I wasn't (well I was only six at the time). Anyway, needing to win by two clear goals we won on the night 3-1 (5-5 on aggregate) - Irons through on away goals.
So what odds a 2-1 win in Metz next week? I'm off down the bookies later in the week to stick a crafty tenner on it ...
Total Eclipse of the Smart
Well as everyone and his wife has been talking about it this week I thought I'd spare a few words in this column to mention that once in a lifetime event that occured this week.
No, not Stevie Potts scoring - I mean the bloody eclipse.
Everywhere you turned this week it was eclipse this, eclipse that. Every newspaper headline (whether front page, back page or problem page) was a 'clever' pun (a bit like this one he he) based around this - so I'm reliably informed - wonderful cosmic event. Couldn't get away from it could you?
So am I the only one who was a little disappointed? Here in sunny Basildon we all took our seats for what we were promised would be a spectacular event that would probably make us all realise the errors of our ways over the years and make us better human beings - or something like that. And what happened? Well, it went a bit gloomy, got a bit cold - and that was about it really.
Still it was all worth it to see all the nut-nuts on TV go crazy over a few seconds of darkness. Usually rational people went loopy. Even the normally reserved and conservative BBC started banging on about Nostradamus and Armageddon and the like which was, quite frankly, rather amusing.
And if our boys had played on the Wednesday instead of the Tuesday night I would have sworn that they had been looking directly at the sun for too long. Wanchope for one looked like a rabbit dazzled by headlights for much of the Metz game. Our finishing could then have been put down to a few players failing to utilise their special eclipse specs.
As it stands we need that win in France next week. Otherwise the next eclipse may arrive before we get in Europe again ...
Nappy Days ...
A quick note to let you know that KUMB may be a little slow in updating later in the week.
This is down to the fact that Ms.H is due in to Basildon 'ossie to begin the next generation of KUMB editors - yep, our first little'un is on the way.
Rest assured the little fella/fellarette will be well indoctrinated in the Hammers way. I've already scouted round the Hammers shop in Basildon's Savacentre to look for suitable baby attire - result of which is a pair of top quality claret and blue booties and a Hammers suit with a fat teddy-bear on it (yeh, and if you turn it over it says 'Ruddock' on the back - only joking Neil).
So with fatherhood looming I'll bid you farewell for this week; hopefully by the next time I write we'll be six points and a new supporter to the good ...
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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