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One Elle of a week

Filed: Thursday, 23rd September 1999
By: Graeme Howlett

What a week it's been here at KUMB. Three Hammers matches (two wins and a draw, can't be bad) plus one of the most amazing experiences of my life - the birth of my first child, little Elle (pronounced Ell-ee in case you were wondering).

I've spent the last week dashing from the hossie straight to the nearest TV screen to check the boys in action. First mission arrived last Monday evening, when following a tedious day in Basildon General I shot up to the old mans in time to catch most of the Villa game courtesy of Sky.

And what a mature performance it was. Equalising at the death felt like winning didn't it?

One player that really impressed me was Paolo Wanchope. I (plus many others) have questioned Harry's judgement since the big fella arrived from Derby, but he really shone that night. How many other players could have picked up the ball deep in their own half in the 93rd minute, then race fully 90 yards to pick up the ball at the other end of the field in order to set up the equaliser? Magic.

Back to hospital with Claire on Tuesday - and Wednesday, and Thursday, when the docs decided that enough was enough and opted for a sun roof delivery (caesarian section). And little Elle was brought kicking and screaming into the world at 3.12 in the afternoon. But this was just the beginning - more later ...

Left Claire Saturday lunchtime and got back for a bit of Football Focus, then settled in to listen to the game on Real Audio via a Leicester site. After trying to connect several times I gave up and stuck the radio on instead. What is it with web commentaries - they never seem to work.

I tuned in to the radio - and it was 1-1 already. Then the news that di Canio had scored a beauty to win us all 3 points - confirmed later by MOTD highlights. 7 points out of 9 in the league now - could the week get any better?

Well, yes - and no. By this time little Elle had been taken into the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for monitoring due to her low birth weight (4lbs 6oz) and the fact that she had a little jaundice. She's still there as I write but we expect her to be home by the weekend, God willing.

So last night (Tuesday) I left dirty nappies behind and went home to watch the Metz game. And glad I was too as we witnessed one of the greatest Hammers performances for years. Strong in every department, we simply outclassed the French boys to earn our (rightful) place in the UEFA Cup.

No doubt the papers will gleefully write about the disturbances on the terraces, but from what I saw on TV it looked like the French stewards and fans were intent on winding our lot up. Though this fact will make little difference to the press who will bang on about English animal supporters abroard, and we'll probably end up with a huge fine from UEFA.

As I wrap up we're still looking for middle names for Elle. Unfortunately my choice of Trevor Bobby Samassi has gone out of the window since Elle was born Elle and not a boy. So if you have any suggestions, they will be be gratefully received.

Monc-key Business

Just what has happened to John Moncur this season?

A bit part player for last season, noone could have expected John to produce the sort of early form it has been the pleasure to witness so far this season.

His commitment has never been questioned, but it is the sheer quality of performances he is turning out week in, week out that have impressed me.

Okay, he still gets booked nearly every game, but I feel he is that little bit wiser now and knows where to draw the line. Against Metz for example, having already been booked, he had one of the French boys virtually stamping all over him. But noticing the ref nearby Mr.Sideways simply threw his arms up in the air and dismissed the incident with a shrug of the shoulders. Last year he would have probably decked the fella.

And not just John Moncur, but players like Steve Potts have been outstanding too. Pottsie has been voted kumb Man of the Match for the last two games, and has never looked better. Again against Metz, he found himself playing in two positions most of the night thanks to the wayward defending of Marc Keller but still never put a foot wrong. Some of the last-ditch tackles were straight out of the Bobby Moore book of defending.

So for me the real difference so far this season is not just the new players like di Canio and Wanchope, but the re-emergence of the old guard like Moncur and Potts. With the introduction of Stuart Pearce into the fold we now have a wealth of experience at our disposal plus the raw talent of players such as Joey Cole and Frank Lampard - a perfect balance, and simply awesome to watch at times.

Full marks too to Harry Redknapp. How many managers could do what he has done on such a limited budget. Ruud Gullit and Gerard Houllier eat your hearts out ...

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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