FA Cup final: post match thoughts

Many ancient religions dictate a period of mourning after great loss. I have shaved my hair off, donned a sack and covered my scalp with ashes.

Have I fuck. I'm still celebrating a fantastic season of watching the glorious Irons, despite the disappointment, despite being so near yet so far, despite waiting 26 years for a final ... I have a smile on my face.

Why is this?

Remember where we came from. Floundering in the Championship. We were a laughing stock. We had lost direction. We had lost our bottle and our belief. We had every slimy Spurs or Chelsea fan calling us a feeder club. We all gamely fought our corner with the heathen scum, but our hearts weren't completely in it.

Saturday ended that shit once and for all. I have still been getting the usual bollox from the enemy, but now their hearts aren't in it. We have the upper hand and don't let anybody else tell you otherwise.

It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light. I see the light my friends. The light burning bright of a young, dynamic West Ham team that will be on the European stage next year.

I see the light radiating from Dean Ashton, Danny Gabbidon, Yossi Benayoun, Nigel Reo Coker, Matty Etherington, Anton Ferdinand and Marlon Harewood. They burn the brightest for me, but this is not the time to detract from all the others that have played their part in this superb season.

Last time I went to Cardiif I was filled with dread; this time I went secure in the knowledge that we have turned the corner. Of course it matters that we lost, but I would have given away that Cup every time for the victory against Preston a year ago.

It was that which changed our fortunes. It was that which set us back on the road to success. It was that which ensured that we gave time to our outstanding manager to bring in and develop the new talent.

What spoke a thousand words about Alan Pardew was his dignity in defeat. As Aristotle once said: "Dignity consists not in possessing honours, but in the consciousness that we deserve them." We deserve honours and I truly believe that we will get them in the future if we maintain this impetus.

But we must be patient. This is a marathon not a sprint. We are still in recovery mode, but the foundations for a solid future are there. This is not going to be a flash in the pan - we have a real chance now to press on and build on all the positives of this season.

Sure, we need Pardew to weave some more magic in the transfer market and we need our board not to compound past errors where complacency has set in because it looked like the team was strong enough. If we have learnt nothing else from the past few years it is that we should never rest on our laurels. The footballing world will just leave you behind in its wake.

Let's not kid ourselves that other clubs will not come sniffing for our best players. The vultures are already circling. We have to turn our backs on West Ham as a selling club, trading players like some commodity broker.

Of course it is difficult to resist the big money from the big clubs and the difficulties of managing contractual relationships are always there. We are not the plaything of some Russian oligarch bloated with the ill-gotten plunder of a country's natural resorces. Our chairman runs a caravan park for f*ck's sake.

However, if nothing else comes positive out of that defeat on Saturday, at least let's all agree that we owe it to ourselves not only to keep our best players but add in more to nurture the Pardew revolution.

That game was that magical event in the life of our club when everybody began to acknowledge who we are and what we can be, igniting the circuits of our highest potential. Let's not go back to the bad old ways now. Saturday was a beacon of hope for the future. Let us go forward secure in the optimism of better things to come. The signs are there.

ESM Jnr was truly gutted at the end of that game, but I told him that only hopeless grief is passionless. We have every hope for even better things to come. Keep the faith and the passion that was there for all to see in that Stadium. Management, players and fans.

And while you're at it, never let the Spurs forget that we not only stopped them getting into the Champions League but gifted their place to their sworn enemies. Well, that's what I told them when they came a crowing over the last couple of days.

And you know what? That shut the fuckers up good and proper ...

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