Getting away from it all for a change

West Ham have won just 27 of their 117 Premier League away games since they returned to the top flight under Big Sam.

Pretty rubbish, that. Now I am trying not to bore you with stats, there're a point to all this, because they just get worse.

For the last ten years that figure is 40 wins in 193 games, and if you are still awake, that's 67 victories in 307 away Premier games this century, including this current campaign. The three seasons in the Championship since the turn of the century produced 29 away wins, quite a difference.

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So for those of us lucky enough to be at Goodison Park last Sunday, and for the droves of Irons fans watching on TV, the victory over Everton was pretty special, we don't do that sort of thing. I mean, there's more than a few of the world-weary travelling support who could probably list the highlights with ease of almost 19 years of travelling around the country.

And here's the point. I have stepped away from the usual laugh -a- minute West Ham world and our ability, seemingly, to find fault with anything, this week to just savour the moment. It was a tremendous performance for all manner of reasons, not least that we looked like a team, we played on the front foot and showed all the promise Manuel Pellegrini has been promising. And, frankly, since then it's been a dreadful week personally and I just couldn't be bothered with any of it.

We've seen it all. From turning a pseudonym into a villain or folk hero, while abusing Mark Noble because he was there, played well, we won, and some folk just can't handle that. In fact, with my excellent KUMB colleague HeadHammerShark and the aforementioned abused blogger of team news, we eventually had two pseudonyms managing to have a civil debate about the whole sorry affair on this website without being nasty and rude to each other.

I don't want to even begin to get involved, it's all been said and HHS's piece is well worth a serious read. As is Ex's reply. I'll leave it there, because this is why I hate international breaks, there is no news so people struggle to fill acres of space and air time, and an unsuspecting star of local Essex radio ends up on Five Live. They say that an empty vessel makes most noise, and our fortnight ahead of the Everton game was certainly empty of anything worthwhile.

Since then for me, it's been a bad week because we have lost, I have lost, a friend and colleague to that vile disease, prostate cancer. It brings everything sharply into perspective.

Ralph Ellis was one of the finest journalists I have ever met. Honest, accurate (some of them are) professional and a great man, too. He was in his early sixties, and leaves a wife, children and grandchildren.

Fellow Hammer Ralph, Forest Gate born, was everybody's pal. And he has been a friend and colleague for almost 40 years to me. We lived at opposite ends of the country in later years since I retired so Facebook and the occasional call were the limits of contact. But everybody in the profession will have known about his fight against cancer.

There will be many in the West Ham press box these next three home games who will have known him well, probably better than me, and mourn his passing as I do.
As you trawl through social media and websites these days you find plenty of folk marking the passing of loved ones. You show dignity and respect by pressing the ' like' button, and move on. It's never enough.

So I make no apologies for mentioning Ralph, a West Ham fan to the core, and I can recall the many occasions working with him at other grounds, when we would exchange silent looks of anguish as another West Ham disaster flickered through on the TV screens.

So whether a blogger has been leaking team news, or whatever the current row between the club and our landlords is, I have struggled to show much enthusiasm.

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Mind you, enthusiasm is what Mark Noble showed at Goodison. Hounded these days by the keyboard warriors who all know far more than Sam Allardyce, Slaven Bilic, David Moyes and now Pellegrini about Noble's attributes. All those last four of our managers have used Noble when things get tough.

But he has been written off by an annoying, noisy, patronising, arrogant bunch of haters. Nobody will know better than Noble what is growing limitations are. His legs are not what they were, and the fact that he keeps on showing his value just annoys the haters even more. They just spend hours trying to devalue what ever has happened since he was last recalled to the side.

Noble will know when he should jack it in, and so will his manager. It won't be like the NFL cornerback Vontae Davis who earlier this month retired at half time while play for the Buffalo Bills because "it dawned on me that I couldn't take the physical toll anymore." I doubt Noble will wait that long, not a man who played last season with a hernia.

Noble can still contribute a lot. His now famous verbal assault on the new signings in the wake of the dreadful display against Wolves, has become stuff of legend. He and Pablo Zabaleta delivered more of the same in the Goodison dressing room. It had an effect, as did Noble's performance alongside Declan Rice in front of the defence. If you cannot see what Noble offers to Rice and our side in times of need, I feel sorry for you.

He knows he won't play every game and his lack of pace can be exposed, but how many of the new brigade would have gone for, and won, the ball that set up Andriy Yarmolenko's second goal? I think he deserves credit where credit is due and not constant assassination by social media experts.

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