Billy brings back the spirit of West Ham

If Carling could do West Ham matches… well, they would have to go some to improve on the tremendous day we all experienced at the weekend.

The reaction from our fan base, on the day and ever since has been a joy to behold. Finally unity, finally an event that surpasses all other since we moved from the Boleyn.

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This club has been crying out for such an occasion, one which makes us look like a real football club again. Trawling through social media since Saturday when Billy Bonds' mere presence galvanised all generations of our support, one line stood out.

A guy mentioned the "You're not West Ham any more" abuse we have suffered these past three years. "Yes we f***ing well are!" was his response.

I could not have put it better myself. This week last year we were in disgrace, fans on the pitch, corner flags being waved, fans abusing the board and directors' box - all except Sir Trevor that is - on a day of shame. Saturday saw something of a difference, I think you may have noticed.

First things first. It was a brilliant show, superbly organised, and those at the club who were responsible for it all, take a bow. Thanks. From the parade of former stars, the brilliant east side mosaic, that number four shirt, everything. First class. And well done to the board, who have diligently made it all happen by bringing Bonds back into the fold.

They were not responsible for the way Bobby Moore was treated by the club, and for the departure of Billy, but they have done their best to make amends.

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A couple of years back Billy, never anything but his own man, said that the Olympic Stadium would never be a football ground. Not a lot of doubt that he disliked the place as much as most of the rest of us. The main complaint is that it's soulless.

But times change, people mellow, there are improvements and the club and fans wanted Billy to be honoured with a stand named after him. Maybe at the back of their minds the board realised that only one man of the modern era could unify the place, to give it heart.

I have searched for that special something that Billy brought with him, to produce such adulation, such genuine love from close on 60,000 people. He brought with him the spirit of West Ham, simple as that.

We have al been coming to the new gaff, shuffling in, shuffling out, stop-go here, stop-go there. A mile from the ground to any station. Soulless and bloody cold sometimes. But Billy had the place rocking, didn't he. Just by being there.

I have not heard our Stratford crowd in that unison, so together, Billy might just have made us West Ham again.

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Everything about Billy is old school. Think of his swashbuckling playing days and you see the old South Bank and its pens, the Chicken Run (in its newer guise as the East Stand before it was moved nearer to East Ham High Street), you can see the old main stand with those claret, blue and white stripes along the front. You see the Boleyn in all it's glory. You see what we left behind.

He epitomised that spirit, the raw guts of the old place, the old club. And on Saturday we got somewhere near that collective pride and spirit. He witnessed the roaring adulation, the love, the old songs.

This London Stadium has four sections really, a disconnect all big arenas have. Back at Upton Park, much smaller, it was easy to hear and see the noise, songs and chants spread to all sides in seconds. Stratford has never really seen that, we all seem to have been operating alone. Not on Saturday.

It was a wonderful day, full of memories. From my generation who saw him play, from my lad's generation who knew him as a manager. We have never had anything like it, a man to pull everyone together so easily. Tears all round, a day, a really big day to cherish unsurpassed in our history.

My colleague on these pages Robert Barlow, has written a compelling article well worth reading on the move and how it has changed and evolved, and what Billy Bonds achieved in one day that our board have failed to manage in three years. So I don't intend to repeat Robert's material, just give it a read yourselves.

But now we have to throw this forward. One day isn't enough. We have to build on this as fans and players. And achieving qualification for Europe next season is a target we can reach.

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Manuel Pellegrini will look at what we have done this season and know that we have thrown away far too many points. It must nag away at our manager. But even with that inconsistency, we are only four points off seventh spot.

Now I know that constant search for seventh has been something of a joke now for the fans, so often have we stood on the brink of that achievement this season, and so often failed.

Pelle will look at defeats at Burnley, Bournemouth, Wolves and Brighton, plus the home defeat to Watford and away draws at Huddersfield and Palace and know we could have done so much better. Two points from those eight games says it all.

But these next couple of weeks sees what is probably our last chance to make a real go of it. For the first time in a long while we are ninth on our own, two points clear of Everton and four ahead of Leicester. And Wolves and Watford ahead of us are catchable.

We must win our next two, though. At the weekend Wolves are at Chelsea and Watford travel to Manchester City. We go to Cardiff, which will be tough and ferocious, but we have the quality to win.

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The next weekend, though, is the key. Wolves and Watford are both in the FA Cup quarter finals. We face Huddersfield at the LS. Come on everyone, this is a God-given chance to make amends for some of the poor performances we have produced.

The week after that is an international break, and then we are at home to Everton while Watford are at Manchester United, Wolves though have a seemingly easier game at home to Burnley.

But the chance to eliminate the four point lead both Wolves and Watford have over us is blindingly obvious. Win our next two against sides in the relegation fight, and the race really is on.

Yes, the FA Cup winners must come from the top four for seventh to qualify for Europe, but let's just do our job first. Even the prize money will be worth the effort.

We at last seem to be running into form , at home, at least. One defeat in eight, undefeated at home this year and unbeaten in our last five at Stratford, our best sequence since we left Upton Park.

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But confidence is there, Billy saw to that. We cruised past Newcastle with probably our most complete performance of the season.

Same again boys in south Wales, where that nasty Mr. Warnock will be waiting, and then beat Huddersfield. Never easy though, I suppose we can't arrange to have Sir Billy there every week, now?


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