West Ham musings by Pete May, author of Hammers in the Heart, West Ham:Irons in the Soul and Flying So High:West Ham's Cup Finals.
Monday, February 1
Shirts hit the fans
West Ham 0 Blackburn 0
“Home at Last” declares the front cover of the programme, as Gold and Sullivan look out over Upton Park. I’m taking my daughter Lola and her friend Renee to witness the homecoming of our porn again owners.
After egg and chips in Ken’s Café —and many discussions about John Terry’s latest indiscretions — it’s on to the Newham Bookshop where there’s talk of Karren Brady’s sackings and Neil Humphreys is signing copies of his new novel Match Fixer, published by Marshall Cavendish. It’s about a fictitious West Ham striker who is transferred to Singapore and encounters some dodgy types fixing matches. Nothing like real life at all. Tony Cottee has a quote on the cover and it will be reviewed on this blog in due course.
Neil’s a Dagenham lad made good in Singapore and then Australia, and a former football correspondent for the national Singapore press. We have a quick chat. He’s over from Australia for two weeks and hoping it’s worth a 12,000-mile trip to see the Hammers. Surely we’ll turn it on for Neil and the Davids?
There’s a sensible low key welcome for the Club Landlords in the stadium as we join Matt, Nigel and Fraser and discuss Sullivan's revelation that we have 20,000 unsold replica shirts.
Nigel is still slightly miffed that his super-injunction has failed to stop the publication of my Aston Villa away match blog report. Thankfully the Judges ruled that it was in the public interest to know that he and his missus were spotted with pampering products from Neal’s Yard, even if he’ll never be able to go to a Status Quo or Motorhead concert again.
Nothing much happens in the first half. It’s a dire struggle. Faubert has a cross put behind for a corner, Diamanti has a shot on target and Pedersen hits the bar from a free kick for them. Our passing game never gets going and Nouble is outnumbered all alone up front. And Spector is just about our best player.
“Did those 20,000 unsold shirts all have the name Kovac on the back?” I ask as the blonde midfielder puts another pass off target.
“No, they had several thousand Dyers and quite a lot of Ashtons,” suggests Matt.
“Not to mention a job lot of Quashies in the lock-up.”
There’s a melee for the East Stand hot dogs at half-time which at least warms us up. Only the Davids’ cost-cutting seems to have extended to hot dogs as they have none and Renee gets the last burger. Must have been taken surprise by 33,000 people suddenly turning up on a quiet Saturday afternoon. Give that contract to Ken’s Café at once Mr Sullivan.
The second half gets worse, and I have to tell Lola’s friend “Don’t walk away, Renee”. It’s her first game and should put her off for life. Like many of Sullivan and Gold's early business enterprises it's not fit for minors.
Blackburn look likely to nick it. Green produces a flying save from Olsson and then an even better one when substitute Roberts muscles aside Tomkins far too easily. Sub Carlton Cole clears off the line after Noble has handled but thankfully the ref misses it.
“Our defence is worse than Tony Blair’s at the Iraq Inquiry,” I sigh. “And our attack about as penetrating as the questions he faced.”
“We fooled the world into believing we had weapons of mass destruction…” muses Matt.
Our best moment comes when Diamanti’s excellent free kick is tipped over by Robinson and when sub Scott Parker breaks down the left only for no-pone to be on the end of his rolled cross across the six-yard box.
It’s all Rovers now and it's 0-0 and we’re grateful for a point. At least Cole and Parker should stat the next game. Luckily the other results have gone for us and we move up a place.
In Ken’s Café Da Don suggests that the new owners may not put up with Zola for much longer if we play like that. We can’t get in the club shop afterwards as there’s a huge queue for the 20,000 replica shirts at a tenner. Finally something connected with West Ham has managed to hit the (sales) target.