Wolves 1 West Ham 1
Like a reincarnated Dexys Midnight Runners, the team that meets in pubs has assembled in the Clarendon on Chapel Ash.
Nigel’s feeling a little emotional having seen Y&T last night in Birmingham, “the home of heavy metal”. He’s with his mate Adrian who never misses a Wolves match despite living in Lyme Regis. Matt and Lisa have stayed in her sister’s boutique spare bedroom in Birmingham, while I’ve arrived on the 11.23 from Euston, and Big Joe is lost to the prawn sandwich brigade.
The Clarendon’s bar staff take even longer to serve customers than in the Central, although the Banks’s Mild is a pleasant surprise.
We proceed to Molineux (as famously misspelt on the sleeve notes of Billy Bragg’s Don’t Try This at Home album when he reproduced the lyrics of God’s Footballer). It’s not a bad ground, with it’s yellow branding, although the corners need filling in.
Upson’s out with a pain in the neck so Ben Haim comes in at left back. We have a good opening five minutes when Dyer looks lively. Then it’s all Wolves in the first half and we’re lucky not to be 3-0 down. On ten minutes Green punches a cross much too weakly and Jarvis volleys home. Green is then serenaded with chants of “If Green can play for England so can I!”
He makes up for his aberration with a great tip round the post and a brave scramble to save in the box. We’re strangely lethargic and nothing like the side that beat Spurs.
At half time Matt is so dispirited that he seeks comfort in a falafel and hummus wrap — possibly the most middle class snack ever seen at Molineux.
We’ve been terrible and at the start of the second half, after Green nearly gives another goal away with a poor punch, the away fans begin a desperate chance of “We are West Ham’s claret and blue army!’
It works as Obinna makes a foray into Wolves’ box and is brought down for a soft penalty. It’s the luck we need. Noble blasts it home. We’re drawing without having had a shot on target.
Suddenly the game is transformed. A great though ball from the previously anonymous Boa Morte sends in Piquionne to thump the ball against the bar. Parkers starts to dominate the midfield and Wolves’ belief crumbles.
Carlton Cole comes on to form a three-pronged attack and nearly scores after weaving his way through the box, only to scuff his shot.
Kieron Dyer makes a couple of fantastic dribbles into the box only to live up to his Newcastle nickname of “Jigsaw” (goes to pieces in the box).
It’s turned into a great chance for our first away victory in the league since we won at Wolves in August 2009. Even Ben Haim is looking good and making runs into their box.
We’re in added time. “Look lively Piquionne!” exclaims Mystic Morris as Piquionne dribbles into the box, chests the ball and pokes home what should be the winner. The referee blows for handball, although the TV replays prove him wrong.
Still, a draw keeps our unbeaten run of six games going and is a relief after our terrible first half performance. Wolves, facing the Big Four next, are surely in more trouble than us.
On the train from Wolverhampton we’re endlessly told that “there are no refreshments on this train”, lest we batter the opposition fans with sugar sachets. The police come home with us and announce that no West Ham fans can get off at Birmingham as they’ve had intelligence of “pre-arranged disorder” between West Ham and Chelsea fans. Or maybe they’ve just heard that Nigel is driving through Spaghetti Junction.
The rest of the journey passes without a bundle or liquid refreshment. Still, at least we have the chance to reflect upon 90 minutes of pre-arranged disorder on the pitch, firstly from West Ham and then Wolves. We’re still bottom, but if we beat Newcastle then our season might turn.
Biomechanics - easy exercise?
3 days ago