Thursday, March 31
Wednesday, March 30
Despite the best efforts of Tfl closing Upton Park, 35,000 fans made it to Mark Noble's Testimonial and were rewarded with West Ham beating West Ham All-Stars 6-5. First it was a long walk from West Ham station and then a swift trip to Ken's Cafe where Michael, Matt and Lisa were in attendance. Great atmosphere in the ground and a bewildering array of old faces. Craig Bellamy still looked fit and scored the opener for the All-Stars. "Come on, we can't lose to a team like West Ham!" was my quip. Mark Noble got the first for West Ham and Adrian ran the length of the field to bag one as well.
Anton and Rio Ferdinand played together in defence; Dean Ashton was a few stones above his playing weight but scored a cracking overhead kick; Paolo Di Canio still had a great touch and feigned a dodgy back in one touchline run; Carlton Cole still suffered from dodgy control; an early cameo from Dicksy got a lot of cheers and Trevor Sinclair needed some extra large shorts for his presenter's posterior. "Oh Christian Dailly you are the love of my life!" greeted the legendary football genius and he still looked match-fit too as he strolled through the game like a latter-day Beckenbauer.
Twelve-year-old Freddie Sears had a lot of energy from his Easter Eggs and a bulkier Marlon Harewood celebrated a goal (subsequently disallowed) by reprising his short-off semi-final celebration. John Moncur made some typically late tackles. We also got to see the return of Jimmy Walker, though sadly no return of Walker's World in the programme, where Lisa predicted he would be writing about, "Alex Song having himself with his dodgy gear." Ludek Miklosko came on to the obligatory song from the Bobby Moore Stand and kept a clean sheet. Another highlight was Diafra Sakho groping down his shorts to find a phone and take a selfie after scoring. So the game may not have been entirely serious.
It all ended in a penalty shoot-out which West Ham both won and lost. Adrian managed to shoot over the bar but still slid on his knees to celebrate as he did against Everton.
Our walk to West Ham tube afterwards was mitigated by a stop at the Black Lion, where the Old Bob was particularly fine and Michael confessed that he's planning on dying his hair claret and blue for the final home match at the Boleyn.
Not often you get to see a stress-free West Ham game — even Matt didn't get too cross with the ref — and a lot of money was raised for three charities. Well done Nobes and thanks for being such a stalwart Hammer.
Sunday, March 27
Friday, March 25
Thursday, March 24
Tuesday, March 22
Monday, March 21
Saturday, March 19
A couple of seasons ago WHU were delighted to get a backs-to-the-wall 0-0 at Chelsea, now we're disappointed not to win. Couldn't get a ticket but sounds like a great game. Fantastic strike from distance by Lanzini for the first and a good finish by Andy Carroll for the second from Payet's pass. Not much anyone could do about Fabregas's free kick (though the ref had the wall 12 years back instead of ten) and Chelsea's late equaliser came from a penalty, when in fact Antonio committed the offence outside the area.
At 1-1 Cresswell shot wide after a great move and back heel from Lanzini, and then hit the bar. After scoring the second Carroll had a header off the line and almost reached Emenike's cross late on, and it's a game we should have won. Still, another decent result. Unbeaten at Arsenal, Liverpool, Man City, Man United and Chelsea will do me.
What's also fantastic to see is that we have four strikers who can come in and change things in Sakho, Valencia, Carroll and Emenike, which reminds me a bit of Man United in the days of Cole, Yorke, Solksjaer and Sheringham. And, of course, the game was a credit to the Premier League; it's always good to see a small team like Chelsea with nothing to play for raise their game against Champions League contenders…
Friday, March 18
Wednesday, March 16
Despite chants of "Hillsborough!" and "You don't know what you're doing!" the Transport Police didn't make any announcements and nothing came over the PA, so the passengers waiting got angrier and angrier. Eventually a barrier got kicked over and there was a rush for the doors when the police tried to let people through in single file. There was a lot of pushing and shoving and one woman said she was accidentally hit when a policeman aimed a punch at a man who ducked. I eventually made it on to the 8.21pm train.
It was terrible policing, though not all the West Ham fans behaved well either. The transport police on the train had to prevent some fans stealing beer from the closed bar, while the police then seemed to favour a quiet life when a group of drunken Herberts sang anti-Semitic Spurs songs for the final part of the journey.
So it was a pretty shoddy journey all round — and certainly not worth £82 as I had to stand up all the way on the outward journey from London too. The fact that there was a football match and 9,000 West Ham fans were travelling to Manchester should not have taken Virgin Trains and the police by surprise.
Tuesday, March 15
It was a little worrying that Payet said he was overjoyed to score a great goal in one of the "most beautiful" stadiums in the Premier League. Hopefully that wasn't a come and get me plea to Man United, but rather an appreciation of United's stadium architecture — and if Dimitri really is such a connoisseur of stadiums, he'll surely stick around to see the fixtures and fittings at the Olympic Stadium and our new state-of-the-art retractable stands, presumably built with a job lot of shopping trolley wheels from Green Street market.
So it could be Everton if we beat Man United, a repeat of the 1980 FA Cup semi-final. But nothing will be easy and I just hope the lads can cope with the expectation that is building towards our last home game in the FA Cup. Though we've got the distraction of going for a Champions League place. Words I can't believe I'm writing… Irons!
Monday, March 14
CARLOS TEVEZ — HE LEFT 'COS YOU'RE S**T!
On 68 minutes Payet wins a free-kick some 30 yards from United’s goal. Surely he can’t score from here? Dimitri pings in a sumptuous free kick that goes up and over the wall and into the net off the post, before running to the far corner. Brilliant. On this form he could both defeat Donald Trump and bring peace to Syria. Cue lots of backslapping and we’ve got Payeting in the away end.
WE'LL RACE YOU BACK TO LONDON!
PLAYER RATINGS: Randolph 7; Antonio 7, Ogbonna 7, Reid 7 (Obiang 6), Cresswell 8; Lanzini 6, Noble 8, Kouyate 7, Payet 8; Emenike 5 (Sakho 5), Carroll 7 (Valencia 5).
Wednesday, March 9
Spent yesterday morning being filmed in Ken's Cafe by BT Sport for a forthcoming feature on West Ham's FA Cup run and leaving the Boleyn. They spent a lot of time filming me buying a cup of tea from Carol and walking through the door of Ken's — so perhaps Ken's will end up with the action thriller look. Though they chanced their arm a bit when they asked Carol to turn down the TV when she was doing her knitting. The item also features an interview with Aaron Cresswell and should be going out on Thursday. Also had a good chat with Carol and Ken about the history of their cafe from 1967, including stories about bikers, car crashes and Frank Lampard Senior enjoying bacon butties, which I'll be featuring in Hammers in the Heart soon...
Saturday, March 5
When was the last time West Ham came from 2-0 down to win 3-2 away from home? Or won away to Liverpool and Everton in the same season? Or scored three goals in 12 minutes? Big Joe's at the game and has just texted, "According to 2,999 gentlemen (and ladies) next to me, We've got Payet!" As indeed we have.
A bizarre game in that we could have been 4-0 down. Lukaku, predictably enough, gave Everton the lead after rolling Oxford and firing in off the post. Mirallas was rightly sent off for two bookings, but even so WHU go two goals down after good link play between Lukaku and Lennon. Everton then get a penalty (even though Song fouled outside the box) and Lukaku's tame effort is saved by Adrian, while the Hammers' keeper prevents another in a one-on-one with Lukaku.
But credit to Bilic for bringing on Carroll and Sakho in the second half. Big Andy causes panic in the Everton defence for all three goals. Antonio heads home Noble's cross to give Hammers hope with 12 minutes left and then Payet crosses for Sakho to get between two defenders and head home. The winner is a lovely goal. Cresswell crosses from deep, Carroll heads down, Sakho produces a great back flick and Payet anticipates to strike home. Football, bloody hell. Irons!
Born in Wandsworth, he's certainly had to work for his career, starting off at Tooting and Mitcham, then signing for Reading, where he had loan spells at Toooting again, Cheltenham, Southampton and Colchester. After signing for Sheffield Wednesday, he then moved on to Nottingham Forest where he scored 16 goals in 50 appearances and became a big hit with the fans before moving to the Hammers for £7 million.
At West Ham he didn't complain when he wasn't in the team and since breaking into the side has shown an ability to play as emergency right-back, wing back, winger and striker. But beyond the workrate and his ability in the air, there's been real skill, such as the cushioned volley against Liverpool and that mazy dribble and curled finish against Sunderland. He's still just 25 and Antionio is surely a player who can only get better.
Friday, March 4
Thursday, March 3
MICHAIL WINS HIS SPURS
Wednesday, March 2
Mikhail Antonio's bizarre Homer Simpson 'grass dancing' routine against Sunderland has to be one of WHU's top goal celebrations. Here's a personal choice of some other memorable celebrations, in no particular order:
FRANK LAMPARD SENIOR’S CORNER FLAG DANCE
Adrian scored in a penalty shoot-out against Everton in the FA Cup in 2015. First he threw his gloves to the ground, implying he wouldn’t be needing them after this, then coolly dispatched the ball into the corner. Being the self-effacing sort of character he is, Adrian runs to the photographers and performs an epic knee-slide with his arms outstretched, before being mobbed by the other players.