Overly long writings about West Ham United FC. This is the kind of thing you might like, if you like this kind of thing.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

West Ham United vs Liverpool: Match Preview - 30/01/2007

1. Disclaimer

For this article I have attempted to create, research and uncover gems of interest with which to bedazzle you all. I have given up on this notion however as it's far too much like hard work. Instead I shall type type type and pray that the libel positively oozing from this page slides it's way under any legal radar.

2. Wasn't Me, Your Honour

Now, I'm not one for sweeping generalisations, but all Liverpudlians are thieves. This has long since been established. When they're not prying the hub caps off a Vauxhall Astra, they're routinely robbing the houses of their own players.

They do however have a knack of besting us on the football field, and this my friends is what we must strive to overcome. Reversing the crime wave (crime-tsunami, if you will) that is Liverpool is a futile exercise.

3. History

Last season's corresponding fixture saw us lose 2-1 thanks to a couple of thunderbolts early in the second half from Dirk Kuyt and Peter Crouch. Crouch sprawled across the pitch that night like some sort of rampaging super-spider.

We managed to nick a goal in the last 15 minutes courtesy of Kepa Blanco's first and last touch in a West Ham shirt, but that was scant consolation as we were in the midst of a nightmarish run.

Over recent years we haven't done well at home against The Reds, having lost our last three and conceded seven goals in the process. Of course, this news reads as joyous as Robbie Williams's declaration he would go on strike from EMI when compared to our form at Anfield.

Funnily enough, I have a sneaking suspicion that we could get our first result at Anfield since Jackie Kennedy was forced to steam-clean her husband's face from that pink ensemble with the black trim.

Should that miracle happen, you heard it here first. Should it not, that last passage will be deleted from this blog and you can't prove a thing.

4. Another Year Older

Bizarrely, this game falls exactly a year to the day from last season's corresponding fixture. A lot has changed since then - we have acquired an injury-prone goblin from Merseyside and Liverpool have snared their very own back-stabbing Israelite for a mere 30 pieces of silver.

Anfield is also now home to Liverpool's latest impressive all-round striker, Fernando Torres, who follows the likes of Owen, Fowler, Rush and Dalgleish.

Whilst we are undoubtedly less creative than last season, we are probably now more robust and have faired reasonably well against the big teams, only losing by the odd goal when we haven't won. A decent rest since our away draw to Man City should see the players refreshed and raring to go.

Again, it's the same story I seem to have been repeating ad infinitum - if we can get in their faces, we can nick a result.

5. The Boys Are Backed By Barack

It emerged this week that US Presidential candidate Barack Obama is a West Ham fan, having followed the ups and downs of the team during a trip to England five years ago.

He joins what must rank among the most illustrious set of celebrity supporters in the footballing world - including the likes of Lennox Lewis, Ray Winstone, Matt Damon, Russell Brand and Graham Gooch. Not to mention Kris Akabusi.

As if we needed any other incentive to oust the Republicans from The White House, the sight of the sky blackened with Stealth Bombers and Apache helicopter gunships en route to White Hart Lane would be something to behold.

Just think, if Obama gets in and we can employ every ounce of NASA's considerable resources we might, just might be able to construct a rocket large enough and with sufficient vertical thrust to blast Frank Lampard into space.

6. Not So Special Relationship

While West Ham United court Presidents-elect, it appears that the American contingent at Anfield only serve to court controversy.

Less than a year into their tenure and American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillette have already fallen foul of the Liverpool fanbase, thanks largely to half-hearted support of manager Rafa Benitez and some spectacular PR own goals.

The Yanks are buying up Premiership clubs faster than Heath Ledger's signature is appearing on Ebay. Derby County are the latest team to have been devoured by the almighty dollar, following in the footsteps of Manchester United, Aston Villa and Liverpool.

Perhaps it's a touch xenophobic on my part, but I'm glad that our club has remained under European control. With our Icelandic owners, we know they are football people. Yes, they're ultimately businessmen looking to turn a profit, but one doesn't get the impression that their takeover is purely a commercial venture.

7. European City Of Vultures

Merseybeat. The Beatles. Cilla Black. Yes, they all emerged from Liverpool. Forty five years ago.

The day Scousers stop banging on about John Lennon and their "glate sensa huma" will be the day that West Ham win the Premiership and Cliff Richard marries. A woman.

I don't know about you but I'm tired of hearing about the fabled Scouse humour. Just how did they convince themselves of this? Let's look at the evidence - Jimmy Tarbuck? Root canal surgery. Les Dennis? Appendicitis. Mike Reid? Genius.

Liverpudlians have been picking at the bare carcass of Beatlemania for nearly half a century when the fact is that the only thing they have contributed to British society in the last twenty years is to provide Harry Enfield with a career.

What did The Beatles do as soon as they made it big? Moved to London.

8. Sideliners Sleep Tonight

Yet more absconders from our ranks with this match considered too early for Bellamy, Solano and Gabbidon. Faubert has picked up a slight calf strain and is doubtful whereas disappointingly James Collins managed to injure his knee ligaments during his 'return from injury' and is is now a long-term absentee.

John Pantsil continues to shine in the African Cup Of Nations and is rumoured to soon be drafted in to resolve the social turmoil in Kenya.

Javier Mascherano loses the chance of a returning round of applause as he serves a one-match suspension after five bookings.

9. Benayoun Baiting

I had a much better title for this section, but it was bordering on the anti-Semitic.

Yossi Benayoun is the latest in a long line of ex-Hammers to return to Upton Park with a bigger club. I don't hold out much hope for a warm welcome, thanks to the manner in which Yossi left us in the summer.

We have a bit of a reputation for being an unforgiving bunch, but I think that's largely unfounded as the outstanding reception of Pope Tevez proved in December. It all depends on the circumstances in which a player leaves and in this regard, Benayoun has done himself no favours.

A couple of quotes for you from the Israeli captain:

25/05/2007 - "I'm very pleased to have agreed this new deal. From the moment I arrived at West Ham, the Club felt like home. We have the best supporters in the world. I'm very happy because I want to stay at this Club. It is the best place for me."

12/07/2007 - "..."

The shady little snake didn't even have the bottle to try and back peddle his way out of his prior shallow declaration, instead leaving it to his new manager, Rafa Benitez:

"He said he was desperate to only join Liverpool. He was offered a big new contract at West Ham and received offers from a lot of other clubs offering him more money - but Yossi's message was always the same."

Was it really, Rafa? Something must have been lost in the translation. What's the Spanish for "F*"k off you back-stabbing, big-nosed geek"?

"Joda lejos usted apoya-apuñalar, tipo de grande-nosed."

Friday, January 18, 2008

Some Shameless Begging

Hello loyal readers. And welcome, also, to those of you who are not related to me.

There are some blog awards currently being voted on, and we have been asked to enter The H List. Any success would be dependent upon someone nominating us, and then several people voting for us. Neither mine or Boleyn Beluga's mothers are able to work t'internet, so we will require some help from you all.

The two websites are :



I suppose that we would fall into the "Best Blog" category for the former and "Best Sports Blog" for the latter. If you really felt strongly, I of course could fall into the category of "Hottest Daddy Blogger" seeing as I am essentially a clone of Russell Crowe circa Gladiator.

Michael Dawson has already nominated us for "Worst Blog In The World" but that's just because he is upset that I mocked his Whitney Houston obsession.

Hopefully, all of the above is clear. I tried to explain it to the Beluga, but he got that same look in his eye as when I tried to teach him long division at school one day. Sort of how I imagine someone might look when they are on the verge of neural failure.

Thanks in advance for your support.

EDIT: Hurrah - shameless begging works. We've been nominated for the Bloggers Choice Awards. As a direct result of asking.

You can vote here - it does require you to register which will be the death knell for us if we rely on the kids of today to vote for us:


As an aside I also have a date with over 1,700 women, each with a Roman General fetish. Outstanding.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Manchester City vs West Ham United: Match Previews - 16/01/2008 & 21/01/2008

1. Seconds Out... Round Three! (And Four)

By the end of this week we will have played Manchester City four times in a little over five months. Wednesday's FA Cup 3rd Round replay followed by Sunday's Premiership fixture will provide us with two stern tests away from home in a few short days.

After an opening day defeat and an unremarkable 0-0 draw in the initial Cup tie, we have thus far failed to impose ourselves on the blue half of Manchester, in contrast to our feisty performance against their more celebrated neighbours.

Perhaps this has something to do with our players keeping one eye on their WAGs as Eriksson moonwalks around the dugout, resplendent in spandex tights and chain-mail vest, his mesmeric pelvis hypnotising every woman in the ground.

2. Eyes On Which Prize?

Much like the age old 'club vs country' row, teams bound in mid-table spend a fair amount of the season weighing up which of the three domestic competitions their concentrated efforts would best serve.

The League title is off limits to all but a few teams, but a high League position is at the top of most fan's wish lists. The two domestic cups take on a greater significance for those outside the Big Four as it provides the only genuine prospect of silverware.

I think the majority of us would sacrifice three points at the weekend if it meant we would progress to the 4th round, particularly as there's now a little gap opening up between the top and bottom half of the table.

3. The History

Our record against Manchester City in the Cup is very good and could possibly hold some promising omens for Wednesday night. First leg apart, we have only played them twice, both resulting in 2-1 wins and both away from home (the last of which being en route to the 2006 final).

However, we have failed to cause City any real problems in our two encounters so far this season - bar the fact that their fans were bamboozled by our harnessing of electricity, the absence of Rickets and the 'horseless carriages' which parade up and down Green Street.

It seems that for the first time this season, we may actually have more first team players available than not. Scott Parker aside (out for at least six weeks with 'chocolate knees'), we've recently been cheered with the news that Etherington, Bowyer, Ljungberg and even Julien Faubert are all in contention for the first team.

By all accounts Bobby Z is making good progress from whatever it was that has kept him out for the last eight years and Nobby Solano is not far away. Even Craig Bellamy is close to a return to full training, having taken a few months off to guide a couple of Hobbits across Middle Earth in a bid to reclaim his "precious".

4. OneTwoThree, Foouur, Fiiive, SixSevenEight, Niiine, Ten, First Eleven, Tweeeeeeeeeeelve!

Readers of a certain age who sat in front of Sesame Street may remember the above lyrics from one of the greatest songs of the 1980's. My minute alteration makes for a tenuous football link at best, but I've been singing it all day.

With news of a few injury comebacks, I have foolishly tempted fate and begun to think of what our First XI should be - an exercise much like when you imagine what you'd buy if you won the lottery.

(In answer - shares in Frey Bentos, a tactically astute army of Spider Monkeys and a full-scale, fully operational Millennium Falcon.)

The back five more or less picks itself: Green, Upson, Ferdinand, Neill and McCartney.

Danny Gabbidon and James Collins are both admirable central defenders, but I don't think Upson deserves to be dropped after a solid season and Ferdinand has been in fine defensive and goal-scoring form since his brush with the Law.

'Gorgeous' George has been as good as he was last season but Lucas appears to only be in the side due to the lack of alternatives and Curbs saving face having made him captain. It certainly can't be on his form - this year he's looked as bewildered as a Mancunian who's been presented with a job application.

Upfront, I think we'd all like to see Bellamy and Ashton in tandem for a few games as potentially they could be something special. Carlton Cole would be unfortunate to miss out having been one of our most industrious performers this season but, for all his impressive endeavours, he is rarely among the goals.

Midfield is the real sticking point as we are abundant in options. On his few performances thus far, I would suggest you would have to pick Scott Parker who has looked impressive when not in a full body cast.

Despite having never seen him play, my one indulgence would be to put Julien Faubert on the wing. There's as much considered thinking in this choice as there is when asking the French Army to hold a defensive outpost, but I get the feeling he's one of perhaps two or three players in the squad who could unlock a defence.

With Etherington on the left providing some width, I'd go for Mullins in the middle alongside Parker allowing the latter to push forward. Hayden has stepped up this season and doesn't deserve to be dropped.

All of which means we could select a solid bench from Wright, Gabbidon, Collins, Pantsil, Solano, Spector, Bowyer, Panstil, Noble, Pantsil, Ljungberg, Boa Morte, Zamora, Cole and Pantsil.

Not too shabby.

5. Hatred Is A Curved Blade

In the spirit of tempting fate, I think we all know why we're praying for a result on Wednesday night.

The prospect of a visit to Bramall Lane and the chance to see our old friends Sheffield United in the 4th round is simply delicious. I remember such wondrous visions being woven outside The Lord Wakefield pub back when we were playing Roma in our pre-season friendly. There seemed to be something of the inevitable about it.

Despite the absence of Neil Warnock, the chance of ramming relegation down their throats for a solid 90 minutes is enough to make a man sell a few of his shares in Frey Bentos to fund the price of a ticket.

No doubt the name of Carlos Tevez would once again be lauded by the Hammers faithful and the whole day could be a highlight of the season.

Who wouldn't want to taunt the home support with our Premiership status? (Whilst out-flanking the city by strategically deploying one's legions of Spider Monkeys...)

6. Away Daze

It almost seems as if we are living ten years in the past.

Take That are the toast of the pop world, The Big Four remain entrenched at the top of the league, people are still banging on about the death of Diana and West Ham are above Spurs and Newcastle with a Ferdinand at the back.

One thing that has changed in the past decade is our away form. Whereas in 1997-'98 we only managed three away wins all season, we have already chalked up five victories on our travels so far this year.

I know I keep harping on about it, but I think most of us feel more confident this term when West Ham are the away side. It suits us when the onus is on the opposition while we have the opportunity to soak up a bit of pressure and nick a goal, which bodes well for our sojourn up to Eastlands.

The former-fortress of the Boleyn has recently been breached more times than an Australian scrum. We have won more games outside of Upton Park this year and are adept at scoring away from home - much like Sven The Love Rat.

In contrast, City have been formidable at the imaginatively titled City Of Manchester Stadium. They remain unbeaten in the League and have conceded just seven goals in their eleven home games. A slight worry is that George McCartney is currently on four yellow cards and would be missed were he to pick up a suspension.

7. In Summary

I don't know about Alan Shearer, but I wouldn't take the Newcastle job if you offered me the keys to all the padlocks on Lampard's fridge.

Friday, January 04, 2008

West Ham United vs Manchester City: FA Cup 3rd Round - Match Preview - 05/01/2008

1. In Pantsil We Trust

Having systematically taken the Premiership Champions to pieces at the weekend, I was a little late in publishing a preview for our visit to The Emirates, for which I apologise. Those of you interested, it went something like this:

"We'll concede twice in the first 20 minutes but won't embarrass ourselves, John Panstil will bedazzle all with his over-head kicking prowess and 60,102 spectators will attend."

You'll agree I'm something of an oracle.

2. "In The Beginning John Pantsil Created The Heaven And The Earth"

Having been born in 1979, I am too young to remember John Pantsil's no-nonsense storming of the Iranian Embassy in the Spring of 1980. I am, however, old enough to be scarred by the memory of our woeful opening day performance against Manchester City.

There was much anticipation on that glorious August day in light of our extensive Summer spending, only for the players to simply refuse to show up, leaving a packed Upton Park to trudge home despondently.

Man City have since managed to maintain their lofty league status despite the assumptions of many that they would falter. In typical Mancunian fashion, they continue to exercise their 'squatters rights' in the top four, even though our opening day defeat remained City's sole away win prior to their recent victory at Newcastle.

Thanks to the conspiring fates of the FA Cup, we have been granted a chance for vengeance. Again, I am inclined to think that the up 'til now impossible task of being expected to break down comparable teams at Upton Park should be dispelled, as this is a Cup tie and should therefore be more open.

3. You Say 'Pomme De Terre', I Say 'Spud-U-Like'

It's quite amazing the difference some prudent use of a Chairman's millions can make to a football team. On the one hand, you could divide it evenly into manageable sums of £20 and under, then set about buying up every ex-Gooner from the 1950's - a 'la Redknapp.

Or you could make some headline-grabbing, big name signings and worry later that they're as injury-prone as a heroin-addicted hedgehog with cataracts - right, Alan?

On the other hand, you could do your homework and pick up some relative bargains. Elano is looking a snip at £8 million and Petrov looks a bit tasty (not literally, I'm not Frank Lampard) at £4.7 million.

Time will only tell if our comparable purchase of Julien Faubert will be as inspired.

4. Walking Wounded

By all accounts, there's a chance that Lee Bowyer and Matty Etherington could feature this weekend. This would be welcome news as the aforementioned have been our main goal threats from midfield this season. Etherington too seems to be the only player capable of providing some genuine width.

Of course, with West Ham it's one step forward, two steps back and so Ljungberg, Parker and Solano have all been ruled out thus far. It wouldn't surprise me if a couple of others contracted bird flu between now and 3pm Saturday afternoon.

Annoyingly, City's playmaker Elano has recently returned from injury and scored at St James' Park in midweek. He will need watching... as will Sven Goran Eriksson should any of you be taking your wives and girlfriends to the game.

5. "If Music Be The Food Of Love, Get John Pantsil On X-Factor"

A consequence of having to watch the opening game of the season was to witness Manchester City's competent centre back pairing.

Micah Richards was dominant all day long and Richard Dunne has been voted City's Player Of The Year three seasons in a row - despite HeadHammer Shark's personal protests and hunger strike (which lasted all of half an hour).

City have looked about as solid as us at the back this season, save their 6-0 drubbing at Chelsea. They have of course looked infinitely more creative going forward. I think we will need another stifling midfield display akin to our last home performance, lest our clean sheet be threatened.

I remember a time from my youth when my safety was indirectly threatened by an unsavoury gentleman in a flimsy black plastic hat. Thankfully, John Pantsil was able to fire his Proton Torpedoes in time and intergalactic tyranny was averted.

6. Sven Will I See You Again?

Sven 'The Scandinavian Sex Pest' Eriksson has done a good job steering City through stormy waters and up onto the crest of a wave.

I remember many a football fan shuddering at the thought of him taking the reins at their respective clubs when his services were being touted, but he has gone on to confirm that he is a far more successful club manager than an international one.

His sizeable budget and prudent forays into the transfer market have enabled the Swede to strengthen his squad considerably and cement their place as a top half team. His managing credentials can no longer be in question, which is more than you can say about his fidelity.

Weathergirls, secretaries and former hosts of Gladiators beware - Sven's back...
John Fashanu must be permanently looking over his shoulder - Awooga!

(Any opportunity to use the word 'Awooga!' must be fully capitalised upon. This is now an established policy of The H List).

7. "There's Only One Way To Beat Capone - He Puts One Of Your Guys In
Hospital, You Put John Pantsil Up Front"

We have met Manchester City only twice in the FA Cup, both away from home and both resulting in 2-1 victories. City are in good form being undefeated in their last four games, whereas we have won three of our last seven.

It probably all comes down to whether we can stem their creative players whilst giving them something to think about with some penetrative forward play of our own. It has the potential to be a great cup tie, but equally to be a frustrating afternoon for us Hammers fans.

It can be taken as a given that the Blue half of Manchester will supply some impressive away support, unlike their Red rivals. City fans have long been among the most ardent in the League and it would spark a crackling atmosphere if the Claret and Blue Army get behind the team from the off.

8. In Summary

Joey Barton should be in prison.