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

Thursday, August 27, 2009

An H List Special: A Battle For Hearts And Minds

1. The Headlines

Good morning, and welcome to a special edition of the widely derided H List.

In the news this week, Senator Edward Kennedy has died of cancer at the age of 77, bringing to an end the largest political dynasty in American history, and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown came under increasing pressure over the early release of convicted Lockerbie bomber, Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi.

Oh, and West Ham are directly responsible for our crumbling society having raised armies of the undead to kill the firstborn of every taxpayer in the country.

2. Out Of The Frying Pan And Into The Fire
Everyone knows by now that West Ham vs Millwall on Tuesday night is the malignant parasite at the core of our rotting society.
I am in no way condoning the behaviour of all those who fought through the night, but for those who were there it was obvious that an undeniable link existed between the aggro and the atmosphere.

To enjoy one is not to applaud the other, but this was the best atmosphere I have experienced at Upton Park since the stadium went all-seater. Right through the 120-minutes there was a palpable and increasing tension, the whole place charged with the anticipation of what could happen.

Millwall’s early goal stoked the fire and it simmered continually until exploding into the almighty roar which greeted Junior Stanislas’ 88th-minute equaliser.

I’m trying to strike the right tone here, balancing how I felt without wanting to come across as a thug endorser, but so far as the crowd dynamic went, I loved every minute of it.

Likely punishment will involve a fine and a stern talking to, but more pointedly, in the aftermath of the furore, this could arguably signal the last time that such an atmosphere on such a scale is generated at Upton Park.
If they could be fostered regularly without the stabbings and burning buses, then football would be better off.
3. Fever Pitch

To an extent, it appears as if the three pitch invasions during the second half have caused more umbrage among the even-handed media than the rioting outside.

The fact is that only around fifty morons with an average age of 17 ran onto the pitch, using mobile phones to record their audition tapes for ‘Green Street 3 – Scraping The Barrel’. They were immediately subject to a cacophony of booing from the remaining 24,000 in the stands.

True, there was a kerfuffle over in Chav Corner towards the end of the match, but to describe it as “sickening” and akin to scenes of the late-70’s and early-80’s is bunkum.

I thought the policing inside the stadium was if anything, a little light. I expected a bigger Police presence for such a high-risk encounter and it would have dissuaded a lot of the ICF-wannabes from storming onto the pitch.
4. Back To The Studio….

As I was at the game, I was spared the painstaking analysis by every news channel in the country, but have since been informed of the considered approach of Sky Sports and their experienced journalist and ex-Liverpool player, Phil ‘Gonzo’ Thompson.

From what I gather, the erudite and disciplined reporting went as follows:

Anchor: Disturbing scenes at Upton Park, Phil – what’s happening?

Thompson: Aagh, this is sickening. This is not what we want to see at a football match, we thought these days were over.

Producer in Phil’s earpiece: That’s good, Phil. Use more emotive language.

Thompson: They’re scum these people

Producer: I like it

Thompson: It may be early, but I don’t think it’s an overstatement to suggest that we’re witnessing the end of civilisation

Producer: Don’t overplay it, Phil. Report the scene…

Thompson: There are people all over the pitch. Horrific scenes. A man in a wheelchair has just dropped his hotdog. He’d only just bought it. I’m disgusted. Both Clubs should be disbanded. I haven’t seen such mayhem since…

Anchor: Heysel?

Producer: Aaaand... cut to the live feed

Anchor: We can now cross live to our roving reporter on Green Street. Steve?

Reporter: You join me in a war-zone. I’m in a war-zone! The mayhem and violence is disorientating, I feel as if I’m losing myself in the blood and the guts. I... I can’t be sure, but I think I saw Hammers fans invoking the spirit of Pol Pot.

Anchor (to camera): Sky Sports understands West Ham have instigated regime change in a bid to revive the tyranny of the Khmer Rouge, live on Sky Sports. Steve, you're live on Sky Sports, can you describe the scenes? Live? On Sky Sports?

Reporter: Policemen running for their lives, the unmistakeable stench of bloodlust in the air, I can imagine West Ham fans feasting upon the corpses of pensioners. I can’t see it, but I can certainly imagine it.

Anchor (to camera): Disturbing reports there of cannibalism on Green Street. Another Sky Sports exclusive. Steve, just how does a normal person deal with these everyday east London scenes?

Reporter: I simply don’t know. I’m unsettled and confused. I just phoned my mum to tell her to piss off for no reason. I’ve never done that before, and for that reason can only attribute these actions directly to West Ham United. Back to you...

Anchor: Startling testimony there from our reporter. Phil, what's the situation inside the ground?

Producer: Let’s embellish a little. No-one at home has the pictures to prove you wrong.

Thompson: They’re burning kids. I don’t believe it. They’re tying kids to the crossbar and burning them

Producer: Say ‘scum’ again.

Thompson: Scum.

Producer: And ‘death’.

Thompson: Scum and death.

5. Considered Opinion

OK, so the above may have been dramatised by about 5%.

Generally, West Ham have come off worse in the media analysis of Tuesday night, probably down to the sheer disparity in numbers, but we all know that Millwall fans are no shrinking violets.

I can not believe that anyone with an interest in football could have thought that there wasn’t going to be trouble at this game, and while rioting is obviously not the way to conduct oneself, all those who took young children to the match showed equally poor judgement.

The amount of calls to Radio 5 Live afterwards which began with the phrase ‘I took my 4-year old along tonight. I’m stunned…’ beggared belief. What did you expect? To be greeted at the gates by Kris Akabusi and a party-bag?

Now wouldn't that be something.

6. Picture Book

The Daily Mail ensured they had a photographer at the scene to underpin their journalistic integrity

6. It's A Funny Old Game

Tuesday night was an unsual experience, although I daresay some of that conclusion has been tainted by the ceaseless coverage since.

In this age of information saturation, journalists do their research on Wikipedia, anything published on the internet is given unwarranted credence and any old mug (ahem...) can publish something for public consumption.

The worrying thing is how easily some people so readily accept what they're spoonfed and how many others can knowingly present and publish ill-conceived opinion as fact.

Thankfully, here at The H List no-one listens to our opinions and were someone to do so, that would be grounds enough to disregard anything else they ever said.

8. Jack The Lad

A special mention this week for Jack Collison.

In light of his father’s recent death, no-one expected him to feature on Tuesday.

Having received a lengthy ovation, Collison held his own during the match and was also the main force in trying to shepherd the morons from the field during the pitch invasions.

At the end of what must have been an incredibly emotional night for him, he was escorted from the field in tears to the heartfelt applause of the crowd.

Hats off to you, Jack. As if you weren't already, your conduct and composure cemented you in our thoughts that night.

9. What Preview?

Oh yeah, we’re away to Blackburn on Saturday.


  1. Brilliant! What happened to point number 7 though?

  2. Cheers, Howard. Nice to get a comment.

    '7' is Kieron Dyer's squad number, so it's probably in an incubator somewhere.

  3. Anonymous4:09 PM

    "The amount of calls to Radio 5 Live afterwards which began with the phrase ‘I took my 4-year old along tonight. I’m stunned…’ beggared belief. What did you expect? To be greeted at the gates by Kris Akabusi and a party-bag?"

    Spot on. From what I saw, this is all child's play compared to the stuff we get in Holland. We had a similar incident this weekend where a young lad was killed at a beach party in Rotterdam after riots broke out-when the next derby isn't for another 2 months.