The GoatyGav Column
Although our team, at times in their history, have lacked a specific playing identity there is no doubt that us West Ham fans are known as down to earth and working class. Dedicated to and passionate about our club we don’t follow West Ham because we’re a glory hunters.
Over the last few years, however, it feels to me like there’s been a gradual erosion of this tradition. It’s not only West Ham. Since the Taylor report you’re not permitted to drink any alcohol within sight of a top tier pitch (although it’s perfectly fine to do this in lower divisions or abroad), you can no longer stand (exceptions same as above) and cctv cameras monitor the crowd. Heaven forbid there should ever be any movement on the restrictions placed on the match-going supporter of Premier League clubs.
Out here in the blogosphere there are times when the sanitization of football appears to be running rife. Certain media channels appear to have agendas as well. Not long ago I wrote about a broadcaster condemning home fans for making an away fan, wearing their club colours in a home area, feel uncomfortable. Go back thirty or forty years and you’d feel a little more than uncomfortable…in fact you’d be risking your neck enough to make many believe you suicidal.
Although not to make precisely the same point the fact that fans are not being allowed to go and watch top-flight football is closely linked. Many ex-pros and pundits are making the, perfectly valid, argument that if you can go and watch a film in a cinema, in an enclosed space, while being socially distanced then how on earth can it not be possible to watch a game of football when you’re, for all intents and purposes, outside? In fact there were West Ham fans who watched the Citeh game AT CINEMAS!
Personally I can’t wait to get back to watching live and in the flesh. I know it won’t be quite the same with 25 percent to 30 percent occupancy, but the day out would remain exactly that. Still a great day out. I’m sure that it wouldn’t do the economy, or people’s mental health, any harm either.
Perhaps it’s something of the conspiracy theorist in me but the thought has crossed my mind that the loss of the fan database by the club, during or shortly after the takeover ten years ago, was no accident. In fact it was this exact thought that prompted today’s article. As many of the traditional core of West Ham’s support, the quoted twenty thousand fans who would go to every home game and spend much time on the road, have now drifted away from attending matches as the atmosphere has, gradually, become increasingly sterile. Although I haven’t stopped going I can fully understand how these people, many of whom post here, feel.
I wonder if the atmosphere at football will continue to decline or if it will make a resurgence backed by sensible rules and regulations. If it continues to drop away I can see a day when your noisy, hardcore fan is driven from the top tier completely and the crowd at a game feels the same as an American Football match. I’ve been saying the same for years however things don’t appear to be improving.
If you’ve read many of my articles in the past you’ll know that I’m not a supporter of the board at West Ham. I am a member of the growing and ever increasingly popular Hammers United and took part in the pre-match march against Southampton. The only caveat that I have to my criticism of how the club is run is that the £99 & £299 season tickets have made it affordable for me to attend matches.
Part of the progressing ‘Fan Sanitization’ programme that seems to have been going on over the last two to three decades was the pricing out of working class fans. The best thing that the current board have done has been to provide provision for those whose budgets are unable to stretch to £800+ to regularly go to live games. Should many get their wish and the board to sell the club I just hope that I won’t be in a position where I’m unable to keep going with my son to watch the club I love.
Back to the football and it’s a much happier state of affairs with the men’s first team. A hard fought point against Citeh was the first ever taken against them at the Bowl. We go in to the Liverpool game more hopeful, although still not expectant, of taking something and playing well. If we see the same level of desire and commitment from the players I’ll have no complaints win, lose or draw.
Internationals meant that there was no WSL last weekend. Next up is a home game in group D of the League Cup against rivals Reading with the game set to be another close contest. A trip to Birmingham City in the league precedes a home game against Brighton which has been moved to 12.30 on Sat 15th November at the Dagenham & Redbridge Stadium.
In their respective international matches Kenza Dali, Martha Thomas, Courtney Brosnan and Katerina Svitkova all featured in their matches for France, Scotland, the Republic of Ireland and the Czech Republic respectively.
In the PL2 the U23’s secured their second point of the season with a creditable draw against high flying Blackburn Rovers. Undefeated Blackburn and the young Irons created chances but neither side had their shooting boots on and the game ended goal-less.
Have a good week all.