Opposition Q & A
Woe is me! And probably you as well. That short period of time when it looked like we were possibly going to have a decent season now seems like a distant memory. Failing to see off Sheffield United after losing against Everton and Crystal Palace means that a poor result against Newcastle United who we travel to play this weekend will leave us feeling like Southampton fans. Ahead of the game I had another chat with t David Punton from NUFC fanzine The Mag to gain his thoughts on everything Claret and Blue and Black and White.
Hi Dave. It’s that time of year again. November and both our clubs look like we are on our usual journey through the season of moving between feeling temporarily elated to more permanently depressed! We’ve both beaten Manchester United, but you’ve also beaten our London neighbours Spurs away. How do you sum up your season so far?
We’re about where we thought we would be with a manager like Steve Bruce. The crazy thing is that we are better off in terms of the points total than we were this time last season. There have been a few good moments, of course, but the bad has just about outweighed the good so far. Ten games gone and we’re firmly in the relegation mixer. Fans are staying away and the mood is bleak at home games so our ‘famous atmosphere’ isn’t what it was. As one of the journalist put it after the Wolves game, there is a relegation pie being baked at NUFC and the ingredients are all going in.
Of course the biggest change that you’ve undergone since we last met was to change managers from one of my favourites ‘Rafa the Gaffer’ to one of your own (although I’m not sure if you subscribe to that) in Steve Bruce. What are your thoughts on this latest turn of the managerial merry-go-round?
It was a damaging summer for us. We lost Rafa and we now have a manager that many fans simply don’t think is up to the job, certainly not tactically. Let me put it this way, would West Ham fans want Bruce? He might be a decent guy, from the local area, but his CV is middle road at best. Villa fans coming out in waves of sympathy told its own story.
I suppose a lot of Newcastle fans’ energy must be taken up with thoughts of Mike Ashley. What’s the latest news on him? It must almost be time for another of those ‘I hear Mike Ashley’s selling the club’ rumours that tend to go round once a year, although I’m beginning to think that it is all a marketing ploy.
Ashley’s selective absenteeism goes on. A deeply unpopular regime that looks like it isn’t going anywhere any time soon. The club needs root and branch change, fresh ideas and fresh investment in all areas. Ashley just keeps the pilot light on. There are claims of interested buyers, the latest one being Peter Kenyon, but the situation there seems to be summed as ‘man with no money wants to buy football club’. The day Ashley sells, whenever that may be, will happen out of the blue. We live in hope rather than expectation of that day ever happening.
Anyway enough of the despondency. Give us the latest news on the new players that are making their way into the Newcastle team. Who are they and how do they look for the future?
We spent £40m on a striker called Joelinton. This 22 year-old Brazilian was making his name in the German top flight, but Bruce has him playing as a target man and it doesn’t seem to be working and he may not trouble you. We had a target man in Rondon who we got rid of to play a player as a target man who isn’t a target man, if that makes any sense! French winger Allan Saint-Maximin is a box of tricks, one of the brighter spots so far, he can run at pace and cause defenders to be pulled in. WE also took some lad called Andy Carroll that West Ham fans may have heard of, but guess what…he’s injured.
Ha ha, Poor old Andy! You seem to sell your strikers quite regularly: how did you feel when Ayoze Perez was sold on? It looked from afar that he was finally beginning to find his feet in the Premier League.
Perez was always likely to go once Rafa announced he was not signing on. Perez gave good service and at 27 the time was right in his career for him to go. Many thought he’d go back to Spain but then Leicester came in with £30m. He’ll do well there. He’s a good finisher, when he doesn’t do his vanishing acts. He got some stick from some elements of NUFC fans, but the reality is we all miss him.
Do you think Mike Ashley will let Steve Bruce buy during the Christmas transfer window? Where in particular needs strengthening most?
The claims doing the rounds are that Bruce will be allowed to bring a couple in over the January window. We need something else in centre midfield and they may need another striker or a winger. As ever, we expect it to underwhelming.
You managed to finish quite strongly last season, after flirting with the bottom of the table for a bit. Where do you think/hope that Newcastle can finish up this season?
I hope that we can stay up. A lot hinges on Bruce. I’m not convinced we will end this season with him in charge. I think we will fulfil the aim many believe is set out by Mike Ashley, 17th place. The problem is I haven’t seen worse sides than us bar Southampton so far.
It’s looking as though Liverpool and Manchester City are once again going to fight out the top honours between themselves. Do you think Leicester will break into the Champions League slots again? Who are your predictions for the top four in order?
Rodgers is doing a great job at Leicester. He gets teams playing the right way and is at a club with brilliant owners. Not sure they make top four though. For me: Liverpool win the title, Man City second, Spurs third then Chelsea and Arsenal will surely turn around.
It’s still very early on in the season, and the bottom three positions are always a bit more fluid. Who are your pre-christmas picks for the drop?
Watford, Southampton and one from NUFC, Norwich, Villa, Brighton and Burnley.
What are your thoughts on VAR? Have you been adversely affected by its implementation?
Everyone screamed for video refs and now everyone is moaning it’s ruined this game. They definitely still to refine it as it has seemed mainly negative so far. NUFC thus far have not had any VAR controversy, and we benefited from it to hang for the win at Spurs.
How are Newcastle going to line up against West Ham this weekend? Line up/Formation prediction?
No idea as we have Steve Bruce. The plans will be ‘go out and give a go’. Expect three at the back with two wing backs bombing on.
Last year was a rare feat for us in beating you home and away – are you going to be able to reverse your fortunes this year? Are you confident going into this game of getting back to winning ways? Prediction for score please.
I’m not confident at all. A draw would be something akin to progress. I expect we may get done, 2-0.
Well many thanks once again to Dave for his thoughts and comments. From my point of view it seems almost perverse to predict a West Ham win, so I will buck the trend and go for a fighting 1 – 1 draw. COYI
Dan Coker's Match Preview
Blast from the past
April 1986 surely goes down as one of the most relentlessly exciting months in West Ham United’s history. Beginning with a 2-1 defeat at Nottingham Forest, the Hammers reinvigorated their title charge by winning eight of their next nine matches. The most outstanding and amazing game in this unforgettable run has to be the incredible 8-1 victory over this Saturday’s opponents, Newcastle United.
It was Monday the 21st of April 1986 – George Michael was number one with ‘A Different Corner’, Jossy’s Giants made its TV debut two days later and Fright Night topped the UK box office. Newcastle’s very own ‘Fright Night’ began to unfold after just three minutes when Alan Devonshire’s floated free-kick from the left was prodded home by an unmarked Alvin Martin for his first on what would turn out to be a remarkable personal night for ‘Stretch’. It was 2-0 after 11 minutes as Mark Ward found Ray Stewart overlapping on the right wing – Tonka’s cross-cum-shot was fumbled over his goalline by the Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Thomas, who had been suffering from injury before the game. On 36 minutes Devonshire played a short pass to Neil Orr who hit a rasping 30-yarder which deceived Thomas in mid-air and found the net for the Hammers’ third. Shortly before half-time, Stewart’s long throw sparked a spot of head tennis in the Newcastle penalty area, which culminated in future West Ham manager Glenn Roeder flicking the ball off his heel and into his own net to give the Irons an ultimately unassailable 4-0 half-time lead.
Thomas’ race was run and he was substituted at half-time with outfield player Chris Hedworth taking the goalkeeper’s jersey in his stead. Hedworth himself was soon injured in a collision with Tony Cottee but stayed between the sticks to see Martin (pictured above) notch his second of the game, and the Hammers’ fifth, after Tony Gale had flicked a cross into the path of his central defensive partner’s run. Hedworth succumbed to injury, with Newcastle consequently being reduced to ten men and Peter Beardsley becoming their third custodian of the evening. Hedworth never played for Newcastle again. Billy Whitehurst fired a consolation for the Magpies but the Hammers were soon back on the attack and grabbing a sixth. Devonshire and George Parris combined down the left, with Devonshire’s dinked cross to the far post being nodded in by the onrushing substitute Paul Goddard (who would go on to sign for Newcastle six months later). Goddard then released Cottee down the left and his cross was headed in by Frank McAvennie to make it seven. McAvennie would top the Hammers scoring charts with 28 goals from 51 matches in 1985/86.
There was still time for an eighth. Ward’s cross found Cottee in the area, the PFA Young Player of the Year-in-waiting being bundled to the ground by Roeder. With the majority of a buoyant Boleyn crowd of 24,735 chanting ‘Alvin, Alvin’, penalty king Stewart passed on responsibilities to his captain and the man of the moment… who didn’t disappoint, Martin completing a very unique hat-trick not just because it came from a defender, but because each strike was registered against a different goalkeeper. Cottee, who must have been desperate to add his own name to the scoresheet, hit the bar with a header late on, with the Hammers having to settle for just the eight goals. Cottee would be voted Hammer of the Year, with strike partner McAvennie runner-up. The action from this match can be viewed in my video below.
West Ham won their next four matches, keeping their title hopes alive until Liverpool clinched the championship with a win at Chelsea. In the final-game decider for the runners-up position, Everton beat the Hammers 3-1 at Goodison Park to leave the Irons in third place, still our highest ever League position. Unfortunately there was no prize of a European place in 1986/87 following the Heysel ban on English clubs in Europe. Liverpool would complete the Double by winning the FA Cup.
West Ham United: Phil Parkes, Ray Stewart, Alvin Martin, Tony Gale, George Parris, Mark Ward, Neil Orr, Alan Dickens (Paul Goddard), Alan Devonshire, Frank McAvennie, Tony Cottee.
Newcastle United: Martin Thomas (Ian Stewart), Neil McDonald, Glenn Roeder, John Anderson, John Bailey, Paul Stephenson, David McCreery, Chris Hedworth, Tony Cunningham, Peter Beardsley, Billy Whitehurst.
West Ham United and Newcastle United have shared a multitude of personnel over the years. Andy Carroll could play for the visitors against his old club. A brief run-through of others who have represented both clubs is best served by dividing them by playing position.
Goalkeepers: Shaka Hislop, Pavel Srnicek and Ike Tate.
Defenders: Stuart Pearce, Tommy Bamlett, Abdoulaye Faye, Wayne Quinn, Dave Gardner, Dickie Pudan and James Jackson.
Midfielders: Scott Parker, Lee Bowyer, Rob Lee, Mohamed Diame, Nolberto Solano, Kieron Dyer and Franz Carr.
Strikers: James Loughlin, Paul Goddard, Les Ferdinand, John Dowsey, Bryan ‘Pop’ Robson, Justin Fashanu, Demba Ba, Marlon Harewood, David Kelly, Keith Robson, Vic Keeble, Craig Bellamy and Paul Kitson.
Chris Hughton also played for the Hammers and managed the Magpies while Sam Allardyce and Alan Pardew have managed both clubs. Glenn Roeder also played for Newcastle and managed both clubs.
This week’s focus though is on a player who has captained both clubs this century. Kevin Nolan was born in Liverpool on 24th June 1982; a former England Under-21 international, Nolan signed for Bolton at the age of 16 and remained at the club for ten years. He signed for Newcastle United in January 2009 for a fee of £4m but could not save the club from relegation to the Championship at the end of the 2008/09 campaign. The midfielder was sent off in a home match against Everton a month after his arrival.
Nolan played a huge part in the Magpies’ successful title-winning campaign the following season however, scoring his first league goal for the club on 22nd August against Crystal Palace and netting 18 goals from midfield which included the first hat-trick of his career in a 4–0 away win against Ipswich Town on 26th September. Nolan was voted as the Championship Player of the Year at the Football League Awards and was made club captain in the summer of 2010, succeeding the retired Nicky Butt, as the club prepared for their Premier League return.
Nolan netted a brace in Newcastle’s 6-0 win against Aston Villa in their first home game back in the top flight and scored his first Premier League hat-trick in the Tyne-Wear derby against Sunderland in a 5-1 home win in October 2010. The midfielder helped the Magpies consolidate back in the top tier and, having scored 30 goals in 91 appearances for Newcastle in all competitions, he signed for relegated West Ham United in the summer of 2011.
New Hammers manager Sam Allardyce was reunited with his former Bolton protégé and named Nolan as the new club captain following the departure of Matthew Upson to Stoke. The 29-year-old’s league debut for the Irons came on 7th August 2011 in a 1-0 home defeat to Cardiff and he scored his first Hammers goal a week later in a 1-0 win at Doncaster. ‘Nobby’ scored in three more away games (the 4-1 win at Nottingham Forest, the 2-2 draw at Crystal Palace and the winner in the 1-0 victory at Brighton) before notching his first goal for the Hammers at the Boleyn Ground with a 25-yard volley in a 3-1 win against Derby. A red card early on in a 2-1 home win over Millwall blotted his copybook but two beautifully-lofted efforts over the goalkeeper in home and away matches against Burnley, a headed winner at home against Coventry, a perfectly-placed strike in a 2-0 win at Cardiff and tap-ins in a 1-1 home draw with Doncaster, 4-0 win at Barnsley and 6-0 home triumph over Brighton all added to Nolan’s goal tally. His 13th and final goal of 2011/12 was the opener in the home leg of the play-off semi-final against Cardiff to put the Hammers 3-0 up on aggregate and firmly on the way to Wembley. Nolan helped the Hammers secure an immediate top-flight return via the play-offs, while the team spirit he fostered as skipper was arguably the best the club had seen since the turn of the century.
Nolan continued his good form into the 2012/13 season, scoring the only goal of the game in a 1-0 home win against Aston Villa on the opening day. On 1st September 2012, he scored inside one minute during a 3-0 home win over Fulham as he was reunited with his old Newcastle pal Andy Carroll. He rescued a point in added time in a 1-1 home draw with Sunderland, scored in a 4-1 home win over Southampton and netted the winner back at his former club Newcastle. Nolan scored what transpired to be a consolation in a 3-1 loss at Fulham but claimed his 100th career goal in a 2-0 home victory over Wigan. Nolan rounded off a fine campaign by scoring a ‘perfect hat-trick’ (left foot, right foot and header) in a 4-2 win against Reading on the final day; this took him to ten league goals in a season for the fourth campaign in succession.
Nolan started the 2013/14 campaign by scoring on the opening day again, this time in a 2-0 home win over newly-promoted Cardiff. The Hammers struggled without a focal point in attack as the winter set in and indiscipline crept into the captain’s game – he was sent-off at Anfield in a 4-1 defeat by Liverpool and, after serving a three match ban, he was dismissed again in only his second match back for a needless foul in a 2-1 defeat at Fulham. He was fined two weeks wages but responded well, helping the club to 13 points from a possible 15 on his return to league action. Nolan was back amongst the goals during this period, scoring both goals in a 2-0 home win over Swansea and repeating the trick the following week by bagging a brace in a 2-0 victory at Aston Villa. Another goal followed in the 3-1 home win over Southampton to secure Nolan’s position as West Ham’s top scorer for the season – more importantly, these goals in February 2014 helped lift the Hammers from the bottom three at the end of January to the top ten by the close of the following month, easing relegation fears.
Nolan’s starting spot was less secure in 2014/15, with over a third of his 33 appearances in all competitions coming from the bench. Having been top scorer in the previous two seasons, he scored his only goal of the campaign and his last for West Ham in a 2-1 win at West Brom in December 2014. Nolan was clearly struggling to replicate the form of his first two years in east London and his final game for the Hammers came early in the 2015/16 campaign, on 22nd August 2015 in the 4-3 home defeat to Bournemouth, with Nolan withdrawn at half-time by new manager Slaven Bilic. Less than a week later, after scoring 31 goals in 157 appearances in all competitions for the club, Nolan left West Ham United by mutual consent after four years in claret and blue. Unfortunately, the club’s video of ‘all’ of Nolan’s goals for West Ham contains a mistake – it shows a disallowed header instead of including his lob at Burnley in March 2012. You can view every legitimate goal he scored for the Hammers on the WHTID social media pages.
Nolan became player-manager of League Two side Leyton Orient in January 2016 – he was relieved of his managerial duties three months later with the team two points off the play-offs, and left the club entirely later that summer. He was named manager of another League Two outfit, Notts County, in January 2017 – he helped the club avoid relegation at the end of the 2016/17 season. The Magpies made the play-offs in 2017/18 but lost in the semi-finals to Coventry; Nolan was sacked in August 2018 with County bottom of League Two having picked up one point from their first five league games. Now 37, Nolan has recently been linked with vacancies at former clubs Bolton and Leyton Orient, which have since been filled; he is reportedly a candidate for the Morecambe job.
The referee on Saturday will be Stuart Attwell. The Birmingham-based official will take charge of a West Ham game for only the tenth time – he has sent off a Hammers striker in two of his other nine games officiating the Irons. He refereed our 1-0 victory at Wigan in March 2009 and our 3-1 win at Blackpool in February 2011. The 36-year-old sent off the Latics’ Lee Cattermole for a shocking challenge on Scott Parker, while the Hammers’ Carlton Cole also received his marching orders during the aforementioned win at Wigan. Even Latics boss Steve Bruce criticised the decision to dismiss the Irons striker. Attwell also issued a first-half red card to Andy Carroll in our 1-1 draw at Burnley in October 2017.
Attwell also awarded an infamous ‘phantom’ goal for Reading in a Championship match against Watford in September 2008. He was the youngest-ever Premier League referee but was demoted from the Select Group in 2012. He refereed the Hammers in August 2018 in our 2-1 home defeat to Bournemouth, when he awarded the Irons a penalty which was converted by Marko Arnautovic, and in our 3-1 League Cup home defeat to Tottenham last October. Attwell awarded a dubious match-winning penalty to Manchester City at the Etihad in February and also refereed our 3-0 home win over Southampton in May. His most recent Hammers appointment was for our 2-2 draw at Bournemouth in September.
The VAR Official is Jarred Gillett.
For West Ham United, Lukasz Fabianski, Winston Reid, Jack Wilshere and Michail Antonio are unavailable. The Hammers won both Premier League meetings with Newcastle last season – the Irons last won three in a row against the Magpies in March 1999.
Newcastle United are hopeful that Fabian Schar, Florian Lejeune, Matt Ritchie and Andy Carroll could be available but Sean Longstaff is suspended. Newcastle haven’t scored more than once in any of their last ten Premier League games.
Possible West Ham United XI: Roberto; Zabaleta, Balbuena, Diop, Cresswell; Rice; Yarmolenko, Noble, Snodgrass, Anderson; Haller.
Possible Newcastle XI: Dubravka; Lascelles, Lejeune, Fernandez; Yedlin, Matthew Longstaff, Shelvey, Willems; Almiron, Saint-Maximin; Joelinton.
Enjoy the game – Up The Hammers!
The GoatyGav Column
Two points out of the last twelve available puts us below Watford in the last four games. There are only two teams with worse hauls and those are Norwich and Southampton. When you look at it that way it’s not much worse than the first four games of last season. Our predicament really got real on Saturday and there I’ve got some serious concerns about the coming games.
Confidence is definitely on the wane at West Ham right now. Some players are suffering more than others. For my money there’s something wrong with Felipe Anderson. Something’s definitely going on with the bloke IMO. He’s been off the boil for a number of games now. Where he was putting in great shifts on match-days he’s now gone back to strolling around like he’s walking off a Sunday roast. I found myself screaming at him like a demented lunatic, to get up with play, on one occasion when we were attacking as he was ambling along around the half-way line. Annoyingly, though, by the time he got hooked he’d actually started getting in to the game.
I’m an optimistic bloke who will, generally, give the benefit of the doubt, where it exists, to people. I’m also a big advocate of Manuel Pellegrini, who I remain fully supportive of, during this difficult period. His substitutions on Saturday, however, baffled me. I ask you – Yarma or Snoddy to make way for Ajeti? And in the eighty-sixth minute? There’s a reason that Haller looked isolated – and it wasn’t just because Anderson was hanging around the half way line either.
It’s not even that we have the excuse that our Physio room is particularly busy. We’ve usually got about nine players out by this stage of the season. At present there’s only two first teamers.
Don’t get me wrong as it’s not all bad. Declan seems to be getting back to his, old(?), consistent self. It now seems quite clear that he was suffering from a bug, of some description, which affected him detrimentally. Roberto is ably deputising for Fabianski. I don’t think any criticism which I’ve heard about him is warranted. As we left the ground on Saturday I heard one or two criticising him but I really don’t think he deserves it. You could argue that he should have saved Mousset’s goal but I thought it was an extremely smart finish. First time shots like that catch keepers while they’re re-setting and this was one of those. In fact it was such a decent, first time, strike that it brought several applause from West Ham fans in our section. But despite the positives I’m really of the opinion that, on current form, we’re in the bottom three and, from our performances, deserve to be. Without doubt it’s time for the team to get their stuff together.
I really don’t want to be sat here typing even less positively after the Newcastle game. On that subject I wasn’t too upset to see that Sean Longstaff will miss the match next Saturday. He’s one of the few players that’s really making a positive impact at the Barcodes and they’re going to miss his services bigtime IMO. It’s really high time to get our season back on track, after several lacklustre games just before and following the last international break.
The West Ham Women’s team put up another great fight against Chelsea this weekend but, unfortunately, couldn’t retain the lead after going one up, through a ‘sniffer’s’ strike from Adriana Leon, with thirteen minutes of the second half on the clock. An impressive crowd of over two thousand witnessed three late strikes from Chelsea which sent the blues top of the league after Arsenal beat the impressive Man City ladies. With five played the ladies have recorded two wins and sit three points behind fourth placed newly promoted Manchester United Women. There’s no let up in this division. Next up it’s a visit to the powerful Manchester City side where Matt Beard will hope his team gives a good account of themselves. Best of luck to the Ironesses.
The Under 23s continued their impressive Premier League 2, division 2, campaign with a creditable four-one win over Norwich City. Anthony Scully continued his amazing scoring run with the opening goal, followed by a brace from Dan Kemp and an excellent team goal from Amadou Diallo that sewed up the win for the Hammers and kept the boys three clear of Manchester United who kept up the pressure with a three-one victory against fellow title chasers Stoke City. Next up a visit to mid-table Swansea City on Sunday. Best of luck to the lads for that one.
Have a good week, all, and let’s hope the team can get out of the slump next Saturday.
COME ON YOU RIP ROARIN’ IRONS!
The HamburgHammer Column
Well, I tried. I ditched almost all my matchday rituals this time. Didn’t wear a West Ham shirt. Didn’t drink out of a West Ham mug. I even missed the first eight minutes of the game as I was engulfed in conversation with my brother on the dog and bone. I didn’t even post COYI!!! on the matchday thread before kickoff. Still we could only get a 1:1 draw against Sheffield United.
The Blades looked a fairly decent side actually – and I doubt they will be anywhere near the relegation zone this season. They are a well organised team, well managed, well supported – I know that as a West Ham fan I probably should muster a modicum of vitriol and contempt against them, but honestly, I don’t. Not anymore, that is.
Before the game I thought the whole Tevezgate thing would impact not only our fanbase or the atmosphere inside the stadium, but especially my own view on the game. I have to confess, it didn’t. I just wanted us to get the win, not because it was Sheffield United but because we desperately needed a good performance and three points from this. Not such luck, me old china!
This time at least the effort was there. We played some neat football, we created numerous goalscoring opportunities – and wasted most of them appallingly in the process.
When Snodgrass finished a quick counter attack with a clinical shot to put us in front I thought this would set us up for the win. Wrong again!
When, during the game, I was contemplating on what the focus in my article might be I briefly veered towards praising Roberto who indeed pulled off some wonderful saves in this game – until he let in the equaliser. I thought initially that a goalkeeper of his calibre could and should have easily saved that rather tame effort. The shot wasn’t that fierce, Roberto got down reasonably well, but suddenly appeared to be much shorter when he was stretching for the ball than what he looks like standing up. This is a tall bloke, after all. If he had saved it he would have earned himself plenty of praise for contributing massively to our win.
As it is so often the case with goalkeepers people will now focus on him letting in the equaliser. Rotten luck! As mentioned above, chances were there galore for us to keep the three points in London, but our decision making in front of goal is unconvincing. The chemistry isn’t quite there (yet), when it really matters in the opposition’s box.
Of course you can try and replicate those situations in training in the hope our conversion rate goes up when the next league fixtures come around.
On paper, the quality is there and while we are currently not in a position to field our best side we still should have won. 5 points from a possible 15 in our last five league fixtures is a disappointing yield, no doubt about it. I can’t put my finger on what exactly it is that’s wrong with our team, but Pellegrini and his staff better hurry up and find the problem and fix it. We all know how quickly the mood of a a fanbase can turn. Let’s hope for our next win lurking just around the next corner somewhere. COYI!!!
Whenever as fans we are unhappy with a performance or a draw that should have been a win, let’s pause for a moment and think of those fans who are having the misfortune of seeing their club go out of business and get crossed off the fixture calendar in the middle of a season. This just happened to Wattenscheid 09, one of Germany’s most traditional clubs from a working-class background.
Wattenscheid is a borough of industrial town Bochum, located in the Ruhr Valley. Wattenscheid never oozed glory and glamour, neither the place nor the football club.
But it was good and honest football fare served for the local grafters, the miners, the dockers, the steelworkers. In the Nineties Wattenscheid were even playing in the Bundesliga top flight for four seasons in a row, after that they were a regular Bundesliga 2 side for many seasons before going on a downward spiral which led them to the German equivalent of League Two.
Now the club has run out of money, out of sponsors and out of luck. With a rather modest sum of €400K the club could have at least continued to play out the remainder of the season. Instead the club has now gone into administration, with all previous results of the season being eliminated accordingly. The club still have their youth team which may be their only hope now for the future, but their first team is gone and vanished for the time being. Sad.
Can you imagine, as a fan who maybe supported that club, not necessarily out of choice, but because it was the family thing to do, because your uncle or granddad took you there for your first game, to see your club disappear at short notice ? Their games that used to be a fixture of your weekend activities for years and decades, rain or shine, hail or snow, the matches you took for granted like the sun coming up every morning. And suddenly…NOTHING!
I have a lot of time for people supporting their local, traditional club, especially if they are not overly successful on the pitch and have suffered several relegations already.
To see those clubs go under, hitting their community hard in the process, is a terrible thing to witness. You don’t wish that on any fan.
So, whenever you’re in danger of frustration or anger getting the better of you after a poor West Ham performance, just spare a thought for those fans who literally no longer have a club. At all. There may be plenty of things at West Ham we are not happy about, the stadium, individual performances, the board, away ticket policy etc.
But we still have a club to watch, to support, to root for and cry over. I reckon the Wattenscheid fans would be quite happy now if they could still be disappointed about their team only drawing 1:1 at home actually. They can’t. Their club has been taken away…
Hamburg football update: Starting with Hamburg SV who made quite a statement by beating promotion rivals Stuttgart by a 6:2 scoreline. Top of the table, solid points cushion already, things are looking good for them right now, with the mood among the fanbase being the best it’s been for quite a while.
St.Pauli lost 1:0 away to Heidenheim, losing momentum in the process.
Mixed results from my beloved Concordia. My brother and nephew joined me for the first team home game, it was a terrible performance and a 2:4 defeat. Earlier the U23s had won their away game 7:0 to maintain mathematical touching distance to the promotion places.
And the women’s team only scored once (which is unusual), but it was enough for a 1:0 home win in their cup fixture, so they go through to the next round.