The HamburgHammer Column

The summer transfer window: Shop smart, but take some money with you

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When I was a kid, a month or so before Christmas it was a well worked routine for me and my brother to hand in our respective wish lists to our mom, she then promised to pass it on to Santa on the next trip to the post office, but we were also given the strong and sage advice to be realistic in our expectations.

We certainly shouldn’t count on the bearded fellow and his reindeer pals to regard our pieces of paper as legally binding bucket lists to studiously work down, ticking every item on the lists without fail.

And that’s exactly how it panned out after mom had rung that little bell on Christmas Eve, indicating that the presents were ready to be admired before getting unwrapped.

And as sure as West Ham home games begin with a passionate rendition of Bubbles, every year under the Christmas tree us kids were happy to find some bloody nice presents (plus the customary socks, new pyjamas and underwear which we had never specifically asked for but which were apparently deemed absolutely necessary gifts by our parents regardless, they must have fiddled shamelessly with our lists before passing them on I suppose).

My parents were not exactly loaded, to put it mildly, but they always made sure that Christmas was special for us kids, we always ended up with a fair selection of items from our list, but never ever, as a matter of principle, did we get EVERYTHING that was on the list and deep down us kids knew the score. Which was perfectly fine and acceptable.

It still was worth it though, compiling a decent wish list. An ambitious one at that, with the odd pie in the sky entry to boot. You never know…

The same very much applies to transfer windows at West Ham. By all means, as a fanbase and as manager, we need to be realistic, but we can still aim high and dare to dream!
Ask and you may receive!

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Maybe, every once in a while, the stars and planets will align, you could punch above your weight and still win occasionally, you may be quicker than other clubs for once, right place, right time – or the player may just be enticed into choosing the club after a brilliant interview with the gaffer, outlining his irresistible plans and footballing philosophy at West Ham. Still, it might not be enough. Bigger clubs, offering more money and European/CL football, you know the story.

Take Maxi Gomez. Players with a current asking price of 40 million quid upwards do have a certain quality. Which means other clubs, bigger clubs than us, will have him on their radar too and spending that kind of money is pretty much commonplace for them, and not a big deal, unlike for us.

If I was still in the habit of writing wish lists for Christmas (or West Ham), you can bet your house, your garden shed and your cat on me putting Maxi Gomez pretty high up on that list right now. But I’d be realistic enough to also put some alternative names on the list, just in case.

And I am convinced that Manuel Pellegrini and Mario Husillos have done and are still doing just that. They will be smart enough to have a plan B, C and possibly D too.

My trust in them at this point is sky high and they probably know they won’t be getting £100 million to spend every summer.

They have shown us last summer how they are able to bring in decent quality players for modest amounts. However, this should be no carte blanche for our board to go down Pennypinch Lane all summer. You still need to spend money in the current market to bring in the kind of players that are going to improve our squad and hopefully the starting XI too.

You can’t take money for a used Ford Fiesta to the showroom, expecting to drive off the premises in a shiny new Ferrari. Or at least a reliable Volvo with all the trimmings.

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So, even if you have to miss out on the top names on your list, even the names further down won’t come cheap. That’s par for the course if you’re a Premier League club. We still need to be alert, quick and realistic with our bids in order to be successful.

There are always rival clubs lurking and aiming for the same players and we simply cannot afford to play fancy games with low bids or ridiculous payment terms if we are REALLY interested in signing a player.

Yes, Jordan Hugill could of course be like a new signing for us, but I’d rather we won’t be testing those waters when trying to replace the likes of Carroll, Hernandez and Perez who are all likely to depart in the coming weeks.

Later this week I will make that phone call to the West Ham ticket office, sorting out my e-credits and renewing my season ticket. I will do it in the full knowledge that I have no Scooby at this stage what our team is going to look like come August. I will probably be unimpressed with the players we will have signed by then and maybe even more irritated with the players we may be allowing to leave or sell to the highest bidder. However, from a personal perspective, who we sign or sell can and will not be the clincher why I will be renewing anyway.

It’s just that West Ham are still such a main contributing factor when it comes to planning my trips to London. Yes, it is mainly about meeting friends and mates from the blog, having a jolly good time and also doing things away from football.

But I just cannot imagine not going to a first team game when I’m over while one is scheduled. Time and fixture permitting I will also happily attend a game of our U23s or (hopefully) the West Ham Women’s team, but somehow at this stage I cannot kick the habit of a West Ham matchday when I’m over, despite the stadium and its well established shortcomings as a venue for watching football.

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And I still need my fix of attending 2-5 games a season of top level football in person which in my case gets provided by West Ham as I don’t attend either of the two big Hamburg clubs’ games unless I have visitors who are keen to go. So, what are my expectations for West Ham’s summer business ?

Similar to my Christmas wish lists back in the day. Please let us have not just the useful, but boring stuff: The socks, new pyjamas and some bloody new underwear. Give us something to get excited about. The latest Playstation. A new stereo system. Tickets for a Nena concert. Maybe a nice West Ham shirt or jacket. I know getting all those presents at once is unrealistic, but at least give us one or two of them. I promise to truly appreciate and even wear the new pyjamas as well then…:-))

COYI!!!

Hamburg football update:

Both top Hamburg clubs were out of the promotion race, so their respective results on the final day of league fixtures were pretty much irrelevant. Still, Hamburg SV beat already relegated Duisburg 3:0 at home – one wishes they had been able to perform like this in the previous weeks – promotion would still have been on or already secured then!

St.Pauli lost 1:2 away at Fuerth – which means that the team from Hamburg’s red light district finish the season in solid midtable, after gunning for promotion, same as HSV, for quite a while earlier in the season.

The Concordia first team finished a highly disappointing season with a 2:0 home win against Sasel on Friday evening. The revolving door will be busy this summer as probably only five players of the current squad will still be wearing the famous red and black shirt of Concordia next season. Loads of new, young and hungry recruits are expected to join in the next few weeks, ready to give the Cordi fans more reason to cheer next season.

The Cordi U23s meanwhile shot themselves in the foot, killing off their promotion hopes for good by losing at home to already promoted Muemmelmannsberg. Better luck next time, lads!

And finally, the Concordia Women’s team didn’t actually play, but got honoured on the pitch prior to kick-off at the first team game on Friday, seeing their amazing promotion season acknowledged by the home crowd, and deservedly so.

If you fancy it, have a butcher’s at the highlights of their promotion clinching game at Rahlstedt (and the ensuing celebration) in the videos below and please do watch out for Cordi’s best player and my personal favourite, Michelle “Mini” Hille, wearing the #7 shirt. And if you happen to understand a bit of German, enjoy the commentary too, delivered in the broadest local Hamburg accent you are ever likely to hear…:-)

Oh, and just in case you spot a portly figure with sunglasses on, wearing a grey hoodie and claret West Ham jacket, during the first two minutes of the longer video, guess who that might be…let me give you a hint:
It’s not Winnie-the-Pooh or the guy from the Go Compare advert…;-))

Match highlights:


Rahlstedter SC – Concordia from Wolfgang Neubauer on Vimeo.

After the final whistle:


Dawud Marsh's Photo Diary

Photo Diary 2018-19 Season Review Part 1: The Place

Now that the season has drawn to a close for West Ham United, the lights dimmed and gates closed until the next season, its time for the 3 part review of my photo diary. I have decided to start with the stadium this time round. The ground divides many supporters and for some the London Stadium may never feel like home, for others its not the place but the crowd and the atmosphere and for some the stadium is beginning to feel like our own. Its a great place for a photographer, especially for those games under the lights, but this season we have seen a lot more entertainment outside the ground with more bars, food stalls and music and there is an atmosphere like we never had at the Boleyn Ground. Inside the ground, although visually interesting for me as a photographer, the ground feels cold and lifeless until you walk through the tunnels and up the stairs to get to your seats. I really like the shape of the stadium and with the new claret carpet surround it’s beginning to feel more like a football ground. Well, thats my view and as always, I’ll let me photos doing the talking. Part 2 will be focusing on the fans and the final Part 3 on the players, some of whom we may never see again I the claret and blue shirt. I hope you enjoy the memories.


Nigel Kahn’s Column

West Ham A-Holic

I was recently contacted by a West Ham fan who wanted me to tell his story and in a way use it to help others that may feel trapped and alone. I have changed the name of the fan to protect him from unnecessary embarrassment or shame.

My name is Trevor,,,,,,, and,,,,,,,,,,,,, I’m a West ham-a-holic.

It’s been all of 7 days since my last game. It all started as a kid. My uncle introduced me to it. I was so young that I can’t even remember the first time. It’s as if all my life it’s been there. I never saw it being a problem, I mean have always gone West Ham, at first it was exciting being in the crowd with like-minded people. I had it under control. I could take it or leave it. I worked hard and was entitled to unwind in the company of like-minded friend’s, I enjoyed a good night game, and away days could be even better. Pretty soon it was evident that it was out of control, though not to me. My wife complained that I was always going to West Ham and didn’t spend enough time with her. That in turn led to many arguments. She just didn’t understand that when I was at football, I came out of myself. The highs were unexplainable, though too few or often and in the end I was just going to blot out the rest of my life. The trouble is in recent years I could find nothing to blot out the West Ham. My friends at first were sympathetic but then one by one, as their clubs became successful or won trophies, they questioned why I continued down the path I was going. It is not the misery of supporting West Ham that gets you in you the end, it’s the hope, the hope that they will win today, or even score a goal. Yet they never do.

I have been suffering for many years now from the addiction. It seems there was no-where to turn, no help for me. But at last, it does seem that there is hope for me. This week I attended West Ham—a-holics anonymous, a group of like-minded West Ham fans, who, through regular meetings, help others afflicted with this debilitating illness. They have put in place a 10 point programme that all sufferers should follow to help them through and if like me you too are brave enough to admit you are a West ham-a-holic.

1. Cultivate continued acceptance that your choice is between being unhappy watching West Ham or being happy without West Ham.

2. Accept as being normal that for a time, perhaps a long time, you will recurringly experience

A. The nagging craving to watch West Ham
B. The sudden impulse to go, West Ham,
C. The craving, perhaps not for West Ham, but for the warm fuzzy glow going West Ham gave you.

3. Remember that the times you didn’t go West Ham, normally called “Post Season” and use that thought to build up the strength to not go West Ham when you feel the urge taking over.

4. Develop and rehearse daily a plan of thinking and acting by which you will live each day without West Ham, regardless of how hard the urge to go West Ham may hit you.

5. Don’t allow yourself to either think or talk about any real or imagined pleasure you got from watching West Ham. Chances are it wasn’t real.

6. Don’t think for a second that “isn’t it a pity I can’t go, West Ham, like the normal fans, can do

7. Don’t permit yourself to think “one more game won’t hurt” or “just let me go to one more game and I will be able to stop.” You won’t. Just one more game will make it worse.

8. Cultivate and woo the enjoyment and freedom of not going West Ham.

A. How good is it to be free of the shame and guilt of supporting West Ham,
B. How good is it to be free of the consequences of being a West Ham fan, the misery of that feeling when you wake up on a Sunday morning after going to West Ham,
C. How good is it to be free of what fans of other clubs have been thinking and whispering about you, and their mingled pity with contempt?
D. See how good it is to be free of the fear of defeat.

9. Cultivate a helpful association of ideas.

A. Associate being a West Ham fan with the single cause of misery, shame and fear you have ever known
B. Associate being a West Ham fan as the only thing that can destroy your new found happiness, and take away your self-respect and full possession of your faculties.

10. Cultivate Gratitude:

A. Gratitude that so much can be yours for not paying the price of that ticket
B. Gratitude that you can trade going West Ham for all the happiness that brings
C. Gratitude that West Ham-a-holics exist and that you found them
D. Gratitude that you are a West Ham-a-holic, you’re not a bad or wicked person, just you have been in the grip of a compulsion.
E. Gratitude that since others have done it, you in time will learn to live without West Ham

If you like Trevor you recognise the systems and think you need help as well,

You can contact them free on 0800 0-0 0-0 0-0

Help is out there.


Match Report

’THE WAY YOU LOOK TONIGHT’

The Watford result was a brilliant way to conclude what has been a season that has ebbed and flowed. The team’s 1-4 win away from home also capped off a boozy week, as I went out four nights in a row (promise some studying was done Mum and Dad). Two of those nights were spontaneous as I was at the pub with a Liverpool fan on Tuesday, and an Arsenal fan on Thursday, and both unsurprisingly were very happy and wanted to celebrate! Obviously, I was not with a Spurs fan on the Wednesday!

I’ve concluded that the quality of a night out is heavily dependent on who you go with, in a way the Watford result confirms this with the personnel we had available. An attacking quartet of Anderson, Lanzini, Antonio and Arnautovic is very strong and hasn’t been available to us for most of the season. If we could have seen this forward line more, perhaps we would have been slightly higher up the table. My point is, my nights out would be even better if I always had a Liverpool fan ecstatic about their side making an unbelievable comeback to reach a European final as the positive energy was infectious. That attack plus a returning Yarmolenko, and a new striker, could give me a lot of positive energy next season. Let’s hope so anyway!

The final game of the season at Vicarage Road in some ways characterised West Ham’s campaign. A marvellous save by the Hammer of the Year, Lukasz Fabianski prevented Troy Deeney from pulling one back. Fabianski has been absolutely superb this season, as demonstrated by his 148 saved shots. The Polish international has definitely kept us in games this season, and whilst we still would have been leading on Sunday going into half-time, the second half certainly would have differed

The defending and mistake by Zabaleta for Watford’s goal was poor, and needs to improve for next season. On several occasions we have seen lapses in concentration and Fabianski and the defence have frustratingly not been able to keep a clean sheet: Cardiff at home, Sunday’s game, Wolves at home, Brighton away, the list goes on…

Noble continued his rich vein of form, not only scoring twice but leading brilliantly as he always does. Some fans will always doubt his physical condition, but he has proved them wrong in recent games. Nevertheless, his technical ability certainly should not be doubted. Similarly, Rice seemingly played well as usual. I was actually unable to watch the game, but recall reading somewhere that the 20 year old put in two commanding tackles early in the second half.

I appreciate that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and the beautiful game is always going to spark debate, but to those who think Anderson has had an average season, like me on Friday night, you’ve probably had one too many beers! He’s got better at tracking back, evidenced by him stopping a certain goal on Sunday. The Brazilian can clearly improve in aspects of his game, and with his first season in England finished, I have no doubt he’ll be even better in the 2019/2020 campaign. Felipe accrued 9 goals and 4 assists in debut season which is pretty impressive, and he’s a joy to watch when he dribbles and plays his intricate flicks and passes. In my opinion, and as in the Sinatra song, the best is yet to come.

I recall speaking to my friend who happens to be a Crystal Palace fan not that long ago, and he was quizzing me on Michail Antonio’s game. I have always said when he’s on form, he is a big physical threat and causes lots of problems for defenders, whilst also being a hard worker. However, I did always say that sometimes his touch can be woeful and rivals Lukaku’s. Also, while it can be positive, the fact he often looks as if he has no idea what he’s going to do with the football can be a negative. The wide man clearly is a great personality to have around the squad, and his recent form will surely see him feature next campaign as he’s can be very difficult to deal with. He was superb at Vicarage Road, and I hope to see more carpet stroking next season!

Arnautovic looks likely to stay now and he appears to have turned a corner and, along with my Dad, I’m pleased he will probably stay as when he’s firing he is a danger and he really boosts the team. The added competition of a new number 9 next season will hopefully galvanise him even more to play well and keep his shirt.

We look ahead now to what will hopefully be a positive season with some decent additions raising the standard again. We finished 10th and, but for injuries as well as a few questionable decisions, we could have climbed higher. Next season I think we will improve but, to slightly misquote the Sinatra song, you never know. I look forward now to the avalanche of transfer rumours related to West Ham, as well as a few beers to celebrate summer, although perhaps not as many beers as last week!

Not sure why this article features several Frank Sinatra references, I just ran with it.

My local team Tonbridge Angels beat Met. Police 3-2 in extra time to achieve promotion to the conference south. They will face local rivals Maidstone next season, it could be spicy. I shall be able to go to more West Ham games as well as Tonbridge games as I’ve finished Uni, more football equals more fun!


The HamburgHammer Column

I know what you did last summer - try doing it again!

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If you see more typos in this article than you have been used to in my column (or even the odd factual error), I can explain this…you see, yesterday the Concordia Women’s team celebrated their second promotion in a row, winning 4:0 away at local rivals Rahlstedt (by the way, that’s the borough where Nena of “99 Red Balloons“ fame lives) and I was happy enough to celebrate this great success with them, players, staff and fans, back at Cordi HQ (home ground) and those celebrations did include a choice of beverages which may in some cases have contained traces of alcohol. Although the girls drank a lot more than I did, but who can blame them ?

How often in your career can you celebrate your team getting promoted or winning a Cup ? Exactly. So forgive me that I decided to spend Sunday afternoon worshipping local football and the women’s game, only catching up with West Ham’s exploits at Watford later in the evening, watching some very enjoyable highlights on MotD.

While we are talking personal stuff, the results of my brother’s tissue probe came back – and it’s very much a mixed bag. The bad news is they indeed found some cancerous tissue on his removed adrenal gland, likely to have sprung from his previous cancer of the oesophagus during chemo (which, according to his doctors, is very rare). The good news though is that the cancerous tissue they found was very much dead already which hopefully means it didn’t have the chance to cause any further harm. Either way, they will continue to check my brother’s blood every four weeks now to stay alert and spring into action as soon as there is the slightest sign of the big C trying to make a return. As usual, fingers crossed…

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I was tracking our game online while watching the Cordi U23s lose their game and later during the celebrations with the women’s team.
When I saw our starting XI I was pretty confident we would get a result and we sure did. It’s nice to end a season with a confident performance and I was especially chuffed with our skipper Mark Noble rewarding himself with two goals, crowning one of his best ever seasons for us with a brace.

Winning 4:1 away at Watford surely will give every supporter a positive send off into the summer and it might also help our transfer business having finished in the top half of the table.

As for the season gone by at our beloved Hammers, as expected, it was very much a transitional first season for Manuel Pellegrini and his staff. In typical West Ham fashion we had our fair share of bumps and potholes along the way, crazy games, terrible refereeing decisions, topsy-turvy performances, an ever expanding list of injuries, quite a few of them long-term, some unnecessary drama over Arnautovic’s dreams of trophies in China, in short:

Another rollercoaster season at good old West Ham. Or is that West Ham London now ? I sometimes get confused about that…

Overall I was reasonably happy with proceedings at our club. When we lost the first four games, I was mildly nervous. Then again, I have never before seen a more ridiculously difficult fixture calendar for the first eight weeks or so of a season than West Ham were given this time around. Once again we lost to teams we should have put away while winning against sides you would have expected to wipe the floor with a side like ours, expected to make up the numbers and stand in awe, admiring the big clubs with their assortment of superstar players.

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I only managed to fly over for two games this season, but both were crackers and significant in their own special way – and tying in with my penchant for being a good luck charm when travelling to watch West Ham, both games brought wins for the claret and blue cause, first the thrilling 3:2 against Crystal Palace with a stunning goal from Snodgrass and another beauty from Felipe Anderson which got the West Ham goal of the season award actually.

And later in March I felt utterly privileged to be inside London Stadium when the Billy Bonds Stand was opened prior to the Newcastle game. I was happy when Declan Rice signed his long term deal, but I was even more elated when I saw him score his first goal for the first team with a powerful header, right in front of me, watching from Section 227 at the front of the upper tier of the Sir Trevor Brooking. I don’t get to see a lot of West Ham games in person, but somehow I seem to have a talent of choosing special ones when I come over and boy, did I make those two count this season!

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I won’t mention all the negative stuff that happened to us over the course of the season (again), but will rather go and turn those into positives, with the sincere hopes that plenty of things will improve for us next season.

A) Because I’m an optimist in general. And…
B) because we are due a little helping of good fortune for once.

No way will we ever have as many players missing as many games through injury again as we did this season. Injuries will still happen of course, but I’m hopeful that guys like Wilshere, Lanzini, Yarmolenko and Sanchez will play a lot more games for us now they have overcome their recent injuries. Andy Carroll of course is no longer our problem, so let’s hope he takes his season ticket for the treatment room with him instead of passing it on to a teammate who is staying at the club.

VAR is going to help us take away at least some of the big club bias, deliberately or subconsciously handed out by the PL referees. I wouldn’t expect it to be a massive factor, but overall it should help a team like ours, rather than making things any worse really.

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As for the upcoming transfer period, I understand that Pellegrini, Husillos and Sullivan will all be in transfer mode as of today, rather than booking a beach holiday or taking a flight back home anytime soon. Last summer was the right idea and I applaud the board for it. They hired a new manager and gave the guy substantial funds to start building a decent squad. We were obviously unlucky that some of those signings were out through injury most of the season (see above), but I firmly believe that Yarmolenko, Wilshere and Sanchez are fantastic players and we will get to see the best of them next season.

I know last summer was a decent transfer window for us overall and we need to keep doing it, not necessarily with the exact same level of expenditure, but similar.
Pellegrini and Husillos will hopefully unearth the odd bargain or diamond in the rough, like Balbuena, Fabianski, also Diop. But we cannot expect every new signing to be a bargain or free transfer.

Take our apparent top target Maxi Gomez. His side may or may not be relegated, that doesn’t really tell us anything about his quality as a a striker as football is very much a team sport and no one, not even Messi, can win games and trophies all by himself. Gomez is still young (which should be one of our key priorities when signing players these days), but he has already shown enough quality, scoring goals regularly with not much support from his teammates, to drive his asking price up.

It’ll be interesting to see if we will really spend around £40 million for Gomez, blowing the main chunk of our transfer budget on just one player. Pellegrini seems to be very keen on Gomez, so we’ll see. It’s good to hear they have their targets lined up, trying to sign some of them early to make sure they get a full preseason with their teammates.
Almost as interesting as who comes is the question of who will be leaving and who might be staying after all.

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Quite a few of these decisions apparently will be taken as early as this week, so as usual things will remain tense and interesting at West Ham throughout the entire summer.
As in previous summers I will continue to write my column as often as possible, provided there are enough news and transfers during the week to warrant an article throughout the hot and sunny months without any football.

Once more it’s been a pleasure writing for you guys and gals again this season and I wanna thank you for putting up with my ramblings and viewpoints. COYI!!!

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Hamburg football update:

Hamburg SV lost at Paderborn and St.Pauli shared a goalless draw with Bochum at home to eliminate any remaining morsel of hope for promotion.
Terrible for my hometown to have not a single Bundesliga 1 club from Hamburg two seasons in a row.

Concordia’s first team lost again, 2:5 away to relegation rivals Wedel and they only have other results going their way to thank for having narrowly escaped relegation. Only just. Shocking.

The U23’s haven’t helped their promotion hopes with their latest defeat, it’s still mathematically doable, but not very likely with just two games left.

The Cordi Women’s team could have lost their final league fixture 0:5 – and still have gone up regardless. Which is not the way you want to clinch promotion though, is it ?

So the girls won in style and I was happy to see them go up to the next level. It’s all they deserve really after only losing twice and conceding just nine goals all season.

They play some wonderful attack-minded football and are a great bunch of people too, the players, manager and staff. I got to talk a bit more in depth with a number of them during the promotion festivities and their skipper made a really nice point when she said that the team really acknowledged and valued supporters like me who come and watch their games regularly, time permitting – it would give the entire team a real push to perform and play well.

They genuinely appreciate the fans who support them at the games and all the players do take notice when the fans are there with them – and when they are not.

I know the ladies’ game is not for everyone, but I’ve had the pleasure of watching some bloody nice ball skills, attacking moves, combinations and goals this season, courtesy of the Cordi girls, so it’s a case really of the players and the fans feeding off each other’s effort and passion.
It’s the way it should be really.

Approaching midnight, with everyone leaving, I learned in passing that the Cordi skipper (a lovely young woman by the way and physio by trade) and her fiance live just a little more than an Antonio throw-in away from my flat, so in order to save them the cab fare I dropped them off at their front door, less than 250 meters from mine (luckily enough I had only had one pint of beer the entire afternoon/evening plus buffet food, so I was fine to drive).

That’s why I love my local football just as much as I do West Ham, but in a completely different way, as unlike the stars of the Premier League the local players (and especially the women) are normal folk like you and me, approachable, likeable and they sometimes even live two streets away from your own. I doubt many West Ham fans have recently had the opportunity to offer one of our players a ride home, unless they drive a cab of course…LOL

COYI!!! Enjoy the summer, y’all!


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