Talking Point

Too Much Too Young

Guest Post by Rugby Irons

Too Much too Young

You’ve done too much , much too young so the lyrics go, but not if you are Rashford, Iheanacho or Dele Alli . All three have stormed into the Premiership and again proved the old adage if you’re good enough, then you’re old enough . Which now begs the question are we brave enough to unleash the undoubted potential of Samuelsen , Cullen , Oxford , Martinez and possibly Burke? All five now have experience under their belt and even though this at a lower level they have come through with flying colours . But and it’s a big but when do we play them? Are we going to ignore the evidence and keep them on loan or in the Development squad or will Slaven unleash them?
For me the answer is simple. A win at WBA and a loss for United and it’s Euro game on. You go with your strongest team until it’s impossible to progress up the table . There are 12 winnable points and they might still be achievable and still get us into Europe. However if we lose at the Baggies and United turn over Leicester that’s then a six point lead and at least equal goal difference , which obviously means needing to beat United and Stoke just to get level with the Mancs them having two games to get a point. And that’s ignoring Liverpool who have an easier run in!

So for the Albion , full strength Captain and steam ahead , the bigger the win the better as goal difference may still play a part . But if the unthinkable happens, then what to do with three games left ? My view , and with due respect to the Old Lady and the clubs proud traditions I would start with Oxford and put Samuelsen and Cullen on the bench . That still leaves five others , just in case. Now assuming that the U21’s don’t lose at Hull , we will have three winners in the squad before parading the Trophy ( I might be getting ahead of myself but it’s my story!) Oxford will have no problem with Swansea who are already on holiday and so I would make a clear statement and rest Lanzini for Samuelsen and take off Nobes with ten to go to give Cullen a run out. I obviously would add Martinez , but I’m not sure if he is eligible , and if not that still leaves one substitution for tactical usage.

Now given what I have said that means a number of players , Reid (Oxford) ,Lanzini ( Samuelsen) , Noble ( Cullen) , Sakho ( Martinez) get a rest and will be even fresher for the Mancs on Tuesday. As this is the home game of the Century , we have to be at 110% . A win , any win is the least we must get. Just one last time , shove it up United and all they stand for ( bit like the Romans, what have they ever done for British football) . Fergie will be there , so a 97th home winner would be ideal.

Which then brings Stoke. By now the season will be very much on or ended, in which case blood the kids from the bench. If the potential for these players can be given a glimmer of what’s to come, the club could save millions, the supporters have the tradition of the Academy back , and we as a club are headed not just to the OS but for the stars. These youngsters have shown no fear so far and I am sure they are ready for a taste of what’s to come. Don’t farm them out for no good reason, without at least having a look. If they were to play and excel against Swansea and Stoke imagine how good the summers going to feel ( as we see Woys misfits fail again) knowing that not only have we got the OS but also stars of the future to fill it.

So if all three, if not four get a good runout in front of the faithful versus Swansea, is there a more fitting or West Ham way for Upton Park to be graced. If the Boleyn is indeed the Old Lady , then let her kids of the future go out and play . It’s what she did best for all of her years.

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Parish Notice

Help Blowing Bubbles Editor Raise Money for the Bobby Moore Fund

Blowing Bubbles Monthly Editor David Blackmore is gearing up to take on another challenge to raise money for the Bobby Moore Fund. David will take part in the Grand East Anglia Run (GEAR) on May 1, and is training hard to make sure he beats his previous best time of 46 minutes and 12 seconds.

GEAR organisers decided to award David the race number 1966 after hearing he wanted to run it in memory of Bobby Moore, and to mark the 50th anniversary of the footballing legend holding aloft the World Cup.

David’s connection to the cause is not just the obvious claret and blue one – he has previously fundraised and volunteered for the Bobby Moore Fund on school building projects in South Africa (2010) and Namibia (2011).

With it being five decades since England beat Germany to win the World Cup for the first time, David hopes to raise £1,966 for the charity. You can make a financial pledge by texting BBFB66 £5 (or any amount you wish) to 70070, or by visiting THIS link. David says…

“I’ve got first-hand experience of the work the Bobby Moore Fund does, and how it can utterly transform people’s lives, and give them an opportunity which they might never get otherwise. Bobby left an unparalleled legacy at West Ham, and also with England. By taking part in GEAR, this is another chance for me to help the charity leave a lasting legacy too – by changing the lives of other people, and helping bring about an end to the curse of cancer.”

David would also like people to help raise more awareness and cash for the Bobby Moore Fund by showing their support for his magazine’s Blowing Bubbles for Bobby campaign. which has received the backing of internationally acclaimed writer Irvine Welsh, actress Danniella Westbrook, TV presenter Matthew Wright.

All you need to do is film yourself blowing bubbles in an imaginative and unlikely place, call out five friends to do the same, explain how people can donate by texting BBFB66 £5 to 70070, and upload your video to your Facebook, Twitter, YouTube account and help spread the news about this fundraising drive.


A Tribute to Ken's Cafe

NOTE FROM IAIN: I am grateful to Pete May for allowing me to reproduce his excellent blogpost from his own site, Hammers in the Heart. As you all know, Ken’s is my regular haunt before a match and I can hardly believe I’ve only got two more visits.

Guest Post by Pete May

Ken and Carol Lucas have been running Ken’s Cafe for 49 years. Here they tell Pete May about their Boleyn memories… and the good news is they’re staying open after the Hammers’ move to Stratford.

Ken’s Café is a pre-match institution at West Ham. On match days the queues stretch through the door and out into Green Street. Ken’s is only the size of a normal two-up two-down Green Street house, but it fits in a tremendous number of customers around its Formica-covered tables.

Behind the counter is Carol in her apron, dispensing strong tea from an urn and numbered tickets for each food order, sharing jokes and shouting for someone to get more cups (the staff include three generations of her family). Hundreds of fans all get fed on time. Instead of on overpriced stadium pie or hot dog, you can still get egg, chips and beans with two slices and a cup of tea for less than a fiver.

Ken and Carol Lucas have plenty of stories to tell. Ken emerges from his kitchen to make a rare appearance in the café itself and makes himself a coffee, joining Carol and myself at a table. Did they ever get used to get any footballers in?

“Frank Lampard Senior used to have a business two doors away and he’d sneak in for his sausage sandwich with masses of brown sauce,” remembers Carol.

“I put a load of brown sauce on it, he said ‘it ain’t enough’, I said ‘just have the bottle!’” adds Ken, who cooks all the food in the kitchen at the back of the café aided by his daughter Sarah Jane.

“We had half the team in here… Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst… a lot of the youngsters come in the old days. But they’re prima donnas now aren’t they, with their tinted windows, not signing autographs like in the old days,” says Carol. Though Carlton Cole did come in more recently. “It made my grandson Billy’s day and though he wasn’t meant to eat it, Carlton mullered his bacon sandwich!”

The good news is that the cafe is staying open next season after the Irons move to Stratford. “No we are not closing down!” emphasises Carol. “We’ll just potter along, as long as we get to the end of the week with enough to cover us.”

Ken, who recently turned 80, owns the café outright, so fans will still be able to get their pre-match grub in Green Street before taking a bus or taxi to Stratford.

Carol, who is a few years younger than Ken, but never seems to age, was originally from Slough and Ken from Streatham. They met at the Southend Kursaal when Carol was on the coach and Ken was riding his motorbike. After accepting a ride home on Ken’s bike Carol was in trouble with her parents, but romance quickly blossomed.

Having been a cook in the Army, Ken was working as a lorry driver, but fancied opening a café. In 1967, two years after marrying Carol he looked over number 467 Green Street. “I parked my lorry outside. The law come in and said you’ve got to move your lorry there’s a match on in two hours. I didn’t even know West Ham was here!” recalls Ken.

When Ken and Carol took over the premises it was an amusement arcade. They still live upstairs and four of their children were born there. Ken kept a few machines in the café, though this lead to problems with, what he terms, “a few Herberts from Canning Town.”

“We had all the rockers in here and all the mods went to a place in Plaistow,” remembers Carol. “I told them we can’t have German helmets in here, it’s a Jewish area!”

“One of them came in with a shotgun. I said I’m not having that in here!” laughs Ken. “ You see ’em now and they’re all granddads. When I say ‘do you remember the shotgun?’ they go, ‘sshhh!’”

Back in the 1960s and 1970s Ken’s Cafe did an unlikely trade selling bacon sandwiches to Rabbis from the nearby Synagogue. “It was a very Jewish area when we moved here,” says Carol. “The market was mainly Jewish and next door was a Jewish lady selling materials. The rabbis would sneak in, and him next door, every time his wife went to the warehouse, he’d say, ‘quick Ken, get me a sandwich!’”

But it was the football trade that really helped the café prosper. Ken and Carol are proud of the fact that customers on match days are usually served within 20 minutes and nothing is cooked until it’s ordered. “Keep the fat hot!” is Ken’s sage advice for feeding industrial quantities of chips to hungry fans.

They’ve had the odd mishap though, such as the time a fryer broke down and, “the time the electric went off, so we did it by candle light but we still fed ‘em!”

Ken and Carol are happy to serve fans of any hue, though if there’s any aggravation it’s normally Carol who sorts it out. “I can shout them out, because they’re not likely to hit a woman,” explains Carol. “But the worst football fan was a woman in in her 80s, quiet as a mouse. Then one person came in wearing another team’s colours and she was like a volcano. The most she ever managed was three games before we threw her out again.”

Even the police used to like a secret cuppa round the back. “In came one of the chiefs saying ‘have you got any of my officers in there?” I said ‘no’ and he looked in the kitchen, but we had eight of them in the scullery at the back!” laughs Carol.

Over the years, the café’s displays of replica guns on the walls have caused some talking points. “This girl said, ‘are them guns real?’ I said, ‘yes’, the only thing you’ve got to do is don’t slam the door when you leave.’ She flew out of here!” chuckles Ken. “The law came in and he said ‘I’ve got to have you about these guns’ until I told him they were plastic. We did have one of them nicked once and about a month later the bank was robbed!”

Ken’s Café has had its share of well-known customers such as Never Mind The Buzzcocks’ Phill Jupitus and Ken Livingstone when he was running for Mayor. “Ken’s alright, though I don’t like his politics. He saw the sign at the front and said, ‘my cafe!’ We’ve had EastEnders stars too and Iain Dale from LBC. I’m dreadful for names I just see faces,” says Carol. “What I like is the celebrities are just like any other punter. They queue up, they don’t expect special treatment. They’re not here as celebrities they just want to be one of the punters. So I won’t let anyone molest them.’’

Other memorable moments at Ken’s include a car swerving in Green Street and coming through the front window some ten years ago. “I was sitting here doing my books and crash, a car come in. The whole side of the shop come down. I got a new front out of him though,” says Ken. The Cafe has also had a window smashed by an irate window cleaner who had a grudge against the previous owner and was once burned down— but only on celluloid, when it was used as a film set.

Thanks to their match-day regulars Ken and Carol have been recognised in unusual places. Ken recalls: “We were at Center Parcs in Nottingham and this big bunch of Herberts came over. I said ‘watch it’ but as they got nearer they said “Ken’s Café!! How are yer!” What a relief! We were at the Isle of Wight in a chip shop late at night and the guy says, “I’ve seen you before in Ken’s Café!”

There was talk of a committee being formed to help local businesses move to Stratford, but little came of it. They remain sceptical about West Ham’s move to Stratford and Carol bemoans the flat prices of the planned development of the Boleyn Ground. “It’s rock bottom for housing in this borough, you get five families in some houses, so there should be more social housing when it’s developed.”

The area is changing, but Ken’s Café today is pretty much the same as it’s always been and that’s part of its charm and why authentic cafes are back in fashion. Ken and Carol seem genuinely happy in their work and will carry on. It’s a proper caff and they’re a culinary treasure.

“They won’t give us that fifth star for food because they want lighting and marble floors and posh chairs and a toilet,” says Carol. “But people are fed up with Costa Coffee and all this espresso double this double that. We won’t change!” And none of their customers would ever want them to.

Pete May’s memories of West Ham’s final season at Upton Park will be appearing in a forthcoming e-book Goodbye To Boleyn.

Talking Point

We need a regular goalscorer

Guest Post by Andy Larkin

How many really convincing victories have we had this season ? In the old days, although we were very inconsistent, West Ham sides always a few 3-0 or 4-0 victories every year. Not this season, and this has been our best year for ages. We struggled to beat a 10 man Aston Villa at home, scraped home against Sunderland, and the other day only just beat Watford’s reserves with the help of two overdue penalties. Now don’t get me wrong, the performance against Watford was great, we made loads of chances but squandered so many. If Adrian hadn’t saved that late penalty it would only have been a 1 goal win, when it should have been by 4 or 5.

Everyone is rightly talking about the fact that West Ham have drawn so many games this season. Most of those games have been games in which we have been the better team, and should have won. Just take a glance at this season’s results. So many times 3 potential points have returned only 1. Many of these were home games, earlier in the season to Norwich, West Brom, Man City and Everton then latterly to the likes of Palace. Then of course there were the referee mistakes away at Villa, Chelsea and Leicester.

For me the root cause of all this have been our lack of a regular goalscorer. Just think what a difference a really regular goalscorer would have made in those games. Our goals have been shared around the team. Dimitri really shouldn’t be our top scorer. OK, Sackho and Valencia have had various injuries but I think the time has come to look to replace them. Emenike doesn’t look the man to do that, despite the fact that he works hard and Bilic clearly likes him. Big Andy is terrific, but will never be a 20 goal a season man. Much talk about Oxlade-Chamberlain or even Walcott coming in from Arsenal, but the man I would prefer would be Olivier Giroud. Arsenal will probably break the bank to bring in Benzema or someone similar, which may well make Giroud available.

So my message to the board is, give Bilic the funds to sign a top class goal scorer and we can really start to think of ourselves as Champions League contenders.

COMMENT FROM IAIN: Giroud? Seriously?!!!

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What to do on 10 May

I missed my first game at the Boleyn this season last week. Work commitments saw me miss out on the Watford game – but it meant a lot for my mother to be able to go instead and savour her last match in E13, having dyed her shoes claret and blue for the trip to Wembley in 1965.

As that last game on 10 May gets ever closer, I find myself at a loss with not only how to feel about it but what to even do when that day comes. Part of me feels like I’ve wasted my previous trips: perhaps I should have I arrived earlier some days or even stayed later after a game, sat down and savoured the sight, the smells and the sounds.

My routine has changed so much down the years. When I had my first season ticket at the age of nine, we used to go to my grandmother’s house on Samson Street before the game, have something to eat and then walk to Priory Road for the match. Come full time, we’d make the ten-minute journey back, grandma would open the door and know the result either from the look on my face or whether she could hear any cheers from the Boleyn from her back garden. A cup of tea, Grandstand and then the trip back home. It was a wonderfully reassuring routine and one that I have missed greatly since my grandmother passed in 2001 – and with it, the family house of old was sold.

Perhaps on 10 May, a weekday that I booked off from work the minute I knew of the rescheduling, I will venture back to Samson Street to see my grandmother’s old house. I pass it now and then, its front door modernised and its side garage altered – a small sign of how everything around those parts has changed and moved on. Nothing shows that modernisation more than Plaistow Hospital on the same street, long since closed down and turned into flats. I don’t know if they’re affordable – as a Londoner, I assume not – but they certainly smack of the uniformity of modern London. Character ransacked; dullness in abundance.

So what to do on that final Tuesday – and what has everyone else got planned? How early is too early to go to Ken’s? Some friends of mine like to go to Ken’s, some others to the Boleyn – so perhaps that last Tuesday is the perfect time to do both. And then after the game, regardless of the result, whether to run down to the East Stand Lower and get close to the hallowed turf? I always wanted to take my seat with me and am incredibly grateful that season ticket holders will indeed be able to purchase their own seat. But aside from that? How long can we wait in the stands and soak it all up? And will there ever be a moment or a time when it’ll feel right to turn my back, walk down those steps and out onto Priory Road for the last time?

Whatever happens, I am someone who will always think I didn’t plan out the day right or didn’t do something in a particular way and that’s why, superstitiously, we didn’t win a match. And whatever happens, it won’t be enough to stop the tears or stop the overwhelming wish to want to have just one my game or one more season at our beloved Boleyn.

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