Book Review

Blowing Bubbles giving away 10,000 magazines - Can you help them?

Our partners Blowing Bubbles will be giving away 10,000 copies of their August issue to celebrate the start of a new chapter in West Ham’s history. Following the huge success of their commemorative Farewell Boleyn issue, this must-read edition heralds the move to the Olympic Stadium with interviews with captain Mark Noble, Frank Lampard Snr, Chris Powell, and England Ladies captain Ellen White.

The move by the monthly magazine, entering its fifth season of publication, comes after OLAS and Ex Hammers Magazine announced they had ceased publication. August’s issue is aimed at giving those attending the Juventus and Bournemouth games something to remember this historic month by.

Not going to either game? You can secure your copy at a reduced price here.

Editor David Blackmore urged any West Ham fans interested in being paid to distribute August’s issue to get touch via editor@blowing-bubbles.co.uk. He also thanked businesses in and around Stratford for enabling the magazine, usually priced at £3, to mark this exciting new month for West Ham. Blowing Bubbles’ base for the Juventus game, he continued, will be the Cow in Westfield but he stressed distributors would also be dotted around in the limited, designated areas available to his magazine.

“I’m delighted that we are able to hand out thousands of copies to give people a memento to cherish from the first games at our new home,” David said. “Never have I been as proud, worked so hard, or been as worried as I have over this first issue of the season. There has been so much love from the West Ham family over the past few months with our Farewell Boleyn commemorative issue and Summer Annual – long may this continue. I hope those reading Blowing Bubbles for the first time enjoy their first taste of our writers’ carefully crafted words, and I hope they want to continue to support what we do by picking up a copy every month.”

David confirmed the magazine would increase its presence outside our new home as the only Hammers fanzine, but added: “If you can’t get to every game, make sure you don’t miss out by securing a subscription on our website. Then, while you’re online, follow us on Twitter and like our Facebook page.”

You can secure your subscription for the 2016/17 season here.

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The HamburgHammer Column

Strike the iron while it's hot - who blew out the flame ?

These past few days I can’t help but sing that favourite summer classic of the Eighties to myself by the immortal Bananarama: “It’s a cruel, CRUEL, cruel summer, leaving me here on my own, now you’re gone, but you’re not the only one!” It is oh so fitting, not only because I’m baking in the sweltering heat in my flat as I’m typing this, just below a flat roof mimicking a George Foreman grill but it’s also very appropriate in terms of describing our transfer dealings so far plus the recent events of the nightmare week just gone.

Usually I am very much a glass half full kind of chap and when we approached this summer, having only just missed out on CL or Europa League football by way of some bad luck and incompetence on the pitch during our league run in last season, I was still hopelessly optimistic – what could go wrong?

We were still in with a chance for the Europa League if we got through the qualifiers (which we still can achieve of course).

We would target quality players instantly improving our squad, go after them hard, spending some serious money in the process while being aware that this would be one hell of a crazy transfer window as due to the new TV deal ALL Premier League clubs have money to spend now.

Somehow our transfer targets so far seem to be falling by the wayside one by one, the Batshuayis, Lacazettes, Janssens and Baccas of this world.

Bacca of course is still on and I can still see him signing for us as he never outright rejected us – and as he is seeing his prefered clubs falling by the wayside too, we may have a scenario where Bacca will be a West Ham player although it may well end up being a marriage of consent and practical sense rather than one of burning passion and undying love (Congrats again by the way to my fellow writer Dan Coker who signed a permanent deal with his wife over the weekend with no release or buy back clauses as far as I know…).

I have to confess, I am utterly confused by our transfer proceedings this summer so far. Don’t get me wrong, I like our shrewd signings we have secured up to now, Feghouli, Tore and Nordveit plus young Quina, Fletcher and Martinez – all coming in on the cheap or on loan. I’m convinced they will help us along the way once they have all bedded in, but considering we have already sold Tomkins for 10 million quid to be followed by the sales of Sakho and Valencia we appear to be net accumulating rather than net spending this summer – I know the transfer window is open for a few more weeks yet and I haven’t forgotten the transfer bonanza last summer with some signings arriving at our club on the final day before Sky Sports News took great pleasure in closing the window shut.

Perhaps I’m jumping the gun here, doubting our owners and their approach – maybe they are waiting for certain transfers to happen, making other targets available, thereby signing different targets for better prices. We all know how much the Davids love a shrewd deal and as a fan it’s also hugely rewarding to see a player arriving at our club and performing well above what could be expected just looking at the transfer fee.

However, transfer windows have irrevocably changed. With the new TV deal more clubs, including the so called lesser ones, have their pockets full of cash and can suddenly buy quality players who never even knew places like Stoke, Middlesbrough or Burnley existed. Also we seem to be aiming at top quality players, the kind of players that also are in the plans of top clubs like Barcerlona, Bayern or Juventus. It goes without saying that you cannot try to pull off a deal signing these players by using your tried and tested East End market stall negotiating tactics.

While you go in, trying to suggest loan deals with options to buy or dally about payment structures, clauses and bonuses another club will simply top your offer, speak with the player and his agent, pay the cash and do the deal. I’m not as naive though to believe that this is all our club’s fault, if you approach top quality players, but simply cannot offer Champions League football it’ll always be hard as the player in question is bound to have other clubs vying for him that are well ahead in the pecking order.

The feelgood factor was high after last season – Bilic giving us our club back, the final season at the Boleyn, the Payet masterclass and our upcoming move to the OS.
Just like after the Boys of ’86 the sense was there that NOW is the time to kick on and make the next step – spend some money, improve the squad, go for it!

Instead we seem to be happy with standing still, treading water and hoping for things to somehow fall into place in the end.

With every target falling by the wayside, new names are being mentioned, Mario Gomez apparently is quite keen to play in England and while he is not that young anymore he is still a natural finisher and a lot more affordable than other targets we have pursued in recent weeks. At some stage though we need to get deals over the line, even if that means biting the bullet by slightly overpaying on wages or giving more money upfront to the selling club.

We are not in a position to dictate terms, our international standing as a club is not up to that yet and the Olympic Stadium simply has not the pull for players as we may have imagined.

How could it ? Players will likely need a full season of West Ham playing there to take notice of both our club AND the new stadium. If the atmosphere is rocking there, if our football delivers results and if we manage to qualify for the Europa or even Champions League proper without the need for qualifiers, then we can expect things to get a bit easier for us when it comes to attracting new players.

We all need to try and stay patient and trust the owners to get it right in the end. How much they will ultimately spend in this transfer window in terms of net spend will go a long way in showing us how determined or committed they really are. Even if they were to sell the club in the near future surely they’d still need to spend to accumulate, to set the club up in a way that it’ll get them the best price for some American or Asian billionaire.

Selling a club in 5th or 4th place surely is a better foundation for sale talks than a 10th or 12th place finish.

Which brings me to our upcoming first ever game at the Olympic/London Stadium: Our return leg against Domzale in the Euro league qualifying round.

I’m sure we’ll see a totally different West Ham team then, both in terms of formation and attitude on the pitch.

I wish the Antonio project turning him into a top RB stops sooner rather than later, quite frankly we don’t have the time to afford Antonio training on the job while competitive games are being played, it’s too much of a risk and why spend one or two seasons to try and turn Antonio into a RB when you can just buy a RB (or play Byram) and use Antonio much more effectively on the wing or even upfront ? I’m sure Antonio would be much happier as well.

So far no TV company seems to have picked up our first game in the OS, but I can’t quite believe it’ll stay that way. So I’m hoping for an internet stream becoming available, for some new players finally arriving at our club and the feelgood factor returning to West Ham. COYI!

And now everybody: It’s a cruel, CRUEL, cruel summer – leaving me here on my own…

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Transfer Gossip

Is Andre Ayew Really the 20 Goal a Season Striker We Need?

Iain examines the merits of signing Andre Ayew and Jese Rodriguez…

If Iain Dowie were playing today, he’d no doubt command a transfer fee of £20 million. How do I know this? Because according to Claret & Hugh we have bid exactly that amount for Swansea striker Andre Ayew. Ayew has a goalscoring record of 1 in 3.82 games. Dowie’s career record was 1 in 3.83.

There’s no doubt, when Swansea played us off the park on the last Saturday of the season Andre Ayew had a great game. He scored two goals and looked superb. But in 35 games for The Swans last season he scored 12 goals. OK, that’s a ratio of 1 in 2.92, which isn’t exactly bad, but do we not think that Diafra Sakho is capable of scoring more than that, assuming he stays fit for the season (and that’s a big ‘assuming’, I know). Now it may be that having got used to the Premier League he will go on to score the 18-20 goals that we want from a striker, and if so I’ll be the first one to cheer, but I if we sign Ayew, I genuinely think we need another striker in addition to Jonathan Calleri, who seems set to sign on loan.

We are also in for Real Madrid striker Jese Rodriguez, not to be confused with his teammate James Rodriguez, the Colombian team captain. Jese is a Spanish product of the Real Madrid youth structure and has been made available by Real Madrid for £15 million. According to the Express he is being offered to West Ham and Southampton and he is keen to come to England. For Castilla, Real Madrid’s B Team he scored 32 goals in 80 appearances and for the first team he has a less than prolific 13 in 63 (1 in 4.85). So again, he’s not going to be the 20 goal a season striker we have been targeting. To be honest, I have never heard of him and when I first about this story I had indeed confused him with teammate James! Now HE would have been a great signing!

A third option could be Mario Gomez. Read West Ham are speculating that we are in talks with him and his club Fiorentina over a £4 million deal. He’s 31 but scored 26 goals in 33 games for his loan club Besiktas last season. Not sure I put much stall by this, but you have to say that amount of money for a striker with his scoring record wouldn’t be a bad deal. For Bayern and Stuttgart he had a 1 in 1.71 goalscoring record and for Germany he’s got 29 in 68. However, for Fiorentina he’s flopped with only 7 goals in 29. That’s why they are happy to see him leave. Personally, I’d take him if we can get him for £4 million

It would be interesting to get inside Andy Carroll’s brain at the moment. All this talk of a 20 goal a season striker must make him wonder where he fits in. I must say I love the thought of a 20 goal a season striker playing alongside Andy Carroll, but we know that Slaven Bilic rarely plays two strikers alongside each other in the conventional way. And if he did do that, where do Payet, Lanzini, Feghouli and Tore fit in? We seem to have an abundance of riches on the wings and in central midfield, but up front and at full back we still have a lot of work to do.

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From the Archives

1966 World Cup At 50 - England Triumph Through Hurst Hat-Trick, Peters Perfection & Moore Majesty

Welcome to the last of my three-part series commemorating the 50th anniversary of England’s knock-out stage matches of the 1966 World Cup (Hamburg Hammer might like to look away now…)

England had progressed to the Final of the tournament by beating Portugal in the semi-final, as detailed in Tuesday’s article. The World Cup Final of 1966 took place 50 years ago today, on Saturday 30th July 1966 – England’s opponents were West Germany in front of 96,924 at Wembley, which was a wall of noise as the players strode out of the tunnel. West Germany had reached the Final by beating Switzerland 5-0, drawing 0-0 with Argentina and defeating Spain 2-1 in the group stage before trouncing Uruguay 4-0 in their quarter-final and defeating the Soviet Union 2-1 in the semi-final.

Alf Ramsey named an unchanged XI for the third game in succession, meaning there was famously no place for Jimmy Greaves. West Germany made one change, with coach Helmut Schon bringing right-back Horst-Dieter Hottges in for Friedel Lutz. Schon, who had been assistant coach of the national side since 1956 before taking on the top job in 1964, would go on to win the European Championship in 1972 and the World Cup in 1974. He passed away at the age of 80 in February 1996.

England conceded their first goal of the tournament from open play after just 12 minutes. Sigi Held lofted the ball into the penalty area but a poor defensive header from Everton’s Ray Wilson saw the ball fall at the feet of Hemut Haller who slammed the ball low beyond Leicester’s Gordon Banks and into the far corner of the net.

The Three Lions were level within six minutes. England and West Ham United captain Bobby Moore was fouled by Wolfgang Overath. Moore’s quick thinking meant that, within five seconds of the referee blowing the whistle, he was on his feet, looked up and played the ball into the penalty area – Geoff Hurst, his West Ham team-mate, was used to his skipper’s speed of thought and was in space anticipating an early ball. He took full advantage, heading beyond a static Hans Tilkowski.

West Germany had opened the scoring after 12 minutes – and with 12 minutes to go, England thought they’d won it. A corner found Hurst lurking on the edge of the box, he worked an angle for a shot which was blocked up into the air by Hottges and Irons midfielder Martin Peters slammed home on the volley from six yards.

Joyous, jubilant scenes immediately followed but they were usurped by nerves as the England players and fans recognised how close they were to the ultimate glory. In the dying seconds, England conceded a free-kick in dangerous territory. Lothar Emmerich flashed his shot past the England wall and it struck Fulham right-back George Cohen. The ball broke for Held whose shot hit the back of Karl-Heinz Schnellinger, evaded Wilson and Uwe Seeler and drifted agonisingly across the face of goal. 22-year-old centre-half Wolfgang Weber met the ball and squeezed it beyond the lunge of Wilson and the dive of Banks to level the Final at 2-2.

Alf Ramsey had long said that the aim for England was to win the tournament. His team-talk prior to extra-time is the stuff of psychological legend. He saw the Germans were lying on the ground, dead on their feet, exhausted after 90 minutes on the hallowed but energy-sapping Wembley turf. Ramsey ordered his players to stand up, to show their opponents that they were up for the challenge, up for the fight. He told them – “you’ve won it once and you’ve given it away something stupid – go and win it again…”

England responded to their manager’s call – the extra 30 minutes were to change the lives of every player in a red shirt and catapult one man who hadn’t even started the tournament into worldwide legendary status. With four minutes left of the first period of extra-time Blackpool’s Alan Ball, who never stopped running, scampered off down the right wing in chase of a pass from Manchester United’s Nobby Stiles. He centred, Hurst controlled, spun and shot – the ball smacked the underside of the crossbar, bounced down and came back into play. As we all know, the ball was miles over the line, but the Swiss referee Gottfried Dienst ran over to speak to his ‘Russian’ linesman – Tofiq Bahramov, from Azerbaijan, gave the goal. England were 3-2 up!

To make it safe in the last minute, Moore brought the ball out of defence and played the perfect pass over the shoulder of Hurst who ran forward with the ball before thumping a fierce finish behind Tilkowski into the roof of the net. In doing so he became the first and, still to date, only player to score a hat-trick in a World Cup Final. His place in immortality was assured. The final whistle sounded and his ten team-mates joined him in securing legendary status.

In a typical display of gentlemanly conduct Moore, despite surely being beside himself with pride and joy, still had the wherewithal to note on his ascent to the Royal Box that the Queen was wearing white gloves. His only thought was to not dirty them and he wiped his muddy hands on his kit and on the velvet balustrade before shaking Her Majesty’s hand. His receipt of the Jules Rimet trophy is iconic of Moore’s own majesty and his holding aloft of the trophy still symbolises this country’s finest sporting moment. Incredibly, Moore had only recovered from testicular cancer 18 months previously.

The legacy of those England players has stood the test of time – manager Ramsey was knighted, as were players Bobby Charlton and Geoff Hurst. Ramsey died of a heart attack in 1999 at the age of 79.

Now a nod to those members of the West Germany team that day who are sadly no longer with us. Playmaker Helmut Haller died in 2012 at the age of 73 after suffering from dementia and Parkinson’s disease; forward Lothar Emmerich died of lung cancer in 2003, aged 61.

England have also lost two members of their side that day. Alan Ball died of a heart attack in 2007 at the age of 61. Bobby Moore passed away on the 24th February 1993 after a battle with bowel cancer. His legacy transcends generations – he is loved by those who saw him play, idolised by those who didn’t (such as myself – I always wore number 6 when I played) and remains an inspiration today for those who were not even born when he passed away.

England: Gordon Banks (Leicester), George Cohen (Fulham), Jack Charlton (Leeds), Bobby Moore (captain, West Ham), Ray Wilson (Everton), Alan Ball (Blackpool), Nobby Stiles (Man Utd), Bobby Charlton (Man Utd), Martin Peters (West Ham), Roger Hunt (Liverpool), Geoff Hurst (West Ham).

West Germany: Hans Tilkowski (Borussia Dortmund), Horst-Dieter Hottges (Werder Bremen), Willi Schulz (Hamburg), Wolfgang Weber (Cologne), Karl-Heinz Schnellinger (AC Milan), Franz Beckenbauer (Bayern Munich), Wolfgang Overath (Cologne), Helmut Haller (Bologna), Uwe Seeler (captain, Hamburg), Sigfried Held (Borussia Dortmund), Lothar Emmerich (Borussia Dortmund).

Apologies in advance for any lack of response to comments today – I’m busy getting married. At least I’ll never forget the anniversary! Wherever you are today, raise a glass to our heroes of ’66…


Match Report

Ten Talking Points from NK Domzale 2 West Ham 1

Lacklustre. Embarrassing. Tired. Just three of the words to describe West Ham’s performance tonight in Slovenia.

1. Michael Antonio Is. Not. A. Right Back. Period.
2. Sam Byram is a right back. But also did well at left back.
3. The back four played as if they’d never played together. Which they probably hadn’t.
4. Enner Valencia. What’s the point?
5. Adrian kept us in this leg. Especially with his double save at the end.
6. This result did not flatter NK Domzale. But it did flatter us.
7. Andy Carroll looked a spare part and never got into the game, but he got little service.
8. Why can’t commentators pronounce Feghouli? He looked a class above any other West Ham forward facing player.
9. Harvard Nortweit. Jury Still out.
10. The second leg should be some game.

A very dispiriting evening, but let’s remember, we were without Payet, Lanzini, Sakho, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Tore and Collins. This was a second eleven who put on a second eleven performance. OK, it’s the beginning of the season, and we shouldn’t overreact, but my oh my I was expecting more than this.

And the scores on the doors…

Adrian 7
Reid 6
Nordtweit 5
Antonio 4
Byram 7
Obiang 6
Kouyate 5
Noble 6
Valencia 5
Feghouli 7
Carroll 5
Quina 6

Onwards!

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