Nigel Kahn’s Column

Back to Normal

The Predictor League for Burnley is open. Enter your team HERE. Deadline is Saturday at 1pm.

Hurrah, finally it has arrived. No, not the cup win against lower league opposition but this coming Saturday we have a Saturday game that kicks off at 3 pm, the time-honoured traditional kick-off time that many of us still pine for.

No big shock though as with the current situation the country finds itself in, the mass televising of football has been welcomed it seems by the fans, but when/if we ever get back to where we were pre March 2020 with fans allowed on mass in the stadium how will the traditional 3 pm Saturday kick-off be treated?

Short History lesson. The reason why games kicked off at 3 pm on a Saturday was that it allowed factory workers to make the matches. The 1850 Factories Act stopped the working day on a Saturday at 2 pm so when organised football took off in the late 19th century, it made sense to put kick-off times to when your audience could attend.

Fast forward to the early 1960s and the non televising of football games live that kicked off at 3pm was partly brought about to protect the clubs to keep fee-paying match attending fans going to games and not staying at home to watch. Burnley’s owner at the time, a man called Bob Lord, was the big pusher of this and to the point, he refused any TV cameras into Turf Moor, basically Match of the Day cameras, until the late 60s. There appears to be no legal reason to not televise 3pm Saturday games just an agreement between the league administrators to not allow it.

Now with fans only able to see games by watching on TV, the fans are getting used to the new way of consuming the game to the extent when we are back in the ground will the previous status quo resume.

Most fans of any club do not attend games, and I do not include the foreign legions that now follow us, as they always watched on TV.

Will the home-based fans that generally don’t attend but have for the past year and the rest of this season going forward got used to seeing every game accept when fans are back in the ground and the game is not one of the 5 TV picks you can’t watch it (legally).

Should the 3 o’clock kick-off go back to being protected by a TV blackout or do you think that with the change we have seen in the past year in televising every game, that the administrators and clubs should find a way to continue?

Currently, we are having top-flight teams playing nearly every day of the week either cup or Premier league games. Should that be allowed to continue once fans can attend again? Let us know in the comments.

Hammers United are starting the drip-feed release of the results of their Survey. Currently, we don’t know how many took the survey so we don’t know how much of a snapshot of the fanbase it is. Once we have all the info, only then can us so-called commentators of the club try to put together our take on it. We also have not heard the club’s results of their survey that was produced at the same time so kudos to HU in starting to get their information out to the public.

*The circus is back in business people, it’s transfer window season and the people that make a living from giving you the news either exclusively or 1st or maybe both, are jockeying for position as the go-to person for the best info, but how much of that info is real or how much of that information have they put together with educated guesses.
We are currently linked with 5 forward players – Josh King, Giroud, Baku, Dia and Sima. Frankly which one we get I care not one jot. I’ll leave that to the club to chose. Hopefully, they will make the right choice, but I doubt it if their previous track record of signing strikers is anything to go by and while fans beg for info on who we are signing the club announces new directors to sit on the board.

These directors are not shareholders in the club or will be directors of the WH Holdings that own the club but will be directors of the football club itself which I think is classed as a subsidiary of the main company. Why have they done this? Is this a sign of future-proofing the club in the case of one or both the Daves being incapacitated.

The truth it seems is that they want their wife and son and mates to be able to go to games. Quite why Eve wants to go I’m not sure because I cant say I’ve ever seen a photo of her smiling at a game.

It seems only directors of the club can currently attend games so to get them into the ground the only way to do that was to make them directors. They won’t have any say in any way the club is run, so it seems the hashtag #GSBOUT is safe and does not need expanding to #GSBVSDCOUT.

Still, nice to see we are all in it together.


The Jimmy Cooney Column

The Mood Savers, and the Culture of Priority

The Predictor League for Burnley is open. Enter your team HERE. Deadline is Saturday at 1pm.

Greetings.

I assume most of “Hammerdom” is quite satisfied with Monday night’s result, I am, quite, I’m a bit upset that I missed the match, albeit, during the goal, which was a work of splendid treachery and art, and, was one where I would definitely have noticed the absence of a crowd, especially for the Dawson goal (another assist for Bowen) and, me, even as THE top boy of the ICF, (Inner Couch Firm) :)) I agree, as Bowen said, is is what the FA Cup is all about, and as someone to not be able to claim an Away match, let alone an Away Cup Tie, up northwest, in January!

However, according to the extended highlights, I’ve seen, and accounts I’ve read, given the weather conditions, and Stockport really playing “hard to break down”, hence, another Yorkshire/Lancashire/Greater Manchester “banana peel” was successfully negotiated. (With at least one more to come! Hopefully 2)

Included in this list of reasons of missing the match, is making the mistake of not only being born 20 years too late, but apparently 3957 odd miles to the southwest, placing me in the “exclusion” club, ;)) there was no TV coverage here in my neck of the States to DVR, and even if I wasn’t busy, it would have no doubt been a headache finding a free stream, that doesn’t route through Russia.

I know there’s options, steaming ESPN plus wouldn’t accept my c.c., cos, well, I’m financially ruined, and my payment obviously hasn’t cleared!!! :)) and after the 2011-12 C’ship campaign, I picked up more viruses than I would have going maskless, condomnless, and sharing needles with everyone in the various dope dens and safe houses of iniquity under the “EL” Stations, along the “Market&Frankford Line” (yes the elevated trains and bars shown in “Rockys’” “I”, “V”, and “Rocky Balboa”) in the Kensington section of Philadelphia (it’s a far cry from the section in London called Kensington, I assure you). Add this to the fact that I’ve JUST started to take self tutorials on my new LT, and I’m a bit gun shy to try streaming just yet.

Even as technology savvy as someone in the Early 1980’s at best, “the years force a certain amount of wisdom upon you, whether you like it or not”. And my wisdom and knowledge is definitely improving….. I’m far from Yoda, but somewhere between “Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi” perhaps….. ;) , And in the case if my interest in English culture, as I’ve always had a curiosity of since I can remember.

However, every once in a while, topics of the little differences in our cultures pop up within our support base, and how we view things….. in particular, and the only one I cannot fully “agree with” for lack of better term is the notion of “I’d rather lose 5-4 and watch a complete cracker,than win 1-0 or 2-1”, a bit ugly,or scrappy, which would appear to mostly come from the English purists supporter, who was at least 5 years old at the time of the 1980 FA Cup finals. (Those I tend to very respectfully refer to as "The Old Guard, of which I am old enough to be a part of). I was 7 and remember VERY clearly in 1980, when the Phillies won the World Series against Kansas City Royals, the Eagles lost Super Bowl XV to the Oakland Raiders, The 76’ers lost the 1980-81 NBA Championship to the L.A. Lakers, and the 1979-80 Philadelphia Flyers lost to the New York Islanders due to the fact that the deciding game six was marred by one of the most infamous blown official calls in NHL playoff history. With the game tied 1-1, the Islanders Butch Goring picked up a drop pass from New York left wing Clark Gillies which had clearly gone back over the Flyers’ defensive zone blue line into center ice. Linesman Leon Stickle waved the play as safe and Goring threaded a pass to right wing Duane Sutter who beat Philadelphia goalie Pete Peeters for a 2-1 New York lead. The Flyers argued vehemently to no avail. (Sound familiar to anyone? See why identify with y’all!?!?!) :))

I admit, years ago, while a “Patawan Learner”, to the now “Premier League” (who was Ronin, btw) :)) I had some difficulty grasping this concept at first, (as has the few people I’ve tried to convert, cos they don’t understand….) they understand “playoffs”, worst club gets the first “draft pick”, and some cash, etc, to keep parity, There is one “Big Prize” at the end called a Championship, 2 contests, regular season, playoffs, Champ final, is what spawns the American sports fan asks is "so….what is the “endgame in ‘soccer’?!?!” outside of the playoff system in place in the MLS) however, having been to football camps between 1980-86 and played until High School, I picked a lot up pretty damn quickly, I began to understand and appreciate the difference of financial reward, the points system, 2 Cups, and European and Champs League depending on your position in the top 5, (even if relegation made it harder to follow), over the years, it came clear rather quickly, and instead of confusing me, it intrigued me, and the loyalty in loss I found to be a very important lesson.

Let me be clear, I’m not saying there is ANY right or wrong in this, its just different perceptions and tastes, some think Antonio sucks, some think he’s our best player of the last 5 years. Some hate C.C. Some think he’s one of the most important players of the “’Teens”, I’m just pointing out a different mindsets, the vast difference in how 3 people, one with seats in the Bobby Moore lower, one with seats up in the “nosebleed” in the Booking stand, and one who watched on t.v., all view things from quite different angles, I’ve noticed. We all see things our own way. If this site doesn’t prove that, not sure what will! ;)

Where I agree, sadly, I don’t believe the modern game (i.e., owners, shareholders, and whatever corporate demons sent here by Belial…..[do not say its name out loud….. please trust me.]), to tack up these wonderful designed yearly kits, to cover them with billboards for gambling online, and seemingly, the next on-line stock trading firm destined for failure, and yes, adverts for “tyres”…. (its "tires, y’all) :)) etc…..

It’s a bloody shame that not everyone finds the same potential magic that most of those who who PAY to have hope, travel, and brave weather only U.S. Spec Forces, British SAS, U.S. Navy SEALS, Royal or U.S. Marines train in, and now, just hoping the match goes on due to a worsening Global Pandemic.

The FA Cup, as I remember the waning mentality that the FA Cup is an even more important work of Silver than the Top Flight Championship has been on for some time. (In spite of the fact that only 8 clubs who were not in the top flight, both Divisions and PL era, have ever won the FA Cup, our beloved Hammers being the last, in 1980 and all 8 clubs were no lower than the 2 tier).

However, there is something very special and unique about the FA Cup and even as an American, as a matter of fact ESPECIALLY cos I’m American, and I guess I just wished it was more the “great equalizer” It once had been, with little dynasties here and there, but a variety of clubs winning, and getting to quarter and semi finals, still, I find it special BECAUSE of football’s quintessential English qualities, not in spite of them. Admittedly, the FA Cup Ties in the Divisions era definitely had more potential for “Giant Slaying” and showed such in ties all through the rounds. However, I’d be “over the moon” if we could buck that trend front the first time since Wigan won in ’12 (got relegated, but won the Cup!!!) So, there still is some magic……

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Now back to our current form and style of play, Of course, I’d rather watch more fluid games, especially ones where we score more goals, some sitters from Haller, and Fornals could have us in the European conversation right now, however, with the come from behind/no one thought we had a chance at anything, draws and wins being included with this statement, I’d rather grind out a 1-0, 2-1 win (mostly cos I really respect good defensive play a lot more than the “glitter”), then be “let down” by an 9 goal emotional rollercoaster ride where West Ham comes out on the short end, I mean, between West Ham, the Philadelphia Phillies, Eagles, Flyers and Sixers, where victory, and further advancement and success, that I witnessed and can remember any number of historical events since 1978, literally snatched from the jaws of victory, on multiple occasions from all clubs, which doesn’t kill my loyalty, but it puts me in a foul humor until the next fixture, game, match, etc……

I’ve been around long enough to have learned to respect and actually celebrate good score draws, (Tottenham, away in October, anyone?) :) and will give credit during a good hard fought 5-4 loss on occasion, if we left it all out there, and, we are in good shape, however, it’s still a loss, therefore, 2-4 of those a season, cool, but 10??? Nonsense. The game is played to be won.

This being said, the whole year is a marathon, not a sprint. Of which, I find the “chess” aspect of English football a lot more intriguing at this point in my life than I do the COMPLETE BLOODY 3 RING CIRCUS that the NFL has been since the Mid to late 1990’s

O.K. on to the striker issues, it’s a good thing we have a bunch of flying defensive Iron, picking up the slack as far as finishing, and Soucek to be pulling out these great match winning assaults, and performances, however our striker (singular), is wonderful, albeit as he ages, I don’t see the hamstring issue improving, therefore we can train Benny to be the “Fox in the Box” in a 3-5-2 with he and Antonio, Bowen or Yarmo up front, meanwhile, we find the suitable striker to see us to at least a top 10 finish and a Cup win. I think it’s more likely than us finishing any higher than 8th, unless once we reach Liverpool or Manchester United (every year, it seems, if we make it to the 5th round, we draw either one of the Manchester’s or Liverpool, or am I mad?) I suppose the good news is if we beat the Satan Worshipers, or LiVARpool, the Cup shall be ours.

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However , I’m not saying that we don’t need one or two strikers, and I do fear no signings will be made, of which there’s only one I’m staunchly opposed to signing and that is Marko Arnautovic, I’m sorry, I don’t want to see the balance of this squad thrown off.

Well, this is where I kind of check out, and let the discussions about whether or not we need a LB, DMF, and Striker, or in my opinion, a DMF and a “cold weather striker” (who, I leave that to the ITK’s in our tribe, to guess, debate, and criticize what ever choice is made), cos, from what I’ve read, REALISTICALLY if we even have the cabbage to buy King, who’s probably the most realistic option, to cover for Antonio when he has his “Festive Fixture” Time 2-4 months off, I’m not holding my breath for any sensational signings, hopefully, at least one or two offensive move are made, with a CMF’er as a bonus, so long as it doesn’t mess with the “Esprit de Corps” that is this sides biggest advantage right now.

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I think the defense is pretty squared away, and, is slightly deeper than the attack (now that WHOMEVER, decided it would a a good idea to get rid of 2 attacking players, without having at least ONE on the grill was smoking crystal meth, unless there’s a plan that “Slick Moyes” has up his sleeve……) :)) Besides, all the goals, as I’ve said, seem to be coming from the defensive players, and we rule the set piece. However, the former anomaly of defenders carrying the lions share of the scoring, will not continue.

Of course, a slick move for a solid striker could mean bigger things for this club this season, during a time in history, especially, where literally one of the only things keeping me in something that resembles a good mood, is that West Ham United F.C. has become quite the formidable club, whether you like the gaffer, style or players or not.

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LOVE YOU ALL

COYI

Jimmy


The HamburgHammer Column

After an evening swim at Edgeley Park - where do West Ham go from here ?

The Predictor League for Burnley is open. Enter your team HERE. Deadline is Saturday at 1pm.

I am not a big fan of Monday games, especially late kick-offs. I will still try and rustle up a column, sort of, typing a few paragraphs down prior to the game at Stockport and a few bits and bobs after the final whistle.

Stockport then, eh? Dan Coker led us down memory lane earlier in yet another excellent match preview of his yesterday.

One of the strongest West Ham memories of my Barking days in 1996 leads me back to The Bull, one of many Barking pubs that was still selling pints in 1996, but is unfortunately no more in 2021 and hasn’t been open for business for many years. The building was/is located right opposite the old Barking Abbey. I suppose some of you who are local will remember the place. Apparently it closed as a pub in 2010, briefly reopened as a nightclub in 2017 only to find itself boarded up again today.

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It’s in that pub where I did watch most of the games of Euro 96 (“Football’s coming home” and all that!) and where, just a week before Christmas and a flight back home to celebrate with the family, I witnessed our painful exit from the League Cup on a wet and windy day night on a muddy pitch against Stockport County at Edgeley Park.

I watched the drama unfold in the random company of a total stranger, an elderly chap, over a pint and the football conversations we had turned out to be more entertaining than the game. Dowie’s bullet of a header to this day is still the most astonishing own goal I have ever seen. Down the other end it would have been a brilliant finish, going into West Ham’s own net it was mindblowing.

You know sometimes when a goalscoring opportunity is blasted over the bar from five yards out, the pundits say it was the finishing of a defender. Dowie’s attempt to head the ball out of danger showed that there is something like a striker’s clearance at the back as well. There is a reason after all why defenders defend and strikers mainly focus on scoring goals…

Job done! That’s the best you can say about last night’s performance on an occasion where oop north it was coming down in stair rods as Paddington Bear might have described it before biting into a marmalade sandwich.

We found it hard to break down a very organised and gutsy Stockport team and it took a late set piece by substitute Bowen, finished off by a bullet of a header by Dawson, this one going in at the right end though.
How apt that it was a defender scoring the winner! ;-))

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This, by the way, was Dawson’s third start for West Ham resulting in our third clean sheet. This one already looks like a loan deal working in our favour.

We also caught a brief glimpse of forward prospect Ademipo Odubeko.
Due to our squad size we might see the lad more often now methinks.
His little cameo was too short to evaluate how he might cope against the likes of Burnley or West Brom.

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After cracking this particular tough nut in the FA Cup we are now facing Doncaster at home first and if we can take care of that fixture it’ll either be Liverpool or Manchester away. Nice one, Crouchy!

To be fair, I always thought if you are serious about winning the trophy, you cannot be picky about the opposition at any stage. A favourable draw is nice if you can get it, but if you beat one of the big clubs on the way to the final, that’s when you really know you deserve to be there.

And besides. IF we were to get past Doncaster, who can say what the situation is going to be in terms of squad availability for the teams involved, players being injured or self-isolating ?

Liverpool may decide to field a weakened side to focus on their Champions League exploits. Manchester United may want to rest players to focus on their league fixtures to cement their position near the top.

To summarise: I am not fazed by the cup draw at all. In fact I’m looking forward to it. This year we can really go for it and field our best side in every round. I reckon that’s what every West Ham fan would be expecting now since relegation fears are no longer a viable excuse this time around…

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A quick word on the players who we let go so far in January, first name obviously being Sebastien Haller.

The player has probably been discussed, defended, mocked, criticised and argued over more than any player on this blog in the past three years.
So far we don’t know the exact circumstances of how the deal came about, but Ajax must have made a financial offer that by all accounts suited all parties just fine although it leaves us very short in the striking department.

A parting of ways was always on the cards though and as one of his biggest supporters on the blog I will gladly admit that it just didn’t click for Haller at West Ham. I still think it was mainly about the way we were lining up rather than him being a bad player or the PL being too fast or physical for him.

I reckon there are several sides in the PL where Haller would have been just as successful (or more so) as he used to be at Frankfurt. I know the overall quality of the PL is superior to that of the Bundesliga, but it’s not like every PL team out there has world-class defences. Haller could have done a lot better, for instance like he did in the games when playing together with Antonio, but our manager obviously wasn’t keen on going down that road, so Haller had to be sold. Fair enough!
I’m sure Haller will be a great striker at Ajax.

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Then there’s Robert Snodgrass, the Tartan Pele.
I am happy he left because the lad deserves more game time in the PL.
I love players like him to bits because you could always expect to see 100% from him on the pitch. From what I have heard he was a brilliant character on the training pitch and in the dressing room. A proper competitor and textbook professional. The kind of player every team needs to complement the tricksters, the finesse passers and the tough-tackling defenders.

I can only wish Snodders all the best in his future endeavours at West Brom which is hard for me to do as that would correspond with an upturn in the fortunes of a certain Samuel Allardyce…;-))

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So, two players gone, only one defender in (Frederik Alves Ibsen) so far. Make no mistake, we still have a small and unbalanced squad, we all know that we’re practically brassic as a club, so it’s not that unlikely we don’t sign anyone else in January. We may see a lot of U23 players on matchday first team benches in the next few months as a result…

I think we can all agree that David Moyes is doing a fine job in very trying circumstances. The gaffer clearly has ambition and he wants to improve the squad but he is being hamstrung, pardon the pun, by a lack of striker alternatives to Antonio (He of the dodgy hamstrings) and very limited funds to make amends.

Moyes, by all accounts, isn’t keen to bring in just any old player to make up the numbers, only those who genuinely improve the team. He said he’d be happy if we didn’t sign anybody else this window. That is admirable, but coupled with our financial situation it creates a conundrum.

As indeed Moyes may not be able to bring his targets in due to them being too high quality and too dear in price whereas the players he will be offered left, right and centre by agents, clubs and the owners (Sullivan/Salthouse punts) may be in our price bracket, but not be what the gaffer has in mind.

THIS is where as a board you have to come to the fore and support the gaffer. Not with big words or inches in a newspaper column, but actions and £££.

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All of this is even more disappointing as we are doing really well so far and could make a push up the table with the right January signings, as we did with bringing in Soucek and Coufal late in successive windows.

We certainly could do with another striker or two, a left back and a defensive midfielder. Don’t hold your breath though. And I guess it’s safe to say we can all go to bed throughout this transfer window at our regular bedtimes without fear of missing much.

I don’t expect much activity in terms of players coming in. We are essentially gambling on Moyes working his magic with the squad he still has at his disposal, we are hoping that Antonio’s hamstrings will last a few more months (like an old Vauxhall Vivaro approaching its next MOT test) and we pray no other players will go down with long term injuries.
Good luck with all of that!

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In terms of the league fixtures we are now entering a stretch with very winnable games, on paper at least. We should be able to establish ourselves firmly in the top half of the table and banish any lingering fears of relegation within the next four weeks or so. Our next few results may also affect our transfer business. If we do well it might lead to a sense of security within the club hierarchy that could result in the owners keeping their hands firmly in their pockets in January.

I don’t even think that Moyes would kick up a fuss if that were the case. He will know by now how the cookie crumbles at West Ham. He will focus on working with the players at his disposal and consider his options. Which might lie at a different PL club if he continues to do well in trying circumstances.

That’s a very useful trait for a football manager to have in these challenging times. I have no doubt that other clubs will approach Moyes and make him offers he may not be able to refuse.
David Sullivan, watch out! Even Moyes may outgrow your ambition very soon. Which isn’t that difficult to begin with of course…

COYI

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Hamburg football update: A very mediocre weekend for the Hamburg clubs, HSV could only muster a draw at Nuremberg which was still enough to keep them at the top of the league table for now,however, with traditional Ruhr Valley club Bochum (Dortmund’s poor cousin) gaining ground and giving Hamburg a proper run for their money. The promotion race is heating up nicely.

As for St.Pauli they managed a highly unexpected draw against promotion chasing Holstein Kiel. The team from Hamburg’s red light district are still second from bottom, four points adrift of a non-relegation place. It’ll continue to be tough for them, but there’s still life in that team with everything still to fight for. They have also brought in several new signings to help them with their push up the table.


David Hautzig's Match Report

Stockport County 0, West Ham 1. Still In The Hat.

Remember that great press conference Slav gave during his fine FA Cup run, where someone asked him what he would value more? Winning the FA Cup or qualifying for Champions League and he held up an imaginary cup with both hands? If the imagery of his hands didn’t answer the question, his grin and laugh certainly did. That press conference changed my priority as a supporter that year from Top Four to The Cup. And if VAR had been around there is more than a small probability that Manchester United would never have come back to Upton Park because that cheating jackass Schweinsteiger would have had his goal disallowed, he likely would have been booked, and we would moved on to the semi-finals. I cannot say that I still feel as strongly as I did that year, but my desire for a cup run has stayed intact. For now, it has.

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When you can see the rain clear as day over the TV, you know the conditions are awful. Despite the similarities with a water park, West Ham started reasonably well in terms of time on the ball. Rice found Benrahma inside the box with a cross, but after creating space his shot went wide. Minutes later Yarmolenko tried a long range shot that also rolled wide.

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Despite the expected majority of possession against a non-league side, after thirty minutes the Hammers didn’t have a shot on target. Chorley’s dismantling of Leeds over the weekend dispelled any notions that being lower or non-league automatically consigned a club to the scrap heap, and defensively Stockport County were giving it a go. Lanzini finally made Hinchliffe stop a shot in the 32nd minute, and a few minutes later he fed Antonio in the box, but his first touch failed him and Kitching was able to poke the ball away.

The first half wound down when Miniham chased down a deflection and won Stockport a corner. But his delivery went straight out and into the side netting.

Halftime
Stockport County 0
West Ham 0

First it was Alex. Then Amanda. Then Carl. Then a text from Chris and an order from Kara. The phone didn’t stop ringing from the opening kick of the second half, and the fact is as much as I love West Ham I do need to prioritize work and family. I had the TV on, and I paced the room talking while watching. But as it turned out, virtually nothing happened until the 84th minute when Bowen whipped in a decent cross that Dawson of all people got on the end of to head it in the back of the net.

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Final Score
Stockport County 0
West Ham 1

It wasn’t pretty. It was, in fact, rather filthy. The conditions were horrible. But nobody got hurt, Antonio got some match fitness, Dawson scored his first goal for anyone in Donkey’s years, and West Ham are still in the hat.

Nighty night.


Match Thread

Match Thread: Stockport County v West Ham

Stockport County v West Ham
FA Cup 3rd Round
Edgeley Park
KO 8pm
TV: BT Sport
Radio: BBC 5 Live

Please use this thread to comment on the game as it progresses.


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