Book Review

BOOK REVIEW: 'Long Live The Boleyn!' by Freddie Bonfanti

This is a charming book, packed with black and white photos from our last season at Upton Park. It’s been compiled by photographer Freddie Bonfanti with proceeds from the first 200 sales going to the Bobby Moore Cancer Fund. At £20 for a paperback, it’s not cheap, but it’s a great memento and will bring back many evocative memories for all Hammers fans.

Vice have written about the book…

In the epilogue to ‘Long Live The Boleyn’, Freddie Bonfanti writes of his feelings of grief and loss when the realisation of West Ham’s move to the London Stadium hit home. Published in late 2016, the book documents the culture of Upton Park and West Ham as a football club through the medium of black-and-white photographs taken inside and outside the old ground. While his photos capture hundreds of matchday rituals, mid-match moments and much of the character of the West Ham fanbase, they also present the local area at its most natural and unguarded. There are fans in cafes, servings of pie and mash, Pearly Kings and packed-out pubs. There are kids playing football in the shadow of tower blocks, tattooed fans selling fanzines and, all in all, thousands of details which express what it once was to be a West Ham fan, while illustrating the spirit of E13 as it was before the club moved on.

Freddie Bonfanti also did a Q&A with Badlands Magazine…

HOW DID YOU COME TO SUPPORT WEST HAM?

I made the conscious decision that West Ham would be my ‘English Team’ in the late ‘90s, as Paolo DiCanio terrorised a bunch of opposing defenders in that epic claret and blue Dr Martens top; I really don’t remember what game it was, but I was hooked. The pitch was covered in mud and you could see the home fans almost spilling onto it. I knew West Ham were a tough little team from the East End of London, I felt a strange connection, it all looked extremely familiar to my own background. When I moved to Bethnal Green 10 years after that, in 2008, my landlord had a season ticket and took me to a game – that’s when I realised I made the right choice. I couldn’t afford a season ticket back then, I just used to go whenever i could. I’ve been a season ticket holder for 3 years now. Home and away.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE MEMORY OF THE BOLEYN?

Walking up the stairs in the South Bank (Bobby Moore Lower) with a bit of a buzz on just as ‘bubbles’ started playing before the last match last season. What a day. Mental.

FOR SOMEONE WHO HASN’T BEEN TO THE BOLEYN BEFORE, DESCRIBE WHAT MADE IT SO MAGICAL

The Boleyn was the antithesis of modern football. Raw, electric and brutally honest. It really was the last strong hold of the old East End and the symbol of a community. Everyone in the stands had an opinion and there were some unbelievable characters, the chat was always hysterical. Walking down Green Street on a Saturday afternoon was a breath of fresh air, it was like going back in time. Don’t get me wrong, it was a shitty old stadium, we all know that, but the fans really made it a fortress.

HOW DID YOU GET SUCH INTIMATE BEHIND THE SCENES ACCESS TO THE PLAYERS?

I took a picture of the ground from my seat after one of the night games earlier last season, and it became very popular on the West Ham twitter. Eventually, it caught the attention of one of the chairmen’s sons. He asked me if I could send them a copy, and it went from there. I explained I was already working on a self funded project and that I wanted to donate some of the proceeds to the Bobby Moore Fund. I showed them some of the footage I had, they liked it and gave me an all areas pass for some of the games, which was truly invaluable. I was able to shoot from different positions and add a lot of depth to the book.

YOU CAPTURED THE INTENSITY OF SUPPORTING A WORKING CLASS FOOTBALL CLUB SO BEAUTIFULLY. WHAT, FOR YOU, WAS SO COMPELLING ABOUT THIS SUBJECT?

I knew the Boleyn was going to be no more, I felt an uncontrollable urge to document and archive as much as I could before it was gone. I knew there were a lot of people doing the same thing, but I was determined to do it from a supporter’s point of view. I wanted this to be a photo book from a fan, for the fans.

IS THERE A PHOTO IN THE BOOK THAT HAS A PARTICULARLY SPECIAL MEANING TO YOU?

The one with the father and the son at the bottom of the Champion’s statue. I think it perfectly sums up West Ham; highs and lows.

DID YOU DEVELOP ANY SPECIAL BONDS WITH THE FANS YOU PHOTOGRAPHED?

Not really, I go to each game with the same bunch of people and we tend to stick together. One of them features in the book, sitting down outside the Black Lion in Plaistow, reading the Evening Standard ‘Boleyn Ground Special’.

WILL YOU CONTINUE DOCUMENTING FOOTBALL FANS?

Even though football culture will always fascinate me, it will be hard to work on another football project not related to West Ham. I believe you’ve got to be there with the fans, be part of it, to get the best pictures. You’ve got to believe in it.

You can buy the book, and prints of the photos from the book HERE

Or if you want to buy it from a bookshop, these are among the stores that stock it…

FOYLES Soho, 107 Charing Cross Road, Soho, London
Artwords Book Shop, 20-22 Broadway Market, London E8 4QJ
Newham Bookshop, 745-747 Barking Road, London
Boleyn Tavern, 1 Barking Road, London E6 1PW
East Ham Working Men’s Social Club , 2 Boleyn Road, London E6 1QE
TruRib Club (on match days), Truman Brewery, 2-3 Stour Rd, Hackney Wick, E3 2NT


The HamburgHammer Column

Sweet and sour - Is Carroll China bound ?

How did that Watford game end in a draw ? We played a lot of very decent stuff while lacking some cutting edge upfront and let’s face it: As much effort as Kouyate put in, he is pretty much wasted filling in at RB and while Antonio gave the Watford defenders some headaches on the day he is no out and out striker. Still we gave a good account, playing the right way, positive, attack minded. Zarate, of course, had to win an early and very soft penalty, basically winning Watford their first and only goal.

Considering the way that former players tend to come back and haunt us I almost expected Behrami to score a hattrick against us, but the day Behrami scores three goals in a single game (other than against his kid in his own backyard) will the the day that Donald Trump announces he’s becoming a full time vegan.
I have been impressed with the development of Feghouli in recent games. There is a lot to like about the way he chases about the pitch, both when we are attack and also when we have to defend. He looks a very tidy and useful player to me and just like Obiang before him it could be another case of a guy coming in from abroad simply requiring a bit more time to adapt and needing a run of games in the side before showing their worth to the cause.

One main reason why we failed again to take all three points was Andy Carroll missing out yet again. There have been rumours that our board was ready to sell him to one of three interested clubs in China before the close of their transfer deadline tomorrow. If the money is right it would make a lot of sense from the club’s perspective to cash in and use that money to buy a striker in the summer who can play the vast majority of games during the season instead of just half of them.

We have been discussing the fact for ages that Carroll on his day is unplayable, a nightmare to defend against and a very special asset to have. But all of that counts for little if his body is too fragile to take training sessions and the rigours of regular gametime in the Premier League. It doesn’t matter though if a transfer would be convenient for the board, Carroll would have to be open to a move to the country of crispy duck, fried rice and green tea. With his wife and kids pretty much settled in London now I can’t really see Carroll uprooting his family for the sake of another million or so in the bank.

It was great to see Ayew getting his goal, poaching the way he did. We all know that Ayew is a very good player to have (and we surely spent a lot of money to secure his services), so hopefully he will start to feature more regularly now. We definitely need to find ways to score goals without Carroll in the side because we simply cannot rely on him to play every game for us. In that respect Carroll’s absence may be a blessing in disguise as it forces us to be a bit more creative and clever when it comes to scoring goals.

We should have Sakho back soon enough too and we also have Ayew, Calleri and Fletcher, so there should be no reason whatsoever to keep playing Antonio upfront.
Same with Kouyate. Throw Byram in to play RB time and time again. If he is not available, play Arbeloa while he is still here. In the summer we should definitely spend 10 million on so on a proper RB who knows how to defend properly.

In general though we have quite a decent squad already, a solid foundation to build on with a strong spine throughout the lineup. As long as we get our transfers spot on in the summer we should have good things coming our way. And with Bilic at the helm our football should be pleasing on the eye too which is more important to me personally than the odd position higher up in the table. Ideally of course good football and winning games will go hand in hand anyway.

As for Concordia it has to be said that surely the Oberliga Hamburg promises to be a lot more exciting for the remainder of the season than the Premier League where it’s pretty much guaranteed West Ham will finish anywhere between 8th and 12th. Concordia unfortunately have lost their points cushion in recent weeks after losing twice in a row. Sunday’s home game against Buxtehude, the last placed team in the league table, once again showed how entertaining local football can be. You wouldn’t expect a game between the first and the last placed team in the table to be a close encounter, would you? But it surely wasn’t for the faint of heart…

Buxtehude took the lead against the run of play inside the first ten minutes, but had a player sent off for deliberate handball after 30 minutes (he was the last defender), allowing Cordi to race into a 2:1 lead early in the second half, only for my lads conceding the 2:2 equaliser in the 75th minute in very sloppy fashion. Stunned silence from the disappointingly low crowd of about 100 paying punters, well, I blame the atrocious weather for the embarrassing turnout.

As all the promotion rivals had won their games Concordia seriously could not afford to lose or even draw this! Thankfully Cordi shifted properly into gear after the equaliser, finally making the man advantage count, scoring four goals in the final 15 minutes, ending the day with a satisfactory 6:2 scoreline. We now have four teams fighting for promotion, all pretty much on the same number of points, with Concordia staying in first place thanks to their impressive goal difference.

It’s now another rather long wait until West Ham play again when we will take on Chelsea on Monday Night a week from now. As always, I’m cautiously but hopelessly optimistic we could get a result on our day. Hopefully the Leaping Geordie will be back for this one. COYI!

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Zaman Siddiqui's Match Review

Total Domination

POSITION UPDATE: We end the matchweek in 9th following Stoke’s 4-0 loss to Tottenham. Harry Kane scored a hat trick.

Our players can feel hard done by failing to get all three points against the Hornets – it is a real stinger. In many aspects of the game, we were the more dominant side. As a matter of fact, when Slav was appointed, he said: “I like my teams to play Total Football". For those of you wondering, no, Total Football isn’t a football simulator which you can download on your smartphone. It is anything but, as the origins go right back to the 1950’s.

Total Football is a tactical theory in which any outfield player can take over the role of any other player in a team. It was popularised by the Netherlands National Football Team in the 1974 FIFA World Cup. Some of the players were unfamiliar with the concept, but they soon learned under the guidance of their manager, Rinus Michels. During the tournament, the Netherlands coasted through their first and second round matches defeating Argentina 4-0, East Germany 2-0, and Brazil 2-0 to face West Germany in the final.

The Netherlands made a sensational start to the game. Cruyff kicked off and the ball had been passed around 13 times before returning to Cruyff, who went on a run and won a penalty, having being fouled in the box. Teammate Johan Neeskens scored from the spot to give his side a 1-0 lead with just 80 seconds of play! By contrast, our makeshift right back gave away a penalty in the opening three minutes of the match, which Deeney subsequently scored. As it turns out, the Netherlands lost 2-1 to West Germany. So it seems that Total Football wasn’t the answer then and isn’t now. That said, we are currently on track for two consecutive top half finishes, so we can’t really say that the tactical theory hasn’t improved us. After all, we scored a goal with over 20 combined touches at Selhurst Park this season.

We have conceded at least a goal within the opening half hour of each of our last five matches. In our next match against Chelsea, we need to make sure we can finally end this run by keeping a clean sheet in the opening half hour, if not, the entire first half. Recently, our defence hasn’t been particularly stable. You only have to look at the defensive positioning of some of our players (Kouyaté in particular) to see how we are ultimately to blame for going behind. One of the tenets of Total Football is to keep hold of possession. If we can play with confidence right from the start, then perhaps we can move on from this defensive disaster.

Something that has massively improved recently is leadership. The fact that we have signed a couple of experienced players (Fonte and Snodgrass) may have something to do with it, but I think it is simply down to our players spending more time with each other. Now, most people probably think that the players and training staff went to Dubai on a jolly-up – the reality is that it is anything but. Normally, players who go on such trips work twice as hard to take advantage of the weather conditions. The guys need their Vitamin D from the Sun!

The thing is that we only see the good parts of it all on their Snapchats and Instagram Stories, and not much of the gruelling training that takes place. Even if we do see any training montages, then we are likely to forget about it. For instance, one of the fun activities on the itinerary was being served by Turkish chef, Nusret Gokce (aka Salt Bae.) No doubt many fans would have been under the impression that the players aren’t doing much work, having seen their selfies with an Internet celebrity. The reality is that the entire squad were having dinner with the manager and training staff. It’s not as if it is our players have gone clubbing after a 4-0 loss like Jack Grealish – this is a casual dinner with the boss! There are rules to adhere to. It is important to remember that our players can only give their all if they are allowed to do what they need to do to be in the right state of mind. That could be an extended golfing session for Marcus Browne or the occasional deep-fried Mars bar for Snoddy.

Ayew hasn’t featured much, but he is slowly starting to repay his £20.5M transfer fee. The Ghanian has now scored two goals from three shots on target in the PL this season. That factoid alone suggests that he is a goal poacher positioning himself in the right place at the right time. Watching him play confirms that, as he makes good runs forward making him an attacking option available. The only other goal he scored was against his former club, Swansea. The fans at the Liberty Stadium would have remembered Ayew’s instinctive nature, as he scored a tap-in against them on Boxing Day – another parting gift that was left unopened. It does beg the question why he doesn’t play as a makeshift striker?

We had a catalogue of chances, but we simply couldn’t convert them. Even the way in which we scored our goal with the ball cannoning off both posts acted as an indicator as to how frantic the match was. It was bad enough that Gomes was in inspired form, but a loss would’ve been extremely unfair. Watford had kept just one clean sheet in their last 15 Premier League matches, so we simply had to score. Also, Watford missed the chance to do the double over us for the first time in the PL era! There was several opportunities at the end, as we somehow scrambled away with the last action of the game. Being a football fan can’t be good for your heart.


We have already beaten Chelsea at home this season in the EFL Cup. We certainly have it within us to do it again. A win against them will significantly increase our chances of a top half finish. The fact that we are currently 9th is simply ludicrous! I’m sure most fans would agree we haven’t played like a team that is in the top half all the time. That said, it is vital that we look to push for a spot in the top 8 and continue with our momentum. The last time we obtained two successive back-to-back top half finishes was back in the 2008-09 season.

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David Hautzig's Match Report

Watford 1, West Ham 1. Self Evident Truths.

That damn game at the London Stadium in September was the most annoying match in years. Other games have been more infuriating. Any number of Spurs matches, Chelsea away last year, almost every match under Moron Grant. But Watford at home was annoying. Like a bug bite. It took months for it to go away. And I wanted to beat them today something fierce. Simply put, Watford don’t deserve to spend a summer enjoying two wins against us. Maybe that’s unfair. Too bad. I was in no mood for fair today. And while I think we were worth more than a draw today, the game itself not only earned a it made a point.

As the match previews showed Zarate, we all knew that somehow he would play a part in a moment that would annoy us. We just didn’t think it would happen in the second minute. Deeney retrieved a long pass from Cleverley and rolled the ball to Zarate in the box. Despite being known as possibly the most versatile player in our squad, Kouyate has shown that right back is not his preferred position. And that’s putting it mildly. A clumsy challenge on the former Hammer brought him down, Pawson pointed at the spot, supporters worldwide continued to wonder how on earth we never signed a right back, and Deeney did the rest.

Watford 1
West Ham 0

The mistake so early was made more annoying by the work West Ham did right after the goal. They closed down well and pressed with a purpose. Antonio worked the ball down the left and sent a dangerous low cross in that was deflected away by Holebas. No defensive mistake and we would have been feeling pretty good. Huge defensive mistake and we were chasing the game before it really started.

Antonio won a free kick from a reasonably dangerous position in the 17th minute, but Snodgrass’s effort was too low and too slow. Minutes later, Feghouli picked Holebas’s pocket and fed Snodgrass in the box. He should have drilled it, and if he had he might have scored, but instead he side footed it and Kaboul was able to get a foot in the way and send it out for a corner.

West Ham continued to enjoy the majority of the possession, with Snodgrass, Antonio, and Feghouli all using there pace and skill to ask a few questions of Watford. Antonio won a corner, Feghouli whipped in a superb cross that would have earned West Ham a corner if not for an Antonio foul on Janmaat, and Lanzini made a good run down the left that ended with an easy save by Gomes. In the 30th minute Antonio out muscled Kaboul in the area to win yet another corner, but it was wasted. Questions? Yes. University level? More like grade school, so the students at Watford Elementary weren’t bothered at all.

The visitors wasted another opportunity in the 37th minute when Antonio made one of his freight train runs down the left. Janmaat determined the brick wall approach was his best bet and slammed into the onrushing Antonio, giving West Ham a free kick just outside the box. But Lanzini sent his free kick over the bar instead of into the danger area. With five minutes left in the half, West Ham had sent ten crosses into the box to Watford’s one. The ideas were there. The execution was nowhere to be found.

In the 41st minute, Antonio showed his deft side with a little flick over the head of Britos, which amounted to a pass to himself. His shot was blocked out for a corner, and the corner was of course wasted. Which I’m guessing didn’t surprise anyone at the time.

West Ham should have equalized in first half stoppage time when Feghouli and Cresswell combined on the left. Cresswell took a low shot that Gomes couldn’t keep hold of, but with the ball right in front of Snodgrass he couldn’t get a touch on it and Watford cleared. To be fair, if West Ham had scored there might have been a bit of controversy because Zarate was lying in a near fetal position clutching his knee. The stoppage was so long it turned out to be the longest first half in the league this season, and Zarate’s season unfortunately looks to be over. Pawson was right to allow the game to continue, but more EPL officiating talk would have been front and center if the halftime score had been one all.

Halftime
Watford 1
West Ham 0

West Ham began the second half on the front foot, just as they had been most of the first half, and in the 50th minute the man who gave away the penalty early in the first half should have won one back early in the second. Kouyate tried to chase down a pass on the right side of the Watford box but looked to have been pulled down by Niang. Pawson didn’t see it that way, and from my vantage point the home side looked to have gotten away with one.

In the 59th minute, Lanzini tried to take the game by the scruff of the neck when he ran across the box from right to left and sent a low pass back across the face of goal. It was a short race between Gomes and Antonio as to who would get there first, and Gomes won. The dynamic was pretty clear. The side up one allowed the opponent to control the game while hanging on to their lead.

In the 61st minute, West Ham won another free kick just outside the box. The delivery from Snodgrass was better, and the ball found its way to Fonte. The January signing forced a good save by Gomes with a header destined to find the top corner.

Slaven Bilic made his first substitution in the 65th minute when he inserted Ayew and removed Snodgrass. We’ve questioned our manager’s substations all season, and I’m guessing that pattern continued. We have done reasonably well on set pieces all season. To remove our new main delivery man seemed odd.

In the 69th minute, West Ham should have scored. Cresswell whipped in a cross that Antonio headed wide, despite being in front of goal. Alone. Maybe five feet out. His header would been brilliant had he been a central defender clearing the ball from danger. He likely assumed Britos would clear, and when it got by the Watford defender he wasn’t prepared to finish the chance. An actual striker would certainly have buried it. But that point has been made ad nauseum.

In the 73rd minute, what was both inevitable based on the run of play and unlikely based on us being us, West Ham scored. Ayew sent Antonio to the races with a header that the makeshift striker was able to chase down. His shot beat Gomes. It hit the near post. Then it hit the far post. Then it ricocheted into the center of the box, and low and behold Ayew was there. He calmly slotted it home, and it was time to either close up shop with a point or go for all three.

Watford 1
West Ham 1

It continued to be West Ham on the attack, and in the 83rd minute Lanzini was brought down by Holebas just outside the Watford penalty area. Cresswell’s delivery might make a highlight film of Worst Delivery Of The Year. It was that bad.

The question of what West Ham will do the rest of the match was answered in the 86th minute when Antonio was shown a second yellow and thus a red card for a deliberate handball. So despite Watford barely having a look at Randolph the whole of the second half, the game was there for the taking against a ten man West Ham. And moments after the sending off, Britos was able to get his head on the end of a Watford corner but his attempt went wide.

Despite playing with ten men, the Hammers came close to a second of their own when Cresswell sent a cross that Feghouli had in his sights at the far corner of the Watford goal. If Holebas hadn’t gotten his head there first to send the ball out for a West Ham corner it would have been the visitors celebrating a late, possible winner.

You gotta love the names of characters in movies. They always have totally unrealistic but truly awesome names. Mason Dixon and Clubber Lang in the 638 Rocky films come to mind. I don’t know any football films like that, but tell me Success wouldn’t do the job? In the final moments of the match, West Ham defending for their lives, Deeney flicked the ball towards a diving Randolph. It skipped by the West Ham keeper and into the path of the Success. The dramatic music sounded. The slow motion sounds of the home supporters starting to roar. Cue the star!

The man could have sneezed and the force of whatever flew out of his nostrils might have been enough to push the ball in. Instead, his screen name changed to Failure.

Final Score
Watford 1
West Ham 1

Two points in two matches that we should have or at least could have won without a striker or a right back is not something to necessarily celebrate, but it isn’t something to lament either. I doubt the founders of my country would ever have anticipated the words we hold these truths to be self evident would be used about a football club in the country they wanted no part of anymore. Hey, I love it there. Flying over on Thursday to go to the Chelsea match. But if there ever was a match that encapsulated the argument that we desperately need a proper right back and dependable striker options, it was today. The early Watford penalty might not have happened if an actual right back was defending Zarate in the box. Furthermore, if Sakho or Carroll were marauding in the box when all of those crosses rained in my money says a couple would have ended up in the back of the net. Yet am I confident these issue will finally be addressed?

I hope so, but I’m not holding my breath.

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Match Thread

Match Thread: Watford v West Ham

Watford v West Ham
FA Premier League
KO 5.30pm
TV: BT Sport
Radio: WHUFC.com/Radio London

Watford Starting XI

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


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