The GoatyGav Column
Many English clubs, and their fans, have been called out for their apathy towards their country. I’m proud to be part of a great support at West Ham for both club and nation. I can distinctly remember being at Old Trafford one season and singing ‘We support our national team’ to the home fans without any response coming back. In fact this goes beyond the beautiful game where West Ham are concerned. I also have fond memories of listening to the brilliant West Ham faithful give Villa Park (I was on a corporate gig in the Trinity Road stand) a great rendition of ‘Swing Low – Sweet Chariot’ whilst the English Rugby team were beating the Aussies. The Villa fans caught on a few moments after the Hammers present and started their own chorus (they’re always a bit slower than our fans – bless ‘em).
No coincidence the Germans are so successful and have a 5 week winter break
During the international break this week I’ve watched some great football. Not necessarily from England. Undoubtedly the best game of the bunch that I saw was Spain vs Italy. The Spanish were back to their, quick and slick, best in a beautifully executed demolition of the capable Italians. The Malta game was on in a bar while I was on hols and I caught the Slovakia game at home. For the first 20 mins of the second match the English lads were slow to start but, once they had a foothold, improved greatly. There are, undoubtedly, some good players, who look pacey and dangerous, that have come through but there’s a long way to go until we will threaten the best in the world. Listening to John Motson being interviewed on 5 Live yesterday morning he put a valid point forward about how the Germans always seem to come good, at the right time, in big competitions. In a nutshell Motty said that it’s no coincidence that the Germans do so well at the Major Championships and that they have a five week winter break. There’s something in that for my money.
When it comes to club vs country we’re also known for supporting England. Ok – perhaps this is more to do with the fact that we don’t have so many England internationals as other clubs however I can’t remember a West Ham player ‘retiring from International football’ or the club refusing to send a player when called up for England duty.
The whole club vs country argument rumbles on and on. A few years ago I remember a conversation on this very site where the subject was broached ‘off topic’ on a thread. Someone replied to me that they’d rather see West Ham win a trophy than watch England win another World Cup. I can understand that viewpoint. Frankly I agree. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t want England to do well. I do. In fact I follow England at all levels and watched nearly all the U19 games in their brilliant World Cup finals where they became champions.
Perhaps West Ham’s close affiliation with the England team was strengthened back in ’66. “We won the World Cup” is the oft used, tongue in cheek, comment to remind fans of other clubs that we had all the goal-scorers in the final as well as the greatest ever captain leading the team during the nation’s only ever winning campaign. The terrific trio of West Ham players’ contribution was huge and we look back with great pride at their endeavours over that famous Summer. Personally it sends shivers down my spine when I see the Bobby Moore Statue standing guard, majestically, outside the main entrance to Wembley Stadium just as much as the ‘World Cup Winners’ statue opposite the Boleyn Pub on Barking Road (you know, the one that Karren Brady told us would take pride of place at the Olympic/London Stadium). Goose-pimple time in a big way.
If there were a league table of fans of teams in the Prem with the most passionate England supporters at the top then, personally, I think West Ham would be a top 6 without question. It’s not everyone’s bag, I’m fully aware, but overall the links are strong.
Bearing in mind the stat the came out this week, about England having the highest attendance numbers for home games of any team in the world, the support for England from our club is something to be rightly proud of. Perhaps more so than the performances of the various teams since those halcyon days in the ‘60s.
Notwithstanding all that I’m glad to have the Premier League back again this weekend. Let’s hope for a great first home game of the season on Monday night and three points on the board.
Hope you’ve enjoyed reading about a topic away from our recent woes at the club.
COYI! West Ham 4 The Cup!