The HamburgHammer Column

From Upton Park to Gotham City - Random ramblings about an unusual end of season trip

This trip was necessary and long overdue – due to my only brother’s fight against the big C (and my mind being subsequently otherwise occupied) I had merely managed three games this season so far (Spurs, Chelsea and Arsenal), so I had to get my London fix once again. Of course when my Ryanair plane lost touch with German soil West Ham were already guaranteed their league status for next season, but that didn’t bother me. Maybe with the pressure off our team could play more freely and knock in a few goals to compensate for what had been a shockingly bad season for West Ham on various levels.

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Friday, May 11th

This trip was to prove very unusual for the simple fact that our trusted cabbie BSB was on a well deserved holiday in Spain and as we usually meet up at least once when I’m over to revisit our usual Two Ronnies’ routine this time there was no trip for me to Dagenham. Instead I arrived with the early morning flight, finding myself in Stratford at the ungodly hour of 9am.

I couldn’t check in at my accommodation in Boleyn Road (!!!), Upton before noon, so had some serious time to kill.

Almost without thinking my way led me through the Gotham City themed film set called Stratford/Westfield towards the London Stadium. I had been in two minds about whether to renew or not. A proper internal fight of wills. There were good and bad points on both sides of the battlefield. I had spoken to BSB beforehand and finally his arguments resonated the most with me.

So I actually did it, I renewed my season ticket using my accumulated club cash in the process.

I wouldn’t want to miss out on watching any West Ham game of my choosing when making a trip back to London. I couldn’t really miss my regular, yet limited in number, matchdays watching the Hammers. Not necessarily because of our great football but for meeting friends on a matchday, sharing banter, food and drinks.
Yes, I know, I said I didn’t want to give the board any more money, but give me a break!

At least I haven’t bought any merchandise for a year now and the way I see it, my season ticket money doesn’t go to the Daves anyway, it’s representing in fact a small portion of Mark Noble’s or Declan Rice’s weekly wages…:-))

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On it was then to my little room in Boleyn Road. The residential area it was in reminded me of the road where I used to live during my Barking days, so the size, state and outward appearance of most houses didn’t come as a shock to me.

What was a bit of a shock was seeing plenty of women in burkas, leaving only their eyes visible to the outside world. Those are a very rare sight even in Hamburg where we also have a sizeable percentage of Muslim people, but most Muslim ladies in Hamburg seem to be content with wearing headscarves. But anyway…

My first box to tick was my first (and final) visit to Nathans Pie&Mash shop in the Barking Road. Of course this is an institution for many West Ham fans and since I got introduced to my first pie and mash just two years ago (although one might think, gazing at my girth, that I must have had my first pie and mash as a toddler without ever looking back since) I needed to check out this place.

My verdict: Lovely people. Atmospheric decor with loads of references to West Ham. Decent pie, bland mash. But food wise no comparison to BSB’s place in Dagenham where the taste, portions and value for money are all better.

But I suppose with Nathans it was very much a traditional thing, you went to the game with your father or later your own kids and had pie and mash there before a game, as part of the ritual. I doubt too many people ever had a pie and mash there on non matchdays.

My visit to Newham Bookshop has now also become a personal ritual for every trip and once again the brilliant Vivian Archer and John Newman provided tea, book recommendations and lovely banter.

They also recommended a German themed pub on the other side of the river, but more of that later.

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While still in Newham Bookshop I got a text message from Iron Liddy, leading to another chapter of what has become another much cherished ritual for me, having pizza with Liddy and Mr.Lids in their local branch of Pizza Express, so it was the District Line Eastbound for me later that evening.

As usual it was a fantastic evening, having our li’lle jokes (that’s little in received pronunciation folks!), chewing the fat about West Ham, life in general and also personal stuff, but time flew by (as it tends to do when you’re enjoying yourself) and we parted ways to meet again on matchday.

I can only thank Liddy and Mr.Lids again for their kind and over the top hospitality and try offering to repay them their courtesy once they finally find their way to my town – they will get the right royal red carpet treatment from me, you can be sure of that…

Saturday, May 12th

Our blog’s own Corkiron had recommended a breakfast cafe in Bethnal Green where I could tick my box of having at least one Full English – and so to Bethnal Green I went.

Of course I had heard all the stories about the Kray Twins growing up in the area and similar to Upton I found it a vibrant and diverse neighbourhood full of life, shops and market stalls, with surprisingly loads of pubs lining the Bethnal Green Road on both sides.

When I arrived at E Pellicci there was a queue outside and there still was one when I had finished my breakfast, always a good sign if people are willing to wait to get in.
I love family establishments like this and as I learned this place has been around since 1900, serving food and a heartfelt welcome to their customers, a tradition being passed on through the generations the latest of which was represented by a bubbly fellow called Nevio Jr.

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Now this guy was not just a waiter, he was basically entertaining and conducting the whole neighbourhood audience with gestures and gazes that would have made Di Canio proud in his West Ham heyday, sharing little jokes and banter not only with the guests but also employees from nearby shops and stalls, or customers picking up takeaway orders. Coupled with some rare sunshine it made for what was almost a carnival atmosphere.

It was like a scene from the Notting Hill flick, I almost expected Hugh Grant to sit down at the adjoining table next, asking me to chuck him over the bottle of brown sauce.

Only when paying for my breakfast did both Nevio and I find out that this business transaction might never have happened under normal circumstances as he had strong Tottenham leanings with my being a Hammer obviously creating a certain tension in the air.

His professionalism won over though, so having cottoned on to the fact I was German he was cramming around in his brain for the only German phrase he knew and being of Italian heritage it wasn’t surprising to hear that this phrase was “Ich liebe Dich!” (I love you!). I shouted back “I wouldn’t go that far mate!” across the pavement before making my way back to the tube station.

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Getting off at Vauxhall station, strolling alongside the Albert Embankment with views of Tate Britain and the Houses of Parliament, past a new development of luxury riverview flats called The Dumont (with sale prices for each unit probably approaching half the GNP of most African countries) I went to the pub that had been recommended to me in Newham Bookshop the day before.

“Zeitgeist” is located in a pub in Black Prince Road which used to be the Jolly Gardeners pub for 120 years.
Apparently Charlie Chaplin was one of the famous locals there; it is said his father was playing frequently on the house’s piano to entertain the local community.

Today the entertainment comes mainly in the form of Bundesliga football being shown on a big screen, German food staples like Schnitzels, Sausages and Flammkuchen (thin dough bread pizzas served with various toppings) and 16 (!!!) different German beers on draught.

I was scouting the premises for suitability for a special purpose.
Maybe this could be a lovely venue for a future informal meetup of WHTIDers, if some of you should be interested going there when I’m over next, at the very least it’s a bit different than other pubs and a jolly good laugh for sure.

Yes, it’s on the wrong side of the river, it’s full of Germans and you won’t get pints of Carling, Boddingtons Bitter, Spitfire Ale or Old Speckled Hen there.

But don’t be afraid, you won’t be surrounded by Krauts only, with no English being spoken at all, there are Brits drinking at that place as well and all the staff are British too, as far as I could tell…with the odd Aussie thrown in for good measure.

I watched (and suffered) the relegation of Hamburg SV on the big screen, sharing a table with a fellow Hamburger, a Moenchengladbach supporter and two Dortmund fans. The pub was packed solid when the games kicked off and they were showing the Bundesliga conference which is like Soccer Saturday but with live pictures, so they switch from one stadium to another whenever goals are scored or penalty shots have been awarded.

The reactions from the crowd were interesting. In most cases it was obvious which club they supported as different corners of the pub went berserk when certain teams scored. But the loudest cheers, unfortunately, came whenever goals were scored against Hamburg (or for relegation rival Wolfsburg) and also once the relegation was finally confirmed.

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It didn’t come unexpected, but it hurt this proud Hamburg boy more than I had anticipated (and I don’t even support them), especially with those other fans in the pub rubbing it in with glee and mocking chants of “Cheerio!”.

I hope they will get treated with a bit more respect from rival fans should their own team ever find themselves in the unfortunate position of getting relegated.
I went back to Stratford, watched some of the Boro-Villa game to take my mind off relegation and turned in early as a busy matchday lay ahead…

Sunday, May 13th

MATCHDAY! Our own Russ phoned me up late morning about meeting up at Westfield which we did and I was relieved because he obviously knew the shortest way to the Supporters Club at Stour Space where we got ourselves match ready with a burger, chips and a cold hop-themed bevvy. We were then joined in quick succession by Hammers West (who had come all the way from California), Voice of Reason, Heedsy, Nigel Kahn and Sean Whetstone.

Plus the most popular German Hammer on WHTID these days, Ebi from near Cologne who now also qualifies as the more passionate German Hammer compared to me as he apparently saw 12 games in person this season, myself only clocking in with a measly four in total which makes me a glory hunter, armchair supporter, malcontent and keyboard warrior all rolled into one I suppose…;-))

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Once arrived at the 238 steps on the concourse there was more banter before and after the game with Gramsci, AndyHammer, Dan and John Coker, Irons1959, Toronto Hammer and Dorset Lurker. I’m sure I have forgotten one or two, but as always it was great company and the perfect build-up towards kickoff (or setup for the post-match drinks).

No Hugill! Not even on the bench. Not only did that kill my predictor (at least I got the final score right), I was also genuinely hoping this guy would get a few minutes in this game. Still, it was obviously one of our better games, with some lovely free flowing football and three absolute peaches of a goal – all in one game.
This also helped to lift the general matchday atmosphere at the stadium and in my book it is the only way this stadium will ever develop into a decent home ground for us.

We need a team with quality players, performing in a way that gets the crowd going and off their seats time and time again. One thing that made me smile was the kids who were sitting around us, shouting all the way down over the gaps and the lower tier towards the pitch, they are like li’lle, sorry, little adults, aren’t they ?
Shouting “Book him ref!” or " Shoot the ball Mark Noble" with their high-pitched young voices. Brilliant!

A bittersweet moment was the (final?) appearance of the Ginger Pele, playing out the final few minutes of our season wearing the captain’s armband.
What a loyal and true servant to the club he’s been. Hopefully we will see him for at least one more season.

After the game, a group of us, including Mr.Lids who was looking as happy as a cat sunbathing on a milk float, congregated at the Heineken Bar for some end of season review banter. Personally, I had the pleasure of prolonging said banter in the company of Hammers West, Voice of Reason and Heedsy in The Crate (where I had to remove all my West Ham gear before being allowed in). Still, fantastic company, decent beer, great pizza with cheese and courgettes (another word I had to learn, in Germany we know them as Zucchini).
Brilliant matchday.

Monday, May 14th

Days of departure are always a bit crap. You usually spend too many hours twiddling your thumbs at the airport as you are too scared to do proper things in London for fear of missing your flight as a result of milling around in a museum, gallery or park, forgetting all about the time. Still, I went back to the Olympic Stadium once again, walking through the ever rising and already towering skyline of Gotham City, pardon me, I mean Stratford of course, sitting down on a bench in the Olympic Park, reminiscing about the Everton game, my season ticket renewal, my dear friends in England and our beloved club.

I got to think that while I will always struggle with the shape of the stadium and the distance between the fans and the pitch it’ll still be alright providing a matchday experience as long as our team play some nice passing and attacking football, scoring a few goals in the process. As it is, some people will never love or even like the stadium, others already are getting used to it, because, frankly, what’s the alternative here ? We already have kids in the stadium now who have never seen a game at the Boleyn Ground.

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For them the London Stadium is the only West Ham ground they have ever known. It’s easier for them as you cannot miss what you never had in the first place.
Yes, I like clean toilets, a variety of food stalls and seats with plenty of legroom all of which a modern stadium brings.
But as a football fan I also like football stadiums which afford the opportunity to be close to the pitch and feel connected to the game and the players.

Many of you will have passed the advertising hoarding as you enter the Olympic Park via Westfield. It showcases the various events at the London Stadium which are supposed to draw the punters in. I was intrigued by the West Ham section, with a picture of Antonio and Sam Byram locked in a goal celebration (joined by Edimilson Fernandes I believe).

I wrote it down in full, so I could quote it to you word by word, let’s see what you think:

WEST HAM UNITED F.C. – West Ham take on a host of Premier League rivals at the London Stadium as they attempt to climb the table. See the stars of the Premier League battle it out on the pitch with both teams going for the win in these top-notch clashes.”

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Interesting to note the advert says West Ham United FC, not West Ham London. Also the statement seems to veer from the realistic, to the optimistic towards the downright bizarre (as marketing or PR campaigns have a tendency to do). For sure West Ham have much better hope of climbing the table than actually challenging for trophies.
Both teams going for the win ? A nice thought, but how realistic is that when you watch Premier League games in general ?
Top-notch clashes ? Again: It may be the Premier League but I have seen plenty of games already at the LS that were anything but top notch, like boring as hell 1:0 wins against Burnley or Hull.

Still, as one season goes into the archives with another one looming large, with a transfer window and the World Cup to entertain us all in between, I am sure it will be yet another rollercoaster of emotions at this basket case of a club we all love so dearly. I’m already looking forward to whatever games I shall be able to make next season.
Thanks again to all of you for putting up with my ramblings and special kudos to those of you looking after me again in such a lovely and kind fashion!
(You know who you are!)

As a consequence I don’t even mind getting taken the mickey out of time and time again – I wouldn’t have it any other way! Onwards and upwards! COYI!!!

PS: Hamburg football update:
So you already know that HSV got relegated and you probably also know St.Pauli have escaped relegation which means both will meet in the famous and feisty Hamburg derby twice next season in Bundesliga 2. The local fuzz are already busy cursing their luck!
Concordia have failed to win promotion and will finish the season in midtable (7th or 8th).
Cordi’s U23s have been promoted as Champions, same as the Concordia Ladies team.
Another local club I sometimes watch because their ground is in walking distance to my flat, TSV Wandsetal, have also been promoted as Champions.


The HamburgHammer Column

The Noble escape - relief beats frustration

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Never in doubt! I speak in jest! I suppose most Hammers fans were a bundle of nerves on Saturday, with bums making a noise resembling more than moderate squeaking.

Personally I was confident as Leicester had been in self-destruct mode in the past few weeks. But when it comes to West Ham things of course are never that easy.
We have a tendency to give teams momentum who haven’t won in ten games. Goalscorers with a bit of a barren spell cherish playing us while defenders far too often this season got an easy ride from us.

Saying all that I was mightily relieved to find Leicester still in “kicking a ball casually about on a beach” mood. By now most of you will know about my West Ham watching routine when I follow our games from the comfort of my living room: Screwdriver at the ready to give the nervously wrangling fingers something to hold onto.
“London Calling” blasting from my stereo a few minutes from kickoff (only for home games though).
And a strict rule to enjoy a cold beer (or two) after the game, but only if West Ham have won.
Looking at our stats this season you can see I’ve virtually lived the life of a teetotaller in the last 10 months for that reason. But not on Saturday!

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It was a decent away performance from the lads, minus some shocking individual errors, Cresswell’s moment of handling stupidity the most glaring one. Other than that all players put in shift in, Adrian chipped in with some confident takes and solid saves and overall we did enough to deserve the three points on the day. And how vital those three points were! And wasn’t it just poetic justice that Canning Town’s best footballer ever scored that crucial second goal ?

And no, it wasn’t your regular Noble penalty kick or a ball deflecting in over the line via Captain Fantastic’s magic shin, it was a belter of a volley, textbook technique, with the ball flying off his foot like a homerun off the sweetspot of a baseball bat. Struck with power and precision. I suppose only Noble himself was more surprised than his teammates and the fans it went in like that. Sure, guys like Messi, De Bruyne or Salah probably score these five times in every training session and several times a season in competitive games, but Mark Noble ?

Yes, people keep telling me his legs are gone and he passes only sideways. But if he was to pass more balls into the far corner of the net like this next season, I won’t be complaining too much!

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My first thought when waking up on Sunday morning ? No, not “I need to go to the Khazi” or “I smell bacon from the neighbour’s flat, it must be Sunday!”.
It actually was “West Ham are staying up! Another season of Premier League football!”

Which of course means our club hierarchy now can and HAS TO begin making plans for next season, transfers in, transfers out, Moyes to stay or new guy to come in.
A brutally honest analysis of what went wrong this season, a straight up assessment of who messed up and what can be done so it doesn’t happen again.
Make no mistake: We have been incredibly lucky with staying up this season. We simply cannot rely anymore on three other teams being worse than us.

We’ve been over this numerous times. But our club needs to be run more professionally on and off the pitch. Spending a bit of money is one part of the solution.
But other clubs who have only spent moderately still have been far more successfull on the pitch than us this season, sides like Burnley or Newcastle.
So they must be doing something right. Or at least better than we seem to do.

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The next few weeks surely will be highly interesting for all of us and it should give us a bit of an indication if next season will be more of the same or if finally some changes may be afoot. As fans I feel we do deserve a bit of good fortune after one shambles of a season. The fans who have been supporting us for more than ten years know we have no sense of entitlement at West Ham, not in terms of trophies or top positions in the table anyway.

Basically we want to see a team of players in claret and blue, busting a gut in games against superior opposition, leaving blood, sweat (and sometimes tears) on the pitch.
Most of us are happy with us giving it a go, especially in the cups, but also watching characters like Arnautovic, hard grafters like the Ginger Pele or Noble, young Hammers like Rice and Cullen.

And I’m sure as fans most of us would like to see some better treatment from our board overall, some signs of goodwill, of a genuine desire and effort to improve us as a club and a team. If we are customers now, surely customers deserve better service, care and communication. But again, this has been debated on here already over and over again.

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As you will know by now I will be coming over next weekend for the Everton game, a fixture which now no longer holds significance apart from playing for pride and getting one over our former managerial mastermind. I am still in a bit of a pickle though, I know my way will lead me to the ticket office eventually and I will have to make a decision there and then, maybe a rather spontaneous one too:
Will I renew my season ticket or downgrade to a mere club membership ?

There are two trains of thought here. On the one hand I would like to put my e-cash (club cash) to good use as I am aware it will be lost if I do nothing (I have nearly 100 quid). It pains me to give more money to our owners than necessary, so a club membership would still give me a shot at watching selected games next season.
On the other hand I feel that as fans we have been there before and we will still be there (at least most of us) once GSB are long gone and merely a rather frustrating chapter in our club’s history.

If I give up my season ticket now, God knows how many years it’ll be before I could get another one. And my trips to London, meeting up regularly with some of you good people, still are dear to me and the football on offer doesn’t really change my general happiness when meeting up with fellow fans on matchdays or on a day before or after a matchday too.

So, who knows what’ll happen in the next few days until that moment I will finally face the West Ham ticket office staff in Stratford.

It is “West Ham Till I Die“ after all. As our own Longtime Lurker so eloquently put it, there are no conditions attached to that phrase regarding ownership, manager or transfer budget. So I have an inkling what could happen down that ticket office…

I hope to see out the season in style by sharing a beverage or two with some of you guys on Everton matchday, hopefully basking in some glorious London sunshine while cupping our collective ears to the Dudley dinosaur.

COYI!!!

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Finally, for those of you interested, a quick update on the footballing situation in my hometown:

Hamburg SV have a very small chance of staying up on the last day of the season next weekend. All they have to do is beat Moenchengladbach at home while having to pray that already relegated FC Cologne can nick an unlikely win at fellow strugglers Wolfsburg. Not impossible of course, but very unlikely though.

FC St.Pauli have won their home tie against Bielefeld, guaranteeing them another stretch in Bundesliga 2 (where they are likely to meet their hated crosstown rivals Hamburg SV next season). Concordia’s first team lost away to Niendorf 0:3 in a meaningless game, I didn’t attend as half the team are leaving in the summer and it shows in their recent performances. A season to forget as Concordia were expecting to challenge at the top, now they will be lucky to finish in 7th place.

Instead I once again attended the Cordi U23’s game, away to Guelzow, out in the countryside (not far from that zoo I mentioned in my column last week actually).
A 60 mile roundtrip, but lovely sunshine all around and a 3:1 win made the trek worthwhile. Cordi’s U23’s promotion was of course already confirmed the previous Sunday, the only question now left is if the lads will be promoted as Champions (likely) or runners-up.

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The HamburgHammer Column

Men who stare at goats - and goals. The goats were more fun.

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I did it again. A combination of lovely weather, the prospect of being able to spend another Sunday with my brother and his family (which I no longer take for granted after him going through cancer treatment) and my very modest hopes for anything resembling a respectable result of our boys against the Champions of England made me decide against live football yet again, at least partly.

I managed to watch the first half of the Cordi U23 vs. Bergedorf West game. With Cordi 3:0 up at halftime my brother rang me up, asking if I fancied a day out with him, my sister in law and nephew in a nearby zoo out in the countryside, with an invitation thrown in afterwards for our traditional summer dinner treat of choice, cooked fresh asparagus, new potatoes, Sauce Hollandaise and local ham.

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I can tell you, it was a quality afternoon and certainly more appealing than watching Cordi’s first team stumbling to a meaningless 2:1 victory in front of 72 paying customers (as I read online later that evening). It was also more entertaining than watching our game against Manchester City live on the telly what with the sun doing a splendid job of creating a Caribbean vibe across the flat plains on the southeastern outskirts of Hamburg.

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That zoo was a weird mixture of species, all kinds of bovines (including Galloways), horses, donkeys, pigs, llamas, raccoons, coatis, pheasants, peacocks, parrots, ostriches, zebras (!!!), a massive python, sheep and goats. Weird combo, but wonderful regardless!
It was good fun and there was some fighting going on as well in the animal kingdom, ostriches chasing around some goats, boars fighting over territory and raccoons having a heated argument over their respective position in the feeding line.

Again, as contests these were much more even and fun to watch than what was to follow when I sat down for the rerun of the Manchester City game later in the evening.
As a sidenote I also heard that my nephew is through with judo now, he has found himself a new sporting extravaganza, unfortunately not football, but tennis!
(How did that happen ? Then again, I wouldn’t mind watching my nephew playing in a Wimbledon semifinal one day! Probably better chance of that happening than him making it to the World Cup as a footballer with the Germany team…:-))

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As for the highlights of the West Ham game, well, they were few and far between. Cresswell’s freekick was class obviously. I also cannot fault the effort by our players.
But to be brutally honest, apart from a five minute spell just after we scored, it was never really a contest – and Manchester City didn’t even have to break sweat.
It was men against boys. Man City broke through our midfield and defence at will almost.
I had seen goats earlier in the zoo, here in the shape of the Man City players I saw different goats, as in “greatest of all time” – they surely have some tremendous players.
In contrast we seem to have a fairly high number of donkeys.

There is nothing wrong of course with donkeys, but if the Premier League is the Grand National you are unlikely to compete in that riding a donkey.
A major overhaul is required at our club from top to bottom, on and off the pitch. In that respect the summer dealings should tell us a thing or two…

Back to the game, early in the second half I stopped counting how often we gave back possession immediately after winning back the ball or losing possession after having a throw-in.

To be fair, I don’t think it would have really mattered much if we had played a different formation or starting XI on the day. We were never likely to get anything from this game and maybe it was a small victory we only lost by a three goal margin. Goals could become vital as we are closing in on the finishing line.

It’s tough that we still need to keep our eyes on several other clubs in terms of league survival, but the reasons for that have been debated on here back and forth.
I didn’t expect that our final game against Everton would still hold any significance for our fate, but now it increasingly looks like things may well go down to the wire.

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On the one hand of course it’s exciting to attend a game with potentially so much riding on it. On the other hand I could do without seeing us getting relegated on the last day of the season. In any case I shall be meeting some of you good people again and that in itself is always pretty much a win-win situation.

To finish on a positive, I heard the Cordi U23s finished their game with a 4:1 scoreline which means they will definitely be promoted to the next level (Kreisliga).
Which is good news for the lads as they are a bunch of smashing guys, playing football the right way. That promotion will also guarantee that there will be far more interesting games next season for the fans as the competing teams will be of much better quality so the fixtures will be proper contests.

Unlike far too many of West Ham’s games throughout the current season unfortunately. Let’s hope things will get better for The Hammers somehow! COYI!!!

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The HamburgHammer Column

Gunned back to earth - and Rice is human after all

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If you wanna blame anyone for the defeat against Arsenal, just blame me. Usually I watch our games live whenever I can – this Sunday though I deliberately opted against that routine and decided to put the lovely weather in Hamburg to good use and take my brother and ten year old nephew out between the dikes on the southeastern outskirts of town to watch Concordia’s U23s wallop the poor local side by a 10:0 scoreline.

The game was more noteworthy for my little nephew entertaining the travelling away support of about 20 people with his comments, questions and jocular remarks, some of them were hilarious without my nephew even realising, but that’s always the joy when taking a kid to a football game.
For instance, the Concordia president was there too in order to watch his own son play, sitting three metres away from us, but that didn’t stop my nephew exclaiming how the U23s were playing so much better this season compared to Cordi’s first team. Well, he was right of course and the club president saw the funny side of it too and couldn’t suppress a grin.

My nephew by the way still is at odds with the rules of the game in terms of the ref awarding a penalty.
Little Daniel still thinks a penalty kick should happen every time a particularly nasty foul or tackle happens, regardless of where on the pitch said foul has been committed.
FIFA better watch out, there’s a new FIFA president in the making here…:-))

Anyway, it’s nice to watch a team that plays football the right way (albeit against inferior opposition) and it’s also nice to have a promotion celebration to look forward to – I reckon next weekend Cordi’s U23s will be mathematically certain to go up. For every other club I hold an interest in it is still squeaky bum time.
Both Hamburg clubs are in relegation dogfights and even our beloved West Ham ain’t quite out of the woods either.

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When returning home I had managed not to hear or read anything about our game, so I could then settle down in my armchair, waving my screwdriver in tune to Bubbles being sung by the travelling Hammers and to be fair, I saw a highly entertaining match from both teams and up to the 80th minute I was fairly certain we could come away from Arsenal with a credible draw. Not so fast my not quite so young Hammer!

That second Arsenal goal broke our collective spirit and determination. Young Declan Rice who was quite superb again up to that point decided to duck out of what looked like the easiest of clearances in front of his own goal, leaving it to Joe Hart to watch the ball trundling into the net.
Lack of communication there and totally unnecessary. When the ball is that close to your own goal you need to deal with it somehow.

You either have set up a routine in training how to act in those situations. Or you make yourself heard loud and clear, so both goalkeeper and defender are on the same page.
It’s frustrating to have lost the game in that fashion (I didn’t even register the goals that still followed) because I think we saw a very decent overall performance from the lads.
Unfortunately a game doesn’t last 79 minutes and when you shoot yourself in the foot like our team did you cannot expect to get away with it in the Premier League.

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I ain’t going to tear into Rice, he is young, still learning the game and boy, will he learn from that blunder! In my eyes he is a future West Ham captain, a player well worth building a team around (if we can keep him that long that is) and the kind of guy fans love rooting for. Rice is the player we must hang on to and keep happy at all costs.
I wonder how Rice’s future is going to pan out.

Moyes though is another safety-first manager for me. Defensive minded, very cautious, averse to taking a bit of a risk. There isn’t much that pains me more than to see our striker isolated upfront time and time again, be that Arnautovic or Carroll. You can see the frustration when they look up, from a promising attacking position, trying to locate their nearest teammate only to find him twenty or thirty metres behind. If it was up to me, I’d look for a more attack-minded, a more positive manager.

With the shortened transfer period this summer our club should be busy building our squad for next season already. Not knowing our league status for sure yet doesn’t help obviously. Not knowing who our manager will be doesn’t help either. I’m sure a decision will be made in due course one way or another and we know the board will have their own priorities which may differ from what the fans, the players or even the pundits may want. So all we can do is wait and hope.

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Not long to go until I’m over again for the Everton fixture. I am confident we won’t necessarily need the points at that stage. But I’d be very happy to see another of my now customary 1:0 home wins. COYI!!!

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Match Thread

Match thread: West Ham v Stoke

West Ham v Stoke
FA Premier League
London Stadium
KO: 8pm
TV: Sky Sports
Radio: BBC Five Live

Please comment on the game as it progresses.

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