Nigel Kahn’s Column

Twenty Four Years of Hurt

I hurt myself today
To see if I still feel
I focus on the pain
The only thing that’s real
The needle tears a hole
The old familiar sting
Try to kill it all away
But I remember everything

I’m not one for gimmicks in football, every game at the moment seems to be sponsored by or in association with some kind of information organisation or awareness brand trying to get their message out. Me, I’m not bothered, I just want to watch football.

But then I watched the two teams line up together behind the FA Heads Up banner in the FA Cup game at Gillingham and that got me thinking about how in the past football in one way or another has helped me cope with the demons that lurk inside and the challenges that life throw at us.

This time of year for me is never my favourite time to be honest because of an event 24 years ago and yet at the time football was an escape for me. It allowed me to forget for a short period, the distress of life at the time.

Some people reading this may think my action to be strange but we all have our coping methods.

This is the first time I’ve ever thought about putting this down in writing, but in doing this I hope to highlight the positive impact football can have when you face the worst day/weeks of all and perhaps hope that the football world can see it really can be positive when used to help in some way to overcome mental barriers that so many put up in times of trouble.

What have I become
My sweetest friend
Everyone I know
Goes away in the end
And you could have it all
My empire of dirt
I will let you down
I will make you hurt

Christmas 1995, I’d been married for 6 months and was looking forward to the new year coming, a year that would change our lives as my wife was 6 months pregnant. Yup, I didn’t hang about basically, if you know what I’m saying.

The warning signs of what was to come were there, we just didn’t realise, the midwives and doctors at the hospital didn’t see either despite the fact she was displaying symptoms of what was coming.

Friday, January 5th 1996, my wife went to see our GP, she wasn’t feeling too good. The GP sent her to hospital straight away, concerned for her welfare. I was called and met her there. I can still remember standing next to her bed, not knowing anything wrong with her when a doctor came in and told us out straight: be prepared to lose your child. It was as cold as that.

My wife was put into a room for monitoring, we were left to ourselves confused and were now worried. I spent the night on the floor of the room, I couldn’t leave her.

Saturday, January 6th 1996: To be honest, I can sleep through most things, but that night wasn’t great, the not knowing eats away at you but I’m conscious I need to keep a brave face, constantly reassure my wife don’t worry, everything will be ok, yet inside you are petrified that it is not. Minutes and hours slip by. I’m joined by the In-laws. Still, the hospital says nothing, they just monitor my wife. Saturdays in hospitals back then were almost closed except for A&E Depts.

At 2 o’clock, rightly or wrongly, I needed a break. I needed fresh air and I needed to escape.

From the hospital room, I could see the back of our house, but I didn’t go there. I walked the 15 minutes to Green Street, where West Ham was playing Southend in the FA Cup third round at home.

I stood outside the gates to the ground to chat with my uncle like I did every game. At the time I didn’t even tell him what was going on, where I’d just come from, or where my wife was or what we were going through. We did our usual talk of anything West Ham and the upcoming game. For that ½ hour, I was released from the worry to the point of I walked up to my usual turnstile on the old West Stand to go in.

West Ham won the game 2-0. I never watched the game because I returned to the hospital, just that hour away. Being at the ground though had in a way, recharged me back to support my wife and face whatever would be coming.

I wear this crown of thorns
Upon my liar’s chair
Full of broken thoughts
I cannot repair
Beneath the stains of time
The feelings disappear
You are someone else
I am still right here

Saturday, January 13th 1996: I have this ability to remember certain things in life by matching them to who West Ham was playing at the time. I don’t know who they were playing that day nor do I care. I was only 26 my wife was 22 but yet this was, without doubt, the worst day of our lives.

No longer at our local hospital, we were now at UCLH via the London. That morning a consultant gave me 3 scenarios and as compassionate as can be he asked me to make choices.

There was only one for me and I’ll stand by that for all my days.

That night part of us died and maybe in a way, bonded us together forever.

What have I become
My sweetest friend
Everyone I know
Goes away in the end

Monday, January 22nd: Nine god awful days but at last I get my wife out of hospital and home. For her it was the first time since that Friday she had been there.

That night West Ham played Manchester United at home. Cantona scored the only goal of the game. I watched at home on the TV, with the window open so I could hear the crowd noises on the wind.

Frankly, I’ve stared at this for 10 minutes not knowing the best way to describe the feeling so perhaps the fact I can’t says it all.

January 31st 1996: West Ham faced Coventry at home, in an entertaining game we won 3-2. I sat on the West lower and can still see young Frank waiting on the touchline in front of me waiting to come on for his first-ever game for us.

The next day we said goodbye.

And you could have it all
My empire of dirt
I will let you down
I will make you hurt

If I could start again
A million miles away
I will keep myself
I would find a way

Writing this was supposed to be me showing how football could be a great help in coping with extreme mental situations. I have other examples lined up of how I thought football had helped me. Actually, it reminds me that perhaps my relationship with football and especially West Ham is at times nothing to be proud of bordering on unhealthy. It seems I used football as an escape from life it didn’t help heal me it just helped hide me from dealing with life.

As I read the above for the tenth time I come to the conclusion I have a lot to be embarrassed even ashamed about, so now instead of it being about how great football can be a help, I hope it can be a warning to younger fans.

Sometimes we can all take football too seriously and now I believe Shankly was wrong when he said “Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I don’t like that attitude. I can assure them it is much more serious than that”

I owe my wife a massive apology.

Nigel Kahn’s Column

My Team Of The Decade

As the 12th decade of West Hams existence comes to end, it is now my time to look back at what I would say has been the most turbulent in its history. 10 years ago we were looking down the barrel of possibly not existing if many of the doom merchants want to believe, but 10 years on, I’m not sure if surviving the collapse of the Icelandic ownership has made the club any better.

This though is a look at players that have graced the pitch in our shirt and I will pick my team of the decade including subs, my manager of the decade and then my legend of the decade.

I will also add my 3 moments of the decade and look forward to seeing in the comment section all your choices too.

The player list for this decade is pretty exhaustive mainly due to the abundance of players bought by the current ownership, possibly more than any other decade, I have tried to select players not just on their perceived ability but also on what they have brought to the team as a whole.

Goal Keeper: Adrian
This wasn’t an easy choice, to be honest, but I plumped for Adrian as though not the greatest of keepers his enthusiasm for playing for the shirt was infectious. His finest moment perhaps being the winning goal in the penalty shoot-out against Everton which may not say a lot about his keeping skill but it summed up at best the way he took the club into his heart.
TBH, the competition wasn’t much, Rob Green makes the bench for me, a great keeper for us and left us too early for my liking, Fabianski in only having the one season misses out, but in 10 years, I hope that he will be the first name down on my Team of the 2020s.

Also notable was Darren Randolph who was as a good a back-up keeper as Adrian was

Right Back: Carl Jenkinson
Only a loanee but he clocked up nearly 50 games for the hammers, I thought he defended well and got forward as expected of the modern-day full-back.
Frankly, if I thought to pick a keeper was difficult, at least I had decent stuff to work with there. At right-back, we have not been graced at all.
Zabaleta was great in his first season but age has caught up with him now, Guy Demel was steady for me but nothing special I did consider putting Antonio there as he did a good job playing there in 2016 but that would not be playing him at his best.

Left Back: Aaron Cresswell.
Great signing for me, Fitted straight in and has this season scored some great goals.
Takes a lovely free-kick.
Masuaku is not as good as Cresswell for me, George McCarthy was admirable and performed well in our return to the premier league

Centre Half: Winston Reid
Played as a right-back when he first joined the club, it is possible to say that relegation under Avram benefited Reid, the season he had in the Championship at Centre Half I think gave him the confidence to continue and grow into that role after promotion.
A footballing Centre half, that seemed to never really be panicked with the ball at his feet.
I can think of no better player to have scored that last night of the Boleyn Ground.
He when retires I hope will join the legends of the club, not just hero.

Centre Half: James Collins
All hail the Ginger Pele. Complemented Reid in the Centre of defence with his no-nonsense approach to defending. If the ball was there to be cleared, he didn’t dilly dally, he cleared it, and if needed take the player with it. A defenders defender and will be loved forevermore for the effort and pride he put into playing in our shirt.

Center Midfield: Mark Noble
He can’t be left out, as much as possible I wanted to.
Mr West Ham, born and raised into the club.
Why would I want to leave him out?
1 reason, Burnley.
Lost all credibility for me in throwing that fan to the floor.
He will retire a legend in the eyes of many, not mine though.

Center Midfield: Declan Rice
His break though is a shining light in the last 4 seasons or ordinariness.
Best young player since Rio, his reading of the game for a player so young is above and beyond anything I remember of any young player to come through the youth set up in my time of watching the club.

Attacking Centre Midfield: Manual Lanzini
On his day, which at the moment is rare, a fantastic ballplayer, a creative genius and scorer of goals as well. Lit up the last season at the Boleyn with his link play with Payet and the two of them together will damage most teams.
Injuries have taken their toll on him but hopefully, he will get back to near where he was when he joined the club.

Left Midfield: Dimitri Payet
Hands down the most Skillful player of the decade,
I’m sure there will be outrage by some for his inclusion but ignore the way he left, and just remember the great times.
Old Trafford in the cup, That Crystal Palace Free kick, and the Middleborough goal at the OS where he single handily earned us a point by dribbling past ¾ of the boro team.

Right Midfield: Michael Antonio
Never heard of him when we signed him, Wasn’t played when we signed him, has this un-gamely way of running with the ball. To me, it looks like he has no idea what he’s going to do with the ball but that then fools the opposition as if he doesn’t know how would they be able to guess what he’s going to do.
His contribution since he joined though is unequalled for me, should be the first name on the team sheet. Has played in many positions but does his best work coming in from the right.

Centre Forward: Diafro Sakho
As goal scorers go, through the decade, it has been slim pickings.
Harsh on Andy Carroll may be but for me, Sakho at his best was far more clinical than AC ever was. Carlton Cole & Arnautovic were in with a shout as well, but as I say, Slim pickings.
Another player who perhaps we need to ignore the way he left.

Subs Bench
GK: Rob Green
DF: Masuaku
DF: Ogbonna
MF: Kevin Nolan
MF: Anderson
A: Andy Carroll
A: Arnautovic

Manager: Slaven Billic
Wow, 10 years ago we had Gianfranco Zola, not the best tactically but how could you not like the man. His biggest achievement must be getting Carlton Cole into being an England player. Sacked to be replaced by Avram Grant, which can now be viewed as the worst appointment ever in our history. Darth Vader replaced Grant as the club sold its identity.

It took four years before Super Slav was appointed, 4th choice apparently, but what a choice.
The only West Ham manager in Premier League era to have a positive goal difference. Most points in a Premier League season to boot, he had to be my choice for manager of the Decade. Since his departure, nothing has changed. Underachievement followed by underachievement.

Moments of the Decade

3: Burnley Demonstrations
The fans that were sold out by those they trusted were 1 of them, turned to face the real problem with the club.
How it got to that situation is a great unsaid, but perhaps one day we will know the truth.
Then again, some truths are best left in a dark cupboard.
Nothing has changed but that day the owners got to see 1st hand the anger over their ownership and realise that their legacy will not be as heroes saving the club, but as chancers that sold a soul of a club.

2: Liverpool Away
To be there that day will live with me forever. Never did I ever believe that we would get anything from that game. Even at 2-0, I was just waiting for the scouse comeback, Sakho’s late third ensued mad celebrations and me having a 60-year-old bloke id never met before crying on my shoulder. West Ham has been in more cup finals than wins at Anfield they are that rare.

1: Last Night at Upton Park.
The best of nights, but yet the worst nights.
The day I and many never wanted to happen turned out to be possibly the best night I ever had there. WHTID meet up early, then to stand on Green St as West Hams media man refused to let David Gold be interviewed with me standing there.
Spending the game with my best mate and his dad next to me.
Refusing to leave the Upper North Stand until we were the last left in there which required co-operation from the Stewards.
Locked in on the concourse until the Man United replacement coach had left only to then remember id arranged to meet my sister after the game. The poor girl had been pushed down Green St by the old bill, no phone battery, by luck we meet up but I then have to drive her home to Southend. Home at 4 is, to sit down and watch the game again.
As Funerals go, you couldn’t get any better than that.

So that’s a slice of my West Ham decade, now below it is your turn.
Opinions may divide us, but as 1 hammers fan likes to say, “we’re all West Ham aint we”
Though of course,
Some are more than others :)

Nigel Kahn’s Column

The Man Who Sold The World

Due to no article being scheduled for today, I’ve moved Nigel’s piece back to the top of the pile so that comments can return to all things West Ham United. Thanks for the respect shown to the Martin Peters obituary; if anyone would still like to post a tribute, the piece can still be found below Nigel’s article – Dan.

We passed upon the stair
We spoke of was and when
Although I wasn’t there
He said I was his friend
Which came as a surprise
I spoke into his eyes
I thought you died alone
A long long time ago

men who sold the world

Ten years ago, West Ham were in a desperate situation, owned by a bankrupt club taken as a bad debt from the biggest bankrupt ever in Iceland. A sale was needed quickly and there were various people or groups in the frame. Two interested me, the first was Tony Fernandes, then owner of Lotus F1 motor racing team and also the airline, Air Asia.
The second was David Gold with his mate David Sullivan.

If I had been asked who my ideal owners would have been I would have answered David Gold along with his brother Ralph who was also involved with Birmingham City.
The Gold brothers were what I would call “proper West Ham”. Brought up on Green Street, the pair both loved the club, David even gave interviews while owner or Brum about his love of West Ham which I remember reading and wondering why he was wasting his time with them. He should come back and try to own us again. He had at first managed to buy shares and try to take control of the club in the early 90s, around the time Jack Petchey, another local businessman sold his share to then buy Watford off Elton John.
Why was he wasting his time with Birmingham, they didn’t like him there anyway.

Oh no, not me
I never lost control
You’re face to face
With the men who sold our world

On January the 19th 2010 they walked back into the Boleyn Ground as owners of the club, winning their battle with Fernandes in convincing Straumer they were the better option. A great day I thought, West Ham people back in control of West Ham.

Their first press conference was interesting, to say the least, amid the usual new ownership of every football club bought, they had their promises of taking them into the Champions League within a certain time frame. Seven years they proclaimed, but frankly, I didn’t believe it, I was just glad to have DG as owner.

The move at that moment didn’t phase me, as I assumed the time to go there had passed, the stadium was set to be made into a 25,000 Athletics stadium after the Olympics, the stadium build was underway and it was too late with the conversion for football to be built into it. DS at the press conference while talking about leaving Upton Park even said the track was a problem as running tracks and football don’t mix, the crowds are just too far away.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Why am I re-running this again?

Well, David Gold has just had an interview published in Blowing Bubbles magazine – not for the first time he chose that publication either.

I laughed and shook his hand
And made my way back home
I searched for form and land
For years and years I roamed
I gazed a gazeless stare
We walked a million hills
I must have died alone
A long, long time ago

In that article, it seems DG is now willing to accept that the way the club handled the move was not without problems and maybe regret. He starts though with claiming that after leaving Brum in 2009 they all wanted a year off, but then said they looked at Charlton, Brighton Palace and Southampton in their quest for a new challenge. All were basket cases yet It was their love for West Ham that brought them to buying us when in his words, we were the biggest basket case out the lot.

Why buy us then? Was it love, or the fact the plan they failed to execute twice at BCFC in moving them to a multi-use stadium had failed, and the club who just happened to be having a multi-use stadium built nearest to them out of that list, was West Ham. When asked about the best thing of his 10-year tenure, with pride he says “the move to the Olympic Stadium.”

He then follows up with: “Despite the anger from some fans, I will never alter my stance on this. I knew back in 2010 that this football club had more chance of competing with our rivals, particularly our rivals in London – Arsenal, Chelsea and Spurs – by moving to the Olympic Stadium. We were miles behind them in terms of stadia but now I think we’ve shown glimpses of having a platform to springboard to seriously challenge our London rivals, thanks to our fantastic fanbase.”

Funnily enough, were not a million miles behind Chelsea or Arsenal at the moment, but that is due to the failure of those clubs, not the success of ours. I digress though as my main reason for this article was what followed.

“‘Is the stadium perfect? No, it’s not. Why? Because the people building the Olympic Stadium had a firm belief that football would never be played there and that it must always remain an athletics stadium. From where we sit, there’s like 20 yards that the stadium could have been brought forward had the hop, skip and jump been placed on the other side. How many people really watch hop, skip and jump? Seriously? This left us with a legacy of that gap from the first row of seats to the pitch on that side.”

DG must have a memory problem as when in 2010 they arrived and wanted to move, they were happy with a 40 yard gap. There was no moveable seating in their original plan, they were telling us how great the sightlines were without the seats moving. What the above comment to me highlights the fact that they will say anything at any time to try to hide and justify why they sold our world.

Who knows?
Not me
I never lost control
You’re face to face
With the man who sold the world

The best is yet to come through, For me DG surpasses himself. The question was “what would Gold have done differently in the past decade? His answer: ‘I wish I’d kept my mouth shut more. I regret saying that the seats would be “this” close to the pitch and then that didn’t happen.”

It didn’t happen because of the roof. We’ve got the largest free-supporting roof structure in Europe but to get it over another 30 rows of seats would have cost untold millions and they just couldn’t do it.

“We understood this and we had to adjust our expectations accordingly and that meant we were going to be further away from the pitch on the west side. But we will be able to bring the seats in at the goal ends, that’s going to happen and remember we are still only in our fourth season at our new home.”

Garbage is what I think of that.

They knew all this before agreeing to the move. The gap is not just on the West side, it’s on all sides. Drawings were showing the roof didn’t cover the running track, yet they claimed they were putting seats on the track.

We all know the misinformation used by the club, so I won’t keep listing them but the problem here is DG fails to heed his own admission of a mistake in keeping his mouth shut.
His answers are full of holes that can easily be disproved and yet in what I can only think is an attempt to try appeal to fans that all is not wrong he gives an interview that frankly lacks any scrutiny from the interviewer. Hence why earlier I pointed out it wasn’t the first time he used that publication.

If DG wants to keep talking publicly then frankly it is about time he sat down and faced real scrutiny, in a researched interview that could point out the (I’ll choose my word carefully here) errors in what he says.

His problem is he as said so much in the past it is easy to prove the falsehoods and inconsistencies.

Who knows?
Not me
We never lost control
You’re face to face
With the man who sold the world

Eight years ago I came face to face with DG. I couldn’t help myself. I gave him a dig about his constant brag about his poverty upbringing, pointing out nearly everyone in the area had that upbringing, but only he wore it as a badge of honour. What followed was a 15-minute spat between me and him where i pointed out he didn’t save us, he was no saviour and that is going through with the move he was gambling with the future of the club. He held his own and gave stick back to me.
Eight years on, I just hope that perhaps I get to come face to face with the man who sold my world one more time.

Nigel Kahn’s Column

Keeping the Pellegrini Faith

Mother mother tell your children
That their time has just begun
I have suffered for my anger
There are wars that can’t be won
Father father please believe me
I am laying down my guns
I am broken like an arrow
Forgive me
Forgive your wayward son

Wow. Where we I start? It’s tough to keep a presence of mind and make a case for the defence when the evidence is in front of your eyes, but the fans for me are showing a very narrowminded point of view if they want Pellegrini to be dumped at this moment in time.

Football fans demand loyalty from players and managers and woe betide any player or manager that walks out on them if something better is put to them. We, though, have a situation that our current manager is going through the toughest period of his short time with the club and possibly the toughest challenge of his career. Yet seems the vast majority of our supporters want him sacked and gone.

If you demand loyalty from players or managers surely you should give it as well. For years the fanbase has derided those that walked out on us, from Ince to Lampard to Defoe. Even Scott Parker, 3-time Hammer of the Year, was booed on his return. But now those same fans will call to sack a manager who, two months ago, was the greatest thing to happen to us since John Lyall.

Everybody needs somebody to love
(mother, mother)
Everybody needs somebody to hate
(please believe me)
Everybody’s bitching
‘cause they can’t get enough
And it’s hard to hold on
When there’s no one to lean on

Looking at the crop of games on the horizon I can’t see results picking up anytime soon. Chelsea away is normally a draw at best in recent times, quickly followed with a midweek trip to Wolves. Last season that was a defeat. Arsenal actually looks like a game we could get a point from though deep down we know that if nothing changes on the pitch that won’t happen so onto the real make or break game for MP, Southampton.

With each game in that list, with each game, we don’t win the frenzy from the fanbase to force the owners to ditch the manager will build. We know our owners like to monitor the social media reactions and use it at times to base their decisions on. They most likely can see that not only does the flack on MP increase, but also on them. They bought the club to be loved as they never were at Birmingham. The funny thing is we can see why, and it wasn’t because they were cockneys, it was because the claims of bigger and better things were never played out.

The more the fans attack them the only way to relieve that pressure on themselves is to push the button on MP, and for me, that is a big reason that we should try and cut Pellegrini some slack.

Faith: you know you’re gonna live thru the rain
Lord you got to keep the faith
Faith: don’t let your love turn to hate
Right now we got to
Keep the faith
Keep the faith
Keep the faith
Lord we got to keep the faith

Tell me baby when I hurt you
Do you keep it all inside
Do you tell me all’s forgiven
And just hide behind your pride

I’m not denying the current form shouldn’t be a concern, but MP is the most decorated manager we’ve hired (on paper) and his appointment was welcomed as a good move, as was the appointment of Hussilos, the so-called head of scouting, director of football or whatever title he has. Not every manager makes the right decision every time, even the best. Alex Ferguson bought some shocking players. Goalkeeper Masimo Taibi was god awful. Yes, they had the players to cover but it shows that mistakes happen and the current situation of make a mistake, so we must get rid will only lead to more years of stagnation and possibly backward falling.

Question. If we hadn’t lost Fabianski or if we had Adrian still as our No2 keeper, in the past 6 games when we’ve only taken 2 points, how many do you think we would have instead?

5? Maybe 7. Add those points to our current total and look where we would be.

Everybody needs somebody to love
(mother, father)
Everybody needs somebody to hate
(please don’t leave me)
Everybody’s bleeding
‘cause the times are tough
Well it’s hard to be strong
When there’s no one to dream on

Faith: you know you’re gonna live thru the rain
Lord you got to keep the faith
Now you know is not too late
Oh you got to keep the faith
Faith: don’t let your love turn to hate
Right now we got to
Keep the faith
Keep the faith
Keep the faith
Lord we got to keep the faith

Pellegrini, Hussilos and Sullivan have made mistakes, big mistakes. The keeper situation is obvious but we as a club are not of the stature that we can keep two top drawer keepers happy, so we have to gamble on taking a no 2 that we hope can perform if/when our No1, in this case also our best player, is injured.

Allowing all four strikers at the club to leave to only replace with two is bad planning. Throw in the fac that one of them is not of the quality we should have as a no 4 striker let alone number 2 then that needs to be pointed out as well. For me, though these are mistakes that can be righted. I didn’t see any complaints when Haller joined, he was welcomed by the fan base some of whom now think he’s a lazy Donkey that needs kicking. MP/Hussilos have for me a 50% strike rate in getting in players for us between good and bad, that’s a good average for us in my book. Are we really going to throw that out because if we do, DS will only revert back to his way of doing things.

I can see it now: “I gave the fans a big-name manager and became hands-off on transfers and look where it has got us.” That will be his excuse when he brings in whoever is available because they are free and won’t need to be bought out of any club.

Sorry, for me while I believe we may struggle this season, we will not go down even if MP is the manager, and for how close the teams are bunched together, top 10 is not out the question and like it or not, for West Ham that is about as good as it gets for us. We are not a big club, we have not earned the right to think we are and I believe it is that belief that hampers us and holds us back. We think we should dine at the top table because of where we are not because of who we are. Fur coat no knickers of a club, a reflection of its ownership.

Walking in the footsteps
Of society’s lies
I don’t like what I see no more
Sometimes I wish that I was blind
Sometimes I wait forever
To stand out in the rain
So no one sees me cryin’
Trying to wash away the pain

If, and a big if, we’ve not won a game by the time Big Ben strikes in midnight January 1st 2020 then I think MP has nowhere to hide and his time to go will be upon us. I won’t welcome it but no manager no matter who you are can survive and be expected to get a new tune out of the old fiddle you’ve been playing.

I joked 6 weeks ago on Moore than just a Podcast, what will happen first, Brexit or West Ham win a game. Don’t seem so funny now.

But while MP is our manager I will KEEP THE FAITH that with his best players available to him he is the man to turn it around. All I ask you keep the faith as well and show him why we as fans are different to the likes of spurs and Arsenal who notoriously in the past at every bad turn always turned on the club instead of showing it support

Mother father
There’s things I’ve done I can’t erase
Every night we fall from grace
It’s hard with the world in yours face
Trying to hold on, trying to hold on
Faith: you know you’re gonna live thru the rain
Lord you got to keep the faith
Faith: don’t let your love turn to hate
Right now we got to keep the faith
Faith: now it’s not too late
Try to hold on, trying to hold on

Nigel Kahn’s Column

Losing My Religion

Life is bigger
It’s bigger than you
And you are not me
The lengths that I will go to
The distance in your eyes
Oh no I’ve said too much
I set it up

Its been a while since last I wrote. There are various reasons for that of which some are personal and some I struggle to admit. Partly it’s that when the club gets itself into a rut like it has, trying to write something different from the rest can be a struggle for me. I sit sometimes on the sidelines reading the social media outpourings and at times I wonder how these West Ham fans would have coped years ago.

For me, John Lyall is the greatest ever manager we have had and yet he is the only manager to relegate the club twice and when considering our last five relegations since his first in 1978, he took the longest time in getting the club promoted back to the top flight. Three season from 1978-1981.

How would social media and those who like me, who set themselves up as commentators on the club, have treated him? It’s quite possible if he survived not being sacked in 78, he would have been in 79 after his failure to achieve an instant return.

I very much doubt Sullivan would have allowed him the chance to win the cup in 1980 as he would have succumbed to fans questioning his tactics, and possibly his personality just as many pile into our current manager after this current sticky spell.

That’s me in the corner
That’s me in the spotlight
Losing my religion
Trying to keep up with you
And I don’t know if I can do it
Oh no I’ve said too much
I haven’t said enough
I thought that I heard you laughing
I thought that I heard you sing
I think I thought I saw you try

I’ve just watched a video by Gonzo on Hammers Chat. He was posed a question: Have Gold Sullivan & Brady destroyed West Ham?

I like Kris. In fact, he’s the only vlogger I watch now. I’ve shared & enjoyed his company many a time and always look forward to meeting him, yet watching this video I was surprised to hear him admit he believed in the move, that he was willing to trade the authenticity of West Ham at Upton Park for the move to get success.

He then waxes lyrical how he feels the three amigos have, as the question says, destroyed West Ham as was.

I found it tough watching though, mainly because I spent so long trying to fight the move. When I hear people admit they were taken in by the owners it highlights the failure of what I, and those others that campaigned as best we could, achieved.

When I hear fans admit they once bought into the dream only to realise it was false, there is no satisfaction of us being right, it actually just guts me more and I suspect those that I stood alongside feel the same.

Every whisper
Of every waking hour, I’m
Choosing my confessions
Trying to keep an eye on you
Like a hurt lost and blinded fool
Oh no I’ve said too much
I set it up

The move has divided the fanbase like Brexit has divided the country. People on either side have no respect anymore for the other’s point of view. So many talk about uniting the fanbase. WHUISA was supposed to be an attempt to do that, yet that descended into a farce to the point where even though most of the committee were anti Board, I felt disenfranchised from those I was supposed to agree with. Three times elected onto the committee, yet three times I walked away, resigning, as my frustration at the ineptitude of some others on the committee left me nowhere to turn.

I look to Hammers United now, but they fail like many at WHUISA to grasp that if you want to set yourselves up as fan representatives, you have to deal with the people you despise the most. The owners. They claim the club refuses to engage but then fall into the trap the club set. They liaise with the club SLO by email, so the club can say they engage with them.

HU want to sit down with them, but on their terms. They fail to see it’s the club that sets the rules of engagement. HU now have complained to the FA, Premier League and even UEFA, trying to point a gun at the clubs head and say, talk to us.

The club will point out they have contact via the supporter liaison officer so they do talk to them. If they want to come in and meet, they have a forum set up, they just need to apply. How now will the club and HU ever have meaningful discussions after this stunt?

Who loses? Not the club, but the fans. HU would achieve far more from the inside, putting over members concerns, than they ever will emailing the S.L.O and complaining to the institutions that WHU are members of. They will never sanction WHU they will only side with them.

I attended the recent ticketing meeting, the outcome of which has led to the club announcing some changes. Away tickets that can’t be used will be able to be returned to the club, though refund will only happen if the ticket is then sold.

The ballot will not be a blanket 10% but be staggered, below 3,000 allocations it drops to 7%, then below 2,000, it goes to 5%. No ballot below 1500 allocation. I went into that meeting, I claimed to represent no one but myself, and yet the staggered ballot was put forward by me.

Whether you agree with it or not, just by being in the meeting, I’ve achieved more than HU have or WHUISA actually. Imagine what they could achieve for fans if they stopped acting like prima donnas and held their noses and went to the club.

Consider this
The hint of the century
Consider this
The slip that brought me
To my knees failed
What if all these fantasies
Come flailing around
Now I’ve said too much

West Ham to me feels like an addiction. It is my drug of choice. They say that addicts won’t start to kick the habit until they hit rock bottom, then they have to acknowledge that problem. I’m not sure I’m at that point yet. I didn’t attend the Sheffield United game. I now have work on Saturdays with my family. I could have made the game but decided not to and just five minutes into the game I was regretting not being there. Watching at home just didn’t feel right.

I had hoped I wouldn’t have missed it, but alas I’m still under this curse.

I do feel though, I am LOSING MY RELIGION.

As outlined above, the club is no longer resembling anything I thought the club ever stood for, wiped away on a gamble that while that in my belief will never pay off for the fans. The one thing that has grown far bigger than anything else to do with West Ham since we moved, is the share price. The true reason for this debacle.

I thought that I heard you laughing
I thought that I heard you sing
I think I thought I saw you try
But that was just a dream
That was just a dream
just a dream, just a dream

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