The HamburgHammer Column

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International weekends in football aren’t what they used to be. Back in the day I could muster at least a modicum of excitement whenever Die Mannschaft, as the German national side have been known for a few years now, took the field for a game. Not anymore. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I don’t think the (non) performance at the most recent World Cup is the main issue here. Club football is just so much more important, at least that’s how it feels for me.

All I know is that Germany were apparently playing a team from deepest darkest Peru in a friendly over the weekend. And there were plenty of international matches in a new-fangled competition called UEFA Nations League. Apparently it’s not quite as complicated as it seems and sounds. Once I have figured out for myself what the point actually is and if it is a good idea, I shall get back to you on that one…

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So, what has been happening in the world of West Ham lately? Not much apparently, other than some more posturing and legal wranglings delivered by the highly competent owners of the stadium we play half of our season’s fixtures in and our club hierarchy. I understand the latest issue is about the colour and costs of a new stadium carpet.
On another level it is about certain people realising that West Ham’s rent on its own isn’t sufficient to actually keep the stadium going, not without eventually selling the naming rights of the stadium and/or increasing the rent.

Whatever the ifs, buts, pros and cons are here, please don’t ask me to talk much more about this shambles of a situation (again). Me old strawberry tart can’t handle that kind of crap as well as it used to a few years ago. It is a massive can of worms for sure, a display of stupidity and stubbornness of epic proportions – a sad state of affairs all around.
I suppose that’s why our club happens to be right in the middle of it, we seem to be attracted to situations like these just like flies do to a fresh pile of horse poo. Only at West Ham!

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Thank God West Ham football will be back next week and hopefully we will be seeing a positive reaction from the team and at the very least a fighting performance.

I remember learning a few things about Everton from a former colleague of mine at Hapag (who looked a bit like Darren Anderton) when I was working in Barking – I once shared a room with the guy during some sort of company weekend trip and for some reason which escapes me at the moment he turned out to be an Everton supporter.

I learned from him that Everton were actually based in Liverpool, and no, I didn’t know that when I arrived in Britain in 1996, same as I wasn’t aware that Villa were in Birmingham. I also had no idea whereabout in England Sunderland might be.

Be that as it may, my colleague told me a few things about his team, for instance why Everton were commonly known as The Toffees (I do like toffee, but not so much that I would have contemplated switching my allegiance to Everton there and then). Many years later of course I met the Concordia goalkeeping coach who happens to be an Everton supporter as well, a guy owning a giant Rottweiler dog called Neville, named after Everton goalkeeping legend Neville Southall.

Having seen video footage of Neville the goalkeeper – and live performances of Neville the dog – I have to say that the name doesn’t really fit the canine: The dog used to be a much better jumper than the guy (at least before the Rottweiler developed arthritis in old age) and also he was nowhere near as fat as Southall in his Everton heyday…

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I really don’t know what to expect from the Everton game. We don’t usually travel well when it comes to Scouseland, as a rule of thumb, no matter if it’s the red or the blue corner of Liverpool.

But we do need to see some vital signs coming from our lads. And at some point this season we will need to start putting some points on the board. So why delay any further actually ? Why not give it a proper go, try to minimise the number of on-field blunders and get a highly unexpected first away win of the season ?
Mr.Pellegrini, over to you!

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Hamburg football update: No games for the big clubs due to international weekend, and with no West Ham game on the box either I filled my Cordi boots with a tripleheader of games over two days, with mixed success. The first team lost on Friday evening, 0:1 away at Victoria in front of nearly 300 spectators (don’t laugh, it’s a decent crowd for league games at that level).

On Saturday came the news that Cordi’s director of football had left his position at short notice and by mutual consent. Rumours are he messed up the transfer of two players who are now allegedly not eligible to play until January while still drawing wages from Concordia. Looks like someone forgot to fill out a form or put the wrong stamps on the envelope.
Sounds like something West Ham might do, doesn’t it ? ;-))

On Sunday the U23s surprisingly lost their home game 1:2, against a side of bullies, loudmouths and brutes from the outskirts of town. The referee on the occasion was very young and inexperienced though and I can understand why he was very cautious not to blow his whistle against the visitors too often. Even I got slightly scared looking into some of those boats. Frightening! But parts of the matchday experience reminded me of Upton Park. Where else nowadays would you expect to see heated verbal exchanges between players and fans ?

As the weather was lovely and the Concordia women’s team was up next, well, it would have been impolite to leave, so I watched them win their game 5:0 (finally a Cordi victory!), with three of the goals being almost identical. A very gifted, but small winger named Michelle “Mini” Hille was running the show, easing past her opponents on the right wing almost at will, pulling the ball back into the box into the very same spot three times resulting in three goals from three different scorers. Lovely to watch.

Women’s football will always be slower in tempo than the male variety, however, it does have its merits. Less playacting, less unsportsmanlike conduct in general, no nasty fouls, risking injury to fellow players, no crowds around the referee whenever a foul is given and a far more relaxed and family-friendly crowd, if you know what I mean…;-))

PS: Next Friday will see Concordia hosting Altona (anyone remember them of 3:3 preseason fame?) Altona always bring plenty of fans to away games, so this one might well be a rare sellout at Concordia, guaranteeing a lively atmosphere in front of a full house which in Cordi’s case means 500-600 fans.
If you fancy it, there will be a free stream available again:

www.sporttotal.tv/spiele/oberliga-hamburg-spiel-84-concordia-1-altona-93-1-8-spieltag-