The HamburgHammer Column

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Let me say this straight up: Seagulls are not my favourite animals, never have, never will. Which is weird because I should have got used to them from an early age as they were around me ever since I was a kid. They were around when my dad took us kids down the harbour district in Hamburg. They were around when we boarded the ferry on our way to our home from home in Denmark. And then there was an episode later on during a trip to Scotland when I was up in Oban (famous for its malt whisky and, weirdly enough, a local copy of the Colosseum in Rome called McCaig’s Tower), trying to have lunch, enjoying the views at the waterfront.
When I say trying it means I didn’t even get a bite of my freshly bought prawn-mayo sarnie because as soon as I had sat down at the pier I was attacked by one giant barsteward of a seagull, heading straight for my face, flapping its wings in my eyes – and the strategy, tried and tested on 101 shocked and dumb tourists worked a treat again: I dropped the sandwich, prawns and all, trying to fend off the seagull which eventually made a hasty exit to enjoy a free lunch.
And I had yet another reason to hate that particular species of bird.

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Then of course there’s another flock of seagulls, they play in blue and white and steal points from unsuspecting football teams. Our game down the south coast could best be described as floodlight robbery (as opposed to daylight robbery as it was dark already). To be fair, Brighton converted virtually their only goalscoring opportunity after Yarmolenko had cheaply lost the ball in midfield, a few quick seconds later the ball was in the net as the hosts grabbed that chance with both hands (or should that be feet ? Or wings even ?) while West Ham unfortunately couldn’t grasp any of their numerous opportunities on the day.

Brighton got on my nerves though with their time wasting antics. I know some may call this professional, other teams would do the same thing in that situation and so forth, but still I don’t like to see that, not from my team, not from any team, you know players handing over the ball to a teammate for a throw-in and then spending another 10 or 20 seconds choosing a target to throw to.

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Talking of throw-ins, it dawned on me in this particular game how wasteful we appear to be when it comes to throw-ins and freekicks. These should give us an advantage, however, more often than not our throw-ins do seem to end up at the opposition’s feet a lot and we had several good freekick opportunities which were disappointingly put well over the bar by the likes of Anderson and Arnautovic.

I suppose this goes to prove that even those multi-million £ players are human after all, but I still think that a PL player should be able to hit the target with a freekick from the edge of the box. We had so many decent chances that I still believed we might actually win the game even ten minutes from time.
It wasn’t that West Ham were particularly bad, we did enough in my opinion to win that game, but when even your talisman goalscorer misses from two yards out you just have to accept that this simply wasn’t our day.

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I didn’t enjoy the final result and this wasn’t a complete team performance like the ones we had seen in previous games, but I still saw enough to give me hope.
I reckon Brighton were riding their luck on Friday and they are probably still wondering now how in God’s name they managed to pull this off while West Ham are probably still cursing their luck. With yet another international break coming up (they really suck, don’t they ?) our players will just have to continue to gel on the training pitch first and in games after that.

Dare I say it ? As far as defeats go, at least this was an entertaining one. Utterly frustrating of course, but entertaining nonetheless. It wasn’t the kind of defeat that left me in fear of our upcoming games. On the contrary it made me eager to see more games, to see how this team will continue to come together, to develop, to improve (hopefully) and to build a solid foundation upon which to build even further. Not all players that did play against Brighton may be part of the long-term journey but I hope and pray Declan Rice will be one for the Hammers’ faithful to enjoy for a long time.

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Whenever I see the lad making one good decision after another out there on the pitch during games and then remember he is still only 19 years of age my imagination goes AWOL, contemplating how good he may become three or four years down the line. It is a joy to behold, watching someone do his thing who was quite clearly born to be a footballer. Nice to see him (still) do it in a claret and blue shirt. COYI!!!

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Hamburg football update: Hamburg SV won an incredibly important away game 2:1 at Darmstadt to put them back into an automatic promotion spot.
St.Pauli won their home game 3:1 on Sunday and are back among the pack chasing for promotion.
The Concordia first team played out an absolute nail-biter of a contest on Friday evening, a real advertisement for lower league football, by coming back from 0:2 and 1:3 deficits to draw the game 3:3 under the lights. Cheeky equaliser from Cordi’s top goalscorer, Benjamin Bambur, one minute from time, when the opposing goalkeeper was dropping the ball down at his feet after a save, preparing to kick it upfield, looking down the pitch where to direct the ball, without realising that the Cordi striker was still lurking behind his back. Bambur nicked the ball from the feet of the surprised goalie, took two or three sideway steps to the left and dispatched the ball in the bottom right corner. Despite protests from the hosts, the referee allowed the goal to stand, so this ended up being a draw that very much felt like a win. A performance full of cojones and never-say-die attitude by the Cordi lads!
Same applies to the U23s who have stopped a run of bad results by finally winning again, 6:0 at home. Promotion still looks like a massive ask for the youngsters this season.
The Concordia women’s team won again, 5:0 away, they are well on their way towards promotion to the next level.