The GoatyGav Column
Last weekend the Match of the Day and Talksport pundits were extremely complimentary about the atmosphere at the ground. Driving back from Birmingham, this afternoon, I was tuned in to Hawksbee and Jacobs when they had John Motson on. He praised the match as a spectacle, saying that it was one of the most entertaining games of football that he’d seen this season and that, were it not for the, otherwise deserved, attention given to the Leicester game at Cardiff, the match would have been the main talking point of this weekend’s fixtures.
Not always known for his positive comments towards our club Motty went on to describe the atmosphere at the London Stadium, like other pundits have suggested recently, as “rocking.” I’ve always found the sheepskin coated one quite scathing about our club in his analysis so it would be fairly safe to assume that something has changed to influence a shift in his opinion.
So what is it that’s got us belting out the songs and chants at the top of our voices? The brand of football on display on Saturday afternoon would be an understandable reason for the raised decibels but what about the noise in and around the first whistle before the first goal? And how about the other games where the team haven’t played such an enterprising and entertaining game? So often you hear away fans out-sing the home support – definitely not in our case so far this season. The Burnley supporters were almost silent by comparison.
Last season I voiced my disapproval at the way that Season Tickets were being allocated. I found it amazing that the club were unable to track a supporter’s match attendance history before offering an ST to them. I suspect that ‘tourist’ fans and opportunists from other clubs who regularly ‘sell’ their Season Tickets seem to be dwindling in numbers and genuine supporters of West Ham are taking their place. I still overhear other fans discussions about this subject – one recently stating that a solitary Arsenal fan currently holds 20 (twenty) seats that he sells each game. But as fans of other clubs move on it seems that they’re being replaced by those, who’ve been on the waiting list, that are lifelong fans.
At one point during the Burnley game I stopped signing, which doesn’t happen very often, and just took in the sounds. It was definitely one the best, if not the best, noises I’ve witnessed at a ground since all seaters came in. Motty’s ‘rocking’ adjective was certainly apt. Remember – this wasn’t Manchester United or the Spuds – this was Burnley that we were playing.
On to on-pitch events there were times, well – two of them to be precise, where I though the team wouldn’t get their just deserts. That sinking feeling we’re so familiar with kicked in after both of the Burnley goals. Front of mind was the recent goalscoring rate making it feel unlikely that we’d get another even if our play did deserve it. The crux of the issue has been finishing. Against Brighton, Leicester and the Spuds the boys created enough chances to win the games but spurned opportunities to score. In the League Cup match you could also put the loss down to individual errors/lapses of concentration but the game would have looked very different if the efforts would have ended up in the back of the net.
In spite of London Underground’s best efforts I’m so glad that I, just about, made it in time for kick off and the wonderful joint tribute to the Leicester Helicopter crash victims and fallen heroes of the wars. I thought the club did a fantastic job of the ceremony. The bugler was also tremendous and played the ‘Last Post’ brilliantly whilst those of us standing in front of our seats observed the minute’s silence impeccably.
When you boil it all down I do still miss the Boleyn Ground but, admittedly, I’m warming to the London Stadium all of the time. For the League Cup match last week I went with my brother. We’ve been to quite a lot of matches together down the years. It’s always great to catch up and this time was no exception. Added to the usual busy conversation I was very interested to know what he thought about our new home as it was his first visit. In fact he hadn’t been to the Olympic Park site until last Wednesday evening. I was quite pleased to discover that he thought it was quite good. Added to the enjoyment was my first beer after successfully navigating a ‘dry October’ (nearly made it the whole month – bar a few hours). Perhaps that added to the enjoyment of the afternoon and evening but I don’t think that the experience needed any sort of input from me to sell it to my brother.
The lads now have a couple of day’s more rest than Huddersfield’s ahead of this coming weekend’s fixture. Back to back wins, going in to the International break, would be absolutely brilliant. Should that come to pass then, all of a sudden, I’ll start looking up the table instead of down it. Optimistic as always I’m hopeful we can bag the three points and close the gap on those above us.
Until then have a great week all.
COYI! West Ham 4 The Cup!