The HamburgHammer Column

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The Brighton fixture was one of those unusual games for me that do happen every once in a while. I tend to watch every West Ham offering religiously, my eyes fixed on the TV screen, from the first to the final whistle. And it started out reasonably normal on Saturday at 4pm local Hamburg time, with me following my usual “matchday-watching-on-the-telly-routine“ to a T: West Ham shirt of choice on, check! Favourite West Ham mug filled with steaming hot tea, check! Screwdriver at the ready, check!

So I was about to settle down in my armchair to watch the mighty Hammers attacking Brighton on their own manor when suddenly the dog and bone was making a noise, it was my favourite/only brother calling in, delivering a most welcome bit of splendid news, he had been to yet another screening/CT scan which had yielded a negative result (for traces of cancer), hence making it very positive news actually, as you can all imagine.

I had the game on in the background, with the sound down, while chatting away to my bro for over an hour, discussing the latest German and Hamburg football news, Brexit (as you do!), the latest updates with regard to my nephew etc.

Suddenly Brighton were 1:0 up, ah, nevermind, still plenty of time left to turn things around, but three minutes later or so (when I checked the screen again) it was 0:0 once more, so VAR had done us a favour apparently. Phew!

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Whenever I did have a butcher’s at the game during the phone call, it didn’t really keep me glued to the screen for long though, at least not in the first half! We were clearly struggling against a very impressive Brighton team with our emergency line-up, having to replace Haller, Anderson and Noble.

I mean, three players/starters out with a dead leg, what are the odds ? I have had my fair share of dead legs in my lifetime and while I have never been in the position having to play professional football with one, obviously, the dead legs I used to experience were certainly painful affairs and multi-coloured in appearance, but they never really seemed to have a long-term impact on my ability to run or move.
Yes, I actually did move at pace, quicker than walking speed, in previous years, occasionally, if absolutely necessary…LOL

Anyway, second half came and with it Antonio replacing Wilshere and suddenly the game was picking up in terms of action and incident, starting to look like a proper old game. I had finished the phone call by the 55th minute or so.

When we took the lead (against the run of play really) I was absolutely delighted as it was crowning a well executed counter attacking move. Manuel Lanzini was the main protagonist though, putting the goal on a plate for our lone striker Chicharito, but then again Lanzini was on fire all game, absolutely brilliant! He truly looked like the Lanzini before his knee injury and as we all know that used to be a fantastic player.
Long may it continue! Who could have guessed at the start of the season that Chicharito of all people would score our first goal of the new campaign.
Say what you like, he got his chance and he buried it! Kudos, Little Pea!

But our defence is still what it is, so it didn’t come as a massive surprise we conceded the equaliser not long after. There was more action on both ends of the pitch now with astonishing misses from Brighton, some dodgy defending by Masuaku and Diop plus Antonio fluffing a late opportunity to snatch all three points from the Seagull’s beak. Earlier he had blasted a shot from distance into Row U – amazing how much elevation professional footballers can get on their shots sometimes…;-))

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At the end of the day a draw was probably a fair result. You won’t find me moaning over an away point in the PL. There really aren’t easy away games in this league (anymore). Brighton look like a very tidy outfit this season and their early form is quite impressive. I would expect them to do well this term and other teams will be very fortunate to get a win when travelling down the English Channel coast.

Considering we had Noble, Haller and Anderson out it was a decent away performance overall and a very valuable point won.
That’s how you get yourself away from the bottom of the table. Dark days ahead though, by all accounts, for Newcastle, Southampton and Watford this season. Talking of which, Watford away will be our next game and I’m really looking forward to that one, especially with Haller and Anderson likely to return from injury, Noble too perhaps.

Surely the league table as of now seems to indicate that no team has pulled away from the others massively yet (hard to do after just two games played), it’s still early days and once we will have won our first game (or two) we can climb the table quickly. That, however, will require more solid and focussed defending from our lads. Surely something worth working on extra hard in training…

Our younger prospects seem to have started the season really well, with the U23s beating Newcastle away while some of our loan players have done us proud too, goalkeeper Nathan Trott helping Wimbledon to a draw while Grady Diangana put his name on the scoresheet twice for West Brom after coming on in the second half.

Good stuff! Next week will hopefully bring us some positive news from the injury front for the Hammers, those will of course be nowhere near as brilliant as the news about my brother’s health, but obviously far more relevant for West Ham fans far and wide…;-)) COYI!!!

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Hamburg football update: Mixed bag for the Hamburg teams. Hamburg SV beat Bochum on Friday evening and are gracing the top of the table now with 7 points out of 9. Fantastic early season form right there!

St.Pauli on the other hand failed to protect a 1:0 lead away at promotion favourites Stuttgart, conceding a 90th minute losing goal in a 1:2 defeat. With just one point gained from three games, they are staring down the wrong end of the table with the pressure rising already. Long season ahead for them, it seems…

All three Concordia teams were active on Sunday at separate times in different locations, but I didn’t quite make the tripleheader. My brother was joining me for the first and main one, the league game of our first team, playing at USC Paloma at 10.45am – and the lads treated us to a mesmerising 7:2 away win in the pouring summer rain. Great team performance, smiling faces among the Cordi faithful and second place in the table after four games. This is how it must have felt like for the Man City fans when they beat us 5:0…

Afterwards I dropped off my bro at his front door at the other end of town, so unfortunately I couldn’t make the season debut of the Cordi Women’s team who earned a 1:1 draw away at HEBC at 1pm with the day finishing off with the Cordi U23s playing away at Rahlstedt at 3.30pm. The latter one was a 3:3 draw and despite Cordi not winning it was a highly entertaining contest. Lower league football at its best!