You are here

Hammer Horror

Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy - British Council
 This article was generously provided to ClubFootball by the British Council, which operates in China as the Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy.

 

'It's not the despair I can't take; it's the hope.' One West Ham fan on his team's relegation from the English Premier League.
 
The agony for us West Ham fans is over, with relegation from the FA Barclaycard Premiership finally confirmed after a draw at Birmingham. At least the club made a fight of it, only losing one of their last ten games which made the underachievement of earlier in the season seem all the more staggering.
 
The agony for us West Ham fans is over, with relegation from the FA Barclaycard Premiership finally confirmed after a draw at Birmingham. At least the club made a fight of it, only losing one of their last ten games which made the underachievement of earlier in the season seem all the more staggering.
 
West Ham United, the club that contributed Moore, Hurst and Peters to the England World Cup-winning side of 1966 and had been in the Premiership for the last ten seasons have achieved the seemingly impossible - relegation with a squad of internationals:
 
- England stars David James, Joe Cole, Michael Carrick, Trevor Sinclair and Lee Bowyer, plus England under-21 stars Jermain Defoe and Glen Johnson
- flawed genius Paolo Di Canio
- sometimes brilliant but often so laid back he appears to be listening to a personal stereo, striker Fredi Kanoute
- ex-England players Les Ferdinand and Nigel Winterburn
- Scotland regulars (well, someone has to be) Christian Dailly and Don Hutchison
- Czech international centre back Tomas Repka
West Ham and Bolton Wanderers were level on points on the final Sunday of the season.
 
Football fans are cruel, and the Birmingham fans' chants of "Two-nil to the Wanderers!" soon confirm that Bolton are 2-0 up in the first half against Middlesbrough. But when Les Ferdinand heads home for West Ham early in the second half and Middlesbrough pull one back hope taunts us once more.
 
West Ham twice hit the woodwork but in the final ten minutes go 2-1 down.
 
"We are Premier league!" chant the gloating Birmingham fans. Only Di Canio stoops to head an equaliser in the 89th minute. Could an equaliser at Bolton and a late Hammers' winner mean an incredible escape?
 
No, the whistle blows and the players slump to the ground, as caretaker boss and West Ham legend Trevor Brooking tries to console them.
 
At least supporting West Ham is never boring.
 
The club didn't win a home match until January 29th, but still attracted home gates of 35,000 and when Blackburn were finally defeated children were probably fathered all over the East End.
 
David James and Tomas Repka almost had a fight with each other in a dispute over inept defending at West Brom.
 
The Hammers lost 6-0 to Man United in the FA Cup on live TV with Ireland international Gary Breen playing more like Mr Bean. After losing 4-2 at Charlton the Hammers inspired the fans to invent a new chant of "We want a new back four!"
 
Maverick Paolo Di Canio publicly slated manager Glenn Roeder after being subbed at WBA.
 
And with three matches to go and facing the prospect of the club losing £20 million TV money through relegation, manager Glenn Roeder suffered a stress-induced stroke.
 
Apart from that everything's been fine.
 
Many fans were in tears at the final whistle, yet as some defiantly chanted "West Ham 'til I die!" even their Birmingham taunters turned round to applaud this display of loyalty.
 
Never has the club's theme song of I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles seemed more apt, with its chorus of "They fly so high, nearly reach the sky, then like my dreams they fade and die".
 
And now star striker Jermain Defoe has handed in a transfer request within 24 hours of relegation, while the tears on the faces of the fans are not yet dry. No doubt he wrote it out on the coach back to London in order to save on postage.
 
Most of the stars who failed us will find new, lucrative deals at Premiership clubs. My four-year-old daughter has just asked "Daddy, will you be sold too?" If only that were possible and we fans could show the same lack of loyalty as the players.
 
But sadly I'm stuck with West Ham for life.
 
Pete is author of West Ham: Irons In The Soul

 

 

Pete May, May 2003

Copyright © 2001-2019 北京万国群星足球俱乐部有限公司 Beijing Wanguo Qunxing Football Club Limited. All Rights Reserved.

京ICP备05086757号

Website designed by AKRYL