Watford v West Ham: David Moyes’s 1st and 500th game

David Moyes, the new West Ham manager, says it is time to stop dwelling on his past as he prepares for his first game in charge of West Ham against Watford, live on Sky Sports on Sunday. The game will be Moyes’s 500th Gamecast a Premier League manager. And the new manager has got some advice for record signing Marko Arnautovic.

First published partly on the Sky Sports website and The Mirror football news

The Scotsman has had a trio of disappointing managerial experiences since leaving Everton in 2013, which saw him sacked by Manchester United after less than a year in charge before struggling at Real Sociedad and then Sunderland.

And also Marko Arnautovic has underperformed lately and has yet to score a goal or provide an assist since his £24million summer signing from Stoke.

Moyes’ advice for the Austrian: “Be a team player”

David Moyes has told Marko Arnautovic he needs to be a team player to play for West Ham United.

Before his first match in charge of the Hammers at Watford on Sunday, Moyes revealed he has already spoken to Arnautovic and told him he wants more.

“I can’t comment on the earlier games.

can only go on what people have told me and they didn’t think he has come up to the standard he set at Stoke City. I watched him a lot at Stoke.

“I thought he looked like the sort of player you would never be keen to play against, if you’re a right full-back because of his power and strength and what he can do.

“But he also has to be a team player.

“The clips I have seen at times, he has not looked a team player. He would not be the only one I would say that about. The other players also have to do the work for the team if they want to be part of it,” the new manager said.

500th Premier League game for Moyes on Sunday

Moyes was appointed as Slaven Bilic’s replacement at West Ham with the struggling side positioned 18th in the table and the new manager has been tasked with guiding the Hammers to safety. Moyes will be in charge of his 500th Premier League game at Watford on Sunday – a mark achieved previously by only Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger and Hary Redknapp.

Much of the discussion around the Scot’s appointment has been centred on his most recent experiences, including being relegated with Sunderland last season, but Moyes says the focus should be on the games ahead.

“I could go back again and I could talk about the old days,” said Moyes. “I could talk about winning Manager of the Year three times in a row. I could talk about getting the biggest job in the world or I could talk about going and being one of the only British managers who’ve ever had a job in Spain.

 ”I could do all that, but I think now it’s time to stop talking like that and start talking about what’s coming next.” Under Bilic, West Ham managed just two wins in the Premier League this season but Moyes refused to blame the Croatian for the slow start and instead is focusing on the reaction of his players.

“I certainly wouldn’t be one who would ever be critical of anybody before, but the players have told me what they think so we’ll give them what they need to get better but they’ve got to be the ones who take a lot of the responsibility for what their actions are now,” Moyes said.

“They’ve already come in, they’ve locked the dressing room and they’ve said ‘we better sort this out among ourselves’. I don’t know any manager who doesn’t want players like that.

“You want players who take responsibility, who dig each other out and who communicate and I’ve seen that here. That gives me a big hope because you need players to take an ownership of what their performances.”

The Liverpool Defeat: Will It Be Another Turning Point?

The Liverpool game was my first “live game” in London this season. Together with three friends we had planned to spend a weekend in London at the beginning of November and watch those boys in claret & blue under the lights on Saturday evening. And maybe, well maybe, we were going to be entertained by our Austrian “hero” Marko Arnautovic. However, as we now know, we witnessed another disappointing game – the last one of manager Slaven Bilic in charge. Have we witnessed a turning point in West Ham’s fortune too?

First published on West Ham Till I Die 

The trip from Vienna couldn’t have started better. British Airways had us sitting almost three hours in the plane on the runway before we were able to take off for London Heathrow. We were told about heavy fog in west London this morning, but I was sure: if it hadn’t been West Ham we would have been there in time …

The weekend was going to start with a concert of blues legend John Mayall on Friday. On Sunday we wanted to join a service at Holy Trinity Brompton. And on the Saturday we thought we were going to be entertained at the London Stadium by West Ham United. Well, John Mayall at Cadogan Hall in west London really was an inspiration. The 84 year old radiated positive mood playing his rhythm’n‘blues and one really could feel the joy he takes from standing on stage in front of his audience and playing together with the musicians in his band.

Upton Gardens

What a contrast to this evening the atmosphere one day later in the London Stadium was! We had been slightly optimistic before the game, thought it would be “so West Ham” to beat the Reds against all odds to kick-start this Premier League season at last. We also tried not to let the sad impressions from the detour we had made on the way to Stratford stand in our way: having decided not to travel directly to the ground from central London, we got to Upton Park to catch a glimpse of the current state of the site that had been the Boleyn Ground. Afterwards we would take the bus 104 from the Boleyn to Stratford.

It was a very strange view when we walked down Green Street from Upton Park station, coming across just a huge heap of excavated earth where the West Stand had towered over the car park only a year ago. There still stands one post painted in claret where in former times the impressive landmark of the John Lyall Gates had been. The narrow Castle Street behind the former Bobby Moore Stand now looks like a wide but deserted avenue, and with Ken’s Café closed and the Boleyn Pub far from overcrowded it almost seemed as if there never had been that theatre where Bubbles were blown and dreams been dreamt to be fulfilled or shattered with the final whistle …

Nevertheless the Catholic Church of Our Lady of Compassion, the numerous barbershops and Queen’s Market are still there, and the World Cup sculpture is in its place at the junction of Barking Road and Green Street – where in my opinion it should remain, in commemoration of West Ham United’s history at the Boleyn Ground, and not be moved to Stratford. The Champions Place in front of the London Stadium deserves to get a new statue, as new Wembley has got a Bobby Moore sculpture of its own.

Stratford

Well, at Stratford there was no church but a group of singers seeking to evangelize by performing songs in the street. And we couldn’t have a pint in an overcrowded pub like the Boleyn or the Queens where you can hardly understand a word talking to your fellow supporters about the upcoming game. Instead of this we got us a treat and a tea in the quiet Caffé Concerto, sitting table to table with Markus Weinzierl, the former Schalke 04 manager. Just some hours later we learned that he had not been the only manager sniffing around West Ham seeking a new job this evening. Then we managed to book a table at Jamie’s Italian for dinner after the game and headed for the ground.

The atmosphere was slightly optimistic, as I said before, and “Bubbles” rang out like always when the players graced the pitch (without Austrian Marko Arnautovic in the starting IX, as expected). Remembrance Day celebrations were impressive and created a festive atmosphere, but from the start of the game West Ham seemed to be very nervous and lacking confidence and the players hardly were able to string some passes together. Compared to John Mayall’s spirit the evening before, West Ham’s attitude seemed quite uninspired and everybody was wary of making mistakes. The Irons’ continual backward passing instead of making quick runs and troubling Liverpool’s defence left us and our fellow supporters at growing unease, and after the Irons’ first good chance had been spoilt, minutes later a West Ham corner resulted in a fast counter attack and Liverpool scored. That felt “so West Ham” in a negative way. Then Liverpool got a corner and scored again, just 3 minutes after their first goal.

The natural state of the football fan …

“The natural state of the football fan is bitter disappointment, no matter what the score,” the famous quote from “Fever Pitch” says. But in modern times it seems that being disappointed much too quickly leads to turn one’s back on the team. When Liverpool had scored, a lad in front of us in motorbike clothes seized his helmet and left his seat with immediate effect. He wasn’t seen on the terraces again.

During the interval we moaned about the “cheap goals” and the drama of two corners, and we wondered if Arnautovic would be given a chance to come on in the second half. But first it was Andy Carroll who Slaven Bilic chose to lead the line together with Chicharito. And things livened up from the start, the crowd got involved a little more, and with Manuel Lanzini’s goal the London Stadium became a noisy place and hope rose from the terraces. But only to get slammed in the face just a minute later with Liverpool’s next cheap goal!

With Liverpool having restored their two goal lead and the score 1-3, Mark Noble came off and Arnautovic got the nod. He showed some good moves immediately and seemed to try to bring West Ham back in the game, but it didn’t take long and he disappeared for the rest of the match. Finally bringing Sakho 20 minutes from time just seemed a last desperate act from the manager whose time was over for sure with this defeat. In the 75th minute Liverpool’s 4-1 rang the final signal for West Ham’s supporters to leave their seats and let poor Slaven and his squad almost walk alone for the rest of the game, much in contrary to Liverpool’s away support celebrating their win by singing a song with this title.

… is bitter disappointment

Usually I say that I like the English kind of support which is much more spontaneous and depending on the events on the pitch than the support from the European “Ultras” (as Rapid Vienna’s “Block West”) whose support is performed throughout the whole game almost no matter what the score. But this time there was almost no spontaneous cheering or singing, the atmosphere in the stadium was quite lifeless most of the time and it seemed the fans had come to the conclusion that this team was not worth being cheered on with “We’re West Ham’s claret and blue army”. They could have needed some permanent ultra-like support, but instead of this the white spots on the terraces got bigger and bigger with the supporters heading for the exits.

My thoughts went back to the old Boleyn Ground: there have been dire games and pathetic performances which I have witnessed at Upton Park too, but I hardly remember such a melancholic and sad atmosphere after a West Ham loss at Upton Park. With the current state of the site in mind which was West Ham’s former ground and the empty seats of the current stadium, this trip to London was quite a depressing one as far as football was concerned.

A positive coincidence?

But as always I’m trying to take some positives from my memories and I told my friends at Jamie Oliver’s afterwards that I remember having witnessed another 1-4 defeat more than a decade ago which proved to be a turning point and the beginning of a very successful time for my home town club Rapid Vienna. I had been on the terraces together with my son that game, having taken him to his first game at our home ground. Rapid Vienna lost 1-4, and this also became the last game at home before their manager was sacked.

When I looked up that result on the internet it was quite baffling that the name of Bilic appeared alongside the score. Well, of course it wasn’t Slaven playing for Rapid but his fellow Croatian Mate Bilic, but the departure of the then manager shortly after this defeat lead to the appointment of Rapid’s most successful coach within the last decade. With Peter Pacult at the helm Rapid Vienna was able to win the Austrian Bundesliga and to qualify several times for the Europa League, twice eliminating Aston Villa in the process.

Therefore I think that this 1-4 will also be a turning point for West Ham, as it was for Rapid Vienna 11 years ago. Though David Moyes wouldn’t have been my choice as West Ham’s new manager things can only get better now, and when I will be back to London in four weeks time for the Chelsea game I will watch a different team, that’s for sure, I think!

Hopefully a team showing the commitment and spirit that makes them worth to be cheered on again by the brilliant support I know from former games! Let’s hope the new manager (and the future results) are going to instill some confidence and the players find a new way of playing together in a positive way instead of nervously passing backward again and again.

Turning point

Going back to the example of John Mayall, whose inspiring concert we enjoyed so much more this weekend than the poor performance the trip had been planned around: Let’s hope there will be a radiation of positive mood around the London Stadium instead of the negativity that has been produced from the beginning of this season. Mayall’s first gold album in 1969 was called “The Turning Point”. Let’s hope the 1-4 against Liverpool will also have been a turning point with respect to West Ham – something this season is in desperate need of.

There is a German proverb which says, “Hope is the last to die.” This proverb goes with the “West Ham way”, always blowing bubbles, pretty bubbles in the air. See you in December, reaching for the sky!

Come on you Irons!

West Ham Supporters Club refuses to ‘fade and die’

The closure of their Castle Street Headquarters was a huge blow to famous Supporters Club, but a new match day facility has been opened at Stour Space

PUBLISHED in Newham Recorder, 11 October 2017, by Dave Evans, West Ham Correspondent
Paul Christmas outside the West Ham Supporters Club

< Paul Christmas outside the West Ham Supporters Club close to the former Boleyn Ground

West Ham Supporters Club are using the Stour Space site on matchdays
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times for the West Ham United Supporters Club as on the same day they opened their new matchday facility, they were forced to close their much-loved social club in Upton Park.

The new committee, headed by Hammers fan Paul Christmas, called time on the club for the time being after health and safety problems within their Castle Street headquarters.

“On the day of the Swansea game, we opened our new facility at Stour Space in Hackney Wick and had a great day, and then we came back to the club and had to shut it at midnight,” reflected Christmas on an emotional day.

Things seemed to be working out for the beleaguered club after they found the matchday location they were looking for, while entertainment was booked for the social club to swell the coffers.

The view from Stour Space to the London Stadium
They rented out the Stour Space and it proved to be a great success.

“We had grown men crying when they arrived which was quite moving,” said Christmas.

“There are a lot of displaced fans over there still looking for a base before games. They are like nomads wandering over there.

“That was very obvious at Stour Space as soon as they walked in they said it was like home again.

Some of the West Ham fans at Stour Space on matchday against Swansea City
Stour Space is a special warehouse for artists, with the bottom floor having a cafe, while there is a bar and a pontoon outside. It is close to the Forman’s restaurant.

“The ground is literally across the river and there is a bridge nearby and for people who can’t walk very well it is a bit easier, and what is more you can see the ground from where we are,” continued Christmas.

“We are the closest and the cheapest venue in the area. People were coming up to us and saying it was so nice to see a friendly face and ask what can we do. It was like a family reunion.”

So there is the good news, but at the same time, things have not gone well back at their spiritual home in Upton Park.

Membership secretary Paul Walker takes up the story.

“We came in here and we thought that some of the stuff didn’t look very safe, so we agreed to have a health and safety expert come in,” he said.

“I think we underestimated the problems. The maintenance was not up to date, so the insurance certificate was totally invalid.

“We opened the boiler cupboard and there were a load of fag butts in there. Then we found out that the flue was not connected to the boiler so it is seeping carbon monoxide and there are asbestos panels in there and someone has been smoking.

“The boiler is condemned, the fire doors are not compliant. I remember Grenfell and we didn’t want it to happen here, so as a committee we unanimously decided to close,” said Walker.

“We had 500 or 600 people here on match days, but the fire precautions were not connected, so what might have happened doesn’t bear thinking about.”

So how much is it likely to cost to get the club open again?

“We reckon we need a couple of hundred thousand to get things right,” said Christmas. “You have to think about bringing things up to date. We are not in it for the glory or for personal gain, we just want to save this club.”

If the club was to close for good, West Ham would be the only league club without a supporters association.

“The question most people have asked us when we were looking for a venue close to the new stadium, was ‘Aren’t West Ham helping you?’ said Christmas.

“We want to know what their position would be and whether they can help us, but we didn’t want to go to them cap in hand, we are doing our own thing.”

They will do their own thing again for the Friday night clash with Brighton and Walker, who signed up 200 new members at the last game, is expecting big things.

“We will be open from 4pm and we are probably going to be banged out so we will either be turning people away or adopting a one-out, one-in policy.”

That is all well and good, but it is the social club headquarters, which still houses the 70-year-old Hammer of the Year trophy which is the biggest worry.

So is it worth keeping open? Christmas certainly thinks it is.

“Remember there are 850 flats going up just outside and we want to be an asset for the local community as well as West Ham United supporters,” he said.

“We are refusing to fade and die and we have to give it our best shot. I think there are West Ham fans out there who want to help save us.”

The Supporters’ Club have set up a GoFundMe page which you can find a link to by going to their website at https://whufcsc.com/save-our-club.

Relief

Pedro Obiang’s heavily deflected goal was the moment of luck West Ham and their manager needed to set them on the way to their first points of the Premier League season as Huddersfield suffered their first defeat. It was a well deserved win on Slaven Bilic’ 49th birthday!

The Hammers with Andy Carroll back in the team after a lengthy spell on the sidelines, and without Mark Noble who did not even make the bench, started with determination and clearly dominated the first half in the London rain.

Chicharito hit the bar in the first half, but was subbed in the second half not making much of an impact in this game. This might have been Slaven Bilic’ fault though, who played the striker wide on the left in a 3-4-3 formation where the Mexican seemed to be less effective than in his last games. In contrary, winger Michail Antonio had a man of the match performance with his powerful runs and physical presence, and also Andy Carroll showed what his involvement means for the team.

The breakthrough came in the 72nd minute when Obiang‘s 25-yard strike hit Mathias Jorgensen‘s back and looped over keeper Jonas Lössl. This was the first goal that Huddersfield have conceded in their first season in the top flight.

And the second came five minutes later when substitute Andre Ayew – whose introduction for Hernandez was booed by West Ham’s fans – turned the ball home from three yards out. In the end Hernandez’ substitution turned to be a match-winning move as Ayew had set up Obiang’s goal and then poked home after Fonte‘s shot from Aaron Cresswell‘s corner was blocked. West Ham’s corners and set pieces though never caused real threat for Huddersfield, that’s really an issue which has to be adressed in training!

Monday’s result means a big relief for everyone at West Ham. Still the Hammers are only third from bottom in the table, but having won their first points of the season in their fourth game now, the season will get better, that’s for sure! Especially that West Ham won this game at home is very important for their supporter’s mood and for the atmosphere around the LS in the games to come.

“This stadium is becoming really a proper home for us”, Slaven Bilic said in his interview after the game: http://www.bbc.com/sport/football/41144159

Happy birthday, Slaven!

Come on you Irons !!!

Still disappointing … but does the season start now?

Die neue Fußballsaison hat alles andere als optimal begonnen für die Anhänger von West Ham und Rapid Wien: drei Auswärtsniederlagen für die Hammers, verschenkte 2:0-Führungen bei Rapid. Dazu gibt’s noch die Nationalteam-Depression für den österreichischen Fan, denn das Nationalteam hat sich mit 0:1 in Wales und 1:1 gegen Georgien von der WM-Qualifikation verabschiedet.

Marko Arnautovic (links), noch einer der besten im österreichischen Team, kann an diesem Montag, wenn West Ham gegen Aufsteiger Huddersfield zum ersten Heimspiel in dieser Spielzeit antritt, aber nicht mithelfen, dass es einen Neustart gibt für die Hammers im London Stadium, das in den ersten drei Runden wegen der Leichtathletik-WM (und der langen Umbauzeit auf den “football mode”) nicht zur Verfügung stand. Am hoffentlich stattfindenden Aufschwung für West Ham kann Österreichs bester Kicker sich derzeit noch nicht beteiligen, denn nach einem dummen Ellbogenst0ß gegen im Spiel gegen Southampton ist er noch ein Spiel gesperrt, kann dann erst nächstes Wochenende auswärts gegen West Brom wieder mitwirken.

Rapid spielt auswärts gegen Salzburg am Sonntag, da müsste schon ein kleines Wunder geschehen, dass man einen Sieg schafft oder zumindest einen Punkt mitnimmt, denn die Salzburger sind seit dem Cupsieg in Klagenfurt trotz Trainerwechsel und dem Abgang von Stützen um nichts schlechter geworden!

Bisher waren die tollsten Augenblicke Rapids zwei Tore im Derby gegen die Austria und West Hams Aufholjagd auf 2:2 gegen die Saints – in beiden Fällen blieb’s aber nicht beim Jubel, denn Austria holte den 2-Tore-Rückstand noch auf und remisierte im Allianz Stadion und West Ham verlor durch einen Elfer in der “injury time” noch 2:3.

“The natural state of a football fan is disappointment”, dieses Hornby-Zitat fällt mir da zwangsläufig wieder ein. Doch “die Hoffnung stirbt zuletzt”, heißt es bekanntlich – und hoffen wird man ja noch dürfen bis Montagabend!

Come on You Irons !!!

Disappointing start

Slaven11The sum of all our fears came to past as Mourinho’s mob took us to the cleaners and back again.

Ok, we didn’t expect much but we certainly didn’t believe that we would be second or third best to every ball and manage just one shot on target.

Yes, United are a highly athletic and skilled side but but it was the brawn of Romelu Lukaku who came back to haunt us with a couple of goals before Martial and Pogba put a very sad look on the  scoreline with 87th and 90th minute strikes.

It had all gone so well for half an hour when our defensive formation held up well against the slick moving Reds but when Zabaleta pushed forward and was caught  out of position, Rashford went forward at tremendous pace to supply a great pass for a goal which began the slide.

As always when he had played for Everton, Romelu Lukaku scored against West Ham, one goal before and one after the break, and with two more  goals from a ManUtd side which was by far the better team all over the pitch, West Ham lost 0-4. Now the Irons find themselves on the bottom for the table after the first weekend of the season and have to pick themselves up and bounce back next Saturday 3 p.m. in another away game against Southampton!

Come on you Irons !!!

Another surprise on the cards?

The first round of the Premier League has already provided us with some shock results: Watford holding Liverpool to a 3-3, Burnley winning 3-2 away at Stamford Bridge against champions Chelsea, and newcomers Huddersfield beating Crystal Palace 3-0 in London. Will we see another upset in Sunday’s late kick-off when Manchester United host West Ham United? 

The Hammers have had a fine transfer window so far it’s most important signings being keeper Joe Hart and defender Pablo Zabaleta from Manchester City, Austria’s best player Marko Arnautovic who was signed from Stoke City for a club record fee, and striker Chicharito from Bayer Leverkusen. Hopefully the former ManUtd player will score in his first game against his former club!

Unfortunately Manuel Lanzini who is our most influential player in midfield and has emerged as West Ham’s flair player in the aftermath of Payet‘s infamous departure from the London Stadium back to his former club Marseille, is injured and won’t be able to travel to Old Trafford. So is another very important midfield player, Cheikou Koyate. And also Michail Antonio seems to be out of contention, that is why West Ham manager Slaven Bilic is not going to face much of a selection dilemma, and the team is more or less picking itself. This is the most likely West Ham XI for their PL start on the Sunday:

Hart, Zabaleta, Reid, Ogbonna, Masuaku; Ayew, Noble (c), Obiang, Fernandes, Arnautovic and Chicharito.

It would be a result perfectly fitting into this first round of surprise scores if West Ham were able to leave Old Trafford with one or maybe even three points in the bag. Some weeks ago ManUtd manager Mourinho has said that West Ham with its new signings seemed to be a team wanting to win the Premier League. “Wow,” he said, “West Ham have even signed Arnautovic.” This might have been meant as a joke, but we’ll see if it will be just a joke – or are we really going to compete with the best this season?

Time will tell – and tomorrow evening we’ll know a little more: The journey into the new season has begun.

A tough start to this journey it is for the Irons,  not only because of their first game at the winners of last season’s Europa League and the FA cup, but also due to the fact that they have to play their first three PL games (ManUtd, S’hampton and Newcastle) away from home as the London Stadium is hosting the Athletics World Championships and will not be ready for West Ham before September 10th (vs Huddersfield). Anyway, the Irons have often shown what they are capable of in the face of adversity – they can show that again this August!

Come on you Irons!!!

Football is back

Natürlich wird schon seit Wochen in den europäischen Cupbewerben und auch in der österreichischen Bundesliga wieder Fußball gespielt. Aber so richtig zu Ende ist die sommerliche Fußballpause erst mit diesem Wochenende. Die englische Premier League geht endlich wieder los. Diesmal ist nicht nur für mich Ost-London der Fokus des Interesses.

Aus österreichischer Sicht richtet sich der Blick vor allem auf West Ham United, den Neo-Club von Marko Arnautovic, schreibt der ORF in seiner Premier League-Vorschau. Der teuerste ÖFB-Spieler aller Zeiten soll mithelfen, den Londonern nach einer turbulenten Saison mit Endrang elf einen europäischen Startplatz zu bringen. Und der 25-Millionen-Mann aus Wien war nicht die einzige Neuverpflichtung der „Hammers“. Trainer Slaven Bilic bekam Goalie Joe Hart, Defensivmann Pablo Zabaleta (beide ManCity) und Stürmer Chicharito (Leverkusen) dazu.

Sechs Österreicher in der Premier League

Neben Arnautovic, Wimmer und Christian Fuchs (Leicester City) sind drei weitere Österreicher in Englands Oberhaus engagiert. Innenverteidiger Sebastian Prödl hofft bei Watford auf Einsätze unter Neo-Coach Marco Silva. Der Portugiese soll die „Hornets“ nach Platz 17 im Vorjahr verbessern. Landsmann Daniel Bachmann leistet Prödl als Ersatztormann Gesellschaft. Auf den Kampf um den Klassenerhalt muss sich Markus Suttner einstellen. Der Linksverteidiger wechselte von Ingolstadt zu Brighton and Hove Albion, erstmals seit 34 Jahren erstklassig.

Links:

Jubiläen 2017

Nicht nur 10 Jahre “Rapidhammer”, auch 40 Jahre Mitgliedschaft beim “Klub der Freunde des S.C. Rapid” waren heuer zu feiern. 

Als Nachlese zur feierlichen Übergabe meines SK Rapid-Ehrenzeichens  für die vierzigjährige Mitgliedschaft im ältesten Fanklub  des österreichischen Rekordmeisters hier der Link zum Bericht über die letzte Generalversammlung des “Klubs der Freunde”:

http://klubderfreunde.at/2017/06/gruenzeug-585/

Dem Fanklub gehört übrigens mittlerweile auch mein Sohn Johannes an! Das grün-weiße Band wird weitergegeben!

http://www.skrapid.at/de/startseite/mitgliedschaft/gruen-weisses-band/

Ten Years After

It seems that the 24th of May, 2017 has gone fairly unnoticed with the Football Blogger community. Not even RapidHammer himself did spare a single thought about what happened on this very day 10 years ago. On this day in 2007 the blog RAPIDHAMMER started with the first post about West Ham United (-> my first blog post). Ten years after this start here are some musings on having blogged about the Irons for 10 years.

2007 was the year in which West Ham secured its Premier League status by the skin of its teeth with a 1-0 win away at Manchester United in the last round. Carlos Tevez scored the decisive goal that kept the Irons up and sent Sheffield United down to the Championship from where they were even relegated to League One some years later. By the way, it was not earlier than last season (2016-17) that the Blades have been able to bring to an end to their six-year stint in the third tier of English football.

But also for West Ham the aftermath of their 2006-07 campaign was quite an expensive affair. They had not only to pay a record fine for breaching the rules prohibiting “third party ownership” and lying about this fact to the Premier League by signing Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano in August 2006, but they also had to pay compensation to relegated Sheffield United some time later because of this wrongdoing.

After having run my blog RAPIDHAMMER for some years I was asked by Sam Haseltine to join “Football United” (now known as Golbox) in December 2009. It was a pleasure and an honour for me to participate in this blogger network. As there had been no more than one blogger from Europe outside the UK so far (“Football Barbie” by Kay Murray from Real Madrid who I had the pleasure to meet at an Arsenal v West Ham game at the Emirates),  I was only the second one from the continent to publish my blogs with “Football United” then.

In 2010 my blog was presented in Austrian TV in a series called “We Blog“: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aSsEWDIjPZo

In the 2010-11 season West Ham reached the semifinal of the League Cup and I came over to east London to watch the first leg at the Boleyn, the first semifinal at the Boleyn Ground in 21 years. I enjoyed having some pints of beer afterwards at the Hammers Supporters Club in Castle Street. Well, I hope this club will not be closed now that the Hammers have moved away from Upton Park to Stratford,

Despite their League Cup heroics, in May 2011, after a disastrous season with Avram Grant at the helm, West Ham were relegated. At the same time I became a member of the initial West Ham United Supporters Advisory Board  which was formed to give the fans a voice in West Ham’s project of leaving the 1904 built Boleyn Ground  and renting the Olympic Stadium in Stratford with a capacity of almost 60,000 instead of 35,000 at Upton Park.

With Sam Allardyce as their new manager the Irons reached the Championship play-offs in their first season in the second tier and played at Wembley in May 2012 – my first visit to New Wembley where I was able to celebrate West Ham being “back where we belong” after a thrilling 2-1 win over Blackpool (goals: Carlton Cole, Vaz Te). By the way, Blackpool was relegated several times afterwards, and had to play in the bottom tier of English professional football, but won promotion to League One via the play-offs this season.

Some stays in the West Ham Hotel and some games at Upton Park later – I watched great wins, and also some boring draws or depressing defeats there, often late and not being in the ground in time to join in with the initial “Bubbles”, once landing so late a Heathrow Airport that we had to spend a fortune to reach Upton Park in time going all the way by taxi and at last being helped by Paul Turner who stored our luggage in the boot of his car near the ground - it was time to leave the historic Boleyn Ground. My last game at the Boleyn was a 2-2 against Norwichon a sunny autumn afternoon in 2015 together with my wife Eva. I couldn’t manage to get to Upton Park in spring 2016 when the last games took place there before the ground was to close its gates forever. But I watched the last game, the unforgettable  3-2 victory over Manchester United, in the Vienna Pub “The Tube Station”, home of West Ham’s Austrian fan club “Austrian Irons“.

With some fellow supporters from this club I travelled to Ljubljana last July to watch West Ham draw 1-1 in the Europa League, and then some months later made my first visit to the new London Stadium, the former Olympic Stadium, where my son and my future daughter in law were happy to watch West Ham beat Hull 1-0. Thank you to Paul Christmas from the newly founded West Ham United Independent Supporters Association for helping us out with the tickets!

Last season I started to write posts for the great West Ham blog “West Ham Till I Die” and got to know some very nice people there. I hope to meet some of them at my next visit to London!

Now you have been able to read my reports and thoughts on football (and sometimes on life as it is) at RapidHammer.golbox.com for more than 10 years. Though I haven’t had the time to post as often as I did in the beginning I am still happy to write a post now and then on West Ham and about my other footballing passion, SK Rapid Wien, and I hope very much that some of you enjoy reading it.

Come on you Irons!