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!

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