As a 19 year old fan I expect my favourite season will differ from a lot of readers. It will likely differ even from those who are of a similar age to myself. When I thought of my favourite season as a West Ham fan 3 moments came to mind. The FA Cup final of 2005/06, the now infamous survival of 2007 and last season’s Playoff Final.
Whilst the 2005/06 season was very good and we surprised everyone with how well we did in the league let alone in the FA Cup, I would be lying if I said I remembered the key moments of that season. I was not a season ticket holder back then thus would do a poor job at trying to remember and describe my favourite moments. The infamous survival of 2007 provided one of my best individual moments as a fan with Tevez keeping us up with a goal against Manchester Utd but the season as a whole was pretty dire. It pains me to admit it but last season, under Big Sam, has been my favourite as a Hammers fan.
Last season was fantastic. We were getting frustrated because we were drawing! a great position to be in. I am not a believer in ‘the Premier League is everything’ clan. I would much prefer to watch my team win than watch my team lose and say “ah well, we are the in the Premier League.” Despite having Sam Allardyce as manager we played something resembling football last season and we scored regularly. One reason why I am ranking this as my favourite season as a West Ham fan is because it highlights how quickly things can change. The key to last season though was that we were close to heartache in the final as we were the worse side, there was disappointment when we but then the season ended with a Vaz Te goal to send us up. In other words, it had everything.
We managed to hold on to Carlton Cole, James Tomkins, Winston Reid and Mark Noble, keeping the core of the team together thus keeping stability. We were always expected to go up and go up easily. We as fans expected it to. We didn’t start particularly quickly and after 4 games we were in 7th. No one was particularly worried but we would have preferred to have not lost to Cardiff on the opening day of the season. By 12 games in we were in 2nd, the start of a long run in 2nd place. After finally gaining the top spot after a win at home to Nottingham Forest we went to Ipswich expecting a win. We lost 5-1. We were still in 1st but this was arguably the worst moment of the season. The cup losses were frustrating but the goal was always to get promotion, this embarrassing loss against Ipswich was inexcusable but at least we were top.
Luckily for Big Sam he had a big chance to redeem himself the game after; home to Millwall. A loss here could have really ruined our season. A 5-1 loss to a far lesser team followed by a loss against our biggest rivals and also a far lesser team would have frustrated the fans no end. Perhaps we would not have called for his head but the pressure would have increased to astronomical levels. Fortunately we won 2-1. Not too long after this came the dreaded 5 game draw streak. We drew 4 games 1-1 followed by a 2-2 against Burnley. For me this really riled me up. Our team was far better than most teams in the league yet we were playing some negative stuff causing draws. Having said that, getting annoyed about draws isn’t a bad place to be?
Then came my favourite part of the season. A 4-0 win at Barnsley kicked our good streak off. “ weeks later we welcomed Brighton to the Boleyn. After signing Ricardo Vaz Te in January he had already proved to be a fantastic buy by the Brighton game, scoring freely and becoming a fan favourite in the process. However it was this game that really wowed me. He scored a perfect hat-trick on the way to a 6-0 drubbing against statistically the best defense in the league. It was one of the best games I have witnessed as a West Ham fan. Say all you want about the lower quality of the league but we were truly class and Vaz Te’s performance was unbelievably good.
Fortunately for us, our good form continued through the playoffs with some vital goals from Jack Collison. We made it to the final and a great goal from Carlton Cole set us up perfectly. Blackpool were the better side and when they scored I think many of us started to fear the worst, our singing didn’t let up though. Then, with seconds of normal time remaining Vaz Te smacked it in to the roof of the net to send us in to raptures. He proceeded to take his shirt off and celebrate about 10 yards from my seat, one of my favourite moments as a Hammer.
We played good football, had a togetherness as a team and were scoring goals. Perhaps I preferred moments of other seasons in isolation but as a whole season I am not sure many live up to last season. If I could remember more of the 05/06 season then I may well have disagreed but as someone who is not particularly bothered about whether we are in the PL or not as long as we are trying to play football last season was fantastic. Yes it is great to be back, but I hate losing and I hate the way we play now. Last season showed glimpses of what we could have tried to do this season and I miss it. I am sure many of you will have far better memories than I but as a fairly young fan this is my favourite. The Playoff Final and Vaz Te’s perfect hat-trick will stick with me forever and unlike the FA Cup final those are positive memories.