My fellow long suffering Hammers. After the briefest hints of warmth and sunlight, on the opening day of the Premier League season, when we eased past a rather sedate and bemused looking Cardiff City, and of course a few weeks back when we managed to empty White Hart Lane of its home support in record time. It would seem that the wind driven snow and ice of a long hard season has arrived all too sharpish for everyone’s liking. I personally start to panic and hyper-ventilate about results/performances/substitutions around February / March so its hit especially early this year and I’m fully unprepared!
We are already scuffling around to batten down the hatches, turn up the fire, and stare gloomily out of the window as we wait for the next bizarre instalment of The West Ham Story, and asking ourselves such deep and meaningful questions, such as: If we changed to 0-6-4 would we find the net a bit more often? Does Jussi Jaaskelainen really thinks it’s illegal for goalkeepers to attempt to move and save direct free kicks? Is big James Collins actually aware that fouling in deep areas can lead to goals against, and that doing it regularly can lead to …err……..more goals against? Are Matt Jarvis & Stewart Downing TRULY happy and content spending matches firing crosses into an empty, cavernous, and lonely looking 18 yard box? Does Sam Allardyce realise that by uttering the words: “not really your best game today Kev” he will not go to hell or be eternally damned? and next time one of our corner kicks actually clears the first defender, shouldn’t the team go into a huddle to celebrate, or perhaps instigate a low-level firework display in the surrounding streets??
So lets look at three of the great plusses of supporting the mighty Hammers in times of trepidation. Where can we find just a hint of solace when all seems so bleak…
1. It’s a bloody great colour combination claret & blue and surely one of the best looking kits in the footballing world. We may be sitting in The Boleyn watching another direct free kick go….err…directly in but we all look quite smart. Remember that.
2. Pie & mash is an excellent pre-match nerves soother and being a native food can be found within very close proximity to Upton Park. For novices and newcomers to the pie; beware the chilli infused vinegar lulls you in and then…. BOOM!
3. The club shop. An absolute must-do to fill in that awkward twilight period that lies between pie & msh gluttony and kick-off time. If you haven’t been fortunate enough to experience at first hand the Pamplona Bull Run, then a 20 minute visit to the Hammers shop is probably the next best thing.
You can experience goring, snarling charging, tripping, body-checking and overall mayhem as excited and unruly punters stock up with all manner of Irons related items from mouse traps and Alan Devonshire approved leg-warmers to knitted tea-pot covers (based on the excellent 1988/89 season away kit) and oxy-acetylene welding gear.