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Exclusive interview with Cass Pennant Do believe the Ravel hype Time to savour ‘Allardichi’ method Vaz Te backed to secure starting place Was Spurs win a turning corner or red herring? & much more The Number One West Ham United eFanzine! Online • Mobile • Print


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WELCOME EDITOR: David Blackmore NEWS EDITOR: Alex Shilling CONTRIBUTORS: Lucy Woolford, Thomas Johnson, Brian Williams, David Meagher, Geoff Hillyer, Neil Chatterton, Andrew Hosie, Tim Holland, Chris Tanner, Matt Santer, Danny Rust, Tommy Wathen, Jim White EDITORIAL ENQUIRIES: EMAIL: editor@blowingbubbles.co.uk ADVERTISING ENQUIRIES: EMAIL: advertising@blowingbubbles.co.uk WHERE YOU CAN READ IT: Blowing Bubbles is available to buy prior to each home game and is also available to read on your PC, Mac, Tablet or Mobile. For more information visit www.blowing-bubbles.co.uk. TO CONTACT BLOWING BUBBLES: Email: editor@blowingbubbles.co.uk Blowing Bubbles is published by Barking Dog Media. Blowing Bubbles is a completely independent publication. The views expressed within Blowing Bubbles are not necessarily those of the publishers. Opinions expressed by companies and individuals appearing within the magazine are not that of Blowing Bubbles or the publisher. The publisher accepts no liability from any action raised in response to any such opinions. Readers are strongly advised that although we take every care to ensure prices and content, etc, are up to date. It is the responsibility to check with the advertiser before purchasing or travelling to view products. No reproduction, either in part or whole of the magazine is allowed unless written consent is obtained from the publisher. The publisher accepts no responsibility for any actions arising from articles or features or advertisements within this magazine. Readers are advised to pay by credit card when ordering goods as these are regulated under the Consumer Act 1974. Debit and charge cards are not.

(c) Blowing Bubbles

Walking up to White Hart Lane from Seven Sisters tube station, I was praying and hoping Spurs would have an off day and we could possibly hold on for a bore draw. Never in a million years would I have predicted what I was about to witness and Sunday, October 6, 2013 will go down as one of the best days of my life. It’s a game that will live long in my memory and it will be something to tell the kids, the grandchildren, and the greatgrandchildren in years to come. The win at Spurs has certainly lifted the spirits of everyone associated with the club after what has been a poor start to the season and I hope our fight to stay in the Premier League and push for a top half finish has now started and we can look forward to witnessing performances similar to the one we saw earlier this month. On the back of that famous victory, I am feeling quietly confident about our chances against a Man City side who I think look vulnerable at the moment. But I think the real test for how our season might pan out will come against the likes on Swansea later this month and Aston Villa, Norwich and Fulham next month. Looking at this week’s issue and it is packed with great comment pieces, analysis and interviews. Our exclusive interview with Cass Pennant is worth a read, as is Lucy Woolford’s article on Ravel Morrison. You also can’t go wrong with a bit of Brian William’s latest installment of “Dear Sam” - it always cracks me up! Enjoy the game.

David Blackmore Editor


The Big Interview: Cass Pennant

Tim Holland speaks to author, actor and director Cass Pennant about the changing nature of football, writing in prison, the Cass movie biopic, and his documentary ‘Casuals’ How did you come to support West Ham?

Who was your favourite player growing up?

The first time I saw a live game was when I was 8 years old. Football fever had gripped the whole country because England had won the World Cup or rather West Ham had. Our neighbour’s eldest son was a season ticket holder and offered to take me along. I’d already spent my pocket money that week but was given it again so I went and watched Hurst, Moore, Peters and co and never looked back.

Although I was a massive admirer of Alan Devonshire and Billy Bonds it was definitely Trevor Brooking for me. Brooking was class and I mean class, even the press would put names like majestic and elegant in front of his name. It always felt as though Brooking was England’s mistake as they overlooked him for so long in the early part of his career but he proved them wrong. There were games he played when I really did believe that

famous banner that appeared at Wembley that said “Brooking walks on water”. You wrote your first book, which went on to become a bestseller whilst in prison on football charges. How did that come about? At a young age I was made an example of for the epidemic of football hooliganism that the country was in the grip of. I received three years in prison when nobody expected it but the charges were serious enough


and I went down in a blaze of publicity that continued afterwards with debate in the newspapers and on the radio etc. For the first time in my life I questioned who I was and what I had become. I was disappointed to let downthe very few people who believed in me but also being just 20 years old at the time, I still had a lot of anger. Feelings that I was misunderstood were all still there. I also had a wakeup call when in prison, I saw so many cons I felt were in need of help rather than incarceration. I had so many questions in my head about the gang, society and of my own actions but I wasn’t in position to answer them in my head so I began to write about my life and who was I in order to find my own answers. 23 years later it became a book published by John Blake, well two books because there was mine and the firm’s book about the ICF that had its origins starting out in those prison exercise books. The books have personal meaning because they remind me of where I was when the journey started and how I never gave up with the ambition I had to put a book out there long before these books were ever fashionable.

It was turned into a wellreceived film. What was that process like? The film was a three year process and came from a chance meeting with Jon S Baird after the film wrap shoot on Green Street which he was a credited producer and I had cameo role in. He wanted as much authenticity as a film will allow so I was involved in all ends of making the biopic of my life - Cass. He allowed me to put three generations of West Ham fans as extras in the film, some are people of interest such as Bill Gardner, Charlie Magri, the Geggus brothers from Cockney Rejects band and even Frank McAvennie did a cameo. Nonso Anozie who played me was immense and the public reaction to my film has been good, even rivals through gritted teeth have said the same. So I owe Jon Baird because he made the film we wanted to make and it was also his first directed film. Now he is about to release ‘Filth’ his next film that could elevate him to a film director of note. I guess we owe each other in the inspirational stakes for today as I am also a credited writer, actor and producer working in film industry.

Your first documentary “Casuals” looks at football fashions. Can you tell us a bit about that? As an author and publisher of a number of football hooligan books and also someone who is connected to a number of films on same subject matter, I just felt it was getting to the point where too much has been made of the sharp end of all this culture, the violence. To me there was another scene going on that involved a mass male age group of 12-25 year olds that has left a lasting legacy that you can still see in the high street today. This is the impact of the football casual when football days were football, fashion and music. To me everyone involved in going to the footie was going in one direction and the film industry was going in the other. It’s the only time you hear geezers on par with women talking about shoes is when mentioning or seeing a pair of classic trainers, Borg Elites in my case. It’s a serious subculture too that’s been over-looked, so to give it respect I set out to make a documentary. I travelled the country and smashed the divide and rivalry surrounding it because everyone said this is a story that needs to be


told. Casuals: The Real Story of The Legendary Terrace Fashion has been well received and out is out on DVD. It even got on TV this year and was screened at the National Football Museum in Manchester. I’m very proud of it. What’s your take on modern football compared to that of the 1970s and 1980s? I still like to watch old VHS tapes and buy DVDs of football from the 1970s and 1980s for the simple reason of seeing things you rarely see in the game today, the art of beating a player with just skill, one on one’s, simple drops of a shoulder etc. These can be like art and are amazing to watch, the likes of Rodney Marsh had no pace, and he’d take the ball and walk past you. Our own Dev would beat two players whenever he had ball at feet and you’d scream “too many Alan” when the third tackled him but he’d win it back and just for you beat the three again. Today the Premier League has players built like Marvel comic book heroes and they all stop to a man whenever a player stands in front of them and just pass the ball back. It’s all pace and power today, to the point now when defenders could easily

play up front. Just as we have lost dribbling, we have also lost the art of defending; players in the 1970s and 1980s had the skills to read the game, other players’ minds and learn to anticipate the game, like Bobby Moore would. How many players can you see that can actually read the game today? On the business of football, as a West Ham fan I think we have sacrificed what I call the football fan experience just like most Premier League clubs. I’m not talking about the violence of 1970s and 1980s, I mean the overall experience of going to the football. For me it was about all being together on a coach or train and coming back

together all talking of the same story of the day, standing with your mates and making new mates along the way. It’s all different now, if you go to a Premier League match today, even home games, it’s a complete operation and stressful in parts to just go and support your team. Road rage to get parked, trains always changing with weekend travel, train stations closed, health and safety in grounds now over the top, staff jobsworths, away matches when the bars are closed, the moan list goes on and you only come to see a game. Add to that the kick off times; I think when one season started we only had one match scheduled on a Saturday. It’s all changed.


Thomas Johnson

4-6-0? 5-4-1? 4-3-2-1? 4-42? Who knows, Big Sam? The away performance against Spurs was absolutely fantastic and one that will live long in every Hammers mind. It showed that the Irons have it in them to push on from last year’s tenth place finish after a rocky start to the new campaign. Whilst the result was comprehensively positive, the formation was quite the shock, with no recognised striker in the starting line-up and the role of frontman fell to a mixture of Morrison, Diame, Vaz Te and Nolan. It is rumoured that Big Sam told both of the chairmen before the match that he was going for a 4-6-

0, much to the surprise of Messrs Sullivan and Gold. But who would have thought that it would have worked so well with every member of Sunday’s team played their part. So what is the best formation for Big Sam Allardyce and his West Ham squad? The bulk of the time Sam will go for the tried and tested formation that is most popular around the world at this current time in the shape of 4-2-3-1, and I’m sure when Andy Carroll is back, we will see Allardyce move back to this formation. But why for the moment should we not implement

surprise tactics? Sunday shows that throwing a wild card in the pack works. It is clear that with Maïga in the side there won’t be much luck for the Hammers in front of goal so it might not be a shock for some that Sam dropped the striker and opted for an alternative. Yes Vaz Te sees himself as a striker but he spent a lot of his time on either wing on Sunday, allowing mainly Morrison, Diame and Nolan the chance to play the target man and show their qualities with the former grabbing a stunning goal. A lot of Irons fans grew up with the claret and blue running around in a 4-4-2 formation, but nowadays this system is seen few and far between in the Premier League and in the top competitions around the world. Last season against Manchester United the gaffer tried out a 5-4-1 formation which worked for the large part and for an away game it seems a good tactic, despite the defeat at Old Trafford. Lastly, the fact that Big Sam is trying out new formations proves that he is taking risks to make the watching of West Ham games exciting. That is why, I for one, no matter what formation we play, in Big Sam I trust. Follow me on Twitter @SoundOfVinyl


Lucy Woolford

Do believe the hype this time

I hate when some young lad signs for a club, and all you hear from the fans is “yea, he’s supposed to be the next big thing.” Too many times we’re promised that a youngster will be as big as David Beckham. So when we signed Ravel Morrison from Manchester United, and I was hearing similar expressions, I was sceptical and thought we had another one of those ‘almost made it’ kids. So imagine my surprise at this point in time, as we appear to have a genuine talent on our hands.

So far, so good, and Ravel Morrison is living up to the hype that preceded his performances in claret and blue, and he might just be one to watch in years to come. His start to the current season has lead to a place in the England U21 squad, and according to his club captain Kevin Nolan, a full international call up won’t be too far away. I know we always said that about Mark Noble, but you win some, you lose some. To look at a brief history of Morrison in English football, we need to first jet to Manchester, where a

troubled boy wanted to play football for one of the biggest clubs in the world. Manchester United obviously recognised his raw talent, but they couldn’t cope with the baggage. Reports of intimidation, assault, and criminal damage don’t generally do wonders for one’s reputation, and Fergie sent Morrison to West Ham in the hope that he would turn his life around. There would be no immediate start for “Ravel” (as his shirt clearly states he’s even a rebel when it comes to shirt names!). He was carted off to Birmingham on loan for the


12/13 season and had a shaky start, with manager Lee Clark criticising his attitude to training. But towards the end of 2012, we’d turn on Soccer Saturday to hear pundits waxing lyrical about his performances in a Birmingham shirt. He seemed to know how to impress. Allardyce then decided that we’ll have that lad back, because he might be a bit good. He played a part in the pre-season friendlies and I personally watched him at Cork City. I was more excited about watching him than I had been most young players. I was suitably pleased, but still containing my judgement on how he could cut it in the Premier League. I then saw him in the Premier League at Hull in September, and on the spot noted that he has an edge that no other player in our squad has. Forget all the fancy footwork that he can do, because that doesn’t always mean much, but he’s got an eye for being in the right place, putting in the right ball and running at defenders. Alright, it wasn’t the greatest game in the world, but I came away that day feeling like there was hope for him. For West Ham, Morrison’s early career record is as

follows: scored on his first competitive start against Cheltenham in the League Cup, scored on his first league start against Everton, and scored one of the most memorable goals he will ever score in claret and blue in our great league win over Spurs - and it’s only October. Allardyce has been asked about Morrison a lot in his post match interviews. He described THAT goal (as it will now be known) as “genius” and noted that he’s getting on well with his training and with his colleagues. Big Sam is modest in his role in Morrison’s turn of fortunes, probably a wise move in the hope that the youngster will take credit himself and feel a sense of responsibility. I have no doubt that Allardyce would give him a loud slap on the wrist should he step too far out of line. Fans, players and the media have to be careful when it comes to over-hyping such an easily influenced “bad-boy”. Morrison's feet need to stay on the ground and his head needs to be level. Having said that, it is difficult not to get a bit excited at the media talking about a West Ham player again. The biggest question is how long will he be a West Ham player?

With recent news of a dreaded release clause in his contract, are we in for a long January or summer? The next visitors to Upton park could be amongst the big names trying to get the signature of this young talent, unless of course other teams are scared of putting too much effort into keeping one lad on the straight and narrow. Manchester United and Birmingham City had both complained that he was difficult to work with, so maybe he’s not even worth the £19 million that will supposedly lead him away from East London. One thing’s for sure, Big Sam seems keen to keep hold of him and may even be offering him a new contract, minus release clause, as you read. We’ve heard comparisons to a young Michael Owen in the last few weeks. Unfortunately, when you hear his name these days you think bench and jumpers, but in his day, he was as exciting a young English player as you could come across. I think we’ve got a tense few years of keeping Ravel Morrison, but I’m certainly looking forward to watching him blossom as a player and a man. Follow me on Twitter @lucy_whufc


David Meagher

Time to savour the ‘Allardichi’ method

I’ve got a pretty simple theory and it’s one that Hammers’ faithful are only too familiar with having been victim to it on many occasions during the Allardyce/Bolton era. The away side arrives, immediately sets out a defensive formation that is virtually impenetrable, then let the home side wear themselves out trying to unlock the code before they get a set piece which delivers a scrappy goal. They then sit back and put the increasingly desperate home side to the counterattacking sword by picking off opportunities on the break. The end result when it works is a satisfyingly sadistic process that leaves opposing

fans foaming at the mouth and unable to enjoy their post-match pint without launching into a tirade about the pointlessness of winning ‘ugly’ and the unacceptable damage that such Machiavellian machinations do to ‘the beautiful game’. And so it was with Tottenham. They were served due warning of the risk from set pieces at an earlier corner and then outmuscled by the physical threat of the Hammers as the pleasingly adroit (for a defender) Reid slipped in the first while Spurs were in disarray. Vaz Te then delivered a rather fortunate second before Raveldo gave us a glimpse of the ability that so

many reputable observers have spoken about. Not surprisingly, the 3-0 score line has prompted all sorts of plaudits for the ‘innovative’ Allardichi method. However, in fact what we observed was a well-tested tactic that has rarely delivered for the Hammers on away journeys since their return to the Premiership. Although we had the best away record in the Championship during 201112, Premiership defences concede less at set pieces and are considerably less vulnerable to counter attack football as one of the major differences between defenders at these two levels is pace with few Premiership sides foolish enough to field a


defence that includes two slow centre backs. In fact, prior to the White Hart Lane success, West Ham had the worst away record of any side (last season principally due to our inability to score the crucial first goal that provides the platform for the smash ‘n’ grab raid that Tottenham endured. Away from home the Hammers persistently achieve less than 40 per cent of possession and defend too deep to generate enough set piece opportunities that the method relies upon. Moreover, if the normally clinical Jermain Defoe had cashed in on two relatively simple opportunities either side of half time, things would have been so very different and, despite the score line, we enjoyed a paltry 39 per cent of the possession. In short, for every White Hart Lane-2013 result, there are half a dozen Hull or Newcastle performances that occasionally deliver a point but provoke the scorn of opposition fans due to the gratuitous negativity and reduction of the game to a minimum of watchable action. Sure, we are unlikely to get relegated under Big Sam but seem destined to forever languish in mid table obscurity. This is not the anonymity that the Bubbles boys have been reared upon and come the Olympic stadium it’s likely that a growing desire (and

even expectation) for the excitement of European football will force the Hammers to reconsider their approach to away matches in order to generate enough away points to force our way into the top six of the Premiership. Expect the itchiness to start as soon as the Olympic stadium is upon us. Until then we are in the business of establishing a secure Premiership footing and hopefully the core of a side that can alternate between a closed shop and a more open approach that encourages carelessness

amongst more cautious home sides. Right now, let’s just celebrate the moment and enjoy the Spurs implosion referring to the Hammers as a ‘small’ club smacks of a deep-seated arrogance that will see AVB’s troops suffer further ‘embarrassing’ defeats while the humble Hammers we remain ready to punish anyone who underestimates our professionalism and organisation under ‘Allardichi’. You can read more from James, David, and Rory Meagher at


Tales from the Sandpit

What’s that great old Football cliché again? Oh yes….

“It’s a funny old game”. Never has an old football saying rung so true after the events at White Hart Lane. Where can you even start? Well let’s go back to the build up to the match first of all. All the footie ‘pundits’ were writing us off beforehand with the general consensus amongst most that we’d be on the end of a 2-0 defeat. Not a bad analysis you would assume and, indeed, speaking to the editor of this fine publication who was gathering ideas and thoughts

about articles for today’s issue, I intimated that I would probably be writing this article based on us languishing on the bottom three and wondering whether we were in a full blown crisis. Yet as the match was drawing near I started looking at things a lot closer, analysing the statistics and the results of both West Ham and Tottenham over the course of the season and started to realise we did

actually have a glimmer of hope. Despite all the plaudits for Tottenham they were finding goals hard to come by. In fact they’d only scored six in their six matches so far and only Norwich had conceded more than one against them. Looking at our record, we had the much lauded ‘only conceded one goal from open play’ stat and, better yet, our only goal conceded away from home came from the penalty spot.


Granted the fact that we hadn’t mustered a goal on our travels loomed large in the negative thought processes but as kick off approached and I was watching Chelsea huffing and puffing away in East Anglia, I had a sneaky suspicion we might have an extra point on the board by Sunday evening. Yes, one point, most definitely not three. Even so I was fully expecting the match to follow similar lines to our other recent away performances, ie. turgid. So much so that as the final whistle sounded on the early kick off, I drank my pint, headed home and proceeded to make dinner whilst having the West Brom v Arsenal match on in the background. It was only the lack of messages that alert me to West Ham action, good or bad, that come through even if I want to know or not that led me to switch over as the action from the first half drew to a close. So far so good I thought. The 0-0 game plan was working well. Now you don’t need me to go into any detail about events in the second half and I’m fully aware others will be able to dissect and discuss the tactical prowess and sheer wonder of those 45 minutes far better than I can but it was great to experience that ‘high’ again of not only winning but winning in style,

capped with ‘that’ goal which I watched in almost disbelief. Was that really a West Ham player who had just done that? I mean, really? So after enjoying Sunday night it was back to the radio job the next day. Before I start my programme I do a typical ‘DJ’ handover with the presenter who is on before me. Not that I enjoy doing these things, you understand, but forced to do it never the less. With the working week being Sunday to Thursday over here, we had discussed the upcoming West Ham match as we always do if the Hammers are playing on a Sunday the previous morning and, as always. I am generally in full negative mode when it comes to predicting the outcome. It’s what needs to be done. Why tempt fate by saying I fully expect West Ham to come away with three points? Never do it, and generally it serves me quite well. So, on Monday we were rabbiting away radio-stylie, got to the end of our ‘bit’ and the other presenter announced on air that he couldn’t believe I’d just managed to get through it without a single mention of our stunning achievement. Dreamland, I responded, it all still seemed so surreal, so untrue.

And there we have it. What on Earth can happen today? For the first time in a long time I simply do not have one iota of a clue how this match will turn out. Will a ‘false nine’ style 4-60 cut it at home? Which Manchester City team will show up? Should we be gunning for six points out of six or will being more confident and more believing in our own ability simply lead us to shoot ourselves in the foot? The Premier League has become more and more competitive in recent years as we all know and this year it really has started with pretty much anyone having the chance to beat anyone else, it could be the tightest race at both ends of the table in the history of the competition. All we have to do is make sure we’re not involved at the bottom end again and hope that the crest of the wave we’ve been riding since last Sunday doesn’t crash back in on itself but continues to allow us to surf on its top jubilantly into the evening. What is certain though, is that it is West Ham we support and as well all know it means that almost anything can happen. Follow me on Twitter @hosiemon


Geoff Hillyer As I write this piece, I'm still glowing in the euphoria of the fantastic 3-0 win at Spurs - as I'm sure all West Ham fans are! What a day – totally unexpected, if we're honest, but it makes me feel much more positive about our season than would have been the case had we lost. So, ahead of the match against Manchester City, how do we stand? Well, on the face of it, it's still not a fantastic start. Eight points from seven games with, let's face it, not the worst run of fixtures represents a pretty average return. The defeat to Hull, whilst we played OK and had chances, was absolutely the kind of game that we should be getting something from if we want to keep our heads above water. At the rate of points that we are accumulating, we'll get about 43 – which is marginally above the relegation zone but a bit too close for comfort. It was very interesting that Big Sam changed the formation against Tottenham. Much has been made of the strikerless system which worked so effectively but the simple truth of the matter is that Modibo Maiga has not cut the mustard up front and we lack decent options in Andy Carroll's absence. I know that Ravel Morrison has been a revelation – but as much as

Where now from here? I love Ricardo Vaz Te, he is not a player who is going to score bucket-loads of goals. Certainly, in order to get any kind of result, the team performance will need to raise again against Manchester City. Sam might be tempted to be slightly more attacking in his formation this time around but defensively we'll need to be very tight, given that City have scored more than any other team in the Premier League so far. If we can frustrate them for long periods, then we do have a chance at getting something out of it, but if they score early, it could be a long afternoon. Looking ahead, after this weekend's match it's an away trip to Swansea. Last year, I oozed confidence ahead of this game and we promptly got spanked 3-0. I do think that we will be more competitive this time around, but again it's about

being tight and defensively solid. Do that and with Morrison in the side, in his current form, you always have a chance. I thought at the start of the season that we would be OK – and I still think that, because when fully fit, we're not a bad side – but the next two or three matches will probably determine the course of our season. Not losing will be key – the last thing we want with a quarter of the season gone is to be sat in the bottom three. So, let's look at this positively. After Manchester City and Swansea, we have winnable matches against Burnley in the League Cup, and Aston Villa in the league. If we do OK in the next two matches, there's a great opportunity for a springboard to a decent season. Follow me on Twitter @geoffhillyer


Twitteraction

@bl0wingbubbles Following our demolition of Spurs at White Hart Lane earlier this month, the wonderful world of Twitter was awash with sheer joy and delight from West Ham fans. Here’s a selection of what some of our followers had to say: Rob Cumber @rcumber1 That ticket today is the best 50 quid I've spent in a while :-) night all bed time and when I wake up we would still have beaten spurs 3 nil Terry Batcheler @TerryBatcheler Will never forget today. Embarrassing spurs at White Hart Lane will live long in the memory. All Hammers will sleep easy tonight. #COYI Harries @MaxWHU93 Can't get over the pic with whu fans going mad and me standing up on chair giving it to the spurs fans.. Love life! Dan Springate @dcsWHUFC Other than Townsend today, I wasn't worries about any Spurs players. Defoe, Paulinho, Dembele, Eriksen and Lamela were all handled.

Daniel Cooper @dbcwhu Still buzzing after spurs away.all the stress and all following west ham then they give you a result like that. Got to love #whufc

John Tomlin @johnnytomo05 The pain I felt stood so close to the Spurs fans when Bale scored in the last minute last season has disappeared and been replaced with JOY

Jarvo @whufcJARVO I always go to Spurs/Chelsea/Arsenal thinking we'll nick it 1-0. Today I thought we'd get battered before the game. Funny old thing Football

Billy Austin @TwitchyBill1994 Spurs say were tired. If playing in the Europa League means you're thrashed by a team who can't score away, then you are not CL material.

Geoff Ely @Geoffely1Ely Lamela - £30m Soldado £26m Paulinho - £17m Eriksen - £12m Capoue £10m Chiriches - £8m Chadli - £7m Spurs 0-3 West Ham - Priceless.

Pete Ellis @One_Bobby_Moore I thinks there's a mobile signal/3G outage in the north London area. No spurs fans are replying to my phone calls or texts?

AgentLomas @AgentLomas When my mission to get Millwall relegated is over, my next mission was Spurs. Looks like I'm retiring end of the season then #AgentLomas Rob @Rob_WHUFC Got Spurs last home game of the season. Can we do the double over them?

Ben Martin @BenMartin234 Spurs had only conceded 2 goals so far this season, but in 20 minutes we put 3 past them? #BarcaOfLondon Simon Juster @JusterCR8 I said last week the Hull result would be forgotten if we beat Spurs, didn't actually think we would though


Opposition View: Man City

Tim Holland speaks to Man City fan Chris Tanner about Hart bouncing back and Ravel Morrison scoring for City.

How do you assess Manchester City’s season so far? I think it’s been a strange start of the season for a lot of the big sides but although we’ve been inconsistent it’s good to get one over on Manchester United and see them still languishing in the mid-table area. In terms of our performances we’re scoring a lot of goals in the league but we’ve already lost two this season which is a bit worrying. The managerial merry go round continued in the summer. How has Manuel Pellegrini’s start to live at the club been?

I think there is a certain amount of worry when a new manager comes in especially if he is not the one most fans would’ve wanted. He’s got a different perspective compared to Mancini but I think if we continue the way we are then he’ll win round the fans by the end of the season.

just need to be a bit tighter at the back. I think we’re still a season away from competing for the Champions League and think that showed against Bayern Munich at home.

What are you ambitions for the club this season?

Negredo has hit the ground running with 4 goals in 7 games. Jovetic has been quiet thus far but he’s young and I’ll think he’ll get more chances in the cups this season. I’ve been impressed with Fernandinho but I still think we paid a lot for a 28 year old. Obviously Demichelis

I think given that all the sides at the top of the table are in transition I think we need to be aiming at winning the league this season. We’ve got four top strikers and we’re scoring goals we

How have your summer signings adapted to life in the Premier League?


has been unfortunate with injuries but I always liked him on Football Manager so fingers crossed! Ex West Ham ‘keeper Richard Wright continues to be at the club. Did he win a competition or have the management forgotten about him? I thought it was a joke when he signed but he offers experience to the two fairly young ‘keepers in front of him. I think he offers something as a goalkeeping coach as well at least I hope so!

midfielder makes a mistake he loses the ball and the defender’s there to clean up, if a ‘keeper makes a mistake then it’s in the back of the net. Come the end of the season no one will remember this supposed dip in form. Who poses the biggest threat in the Man City XI this season? As I said earlier we’ve got four or five very good strikers including Guidetti so any one of them can be a threat. For me Aguero on his day is one of the best forwards in the league.

Micah Richards continues to What have you thought of get overlooked by England. West Ham this season? Do you think he should be competing with Glen Same old Sam Allardyce Johnson at right back? really, like a Bolton MK2. I I think he offers something very different to Glen Johnson – good defending. I’m not sure what Micah has to do to get in the squad. He’s a strong player and that’s definitely something we need in the national side. Joe Hart has come under a lot of criticism this season for club and country. What’s your view on this? Can he bounce back? He doesn’t need to bounce back. He’s a quality ‘keeper who has made a couple of mistakes this season. If a

think without Ravel Morrison you’d be one dimensional. Unfortunately Sam Allardyce is so unpopular that he’s now making West Ham unpopular as well. Which West Ham players would you have in your squad? I like Morrison and it would be good to see him score for us against Man United. From what I’ve seen of Reid and Tomkins I wouldn’t mind either of them as back up. What are your predictions for the match and for both clubs this season? I think we’ll win 3-0 and for the season City 1st, West Ham 13th


Matt Santer

Strength in depth: The “striker crisis” and the early outlook There has been much talk of the Hammers striker shortage of late, although this wasn’t evidenced by our 3-0 mauling of Spurs! It doesn’t detract, however, from the fact that we are in a state of some depravity when it comes to attacking options. Some shrewd tactical changes proved the crucial difference between fighting out a draw against a very possession-heavy Tottenham and getting a desperately needed win. It also helped that Ravel ghosted past two of the best defenders in the division like they were a pair of coats hanging in a hallway. Gloating and celebrating aside – which we seldom have the opportunity to do – there is a definite need to

strengthen the more advanced positions on the pitch. The notable absence of Andy Carroll at this stage of the season has left a gap that we do not have the current capacity to fill in the interim. Having said that, there is massive potential across what I see as a capable midfield to provide cover until Carroll returns from his injury misery. He will no doubt come back more hungry and determined than ever; having signing for a club which has allowed him to adapt and play in a favoured role (when fit) under a manager who has total belief in his ability. Nolan, Noble, Diame, Joe Cole, Downing – all players

with more than enough in their arsenals to both assist and supply goals. Even our defenders are in on the act. We are a tall, physical side shaped the image of Big Sam’s teams gone by. These characteristics will, I believe, ensure that we remain a Premier League side come May. However anomalous Sunday’s result was it was an important one. It silenced the regular booboys and quashed early fears among the sceptics. It also indicated a positive and attacking intent from Big Sam, and even demonstrated the quality of football we are capable of playing when we are set up in the right way. We have a squad that is gelling well considering the


amount of new faces we have seen introduced to it. We may have had some questionable results and some plain bad luck, but not one single fan could say that the team doesn’t want to win every game. If anything we have so far been punished for being too eager. Case in point; Leighton Baines gratefully picking out two unquestionably worldclass free kicks on the back of adrenaline fuelled and illpositioned challenges. But what I think has been one of the most noticeable features of our opening seven games has been a better attitude when it comes to trying to close games out. Granted, there have been some iffy looking results (losses against Hull and Stoke being the proverbial sore thumbs), but an overall dissatisfaction at letting fixtures slip through the net has paid some dividends. Eight points from seven isn’t all too bad a return, and being five points away from fifth place doesn’t look particularly terrible. I think the season always begins at Christmas for any club outside the top-six, so this is where the real test will be. A returning Carroll and perhaps some decent loan signings will give us the momentum and fire power we need to finish strongly. But this is all elementary in the meantime. Putting a couple of good cup runs together will be important in

keeping our squad fit and will also give the fans some additional applause fodder. It will also be a welcome reward for two seasons of solid squad building; as well as being the perfect mantelpiece decorations at the Olympic Stadium should we bring home the bacon. Our younger players like Leo Chambers (pictured) are looking like finding their feet and hopefully this will not change. We have truly unlocked a gem in Ravel Morrison and

long may it continue for both his sake and the club’s. Winston Reid has developed into a top class defender next to Collins and Tomkins, with the latter displaying his undying love for the badge and sheer passion to cement his position. Sam has got the side playing for both him and for each other. If this is maintained, the fans will not have many complaints to make. Follow me on Twitter @MattSanter


Danny Rust

Vaz takes his chance Many West Ham United fans were unsurprised when they found out Maiga had been dropped to the bench for the big London derby against Spurs. However, the majority were surprised when they discovered that it was Ricardo Vaz Te who had replaced Maiga, rather than Mladen Petric. He had displayed his ability the week beforehand against Everton, and so you could be forgiven for thinking that the Croatian would take Maiga’s place. Admittedly, when Vaz Te was named in the starting XI at White Hart Lane, I couldn’t understand Sam Allardyce’s ideas behind the decision. But it turned out to be a fantastic alteration. During the last week of the summer transfer window, news came out of Upton Park that the Portuguese attacker had requested a transfer after having been infrequently involved in the opening matches of the new campaign and last season. His reason for his desire to leave the Boleyn Ground was quite plausible, as he correctly pointed out that since joining the club in

January 2012 from Barnsley, he had scored the most goals for the Hammers - including the winner in the Championship play-off final - and therefore did not understand why he was getting so little firstteam opportunities. He had been mainly used as a substitute before the Tottenham Hotspur meeting but he had already shone in the Capital One Cup earlier this term, as his inch-perfect free kick opened the scoring against League Two side Cheltenham Town. Following Vaz Te’s order for a transfer, Allardyce wrote in his weekly London Evening Standard column that the Portuguese star would have to prove him wrong, and show Big Sam why he should be starting. Against Spurs, he did that. In order for Allardyce’s puzzling 4-6-0 formation to work, Vaz Te would need to track back and defend whenever the Irons lost possession. Also, Ricardo would have to join in with the attacks and be able to cause Hugo Lloris problems when going forward. He did both of those, and is a main reason for the

Hammers embarrassing Tottenham. When you consider that Vaz Te has not been playing regularly this season, he was extremely energetic. He ran into all four corners of the pitch trying to hold the ball up or make necessary clearances. And on 72 minutes, Vaz Te finally got his name on the scoresheet. The goal was not the best on the day, but it certainly was vital as it opened up a two goal lead with only 18 minutes of normal time remaining. Most of the plaudits from newspapers quite rightly went to Ravel Morrison, who was fantastic himself and scored a superb solo goal, but Vaz Te was an important reason for West Ham's 3-0 win away from home. As aforementioned, Allardyce had challenged Vaz Te to prove him wrong and show him that he did have the talent to nail down a regular spot in the Premier League. On that performance, Vaz Te deserves to be in the Premier League, and Maiga could be waiting on the sidelines for quite some time now.


Dear Sam

Dear Sam, Blimey mate - you truly are a genius! Who'd have thought the way to start scoring goals was to play with no strikers? I've got to admit, I didn't see that one coming. And neither, clearly, did Tottenham. Three-nil at their place – I still can't Adam and Eve it! Of course, I never doubted you. There were people round me having a right moan after the Everton game – and I don't s'pose all those Happy Hammers who made the 500-mile round trip to Humberside were all that chuffed, either.

To Hull and back – didn't they make a film called something like that? The doom-merchants kept trying to tell me we were up to our ears in the brown stuff, but you knew what you were doing all along, didn't you? Lose a couple of games and lure those Spuds into a false sense of security – then, wham, hit them with the old one-two (or one, two three in this case!) Brilliant. That JCB, or whatever he calls himself, didn't have a clue how to deal with your tactics. I haven't seen a manager look that confused since

Avram Grant was here. You, sir, are one sly old fox! True, it’s taken me a while, but I think I can see what your plan is now. If we score more goals without strikers, it stands to reason we'll concede less with no defenders. Just pack the team with midfield players – is that why you’ve bought so many of them over the past couple of years? My brother-in-law tells me it’s called playing with a False No 9. Here’s a thought – lose old Juicy in goal and have a False No 1 as well. Nobody will be expecting that. Actually, I don't know how familiar you are with your


Upton Park history, but we have put a midfielder in goal before. Bloke called Martin Peters. It was probably a bit before your time, but he helped us win the World Cup back in the Sixties (You may have heard someone mention it – the final score was West Ham 4, West Germany 2.) It was only his third game for the club and they put him between the sticks when the regular fella got injured. He even started a reserve game in goal, so it's all been done before. What happened to Martin Peters? You may well ask. We got shot of him and brought in a rising young star called Jimmy Greaves to replace him. And not a minute too soon. Peters was clearly past it – he only went on to play 30 more times for England. Greavsie, on the other hand, was at the peak of his physical fitness and it came as quite a shock to all of us when he retired the following season. As he said himself at the time, it's a funny old game. So, Sam, as you can see you are not the first genius we've had in charge at West Ham. And I suspect you won't be the last. I'm still not getting your emails by the way. But don't worry – Angela is happy to send them on to me.

As she pointed out, you've got a lot on your plate at the moment and can't be expected to solve every problem at the club. How about having a go at Skype? We could have a natter before you get the lads training. As you can see from the goalkeeper idea, I’ve got a couple of tips you might find useful, and it would be good to talk face to face as long as you promise to spit out the chewing gum before we start. I don’t want to be offensive here, but watching you masticate furiously at close quarters first thing in the

morning could put me right off my boiled egg. Don’t worry about Man City by the way. They may have spent billions on players and have an Italian manager but we’ve got the tactical brilliance of Fat Sam Allardichi. Now that really is priceless. Go get ’em, maestro! Your mate behind the goal Dear Sam is written by Brian Williams. Follow him on Twitter @BrianWill26

Unsurprisingly, perhaps, Big Sam’s mate behind the goal is still waiting to hear back from the Upton Park supremo. But when Brian Williams got in touch with a firm called Matchday Memories he got a reply instantly. He says: “I was after a copy of Goal magazine from 1970 that included a letter I had written to them about how Jimmy Greaves was going to be West Ham’s bestever signing – it was the first thing I’d ever had published and I was curious to read it again after all these years. “I knew roughly when it had gone in, but had no idea which particular issue I was looking for. “But that didn’t worry Dave at Matchday Memories – he just went through every copy of Goal following the date of Greaves’s transfer until he found it. He was brilliant, and I can’t thank him enough. “I’m not a huge collector of football memorabilia – but for those who are, this is the place for you. “Check them out atmatchdaymemories.com and say hello to Dave for me. He’s a boing-boing Baggie but, hey, no-one’s perfect!”


Neil Chatterton

Youth is served a curveball The sensational goal scored by 20 year old Ravel Morrison, and the two goals scored by Manchester United’s 18 year old Adnan Januzaj, has directed the spotlight onto youth academies in the Premier League. Even though Morrison came through the Manchester United youth academy, West Ham definitely holds its own, when compared to any other academy. West Ham United's youth academy is one of the most famous in England. Established by Ron Greenwood and Ted Fenton, back in the 50’s and 60’s, it produced the famous trio, which helped win England its only World Cup in 1966, namely, Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters. The youth academy philosophy has had a major impact on how West Ham has played the game on the field. The reputation of this club playing “attractive” football has long been recognised, and producing players such as Trevor Brooking, Alan Devonshire, Paul Ince, Frank Lampard and Joe Cole, only reinforced this reputation.

In today’s Premier League, it is vital to develop young players. Being able to promote from within allows a club like West Ham to allocate its cash resources wisely, in the hope of staying in the Premier League and also competing for top ten finishes, or better. For a young player, coming through the West Ham academy can have a positive effect, possibly stardom with the home team, or at least an opportunity to play professional football. Here are some examples of academy players in the Premier League, not playing for West Ham: Chelsea: Frank Lampard, John Terry Manchester United: Michael Carrick, Rio Ferdinand Tottenham: Jermain Defoe Liverpool: Glen Johnson Reality however is sometimes cruel, and for every star, there is tale of broken dreams, and in the worst cases, little future in the game.Recent history provides us with plenty of examples of player’s that were highly regarded, but never quite made it.

An instant crowd favourite was Freddie Sears, who looked like a “keeper”, after his explosive debut. Who can forget him scoring on his debut? But two years later, Sears scored his second goal. Freddie left the club following promotion to the Premier league, in the hope of re-establishing himself in the lower divisions. Another player with that “scoring potential” was Zavon Hines, who rose through the ranks in the academy. Many likened him to Carlton Cole. As it turned out he was even more like Carlton Cole than Carlton Cole, scoring only three goals in three years. He left the club at the end of the 2011 season. Zavon has toiled in the lower leagues since leaving, and is still not able to score. Junior Stanislas had opportunity late in 09/10 season, and he scored four goals in 28 games. His pace on the wing was a definite plus, and Junior looked like he would be a first team regular. But he then only played a handful of games and managed two goals. His departure was no real surprise.


In the cases of Sears, Stanislas and Hines, it was their on-field performance that hastened their departure from Upton Park. In the case of Christian Montano, it was his own self inflated worth that proved his undoing. A highly thought of prospect, Christian enjoyed successful loan spells in the lower leagues, getting the game experience that he needed to develop. Unfortunately, his timetable was very different to that of the club, and so were his wage demands. Not surprisingly, his rise to glory and international fame was only realised in his alternate universe, and he thus departed in his spaceship. Another academy product, Bondz N'Gala signed professionally in 2008, having joined the club as a 13 year old. A regular reserve team player, N’Gala was also loaned out so that he could get the playing experience needed. Unfortunately, he never blossomed as a player and his only first team appearance was as a substitute. His career at Upton Park ended after the 2010 season and N’Gala has toiled since in the lower leagues. Having let his cousin Jermain Defoe escape to Tottenham, West Ham hoped that Anthony Edgar would be as good as Defoe and stay at Upton park. Ironically, in July 2010 Edgar scored his first goal in

a pre-season friendly when he replaced Junior Stanislas. That was the highlight of his tenure at Upton Park and unfortunately even after leaving, Edgar has not found the consistency needed to play on a regular basis. Maybe the expectations were too high, especially as Edgar is only 5’ 6”. Coming from the Mervyn Day and Phil Parkes era of West Ham goalies, I watched with interest when the club signed a 16 year old player from the Czech Republic, Marek Stech. He seemed poised to come through the system and be our number one but it never happened. Loaned out to various clubs, Stech did feature in some first team appearances, as well as being named as substitute in 13 occasions in the Premier League. His potential was never realised.

My wait still continues for the next Mervyn Day - who by the way played more games for Leeds United than he did for West Ham. A fact that is both astonishing and upsetting at the same time. Clearly the word “potential” is just that. What a player is 16, he can be a long way from what the player becomes as a 20 year old. What is important is that the West Ham academy continues to develop players and provides them with the opportunity to get better, even if this ultimately means, playing elsewhere. There is an actual person behind these decisions, which as fans we sometimes lose sight of. For every magic moment produced by Ravel Morrison or Adnan Januzaj there are many more tears shed, when a career ends at 20 years of age.


West Ham Ladies: Tommy Wathen Picture by Mickey Cartwright

It’s great to be back It has been a difficult time for the West Ham Ladies with only one win in their last six games but the Hammers are determined to keep working hard to get the success they crave. That’s the view of Natalie Crinean, who joined from Gillingham Ladies during the summer and is likely to be a key part this season. The striker, who has already bagged two goals this season, added: “I feel like I have settled in really well and I just want a successful injury-free season. “I know that’s a very sad ambition but it’s true. I want

because things at Charlton, my club at the time, were not going well and I wanted to be playing at a better level. “I also liked the idea of being part of such a great club. I had played against them so I knew they had a great team and I liked the way they played.” Crinean played first-team football for West Ham, while continuing to be part of the Charlton academy, but a serious injury meant she had to choose to stick with the Addicks full-time. But after an injury-plagued season she joined Gillingham. However this summer, she felt the need for a new challenge and asked Ladies manager Mark Saunderson if she could move back to West Ham. She concluded: “The club has come on massively since 2008. I was full of praise for the club last time round and this time it is amazing. “They have built a strong to be a consistent and a key link with the men’s side and player for the team. “I want to finish the season the new management and all knowing that, as a squad, we the staff within the club are great. It’s a nice friendly place have done everything to ensure that we are playing to to be for sure.” The Ladies travel to our maximum potential.” Gillingham and Portsmouth And with games against next in the league before Coventry and Portsmouth playing Coventry at home on fast approaching, the Ladies hope to pick up some valuable November 3. All games kick off at 2pm. points and move up the FA The West Ham Ladies play Women’s Premier League their home games at Southern Division table. Playing football in the claret Thurrock FC, Ship Lane, Aveley, Essex, EM19 1YN. and blue shirt is also For more stories about something that Crinean is West Ham Ladies by Tommy familiar with after a stint at Wathen visit the club back in 2007. She continued: “I signed for www.tommywathen.co.uk West Ham back in 2007


Review: Casuals British football support has had a strong fashion-led subculture element since the rise of the Teddy Boys in the mid-1950s but the Casuals subculture has been celebrated more than most. Perhaps that’s because it’s because it’s still visible with modern fans or perhaps it’s because of plethora of football films over the last decade or so, with I.D, The Firm and Awaydays to name but a few. Whatever the reason this topic remains as relevant and interesting as ever. Casuals is produced by Cass Pennant and narrated by the front man of the Farm, social commentator Peter Hooton. It gets behind the scenes of history and legacy of this distinctive fashion-led subculture and features interviews and footage from the late 1970s and 1980s showing the emergence of football fans entering what was then a new and quick moving fashion. This shift from Mod to Casual, from the suit to the track suit, from shoe to the trainer is as defining and iconic as any fashion upheaval of the last century. Casuals’ highlights the neglected story of a generation’s love affair with this new found fashion.

The interviews offer personal viewpoints of the devotion to this cause and highlight how fashions changed across the county and also how they provided new opportunities in the struggling 80’s economy. Fashion and football are intrinsically linked and this documentary rightly highlights the personal and social aspect that fashion played in this movement. With enlightening interviews and enthralling tales this documentary elevates itself above all others and takes its place at the top of football fashion documentaries mantle. “Casuals”, an Urban Edge film, is available now on DVD

and is available from Amazon. Blowing Bubbles has got an exclusive copy of the Casuals DVD signed by West Ham legend Cass Pennant to give away. All you need to do is answer the question below: Casuals: The Real Story of the Legendary Terrace Fashion is narrated by Peter Hooton but what band was Peter the front man of? A) The Mock Turtles B) The Farm C) The Stone Roses Send your name, address and answer to editor@blowing-bubbles.co.uk


Opposition View: Swansea City

Tim Holland speaks to Jim White from SCFC2.co.uk about Michu being cheap at £30 million, finishing above Cardiff and Morrison looking tasty

How do you rate Swansea’s season so far? To be honest the season has gone as I expected it. We had a tough start and we were never going to get much from the first few games. Man U, Liverpool and Arsenal is a pretty tough start at home! We have picked up points where we needed to and played some great football in Europe hopefully we’ll improve. What have you made of Wilfried Bony since he signed? I personally like him but I think because of the amount

of money we spent, other fans will say the verdict is out. He is as strong as an ox and shoots well. He is holding the ball up well for our midfield and as he gets to play with them more often then he will get better and better I think! How do you think your other summer signings have adjusted to life at the club? All of them have settled in well. Jonjo Shelvey has given us a different dimension in midfield whilst Jose Canas and Alejandro Pozuelo have strengthened the squad in the defensive and attacking midfield positions. Jordi Amat, our new centre half, has also

looked good and so in general the signings are pleasing! Michu has been a revelation over the last two seasons and has now been called up for Spain. He has now been valued at £30m but do you think this is a fair price and do you think you’ll keep hold of him? I actually think the price is too low. If Soldado is worth £26m then why wouldn’t a player who can operate up front or in midfield not be worth £35m? If he scores 15 to 20 goals, which I expect him to do, then he will be looked at for sure by other clubs. We don’t need to sell however and if he does go, it


will only be on our terms as he has just signed a new long term contract. How is your journey in the Europa League treating you this season?

now they are in it. I don’t mind any position from 17th upwards if they are below us!! In all honesty, it doesn’t bother us now. They will always be in our shadow now as we were the first in the Premier League and I actually feel sorry for the way in which they have let a foreign tycoon take away every element of soul and history that the club has.

It has been a great experience for us and I think all Swans fans would say we are loving the journey! It is great to have European football at home and the trips Who should West Ham fans abroad are magical! I could be wary of in the Swansea not make the Valencia game but mates said it was the best side when the club’s meet? trip they had ever been on. I would say there are lots of players who could give you Ashley Williams has been impressive in defence for you some grief. Michu and Bony will be up there for sure but I leading to rumours of also think our two wingers will interest from Arsenal and give your full backs a tough Liverpool. Do you think he’d time. move from Swansea? Ashley is our rock and leader and someone that is a great man on and off the pitch. He was touted around in the summer and in my view, he would have gone then if he was to leave. I don’t think he will leave now as no one wants to meet our valuation and he is now getting a bit old and not what some of the larger clubs want Has the rivalry with Cardiff now intensified now you’re both in the Premier League? Yes it has meant the league has a different perspective

What’s been your opinion of West Ham over the last couple of seasons? I think you guys have done well since coming back into the Premier League and are

building a squad to compete and go higher. I am not sure your playing the stylish football that West Ham were renowned to play in years gone by but football is a results business now I guess. Which West Ham players would you have in your squad? Being honest, there aren’t many players that I think ‘I wish we had him in our team’ but I do like Tomkins as a centre half and I would like him as well as Morrison who looks very tasty as a forward midfielder. What’s your prediction for the match and for both clubs this season? I am hopeful that we will do as we did last season but I am predicting a 2-2 result in the game. I think both teams will be fine this year and I expect you guys to finish around 11th and us around 9th.


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Blowing Bubbles #23 (West Ham V Man City 19/10/13)  

In this issue: *Exclusive interview with author, actor and director Cass Pennant about the changing nature of football, writing in prison, t...

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