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OCTOBER 2015 #52
ABOUT A BOY
Heâ€™s a teenage prodigy and fan pin-up, but what really makes Martin Samuelsen tick?
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What does Roy Hodgson have against West Ham’s players? I cannot believe Roy Hodgson didn’t call up Aaron Cresswell for England’s October’s Euro 2016 qualifiers. After shining in his first season at the club and with Luke Shaw out injured, this was the perfect chance to reward the 25-year-old with a place in the Three Lions squad. Dele Alli has been rewarded for his form, Danny Ings has been rewarded for a few good games and yet Cresswell is once again absent from the England squad. Shaw’s replacement? Southampton’s Ryan Bertrand. A player who
had only played once since returning from injury when the squad was announced. Granted Hodgson is looking ahead to next summer’s tournament and probably feels Bertrand will be his main choice but, right now, snubbing Cresswell is nothing short of insulting. The same could also be said about Mark Noble’s omission. Sure Noble is unlikely to start but the fact that the ageing Michael Carrick continues to get the nod further fuels my argument that England managers always look
to select players based on the club they play for rather than their form. But while many Premier League players, including some of our own, will be flying all over Europe to represent their countries and running the risk of being injured, a large number of our squad will be recharging their batteries. They’ll also, I hope, be training hard and preparing for nine points from the rest of October, including a hammering of Chelsea which results in the ‘Special One’ being given the chop.
The big interview - Martin Samuelsen
‘We won’t become the new City but that’s a good thing’
West Ham youngster Martin Samuelsen on why money can’t buy you love, how Kevin Nolan helped him and his big plans for the first team
JULIAN SHEA @juliansheasport
t is safe to say that former captain Kevin Nolan’s departure from West Ham at the start of the season was not one that was greeted with tears and sadness by most fans – but his parting gift may turn out to be one that leaves Irons fans owing him a major debt of thanks, because he may just have played a significant role in helping develop one of the next big names in claret and blue - Martin Samuelsen. The 18-year-old Norwegian youth international joined the Irons this summer after leaving Manchester City at the end of last season, and in an exclusive interview with Blowing Bubbles at the photocall organised by the club’s official outfitters Apsley Tailors, he revealed that
Hero: Manchester United legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was Samuelsen’s idol growing up the former Bolton and Newcastle midfielder had taken time out to help him on his arrival at his new club. ‘I always try to get as much input on my game as I can, and obviously the senior players with their experience can teach me a lot,’ he said. ‘The one who taught me the most before he left
was Kevin Nolan – since he’s gone, I’ve spoken a lot with Dmitri Payet. I’m not trying to copy what he does but I’m trying to put some of it into my game.’ A quick trip to YouTube to look at Samuelsen’s recent stunning goal for the West Ham U21s at Blackburn would suggest that a bit of Payet’s
stardust has indeed fallen onto the youngster’s boots, but those who have been following his career for a while would not be surprised at this development. Born in April 1997, he grew up as Manchester United fan – ‘because of [fellow Norwegian] Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’ – the versatile attacking midfielder caught the eye of Chelsea and Real Madrid before opting to join Manchester City in 2012, the year City won their first Premier League title under Roberto Mancini. The future may have looked bright for the Sky Blues, but unfortunately for Samuelsen, his days at the Etihad were slightly less sunny, and now he is looking for a fresh start at the Boleyn. ‘After three and a half years of ups and downs – mainly downs – at City, I really needed a big change,’ he revealed. ‘I didn’t really know that much about West Ham – I knew it was a big club in East London, with a lot of tradition, and hardcore fans – is that the right word? - but that was
Bright: Martin Samuelsen enjoyed a positive pre-season with West Ham
about it. ‘I was lucky to meet [Academy chief] Terry Westley at West Ham – he was the one I dealt with most when I was on trial, and then again in the later stage of discussions, and after that, joining was an easy decision to make. ‘He told me about how West Ham work individually with different players to focus on their individual needs, and once I realised that there was a new manager, there would be other new players and there was a new stadium to go to, I couldn’t really say no.’ Samuelsen is one of a raft of new players to have arrived under Slaven Bilic, and he says that – as well as the welcome he received from senior players such as Kevin Nolan – has made the bedding-in process a more comfortable one. ‘Dmitri [Payet]’s one of the other new arrivals too, so maybe that’s helped a bit – there’s quite a few of us in the same boat, so I’m not on my own,’ he revealed. With Bilic also now more at home at the club, the team are definitely starting to bear the manager’s personal stamp, but that new look has only come about after he shuffled his cards in the Europa League campaign, not deciding on his preferred line-up until everyone had been given a chance to prove their worth. That meant that despite still awaiting his blooding in the Pre-
On the ball: Samuelsen likes to go at defenders mier League Samuelsen has already had a taste of first-team action, with two appearances in European competition. ‘I’m surprised to get a first team chance so quickly – I didn’t expect it when I first arrived but it’s certainly been a very nice surprise, and obviously I hope I get another chance in the first team soon,’ he said. However, if his opportunity for regular first team football should be in the colours of another team, then that suits Samuelsen just fine as well.
‘I didn’t say I wasn’t interested in going out on loan, what I said was that all the signals I’ve been given are that the club want me to stay here, but if they want to me to go out somewhere else, I’d be happy to go – I’ll do whatever the club wants,’ he said. The move from City to West Ham is an interesting one to make, considering how City’s status as the nearly men of northwest football has been utterly transformed since their move from Maine Road to the
Etihad, and the resultant transformation of both the club’s fortune and its fortunes. But having been caught up in that scenario at City, and not reaped any personal benefits from it, Samuelsen says he does not see too many comparisons between the two clubs. ‘I think there will be big positive changes at West Ham [following the Olympic Stadium move], and the team will climb the table, which is great, but I don’t think there’s going to be as much money
Kouyate demands more home comforts as Hammers bid to leave Upton Park in style
Big help: Former captain Kevin Nolan helped Samuelsen to settle in London
being pumped in here as there was at City – and I think that’s a good thing,’ he added. Bearing in mind his previous experience, he could be forgiven for having enjoyed West Ham’s recent famous victory over his former side just that little bit more than many other players at the club. ‘I didn’t really think about it that way, I was just glad that we won against City – maybe I was a little bit extra happy as it was my old side, but I suppose that’s
the same for any player against their old team,’ said Samuelsen. After some crushing defeats at the hands of City in recent years, that 2-1 win was particularly enjoyable for all West Ham fans – but if Samuelsen goes on to fulfil the potential and promise he has shown thus far in his short career, the result could be West Ham 1 Manchester City 0 for many years to come. So remember the player who supplied the vital assist. None other than Kevin Nolan. BBM
West Ham’s battling midfielder Cheikou Kouyate has said the team need to start quicker and be more ruthless if they want to replicate their superb away form at the Boleyn Ground in its final season as the club’s home before relocation to the Olympic Stadium. Speaking at the photocall organised by the club’s official outfitters Apsley Tailors, the 25-year-old Senegalese international told Blowing Bubbles that an inability to get out of the blocks quickly enough was the reason for the team’s homesickness this season, and that he shared fans’ frustration. ‘The reason our home record is not so good is that we’ve not started these games well,’ he said. ‘We always improve in the second half, but we need to play the whole game at that same level, like we did against Newcastle, when we were focused and played hard from the start. We want to win the games, just like the fans do.’ So far, the Upton Park farewell campaign seems to have been more of an inconvenience than
an inspiration for the home side – out of four home games, West Ham have won just once (2-0 against Newcastle), lost twice (4-3 to Bournemouth and 2-1 to Leicester) and drawn once (2-2 against Norwich, with Kouyate scoring the vital injury time equaliser). In each of those games except Newcastle, the opposition have scored first. Kouyate arrived from Belgian side Anderlecht in summer 2014, and was one of the success stories of last year’s final troubled campaign under the management of Sam Allardyce. But he revealed life under successor Slaven Bilic was a very different experience, and one which he hoped would be proven in improved form to sign off West Ham’s 112-year stay at the Boleyn Ground in the style it deserved. ‘Slaven Bilic is a manger who likes to take risks,’ he said. ‘He wants to play exciting football, and that’s a very different tactic to last season. It’s our last year here, so all the players want to battle and make sure we give a really good performance in this final season here.’
Keeping what we’ve got is as good as a brand new signing W est Ham fans got some great news before the Sunderland game as it was announced that Adrian has signed a new contract. The Spanish goalkeeper has been popular with the fans and is clearly one of the best we’ve had in that position over the last 10 years. I’m glad the club have been able to agree a deal that will mean he will be our number one going into the new stadium next summer. A good goalkeeper can be worth an extra five or 10 goals per season and I’m sure Adrian has helped with our good start to the campaign. While we’ve been excited about our recent
LETTER OF THE MONTH
Big deal: Adrian has signed a new contract at West Ham transfers it has been just as important to keep the best players we already have. Too often West Ham have been a selling club but the likes of this deal, and securing the
long-term future of Winston Reid last winter, show things could be about to change. We could look back at this as a big moment. Matt Hick
Sullivan will sell if the money is there I enjoyed reading your interview with West Ham chairman David Sullivan last month. In it he claimed that ‘he had no plans to sell the club’ when we move into the Olympic Stadium next summer. I’m sure he doesn’t. I have no plans to sell my business either, but if some billionaire offered me two or three times what I’d paid for it I’d be driving the paperwork round quicker than you
can say Bob’s your uncle. Sullivan may love the club but he is a successful businessman and I can’t see him turning down £200million plus if it was offered. Let’s just hope we get owners like Manchester City and not the sort of clowns who have bought Portsmouth, Leeds or Reading. It really is a case of being careful what you wish for. Ted Alcock
Bubbles could sound amazing I must say I have been impressed by the photos of the Olympic Stadium. I’d been concerned the stands would be too far away from the pitch but they don’t look too bad and I’m sure hearing Bubbles being sung by 54,000 people will bring the wow factor to the Premier Leauge I will miss that famous old Boleyn Ground – in my book it was one of the last proper football grounds in the country – and the atmosphere on night games was something very special. I hope the OS can recapture that though, especially if we can play European football there. Lenny Buckingham
Bianca right to back our Nolan Well done Bianca Westwood for sticking up for Kevin Nolan. He may not have been the best player we have ever had but he gave four years’ service to the club and I’d also like to thank him for his efforts. Too often he was slated because fans were frustrated with the manager – every time he gave the ball away it was noticed while other players got an easy ride. I wish him all the best for the future. Clive Brown
THE HAMMERS’ HERO PULLS NO PUNCHES IN HIS EXCLUSIVE COLUMN Gutted: Arsene Wenger’s face tells its own story
Champions League ﬂops are no laughing matter T
here was plenty for West Ham fans to laugh about as Arsenal and Chelsea continued to flounder in the Champions League. Yet while the results will have given one or two people some fun at work there could be an unexpected consequence for the Hammers. If English teams continue to struggle there is a real chance Uefa will cut the number of spots available to Premier League teams – with the number being cut back
to three from the current four. That would be a real kick in the teeth for the Premier League – which prides itself as being ‘the best league in the world’. It’s strange the results have gone the way they have as you don’t need to look too far back to when the English clubs were dominating and had teams in the semi-finals and final every year in the mid-2000s. If the place is lost – and the success of the Italian clubs means this
could well happen – it will hit the big clubs hardest because they won’t have the luxury of having a bad season and scraping into the Champions League in fourth. For the rest of the league though it’ll make the challenge of getting into Europe even harder. It’s very tough already and one less place will make it more difficult to compete with the likes of Arsenal, Manchester United, City and Chelsea. BBM
End result is on point As we head into another international break it seems an appropriate moment to reflect on our start to the season. I think most fans would have been happy with our points total and position after eight games if they had been offered this before a ball was kicked in August. We’ve not done it how we’d expect us to but there are points on the board and that’s the important thing. There is always room for improvement and clearly our home form is something we need to improve. Looking to our games for the rest of October and it’s going to be a very interesting month. There are no easy games in the Premier League but you’d say, given their run of form of late, that there probably has never been a better time to play Chelsea at home.
Blowing Bubbles’ top writers settle down to put the world to rights... Going into the international break, how would you grade West Ham’s start to the season? Andrew Hosie: B*. Can you imagine if we’d beaten Leicester and Bournemouth at home? We’d be top of the league! But we’re not. Having said that, you can’t complain about beating Arsenal, Liverpool and Man City away. We should, however, have beaten Sunderland. David Bowden: B. Fourteen points from eight games is a solid start for Bilic. The away form has been very un-West Ham, which is refreshing to see. I don’t think any Hammer could see those wins at Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City coming, but just four points at home is a concern. David Blackmore: For
Good start: Slaven Bilic can be pleased with his first few months in the job
me, we’ve had a fantastic start to the season. Regardless of the results against Bournemouth, Leicester and Norwich, every game has been a refreshing treat to the football we witnessed in the Allardyce era. It’s an A from me.
Marcus Johns: Tricky. Some bonus results at the big clubs, but disappointing at home. Points wise, probably about where we’d expect to be. Leicester and Bournemouth were disappointing. Too many individual errors at home costing
goals. On the whole, happy. B+ What do West Ham need to do to improve their home form? AH: I don’t think we’re too far away from getting the home performances right. We have to concentrate though and actually play with full effort for 90 plus minutes, like the shift we put in against Man City away. Do that and the results will come DBo: It’s clear that the Hammers will play on the counter this season. At home though, the Irons have to be more proactive and get on the front foot more especially against the ‘lesser sides’. We must use our pace and power to our advantage and go at sides rather than inviting pressure. DBl: We need to start better. It’s as simple
as that. We conceded after 11 minutes against Bournemouth, and earlier than that against Norwich. We also went two goals down against Bournemouth, Leicester and Sunderland before we really got going. We’re not always going to be able to get an early goal so it’s important that, at home, we take the game to the opposition from the first whistle. MJ: I’m not sure this is an issue related purely to West Ham. As we’ve seen with our away performances, teams are set up to counter. When we have to dictate the pace, we struggle at the moment. All I’d say is to be bright, play front foot football, and give the ball to Payet. Has Dimitri Payet already proved himself to be the best value transfer by any Premier League club this summer? AH: He’s definitely right up there with the best of them, isn’t he? Overall for the outlay he’s got to be considered the best signing by any club, for his sheer consistency of high standards and impact he has had on the team. DBo: It is early days for Dimitri Payet, but he has started like a house on fire this term. He is a player that the club has been crying out for, he has an eye for goal and his vision is magnificent. DBl: I agree with David, it’s still too early but from what I’ve seen so
Star man: West Ham signed Dimitri Payet in the summer transfer window
far, I think he’ll certainly be up there come the end of the season when we all look back. He was revelatory in August and September, and has drawn acclaim from all corners. I’m very surprised we managed to land Payet so comfortably but I’m wary that our
star man’s head could easily be turned if one of the Big Four come in for him in January or next summer. MJ: I think so. I’d say it is probably between him and Swansea’s Ayew at the moment – but so far so good. Let’s hope he can continue his vein
of form throughout the season. Adrian has just signed a new long term contract, where does he rank amongst West Ham’s recent keepers? AH: I love Adrian, I love his attitude on and off the pitch and he really does seem to love West
Ham too. He’s a great shot-stopper and definitely is the best keeper we’ve had in ages. DBo: What can you say about Adrian? He is a total lunatic but you have got to love him. His love for the club is clear to see with his wild celebrations after every goal. But he is a terrific keeper too. He, in my eyes, is a legend and our best since ‘keeper Phil Parkes. DBl: In most people’s eyes, he will be number one. It’s not just his ability but also his personality and the rapport he built with the fans right from the off. Rob Green, in my opinion, runs him very close but it’s Adrian’s likeability that gives him the edge. I was delighted to read he had agreed to stay at the club for longer and, in my opinion, wouldn’t look to leave the club if we were relegated or if more money was offered at another English club. He’s here to stay and we’re all loving this - especially Lucy Woolford. MJ: It’s always difficult to compare eras. My dad swears Mervyn Day was the best ‘keeper West Ham have had, I think Ludo. Adrian has come on leaps and bounds since we signed him and looks the real deal. Consistency is key though, and we need a Ludo/ Parkes type duration to really be able to judge him. Sam Allardyce is bringing out his autobiography this Christmas.
Staying: Adrian has signed a new contract If you could ask our former manager one question what would it be? AH: With your firm belief in the use of algorithms and statistics to base your training methods and tactics on, how was it that Kevin Nolan still managed to start pretty much every game in your last season? DBo: Sam, you seemed to be against giving young players a chance, why was that? DBl: I think, like Mr Bowden, I’d be tempted to ask a question about why he didn’t really give our academy products a chance. But, in an attempt to be different, I’d ask him if he could,
would he go back in time and give a different answer to the ‘West Ham Way’ question that still irks me to this very day. Or why he didn’t feel the
need to placate the West Ham faithful like Slaven Bilic has. MJ: I can’t think of any that you’d actually be able to print! BBM
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Summer signings will make the sun shine later this winter
eptember gave us the chance to have a good look at all our summer signings in action and I’ve been impressed with what I’ve seen so far. But there’s one player we’ve not really seen much of yet and that’s Michail Antonio. He was the summer signing I was most excited about seeing in and West Ham shirt and I am convinced he will get his chance and then we’ll all see his unquestionable talent. I saw him play a lot in the Championship for Nottingham Forest and as Forest fan John Payne said in his piece for Blowing Bubbles last month, he is a really good signing. He is powerful, has got bags of pace and can play on the wing or just behind the striker. Even when Nottingham Forest lost, I was always reporting for Soccer Saturday that he was Forest’s best player. The Forest fans that
Lot to offer: Michail Antonio will get his chance in the team
I’ve spoken to recently have said he wasn’t consistent enough for them but then again Forest haven’t exactly been pulling up any trees either - no pun intended! It’s still, of course, early days in the season and as I say, he will get his
chance. There is going to be a stage of the season where Victor Moses, for one reason or another, will make way for Antonio and he is more than capable of stepping up from what I’ve seen. I’m very excited about
seeing his potential become a reality at West Ham and in the Premier League. The good news is with players like Antonio, we’ve got real depth in the squad as well as quality which we will really need. Just remember how we dropped off after our good start last season and how it all went pearshaped - this season we’ve got good calibre players to step in if those on the pitch aren’t performing at their best. As I say the most likely player Antonio will step in for is Victor Moses who has already shown why Chelsea haven’t just sold him off and tied him down to a new contract. He is a quality player. He has got pace to burn and gives us an edge something Matt Jarvis never really gave to us. Having said that, he was never really given enough of a chance. He
was always brilliant at Wolves and I hope he does well at Norwich. Turning to Dimitri Payet now and he is the player we are all talking about - as are fans of other teams. He has got vision and flair, and he can read the game beautifully, which is something we haven’t seen at West Ham for a long time. He has got a Teddy Sheringham-style football brain but with a bit of pace and acceleration thrown in! He performed brilliantly in France last season and I’m still surprised that one of the bigger Premier League sides didn’t go after him. I guess it came down to the fact he had just the one superior season and there would have been questions about whether or not he could replicate this for another season and in another country. Do I think he can do it for West Ham this season? I certainly think so and from what I’ve seen, I’m sure he can keep up this form for the whole season. He seems to have that hunger and swagger which I really like and I’m sure he is going to be West Ham favourite. The other summer signing that has caught my eye is Manuel Lanzini. I really like the look of him because he has a sparkle about him - probably why his nickname is the jewel! He is the type of player that would have been
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Potential: Manuel Lanzini has enjoyed a bright start to life in English football lost in a team managed by Sam Allardyce but Bilic has seen that little bit of magic he has. He has ingenuity and I think Sakho, and Valencia, when he returns from injury, will thrive on his through balls. He isn’t the biggest of players but he does have strength on the ball and I think he is a really exciting player. Against Sunderland, I think he had the most touches of all the players and that’s exactly what we need our creative players to do. We need them on the ball, dictating the play and pulling the strings. It’s going to be interesting to see what Slaven
does when we’ve got all our players back from injury and fully fit, like Alex Song. Still I’m sure he’ll appreciate the dilemma of having such a plethora of quality midfield players, especially Payet and Lanzini who are scintillating to watch at times and are helping West Ham play the football we’ve been crying out for. Having said this, it doesn’t matter how good a few individuals are if we continue to start poorly in games. We started slowly against Bournemouth, Leicester, Norwich and Sunderland and we were punished. We can’t just rely on
playing well in the second half every week. We need to begin brighter and start on the front foot. When I spoke to Slaven Bilic recently he told me that there were individual errors in these games and these can’t be legislated for. He has got a point because, in truth, you can’t but there has to be an element of concentration in there too. The bottom line is we can’t continue to go two goals down every week and expect us to come back every time, it’s just not possible. We need to attack games from the first moment. BBM
Victor Moses Bright: Victor Moses has looked good in his first few West Ham starts
Will Moses finally live up to the hype? The former Crystal Palace youngster can shine after his transfer deadline day switch
f all the players who arrived at the club over the summer, there’s one name that seemed to stand out more than anyone. Yes, Dimitri Payet’s arrival was something of
a marquee signing given his stats from last season and what’ve seen of him since, but it was the loan capture of Victor Moses that had me much more excited. Moses’ journey to the top – he may have played for Liverpool and Chelsea but turning out for West Ham constitutes as reaching the very top in my book – has been quite a remarkable journey. Born in the Nigerian capital of Lagos, Moses came to England at the
age of 11 following the death of his parents. His natural footballing ability saw him picked up by a Crystal Palace scout whilst playing for Cosmos 90 FC just around the corner from Selhurst Park. He earned recognition as something of a child protégé pretty quickly after scoring 50 goals in a single season for Palace’s U14s – it was pretty obvious he was going to make it, even at such a young age. He was handed his
professional debut by Palace at just 16 in 2007, and three years, 58 league appearances and 11 goals later, Moses sealed a £2.5m switch to then Premier League outfit Wigan in 2010. It was the promise he showed for the Latics over the following three and a bit seasons that paved the way for his ‘dream’ move to Chelsea. Since then, though, Moses appears to have fallen into the rather uninspiring trap of Chelsea’s loan system.
It’s a well known fact that the Blues have a habit of buying youngsters cheaply and then sending them out on loan to further develop their game. Very rarely do we see a Chelsea player who has been shipped out like this eventually become a first team regular at Stamford Bridge – just look at the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku, Patrick Bamford and Josh McEchran. But with Moses, the plans appear to be in place for him to eventually break the mould. The fact he’s enjoyed relatively successful loan spells in the Premier League with Liverpool and Stoke City speak volumes of where he’s at in terms of ability. Chelsea clearly regard him as player who should be playing in the Premier League, which is why they haven’t sent him to a club like Derby, Brentford or Vitesse. Instead he’s been told to go and develop his game in the very competition Chelsea are playing in and just goes to show you how highly they rate him. Before he arrived at West Ham on Deadline Day, Moses signed a new four-year deal at Chelsea. This could either be to increase his value next summer if we want to make his loan move permanent, or because Chelsea believe he’ll be ready to become a regular after one final
Rare: Victor Moses struggled for game time at Chelsea
season learning his trade elsewhere. I certainly hope it’s the former because, from what we’ve seen of him already, it’s clear we’ve got a very good player on our hands. We already knew that, I know, but it’s at West Ham where I truly believe we’ll see how good Moses really is. His season at Liverpool came at a time when he was still developing, while a couple of unfortunate injuries prevented him from truly reaching
his full potential at Stoke. He played well for both clubs, but didn’t exactly set the world alight. But at West Ham, things already look different. Moses’ goal and overall performance against Manchester City typified exactly what we should expect from him this season. The Nigerian was desperately unlucky not have registered on his debut in the win against Newcastle, though his performance played a
huge role in us securing all three points anyway. Now at the age of 24, Moses finally looks ready to show the Premier League exactly what all the fuss was about when he first broke into Palace’s first team. The fact he’ll be doing that while wearing the famous claret and blue is a huge bonus for us. Whatever happens next summer I’m in no doubt that it’ll be at West Ham where Moses finally lives up to all that 2007 hype. BBM
Rugby World Cup gives a hint of the future in our new home Hammers fans get first taste of Olympic Stadium in football mode Chicken run? The Olympic Stadium has a huge new East Stand
SEAN WHETSTONE @westhamfootball
hat a busy month in the world of West Ham’s new home from next August. We got our first look at the £17m retractable seating when the Barbarians played against Samoa at the end of August. And in September, we got to the see the new magnificent kop-style east stand fully completed and full of 20,000 fans for the Rugby World Cup matches of France v Romania and New Zealand v Namibia. More than 100,000 supporters packed those Rugby World cup games at Stratford and it showed the fans who went and the millions more who watched on TV, the possibilities that await West Ham next year. Even anti-move campaigner Nigel Kahn of campaign group WHUSVIEW went to a rugby
game and was forced to admit that the views from the upper east stand were good and the atmosphere wasn’t too shabby either, although he called it a sanitised version of football. While everyone seemed to love the 20,000 east stand, most Hammers hate each time the word kop is mentioned by the club in official communications because it reminds them of Anfield, although it is
not exclusively a Liverpool term. Suggestions to name the stand officially or unofficially include The Chicken Run and The Boleyn Wall together with a petition to name it the Billy Bonds stand in honour of the West Ham legend with the most appearances in a Hammers shirt. The only small gripes of Hammers fans that attended the rugby to experience the re-built
stadium was the 30 minutes it took to get from the station to stadium with many describing the routes to the stadium as an afterthought by organisers and planners. It appears the food, drink and toilets have all dramatically improved since the athletics anniversary games in the summer and the only complaint was the ugly gaps left between the upper and lower stands behind the goals. West Ham plan to add Claret and Blue sails to cover these gaps. Still to come after the Rugby World Cup is the chucking out of the black seats for the claret and blue ones paid for the club but as some fans point out, this is a waste of millions because you won’t see them when the stadium is full. The £7m hospitality areas will be finished and West Ham branding will be added together with a new LED wrap around the outside of the stadium to complete the WestHamification of the stadium. The naming rights will also be announced shortly after the Rugby World Cup but West
Ham are unlikely to see any share of that deal. I understand the Hammers have a right of veto if the sponsor doesn’t match their values or the naming rights company could potentially harm the West Ham brand. Technically it can’t be called the Olympic Stadium anymore anyway because of licensing rights by the IOC. It is officially known as ‘The Stadium at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park’ so don’t let me catch you calling it the Olympic Stadium. One group who remain unhappy with the converted stadium are the 14 supporters’ trusts who set-up a petition to demand a public inquiry into the government’s deal with West Ham for the rental of the stadium. That petition for an inquiry was rejected by the government but they were successful in their complaint to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) as to why the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) blacked out all the important details of the agreement when they released it after a Freedom of Information request by the Charlton Athletics Supporters’ Trust. This request spawned an article by Owen Gibson in the Guardian, which in turn led to the BBC documentary ’How the Hammers stuck gold’. This led to it becoming a political issue. Following the ICO
Looking good: West Ham fans had the chance to see the Olympic Stadium in football mode at the Rugby World Cup ruling, the LLDC have to either release the agreement in full or appeal the decision. The funny thing is most of the detail is already in the public domain and I am told certain hidden clauses mean the deal is not as good for West Ham as some other club’s supporters groups would have us believe. I understand West Ham will pay £2.5 million in rent for the use of the stadium on just 25 match days a year, should they need it on
more occasions they will have to fork out another £100,000 per day! This is on top of the £15m contribution it will make to the £272m conversion costs. The rent is index linked over 99 years with a rent reduction of 50 per cent should West Ham be relegated. West Ham will receive between 10 per cent and 15 per cent of the net profit of catering rights and nothing from the naming rights, at least in the short term. I think the LLDC
should publish the agreement and be damned. This wasn’t of West Ham’s doing, we entered a fair competition scrutinised by European tender law. We won fair and square and paid the market rate. Let’s be honest, it would have been a white elephant without West Ham. We all know it is better to own a stadium than rent it but I still believe it will be great home for West Ham and will help us move on to the next level. BBM
FROZEN IN TIME
Tuesday, September 22, 2015: The Olympic Stadium looks resplendent in football mode ahead of the Rugby World Cup game between France and Romania. The Hammers move into their new home next summer.
Premier League fixtures
Computer says no to common sense and may ruin a funeral
Do the bigwigs at the Premier League even look at the fixtures now? Sad times: Leaving will be emotional
BRIAN WILLIAMS @BrainWill26
sk anyone at the Premier League and they will tell you the fixture list is compiled by computer. But what sort of computer? You’d think that, as chief executive of the wealthiest league in the world, Richard Scudamore would have sufficient funds at his disposal to afford something decent like a MacBook Air, complete with an Intel Core processor. But, judging by the way West Ham’s games have fallen this year, it looks like someone has used an old Amstrad powered by the clockwork innards of a Mickey Mouse watch. One home game in a calendar month? You’ve gotta be kidding! Yes, I know there’s an international break but there are five Saturdays in October this year,
and we have one, single, solitary first team fixture at Upton Park in that time. Admittedly it is a mouth-watering encounter with Chelsea, but as someone who regularly forgets where I have left my keys, I just hope I can remember where I’ve stored my season ticket when Jose Mourinho brings his team of corinthian heroes to E13. It will have been gathering dust for a
month by then. Call me old-fashioned, but I rather like the traditional method of playing home and away games on alternate weekends. This new-fangled idea of back-to-back fixtures at the Boleyn Ground (or, worse, miles away from Upton Park) doesn’t suit me at all. Many season ticket holders would have been stymied by the Leicester and Bournemouth home
games being on consecutive Saturdays. I was one of them. Word may not have reached the Premier League bigwigs at Gloucester Place, but August is a popular month for parents to take their children away for a summer holiday. I believe it has something to do with the schools being closed around that time. Bad luck if you happened to have booked the two weeks which included the 15th and the 22nd. We get some more of this back-to-back malarkey in December. Worse still, it’s either side of Christmas with Swansea away on the Saturday immediately beforehand and another away fixture at Aston Villa on Boxing Day. Again, I’d like to know if anyone at Premier League HQ actually looked at these fixtures before they went public with them. Whether or not a club’s Boxing Day fixture is home or away is, of course, in the lap of the gods. But wherever it’s played, the game should be a local derby and if
I hear some overpaid TV pundit describe our game against Villa on December 26 as the ‘claret and blue derby’ I will choke on my cold turkey sandwich. When I was a kid, Christmas usually meant Spurs. Hard to believe I know, but there was a time when not only did we play on Boxing Day, there would be a game on either Christmas Day or Christmas Eve as well. In 1958, for example, we played Spurs on December 25 and 26, winning the first game 2-1 at home, then giving them a 4-1 festive stuffing at their place the following day. How good would that make your Christmas? In the interests of balance, I should probably point out that two years later they beat us 5-0 on aggregate over two games on Christmas Eve and Boxing Day. But I think we’ll quietly pass over that. The fixture that really disappointed me this year, of all years, was our final home match. Remember, this isn’t just the final home match of the season, it’s the last ever game at what has been our home since 1904. No disrespect to Swansea (actually, there’s a good deal of disrespect in what I’m about to say next), but the wonk pressing the buttons on the fixture list computer really should have thrown that one back in the sea when it first
Hard to leave: West Ham will depart Upton Park at the end of the season
came up and had another go until his mighty machine spat out a club with rather more stature. Manchester United, for example. But the thing that really worries me about the final game at Upton Park is that it isn’t the final game of the season. Which means the TV companies can dictate when it’s played. The games on the last day all have to kick off at the same time so no club can gain an advantage. The same is not true of matches played the week
before, so if BT or Sky fancy getting their grubby little hands on what is clearly a momentous occasion in our history, there is precious little we or anyone else can do about it. Now, I like my football matches to kick off at 3pm on a Saturday. Not all supporters, I accept, share my aversion to 12.45s, 5.30s, and Sunday at four o’clock. But let’s just say Sky decides to make it the Monday Night Football game. I like my football under lights as much as
any West Ham supporter. However, before I leave Upton Park for the last time I would like to have the time to pay my respects properly. That’s not going to happen if the game kicks off at 8pm. In fact, there’s every chance it will feel like being hustled out of a funeral before the coffin has been laid in the ground. Football supporters get a raw deal at the best of times. Saying the final farewell to your spiritual home is the worst of times. BBM
Andy Carroll Injury hit: Andy Carroll has spent too much time on the sidelines
Is Andy Carroll now drinking in the very last chance saloon?
The England striker must stay fit and prove he can shine under Bilic
hen we signed Andy Carroll, he was hailed as something
of a messiah. He had been fantastic on loan and towards the end of his loan season you could barely hear the whistle blowing for Kevin Nolan’s multiple fouls over the chants from the home fans of ‘we want you to stay’. Stay he did, but since then poor Andy’s had a rough time at Upton Park.
Injuries and red cards have limited his opportunities to shine on the pitch and a recent injury kept him out of action for seven months. Carroll has worked extremely hard to return to action ‘early’ (well, for him), but as with any return from a lengthy lay-off, it’s difficult to see how the giant Geordie will fit back into the
squad when considering how much has changed. Carroll was a signing made by previous manager Sam Allardyce and one of his greatest attributes was his ability to link up with teammate and friend Kevin Nolan – another name that has since fallen to the wayside at Upton Park. So how will our £15 million man fit into a
team that doesn’t include his familiar training wheels of Allardyce and Nolan? Is this the last chance saloon for Carroll, or can he work his way into new manager Slaven Billic’s plans? Carroll is returning to a new-look Hammers side who have claimed scalps at the Emirates, Anfield and the Ethiad but we haven’t advanced too far – we are yet to beat Leicester after two attempts. We’ve changed our style of play considerably and are playing some faster and drastically more attractive football but I still think he’s got a lot to contribute to this Hammers squad. After all, Nolan and Allardyce may have left, but some of their legacy has remained, and not exactly to a negative effect. According to a recent Row Zed chart, West Ham are still playing the highest number of long-balls in the league – meaning we still need a big man like Carroll to win those balls. Drive enough balls into the man and the goals will inevitably come. Also, with Carroll, it’s not just goals the man is capable of providing. The true measure of what Andy Carroll brings to a team isn’t just to do with Sam sticking him up front as a lone striker, or flicking a ball on to Kevin Nolan. Andy Carroll is the
most well-rounded striker that Slaven Billic has at his disposal. Yes, we don’t always see Andy Carroll scoring in every game, but we do constantly see him clearing the ball off the line whilst defending at the other end. He continuously did this last season and he did it again in the disappointing Capital One Cup defeat to Leicester City. This adds to the big man’s value; you just don’t see Mauro Zarate, Enner Valencia or Diafra Sakho making the effort to drop back and defend that strongly. I’d argue that preventing goals at one end is just as valuable as scoring them at the other. Sure, we need to see Carroll start scoring but provided he can stay fit, he’s still an incredibly useful part of West Ham’s line up. He is unique in our squad in what he offers – a tough, tall, defensive forward who can line up a shot like it’s nobody’s business. This offers Billic versatility in his starting line ups and the ability to change tactics depending on what team we are facing. There have been games of late where we’ve been crying out for the big lad to play a role. Now, if he can stay fit, he’ll get a chance to shine and a chance to do so without the shadows of Nolan and Allardyce looming over him. BBM
Battle: Can the striker stay fit long enough to establish himself in the side?
Etherington’s story proves we can all battle with our demons The former winger has been honest about his gambling problems Happier times: West Ham fans had a real bond with Matthew Etherington
LUCY WOOLFORD @lucy_whufc
ll too often, we hear talk about how easy life is for footballers. Fans find it hard to believe that although a hefty pay packet comes at the end of the month, footballers don’t always find financial security or a path to happiness. Take former West Ham fans’ favourite Matthew Etherington as an example. By all accounts, he’s a really nice guy and was a pivotal part of the Hammers squad, but for him, gambling was an unhealthy pastime that got him into trouble off the field during his playing days. His refreshing honesty following his troubles is something rare, and it gave a great insight into the mind of a footballer who doesn’t find the excitement of playing once a week enough to fulfill his life.
‘It’s not just football, it’s rife in this country,’ said Etherington in an interview with The Times, ‘but the way the game has gone, fitness-wise, you can’t really get away with drinking. Not like in the old days. You can’t do drugs, obviously. The next vice after that is gambling. ‘Players have a lot of time on their hands, you’re finely-tuned and
sometimes you want to recreate that buzz of playing. That’s how you get hooked.’ That’s the other side of the beautiful game. It’s the spare time and perhaps even the thoughts of what happens when it’s all over that can send even the most financially sound brain into overdrive, something that Etherington knows all
too well. What did his gambling addiction do for his private life and relationships, as well as his career? It’s something we rarely think about; as fans the personal lives, away from the cameras. He continued: ‘I lost loads of friendships over it. Some of them I’ve rekindled now, thankfully, but most people who knew me will testify that I wasn’t the nicest person in the world. I wasn’t horrible in the sense that I’d do horrible things, but . . . how can I put it? I was very selfish. All gamblers are selfish. I used to hide everything.’ The competitive streak in modern players can leave a sour taste in daily life if not handled properly, and can lead to a spectacular fall from grace. Perhaps going from the high of winning on a Saturday to the low of losing money to gambling on a Sunday is all too much to face for some. ‘I’m the worst loser in the world; I play a board game after Sunday dinner and it drives my wife mad how competitive I
am. With gambling, it was about getting that win. I couldn’t admit defeat. I thought I could beat it, even when I got into debt. It was never going to happen.’ The results of such an addiction can be devastating for players and their families, and although fans may never think of players running into debt, it’s all too easy a pattern to slip into for even top earners. Unfortunately for Matty, the horrors of debt became a reality after he refused to give up his habit. ‘I was devoid of any responsibility,’ he said. ‘When a bill came through the letterbox, I’d put it in the bin. Nobody knocked at my door, but people used to turn up at West Ham’s training ground, bookies from Romford dogs. “Oh hi, yeah I’ll see you tonight!” ‘I had the gift of the gab. But I wouldn’t turn up. I’d go to a different track. They’d come back the next day, but as a gambler you become a great liar. Ultimately, that’s what I was.’ And it wasn’t just blowing large amounts of money with friends that was the West Ham star’s downfall. He added: ‘My family would ask questions, but I’d bat them away. It got to the point where I’d blown all my wages, down to betting 5ps, 10ps and 50ps, trying to win thousands back. That was the moment I
A dog’s life: Etherington lost a fotune at London’s dogs tracks
Gamblers Anonymous Gamblers anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to do the same. GA members offer the hand of friendship to anyone who is looking to try and stop gambling. Why not pop along to a meeting near you and get the help you have been looking for. There is no membership or registration required, just turn up at the meetings advertised time and date. For more information visit http://www. gamblersanonymous. org.uk
finally wised up. Ridiculous. What was I doing?’ Fortunately for Etherington, he sought help eventually. That’s not to say it was easy for him to come to terms with his addiction, but it had affected his on and off-field life badly enough to force him to come to a stop. He isn’t the first foot-
baller to fall into a less than ideal situation such as this and he won’t be the last. He’s brave enough to talk about it and raise awareness for other sportspeople who could easily fall into the same habits as he did. It’s also important for fans to understand that footballers are only hu-
man and their financial situations don’t make them invincible to such addictions and lifestyle struggles. The thrills of Premier League football can be huge, but it’s the downtime and competitive natures that can lead players, past and present, down the wrong paths in life. BBM
Has Tomkins done enough to become our main right back? Irons’ centre-half has out-performed Jenkinson so far this season Struggle: Carl Jenkinson has not been at his best
shift in impetus this season from the resolute defending personified by then manager Sam Allardyce, has seen West Ham’s creative attacking talents shine brighter under new manager Slaven Bilic. Last year, if asked, most fans would have said our best player was one of the back five whereas this year I’m sure they would undoubtedly point to one one of the attackers. Yet whilst the large majority of West Ham fans salivate over the attacking options and displays we’ve seen so far this season, there is one player I feel is going somewhat unnoticed with his performances at the other end of the pitch - James Tomkins. Whilst the club, as well as all of us, will want to forget our brief qualifying stint for the Europa
League this summer, Tomkins managed to score two in six games played under the new manager. Nevertheless, the beginning of the Premier League season has been a rather challenging one for the Hammers’ academy graduate. If anything, his start to the season has been tough in terms of the mentality required, due to his ever changing cir-
cumstances and placing within the squad. But while many would bemoan the cutting and changes, Tomkins has just let his football do the talking. Many talk of the selection headaches within the midfield and upfront, but Tomkins is single handily going to give Bilic a massive headache if he carries on as he is. In his seven appearances this season,
Tomkins has played at right-back three times and centre-back four times. With the arrival of Angelo Ogbonna, Tomkins must have been wondering where his playing time would come from as the club added depth to an already competitive position. However, he has been heavily relied on which shows just how trusted and well thought of he is by the management. The fact he has only played two consecutive games (Manchester City and Norwich) in his favoured position,shows the flexibility and dependency which has been put on his shoulders. Whether you want to put that down to Jenkinson’s form, ineligibility or suspensions, the fact remains that Tomkins has outperformed our first choice right-back and one of our first choice centre-backs so far this campaign. The question is now should Tomkins be our first choice right back whilst he plays so well there, especially, once Ogbonna returns? It’s clear that both full-
backs aren’t playing to their potential in the early stages of this season, so why should Tomkins have to sit on the bench when he could replace one of them and do a better job if he himself is to be replaced by a fit-again Ogbonna? He doesn’t possess the raw speed of Jenkinson, that’s a given, however, defensively he is so much better suited there. Although you’d expect Jenkinson to have the better attacking prowess between the two, that has been non-existent so far this season, which has left Bilic berating him and Cresswell to offer more going forward from the touchline of a few occasions this season. When Ogbonna returns it will be intriguing to see whether or not he does replace Tomkins instantly, and, whether or not that means Tomkins simply slides along to right back, or, finds himself right back on the bench with the return of the Italian centre-back. Also, let us not forget that our only three clean sheets so far this season have come in games when Tomkins has played at right back. During our win at Anfield he had the highest pass accuracy of our defence (82 per cent), made more passes (44) and had more touches (53) than his backfour colleagues. Aaron Cresswell has had plenty of people calling for him to be given an England
On his game: James Tomkins has enjoyed a fine start to the season
call-up but, for whatever reason, Roy Hodgson hasn’t handed him it, Does he deserve it? Yes. But not on this season’s showing. However, Roy could make a smart move in handing Tomkins a callup now that England are qualified for the Euro’s. It would be great to give
him the opportunity to show what he can do in something of a problem-position for the national side, especially as there is no pressure on England now they have qualified for next summer’s tournament. Much like Mark Noble, Tomkins has represented England from the U16s
up to the U21s, as well as Great Britain in the Olympics. What’s more is who is going to go to the Euro’s for England. Jagielka, Cahill, Smalling, Stones? Why shouldn’t Tomkins be able to force his way into the squad at the expense of any of those listed? BBM
Pardew shows the Toon what they’re missing as his new-look Eagles ﬂy high
In-form: Crystal Palace have enjoyed a fine start to the season
The former West Ham manager has re-built his reputation in London
est Ham United may have improved since Slaven Bilic took over this summer, and Claudio Ranieri’s surprise appointment at Leicester City has
worked out well for the Foxes, but former Hammers boss Alan Pardew has certainly worked wonders at Crystal Palace. Having been forced out from St James’ Park by the Newcastle United fans, Pardew was pleased to take over at a club he holds close to his heart. Having enjoyed the best spell of his playing career in the red and blue of Crystal Palace, Pardew knew that he
would be welcomed to Selhurst Park. The Palace faithful has continued to support Pardew and now the Eagles are reaping the rewards having brought the former West Ham boss in to replace Neil Warnock. It is clear that Palace are one of the most improved sides since the ex-Reading boss swapped St James’ Park for Selhurst Park in January. Pardew, who led
West Ham to the FA Cup Final in 2006, actually took over the reins at Palace with them in the relegation zone but led them to a 10th-place finish – the highest finish in the club’s history in the Premier League. In leading Palace to an impressive finish, Pardew became the first manager to take over a club in the Premier League drop zone and eventually guide them to a top half finish.
The Daily Mirror even claimed that ‘Pardew has a legitimate form to claim to keeping two teams up this campaign’ with Newcastle ‘staying up on the final day of the season – surviving really only on their early season form’. Pardew’s win percentage at Crystal Palace is also better than at any of his previous clubs – including West Ham. His win percentage while at the helm at Upton Park was 41.1 per cent, while he has a win percentage of 58.62 per cent at Palace at the time of writing. In 29 Premier League games, Palace have won 17 times. That is an outstanding improvement when you consider Palace were favourites to be relegated when Warnock was still in the hotseat. In fact, Warnock’s win percentage at Selhurst Park in his second spell – between August and December 2014 – was only 17.65 per cent. In 17 Premier League games, a Warnock-led Palace only won on three occasions. Pardew’s players have also grown in confidence. Yannick Bolasie is one player who has been on fire since the managerial change. Bolasie was seen as a player with potential by Warnock, but he has become even more unpredictable on his mazy runs down the wing under the guidance of Pardew.
Some top clubs were interested in the impressive winger during the summer transfer window. But Pardew slapped a £40m price tag on the Democratic Republic of Congo international, who has come up the leagues having appeared for the likes of Rushden & Diamonds and Barnet. As a result, the Eagles were able to hold onto their man. It could also be argued that before Pardew took over in South London, that they would not have been able to attract a player with the quality of someone like Yohan Cabaye. The France international central midfielder played under his current boss at Newcastle United, but many were still doubting whether Palace would be able to bring in the midfielder. The signing of Cabaye was a real coup and he has already brought some much-needed quality to the Eagles’ midfield. Following West Ham’s defeat at Newcastle United on the final day of last season, it was announced that Sam Allardyce’s contract would not be renewed. Famously, Sky Sports pundit Graeme Souness said that West Ham fans should ‘be careful what you wish for’, and he made it clear that he felt the Hammers were making a mistake in letting Allardyce go. But it would appear
Careful what you wish for: Newcastle have not improved since Pardew quit
that Newcastle should be careful what they wish for. The Magpies faithful pushed Pardew out of the club by constantly calling for owner Mike Ashley to sack the ex-Hammers boss. That made him feel unwanted and, as a result, he was more than happy to leave and take over at Crystal Palace. Following Pardew’s move, Newcastle went downhill under the guidance of John Carver
until the end of the season. Newcastle only won three top flight matches under Carver and they have since replaced him with Steve McClaren, who has only won a League Cup second round tie against League Two side Northampton Town. It is clear that Newcastle would have been better off sticking with Pardew, but their loss is most certainly Crystal Palace’s gain. BBM
‘We’ve winged it but it’s been a fun and unexpected journey’ Hammers fans now have a new way to share their views on the team
lowing Bubbles editor David Blackmore caught up with Geo Mackie, aka Redhammer, one of the admin from West Ham website Hammers Chat. Why did you decide to launch Hammers Chat? Kris, aka Gonzo, created Hammers Chat after the West Ham forum he had been using since 2007 started to encounter major glitches and then in November 2014, started charging users. He watched a couple of YouTube tutorials on how to build a forum and spent the best part of a week trying to do just that. The rest is history and over the next 48 hours we had a lot of members sign up. We then continued to develop the site, asked for lots of opinions, and leaned heavily on forum members with more technical knowledge than myself. We were winging it but it has been a surprising, fun and unexpected journey. What has the feedback been to Hammers Chat? It’s been very good. Everyone that knows our story is surprised how far we have came.
Good to talk: Fans can join the conversation
Just the other week, for example, we had Jack and Dave Sullivan on our new YouTube show! Our members have been very patient as we have tried a lot of things out while the forum was being used daily. Where do you want Hammers Chat to be in the next few years? It is growing slowly and hopefully it will continue to grow. We are still learning and hopefully we can continue to improve the forum and the services we offer to our members.
Ideally we’d like more members to become hands on by looking after a feature or writing articles for us. Who would you love to have on your YouTube show - ‘Talk A Good Game’? We have been in touch with some former players and hopefully the members will enjoy some of the shows with them in the near future. We’d love to have a chat with Sam Allardyce but out of the current squad, it would be great to chat with Mr West
Ham, Mark Noble. How can members get involved? We are on Twitter (@ hammers_chat) and Facebook (facebook. com/hammerschat). People can also access the blogs and forum via our website at hammerschat.com. Members can join the forum for free. If they wish to help out on the site they can drop us a message or on social media. People can also get involved with our YouTube show, all that is required is a webcam.
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Supporters’ club of the month
#7: DC Hammers When, how and why was group founded? DC Hammers was officially formed in 2013 as a way of bringing supporters based in DC, USA together to do what they do best, support the Irons. Since the arrival of a few UK Hammers fans to the DC area, we have made a big push to raise our profile and ensure that there is a West Ham community out there for fellow fans to join. How many members in your group today? We currently have about 10 members who regularly meet up to watch the games. This has increased significantly this season as our profile has risen and continues to do so as we randomly meet fellow Hammers around the city and invite them along to join us. We have even had a few Hammers from different
Proud: Washington is well represented with Hammers fans
cities and states come along to meet us when they have been visiting DC. Where do you watch games? We currently meet to watch games at Fado Irish Bar in the Chinatown area of DC. This bar is renowned for
Tasty: They even get to drink the black stuff
broadcasting Premier League games, even opening their doors for the early kick offs. The bar always ensures West Ham will be one of the games shown. Not to mention, they do great Guinness! How many times do members travel to games? Being in the States and only recently increasing our numbers, it has been difficult to arrange a ‘club’ trip to the games. However, we have members who make their own trips and have been to a large number of games ranging from the 1975 FA Cup final, the
Championship play-offs against Ipswich and the most recent play-off final against Blackpool. What has been your most memorable day as a supporters’ club? It was last season while watching the one-all draw with Man United. Although it was a gutting finale, we completely outnumbered and out-sang the United fans throughout, showing how far he have come over the past year. What are the benefits of being part of your group? Having friends to share the highs and lows of West Ham with.
West Ham Ladies
Ladies at war as six leave club following row with manager Captain Little says she was ‘treated disgustingly’ by the Hammers
est Ham Ladies have announced the shock departure of six players, including captain Stacey Little. In a statement the club said that, following a meeting the manager, Marc Nurse, had decided to release the women from the squad. The players, however, claim they quit following a fall-out with the manager. Little announced her decision on Twitter a few days after the Hammers’ 1-0 cup defeat away at C&K Basildon saying she had ‘no choice’ having been ‘treated disgustingly by the club’. She later released a statement which added: ‘I am absolutely devastated and heartbroken to be leaving the club I love and have done so much for. ‘When they say blood, sweat and tears, that’s exactly what I have given and so much more. I was the proudest captain and I would have run through brick walls for my team. ‘It was a very hard decision to make but there’s only so much you can take. I have been driven out of this club
Sad: Stacey Little says she had no choice but to go
by two individuals for having a voice. I can’t thank everyone enough for the support [West Ham fans] have given me every single week and how you continue to do so. It means so much you truly are the best fans in the world and will always be my West Ham family.’ Kerry Stimson, Emma Sherwood, Lily Mellors, Kelley Blanchflower and
Kayleigh Xidhas have joined Stacey Little in leaving. On Twitter, Stimson said: ‘We requested for Marc Nurse to leave as he isn’t good enough [as manager] but he said he won’t and if we wanted to leave then go, six of us.’ Media officer Tommy Wathen also left his post. However, chairman Steven Hunt said the
changes were necessary to take the club forward. ‘A meeting was called by the manager for Tuesday evening to announce his decision to release a number of senior players, including Stacey Little, whom he deemed surplus to requirements,’ he told BBC Sport. ‘The club is focusing its future on its main players such as Aditi Chauhan, the Indian international, and Giulia Ferrandi from Italy. ‘We also have a number of new signings being discussed, including players from Women’s Super League teams.’ The news comes after a tumultuous start to the season for the Ladies. A thrashing away at Coventry City on the opening day was followed by two defeats in the FA Women’s Premier League Southern Division, against newly-promoted Forest Green Rovers and at home to C&K Basildon. The Ladies are now gearing up to take on Charlton Athletic and Tottenham Hotspur, who are currently third and fifth respectively, without some of their most senior players. BBM
Support: Moon Beaver have helped West Ham Ladies
Law firm gets behind Ladies
est Ham Ladies’ match against C&K Basildon last month was their first ever game to attract an external sponsor. Blowing Bubbles caught up with Frances Coulson, senior partner at London and Essex-based law firm Moon Beever, after the game and asked what encouraged Moon Beever to support the event? ‘It’s an exciting time for women’s football after the national team’s performance in Canada this summer,’ said Frances. ‘As the mother of three daughters, it’s been great to see the profile of women’s football rise steadily. ‘If, as a firm, we can do our bit to support teams at a local level, then
Supportive: Frances Coulson
that helps the game as a whole.’ Moon Beever also sponsors Chelmsford Ladies rugby team, she added. It’s part of its support for women’s sport local to the firm’s offices in Braintree and central London. Frances continued: ‘For fans, loyalty to
their team is such an important part of the game. And for us, loyalty played its part too. ‘Co-Chairman Stephen Hunt is a long-standing client and friend of our firm so we were pleased to help him as he creates a stable financial environment to allow the club to move forward
to compete at a higher level. ‘To do this, he needs the support of the fan base, but also support from local businesses. ‘Our thanks to the team and all the supporters for making us so welcome on the night. We were pleased to lead the way in sponsoring the game and hope it prompts other local businesses to get behind the team’ Moon Beever undertakes work across areas including family, employment, wills and probate as well as debt collection, insolvency and commercial litigation. For more information give Moon Beever a call on 0207 400 7770 or visit moonbeever.com.
The last word
Four things that are different now Bilic is West Ham gaffer
Geoff Hillyer on how the club has changed over the last few months
laven Bilic has been our manager for only a short time but there have been big some changes around the club since his arrival. 1) The fans are united It’s fair to say when Sam Allardyce was appointed manager on June 1, 2011, you’d have needed a pretty strong earthquake to create an equivalent split amongst the fans. Online forums such as Knees Up Mother Brown were full of people either side of the divide, some backing him (‘never been relegated at a club he’s been to’, ‘you know what you’re going to get’, ‘safety is first priority’) and some wishing him gone (‘long-ball style’, ‘boring’, ‘we play on the floor’). Now we’ve moved on, and so the split has been mostly repaired. 2) The style and ethos of the team is changing You always felt with Allardyce that the result came first, the style and manner of the performance second. In that sense, he played football by numbers and
New look: West Ham are a different club under Slaven Bilic
was relatively successful. Indeed, you could argue that this was the recipe for promotion from the Championship and solidity in the Premier League. It’s early days, but the signs are that Bilic wants us to play with more of a swagger and footballing ethos. Take the matches against Arsenal and Liverpool – it wasn’t
backs-to-the-wall. Where possible, the team looked to get forward. It’s been refreshing. 3) Image is everything When you think of Sam Allardyce, what springs to mind? Leaving aside the unflattering nicknames, you’ll probably think of someone who is the very embodiment of ‘what you see is what you get’.
Bilic is the complete opposite. You get the impression that he wants the support of the West Ham faithful. He’s already popular, of course, having spent time at the club but he feels that the club will need everything going in the same direction to succeed, and that includes the fans. 4) We have a manager who is ‘one of us’ I was listening to a very interesting interview on a podcast with a famous BBC newsreader. He’d said that when he moved from ITN to the BBC, he always felt as if he was an ‘outsider’ and so viewed with a certain degree of suspicion. You could argue that this is how a section of the West Ham support treated Allardyce. He wasn’t ‘one of us’ and there was no previous connection with the club. Now, we have a manager who was a popular player for us and a player who stayed as a debt of loyalty to West Ham even after a transfer deal was agreed with Everton, to ensure that we stayed up. BBM
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Published on Oct 7, 2015
In this issue: *Exclusive interviews with West Ham youngster Martin Samulesen and midfield dynamo Cheikhou Kouyaté *Exclusive columns from e...