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Exclusive interview with David Gold Blowing Bubbles’ End of Season Awards Why we are caught in a management trap Tough summer ahead for Allardyce West Ham Ladies storm to county cup win & much more The Number One West Ham United eFanzine! Print • Mobile • Online

WELCOME EDITOR: David Blackmore NEWS EDITOR: Alex Shilling CONTRIBUTORS: David Bowden, Toby Fry, Tim Holland, Andrew Hosie, Thomas Johnson, James Jones, David Meagher, Danny Rust, Bill West, Brian Williams, Lucy Woolford EDITORIAL ENQUIRIES: EMAIL: ADVERTISING ENQUIRIES: EMAIL: 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 TO CONTACT BLOWING BUBBLES: Email: 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

So here we are, the final home game of the season. I don’t know about you but it feels like it has absolutely flown by since our draw away at Chelsea. But I think that’s probably a good thing because this season hasn’t been very successful for West Ham and we may end up finishing just above the relegation zone. It has, however, been quite an emotional week here at Blowing Bubbles HQ as we’ve pulled together this final issue of the season. We’re very proud of what we’ve achieved over the past two seasons and this week’s issue is our best issue to date. Kicking us off is another exclusive interview with jointchairman David Gold. We were delighted when he agreed to another interview and it was great to meet him again and just have a chat, West Ham fan to West Ham fan. We discussed his assessment of the season and his hopes for the next season. We also discussed his views on fans booing, about sacking Sam Allardyce and his dream of winning the FA Cup. It is an incredible read. Also in this week’s issue, we reveal our end of season award winners as well as the usual excellent copy on a variety of issues from our brilliant band of writers. We’ve also got an in-depth report on the West Ham Ladies’ County Cup win and the Ladies’ Blowing Bubbles end of season awards - both make a good read. Enjoy the game at Upton Park. I really hope we hammer Spurs to make it three wins from three this season and to send us off for the summer extremely happy.

David Blackmore Editor

The Big Interview: David Gold

David Gold speaks to us about fans booing, not sacking Sam Allardyce and dreaming of winning the FA Cup

West Ham joint chairman David Gold says it is “outrageous” for fans to boo their own players during the game – but says they have every right to make their feelings known once the final whistle has blown. In an exclusive interview with Blowing Bubbles, he admitted he has been frustrated with how the team have performed this season – even when they have been winning games – but says it is important supporters consider the bigger picture. “Whether you are booing the opposition, the manager

or even the owners, the players will feel they are being booed so I would urge all fans to be wary of booing during games,” he said. “It’s obvious if you are booing the referee because he has given a penalty against you but other than that, you can’t risk booing anything because the players will take it personally. “These young men are all about confidence and booing doesn’t help. I have also never known a team to come back after being booed at half time and play better. Booing after the game is all right - that is

the right of every fan in that stadium once the final whistle has been blown because they have paid their money. I have never done it in my life but I understand why people do.” Frustrations on the terraces have peaked in recent weeks, with Sam Allardyce being criticised by a section of the away support at West Brom as West Ham fell to their seventh defeat in nine games. But Gold insists that frustration is shared by everyone inside the club, with the board, manager and players all unhappy with

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recent results and performances. “The fans might have been suffering at times this season but let me tell you the players have been suffering more,” he added. “Nobody feels the pain of losing more than the players. The fans are disappointed. I get that. Fans, like me, want to enjoy themselves. If we lose, I have a pretty miserable weekend and I can’t wait for it to finish so that I can get distracted by other things. “Sitting at home is very depressing when you are beaten by a side that you feel you should not have lost to, and that is what erodes the confidence of the fans. This football club would be nothing without its supporters but we’ve got to take the rough with the smooth.” While the players and Allardyce have taken the majority of the criticism in recent weeks the board have also taken their share of blame. Yet while Gold accepts the criticism is part of the job and admits mistakes have been made he says he won’t accept people questioning his motivation. “It’s painful when you know you are doing the best you can and it’s hurtful when a fan says I am only doing this for the money. It’s cost me a large fortune to get where we are

today. And where are we exactly? We have recovered from the brink of administration, we have recovered from relegation and every day and in every way, we are getting stronger.” Despite the recent results it is hard to argue with his assertion that things have improved, especially when you look back and consider the Hammers were stuck in the bottom three at the turn of the year. Being in the relegation zone at Christmas was also a painful time for Gold especially when he was sat around a table with the Premier League’s other 19 chairmen. “They all look at you as if you have got the plague,” he mused. “You try and put on a brave face but you are hurting because your pride is hurting. You want to go up to the likes of David Gill of Manchester United and say good luck and it’s been an exciting season but you can’t do that when you are in the bottom three because people reply and say you will be all right but they don’t know if you are going to be all right. “It’s a low point for any club when you are in the bottom three but it’s worse at Christmas because at that time of the season, you’ve got every chance of being relegated.”

Despite being stuck in the relegation zone the club “never discussed” sacking Allardyce – and Gold is happy to point out that five of the six sides below West Ham in the Premier League table have changed managers at least once this season. “Of course, club’s panic and sack managers and spend the rest of the season regretting it. Others don’t sack their managers and spend the rest of the season regretting that. “We believed Sam was the man to get us out of trouble. When we brought Sam in we told him we had been relegated, the club has large debts and that whatever he needed to get us promoted and to stay in the Premier League would be done by myself and David Sullivan. “We didn’t say we want you to play exciting football or that we want you to play this way or that way. All you can ask of the manager is to do what you require and that has been to get us up and keep us up. “You mustn’t forget that some clubs have been relegated from the Premier League and never come back up. Nobody has a divine right to being in the Premier League so we have to work hard and we have to give 100 per cent to ensure we remain a top flight and that includes the fans. They hate to hear

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that all our aspirations are just to survive but I would say that after this season, I would expect us to push on.” It seems every Premier League club would want to move to the next level, but Gold says he and David Sullivan have a clear vision for where the club want to be in five years’ time. “I want us to improve on the position we finish this season and have a good cup run. You can, however, only have good cup runs if you are doing well in the league at the start of the season and you aren’t under pressure of relegation. But if we are playing well early next season, are well up in the league and there are a few clubs yet to get into double figures, we should be a bit more bullish about the cups and I would love nothing more than having a run in the FA Cup and going to Wembley.”

To do this West Ham will certainly need to strengthen this summer and Gold expects the club to be “busy” in the transfer market once Premier League safety has been secured. “We will be waiting to see who gets released from their club,” he explained. “There might be players at some of Europe’s biggest clubs, say Barcelona, who lets a player go and for West Ham that might be an exciting opportunity. We might also find some opportunities to buy players from relegated teams. They will be looking to sell their prized assets to balance the books. “We’re not in a position to challenge for players who are wanted by clubs in the Champions League, our competition is with clubs like Stoke, Newcastle and Southampton. You also need to remember that our debt is

reducing all the time. We will be able to lose our debt with the banks after the sale of the stadium. When that is sold and we move into the Olympic Stadium we will be in a really good position to compete with everybody. “Both David Sullivan and I have had to invest our own money for so long now and that can’t go on forever. The club has to get to a situation where it is self-sustainable and that nothing can hurt it. “At the moment relegation could hurt the football club but when we move to the Olympic Stadium, although relegation is the last thing on my mind and this is for those who are interested, we could get relegated and we would be strong enough to ensure that we get straight back.” Perhaps in the future there will be a few fewer reasons to boo after all.


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End of Season Awards

Lucy Woolford, Andrew Hosie, Thomas Johnson and Tim Holland give their votes for our end of season awards

Player of the Season LW: The award has to go to Mark Noble. His passion and commitment is undeniable and he has stood out in most games for me.

TH: Dylan Tombides. This award should be given to someone who showed heart, courage and determination and Dylan showed in his battle by the bucket load. Our Winner: Mark Noble

AH: Adrian. A player who took his chance and has become almost a cult hero, He has been a terrific player both on and off the pitch. Great performances have helped us pick up quite a few points. TJ: Mark Noble. He has been our only consistent player this season.

Young Player of the Season LW: It has to be Ravel Morrison. No other young player has the natural ability that he possesses. AH: Dylan Tombides. A man who showed great courage and determination to make

his way into the first team whilst battling cancer, The game has lost a fantastic talent. TJ: Dylan Tombides. He was a great talent and a genuinely brilliant kid. TH: Ravel Morrison. Given Sam’s reluctance to play youngsters it’s got to be Ravel. He hasn’t finished the season at the club but it’s quite telling that he has still been our best youngster this season. Our Winner: Dylan Tombides

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Goal of the Season LW: It’s not been the best season for quality goals has it? I’ll say Nolan’s first against Swansea at home. It was a pivotal game and a great finish after a good link up with Carroll. Nolan would probably also get second place for his acrobatic finish against Southampton in February too. AH: Ravel Morrison. Who could forget the euphoria of that Sunday evening after we'd turned over Tottenham which was topped it off with a goal of exquisite quality from Ravel? TJ: Ravel Morrison. The moment Ravel truly showed his potential when he scored at White Hart Lane.

The 0-0 at Stamford Bridge and defeat to Liverpool in April were really impressive. As a fan though, the most memorable was the league win at White Hart Lane, so I’ll have to say that. AH: Tottenham 0 West Ham 3 - whether he fluked it or not, Sam Allardyce got the tactics right for this one. It's just unfortunate he carried on with them way past their sell by date. There was no real hint of what was to come as the teams went in at halftime but the second half was one I watched in almost disbelief as the goals kept on coming.

TJ Away to Chelsea. Getting a point from Stamford Bridge spurred the team on to collect four wins from a TH: My vote is Ravel Morrison fabulous February. for his goal against Tottenham when he ran TH: Our best performance for through the heart of their me was the League Cup win defence before finishing with against Spurs. a chip over Lloris, ensuring a memorable victory. Our Winner: Tottenham 0 West Ham 3 Our Winner: Ravel Morrison Best Individual of the Best Team Performance of Season the Season LW: I‘d say Adrian at Chelsea LW: Strangely enough, our was a high point. A 0-0 was a stand out performances were great result and it was mostly probably games we didn’t win. down to him that we walked

away with a point. That was one of his earlier league appearances as well. AH: I suppose it was Andy Carroll's performance away to Sunderland, helping to settle nerves with a great header early on and providing an assist for Mohammed Diame. The poor results that followed show, in hindsight, how crucial it was to have Carroll in top form that night as that away victory was vital. TJ: Adrian away at Chelsea. After a tough start to life between the posts in a West Ham shirt, Adrian truly came into his own in the nineteenth century performance at Chelsea, making many stunning saves including a stoppage time shot from our old friend Frank Lampard. TH: Mark Noble v Cardiff City. A great game for the midfielder as 10 man West Ham won in South Wales with help from a late Noble goal. Our Winner: Adrian’s performance away at Chelsea Do you agree with our winners? Have you say by tweeting us @WestHamFanzine

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Lucy Woolford

Caught in a management trap

Generally speaking, I’m a very positive person when it comes to West Ham, but during the second half of our performance at the Emirates something strange happened. I got really grouchy, and I felt like any direction had completely disappeared. There was no second option and we went from being in a good leading position to losing 3-1. Not good at all. I say that I am the optimistic type when it comes to all things Hammers, but I think I just don’t see the point in being miserable about it. I know that a bit of whining

isn’t going to change anything and I also recognise that all cannot be solved by simply sacking a manager. When looking at the plight of Manchester United this season, I firmly believed that they were going about proceedings exactly as they should before the untimely departure of David Moyes. The key thing is, it’s all about rebuilding and taking your time doing it, and I honestly think that if Moyes had been given the summer to buy and organise, next season would have been a different story.

Look at Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool. He has revealed his long term plan and it’s already paying off. It was the end of September 2012 when he won his first league game after being installed in June and at the end of the season they sat in an average seventh place. The point being, it took time and thought to prepare for this season, and what a season it could be. West Ham have looked for quick fixes before, and it doesn’t work. Sam Allardyce seems to be the first

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manager we have invested a bit of effort in for a good few years. I’d even go as far as to say Harry Redknapp was our last “proper” manager. But if in the summer we do part ways with Big Sam, it’s scarily close to our deadline to move out of the Boleyn Ground. If we’re thinking about this sensibly, we know that getting a new manager would mean sacrificing a season, just as seemed to be happening at Old Trafford. The way I see it is that if Gold and Sullivan decide that they do want to give this club a bit of style and pretty football, getting any manager in to do that will see next season be even worse than this one, not to mention the amount of precious cash it will cost along the way. There will have to be a mass exodus from the club and Andy Carroll would certainly have to go, because as we know, he doesn’t generally do pretty. Immediately, that’s millions down the drain. West Ham piled money into that one signing, meaning that it pretty much has to work for years to come. Building a team round Carroll is limiting. Okay, we might be able to keep a few, and some have showed signs over the last few seasons that they can

play really attractive football, but players would also have to be adaptable and willing to perhaps sit on the bench every now and then without sulking. The alternative, of course, is to keep the management and staff just as it is and invite a few new players to join us. That doesn’t fill me with optimism to be honest, because we have a rich recent history of buying badly. The problem is, from an ownership perspective, this is probably the safer option. Think about it, we float around mid-table for two more seasons having the occasional scare along the way, but at least when we get to the Olympic Stadium we are a Premier League team. Bringing in a new face at the top and having a rocky season to rebuild could mean Championship football for us, and going in to a 54,000 seater stadium as a lower league side doesn’t add up. Having said that, the predicament is clear, and West Ham have to be able to fill the Olympic Stadium in two seasons time. How do they do that? By playing nice football that people want to watch probably, but as you can tell by my earlier admissions, there’s going to have to be a quick turnaround.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to finish the season on a sour note because as I’ve said, I do look on the bright side, and I’m not calling for anyone’s head. On paper, Big Sam hasn’t been a failure but naturally as fans we dream bigger. We don’t want to lower our expectations and nor should we, but now and then I think we do need a reality check. Unfortunately, I fear that we’re caught in a bit of a trap, and it’s hard to see the way out. You never know, we might get really good at playing the Allardyce way. The key is to have the right players to do it and a side that understand one another. For this reason, with or without Sam, I hope that we spend the summer buying well and getting rid of anyone who just isn’t putting in enough effort. I hope some of the frustrations of this season will be realised and worked on, and we can look forward to a top half finish again next season. On a final note, I wish you all a very long and relaxing summer, and hope you enjoy the World Cup, whoever you’re supporting. Follow me on Twitter @lucy_whufc

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Tales from the Sandpit: Andrew Hosie

What next for the Hammers?

Something horrendous has happened and it has made me question my footballing life. You see, at the time of writing, the last match involving West Ham was the 1-0 defeat against Crystal Palace at home. To be honest, before the game, my hopes were not exactly sky high. We’d performed poorly since our crucial away win against Sunderland and although we were playing against high calibre opposition we could have expected better displays.

Granted that Tony Pulis had galvanized Crystal Palace to such an extent that they were safe going into the game and their turnaround under him has been so impressive. It’s perfectly acceptable that Jose Mourinho suggested he should be a leading contender for Manager of the Year. So what was so horrendous apart from the result? Well, perhaps, it’s the fact that I just did not care. As soon as the little note flashed up on the bottom of my TV screen whilst watching another quite entertaining

Premier League match I knew then and there we had lost it. It had ‘inevitable’ written all over it. This time, though, I didn’t freak out. I didn’t hurl abuse at the TV. I didn’t sit glued to the text commentary praying we’d score - because I knew we wouldn’t. I don’t think I have been so blasé about a West Ham United result since the days of 2002 when at least I had the option of trudging off to the Queens and drinking away the misery. So here we are with the last game home game of the season approaching I feel

Andrew is a member of the Dubai Hammers Supporters’ Club. You can follow them on Twitter @DubaiHammers

nothing. We have limped to safety. We have done ‘enough’. Just. It shouldn’t be this way. Rewinding back to last summer and hopes were high for the season. We seemed to be doing well in the transfer market – we were buying players at least – and there was a feeling we’d kick on from last season. A routine victory in the opening game of the season boosted that thought but things rapidly spiraled downhill from there. The warning signs were posted the next game with an incredibly tedious performance against Newcastle, so dull was it, that I spent most of my time chatting to a guy about the swimming championships his son was competing in rather than taking in the match. Poor results came thick and fast and bad news on the injury front to Carroll filtered through. The brief respite with the terrific victory against Tottenham proved a false dawn and things, as we know, plunged further into the mire. Thank goodness for February, which basically saved us, although we certainly rode our luck in a couple of those matches. So, here we are, limping towards the end of the

season, grateful that we did enough back then to see us over the finish line. In no way, though, is it satisfactory. I write this on the day that an article was published where Sam admitted things must change but not by much. This is not good enough. Things need to change a lot. Let me digress slightly. I work in radio. I present a daily show. Granted, I have to toe the line in certain ways to appease the commercial aspect of what I do. Often I have to downgrade what I’d like to do so as to not upset those that are paying my wages directly. Ultimately, though, I am judged by my ratings. If I turned up everyday and went through the motions, people would quickly tire of listening. That would then filter through to listener surveys and after a two or perhaps three results that showed people were fast disappearing I’m sure my days would be numbered. So why’s it different here? OK, yes, it is of paramount importance that we remain in the top flight. The most essential thing after promotion was to ensure we stayed there. We did, and did rather well. So well, according to Sam, that we overachieved!

Fine, it may not have been very pretty but I think we all accepted that establishing a firm foothold was the most important objective of last season. So surely then, this season’s aim was to crack on? Not to end up desperately grateful we managed to survive, just about struggling to achieve that all important forty point target. Again, excuses can be made regarding injuries to crucial players at the wrong time, bad luck, poor refereeing decisions but overall none of these excuses are acceptable. Let’s face it, we were not doing particularly well before all these problems escalated around Christmas and New Year. As we head into the summer, something has to change. I don’t blame Sam for everything. Lets face it, we’ve been pretty appalling for quite some time but I think enough is enough. A change has got to be made. I don’t think I can sit through another season as bad as this one, the cumulative result of many other recent poor seasons. It’s got to be better than this, surely? Follow me on Twitter @hosiemon

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West Ham World

Why West Ham should look to a familiar face to solve their problems

Our defeat against Palace prompted the old ‘You don’t know what you’re doing’ chant from the Bobby Moore lower, and while I wouldn’t go that far – I think time has come for club and manager to part ways. Firstly, I appreciate what Sam has done for the club. Relegated, in a mess, with a number of players who either weren’t good enough or just couldn’t be arsed – Sam turned things around. Promoted in his first season and finishing impressively in the top half of the table back in the top

flight. I will never and have never shouted ‘Sam Out’ or tweeted David Gold abuse, begging him to get rid of our manager, but I do think it is time to part ways. The owners may want stability, but with the number of people not renewing their season ticket next season, Upton Park could be half empty by the time we leave for the Olympic Stadium should Sam still be in charge. I was fortunate enough to be in the press box for the Palace game and having seen Allardyce’s manor after the game – you could tell the

pressure was getting to him. I think Mr Gold and Sullivan will do the right thing this summer and put us out of our misery. But when it comes to a new manager, the board really have to think hard. For me – I want Premier League experience, a West Ham connection and a bit of passion and adaptability about a manager. One man crops up every time I think about it – Alan Pardew. Newcastle fans are sick of him but having guided West Ham back to the Premier League and then to

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the Uefa Cup, I still have a lot of time for the bloke. Behind the scenes issues cropped up last time at Upton Park, but the fans have a good relationship with him and his passion is there for all to see, even if he takes it too far sometimes. After doing a fine job at West Ham and Southampton, Pardew then took Newcastle to Europe and very nearly the Champions League on a fraction of the budget compared to his competitors. But the fans at St James’ Park don’t want Pardew and I

really think a return to West Ham could work. A two year contract for Pardew, which would expire just as we move to the Olympic Stadium, would make sense for club and employee and give everyone involved with the club the chance to try and get back to the way we want to play. Pardew is tactically astute and adaptable, something that Allardyce really isn’t, and can get the best out of players who are struggling for form. Should Newcastle inevitably sack the unwanted

gaffer, I see no better option than to bring him back to Upton Park and see if we can get the feeling buzzing around the ground from his previous time. The options are limited for Gold and Sullivan – Laudrup was considered not good enough for Swansea, Bilic has never managed in the Premier League and Malky Mackay is still struggling to find work even with West Brom and Norwich needing a new boss. The more you think about it, the more Pardew makes sense – no?

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West Ham Ladies Picture by Robert Craven and Essex FA

Joy as Ladies win Essex County Cup

West Ham Ladies ended the season on a high after winning the Essex County Cup with an emphatic 5-1 victory over Barking. In front of an expectant crowd at Hornchurch Stadium, goals from Lily Mellors, Kelley Blanchflower, Sarah McCrea, Emily Masters and skipper Stacey Little saw the Hammers crowned queens of Essex, with a late Barking goal proving to be nothing more than a consolation. The Ladies have endured a difficult season on and off the pitch, with high profile players

in Toni-Anne Wayne, Becky Merritt and Rosey Sullivan departing the club this season and a change in management after boss Mark Saunderson's resignation but the final on earlier this month represented a glorious triumph for the hard work and dedication shown by the Ladies during a testing campaign. “I'm over the moon - words can't even describe how happy I am right now,” skipper Little told Blowing Bubbles after the game. The midfielder declared

that winning the Essex County Cup was the highlight of her career and lifting the trophy was “a dream come true”. "I was nervous throughout the whole day, when I was at work thinking about it,” she explained. “I just wanted to get out and play and get it done. I wasn't too bad when I got here though. "It was difficult for us tonight because the pitch was so hard and bobbly. It was difficult to get the ball down and play the football that we wanted to play so considering the conditions weren't the best, I think we

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did quite well. I think getting an early goal calmed us down and from then on we were just pushing to get another goal to secure the lead." Little put the icing on the Ladies' cake with a pearler of a strike from the edge of the box for the Hammers’ fifth goal to seal the win. "I've tried those all season, I try them in training and they don't quite come off and I thought that Dan [Danica Revell] wasn't going to let it run through to me and it just came and I just had one aim in mind, to strike it as sweet as I did and beat the keeper." The skipper immediately ran to celebrate with her family after the goal and told Blowing Bubbles of her family's pride at her and the team's achievement. "Captaining the side and being able to lift the trophy means a lot to me and I think they're very proud so I had to get them involved in the celebration," she said. The Ladies have only league games left now and Little wants her side to use the cup victory as a springboard for momentum to end their league season on a high as well. She added: "Obviously the league hasn’t been great this year but hopefully this cup win can spur us up to push up a couple of places

out of the last three games we've got left." Director of football Julia Setford praised her captain and said that the Ladies could use the win as momentum to push on next season. She told Blowing Bubbles: "It's amazing for our club to win the Essex County Cup. We've had such an up and down season with players coming and going and the change of management so we've really had to focus the girls but to win this has put a positive spin on the end of the season and now we can go on next season and really push forward, so we're pleased." Setford hailed the teamwork of her side as the

driving force behind the victory, saying: "We've got the group together and they're playing as a team now. We've got no individuals, no one's better than anybody else and we like to keep them all on an even playing field and keep them grounded. "They're enjoying their football now and you can see that and it's starting to show on the pitch which is nice." She added: "They deserve this. It's nice, especially for people like Stacey. She's West Ham through and through, so for her to be able to lift the trophy, it's lovely for her and her family and great for us as a club.

Picture by Robert Craven and Essex FA

The Ladies play their home games at Thurrock FC, Ship Lane, Grays, Essex, RM19 1YN.

Opposition View: Tottenham Hotspur

Tim Holland speaks to Spurs fan Christos Anastasiou

How has Tottenham’s season gone? Tottenham’s season has clearly been up and down. It started well with AVB and we were near the top but with most of the new signings not settling quickly enough and the humiliating home defeats to Liverpool and Man City, the board clearly lost patience with AVB. Tim Sherwood came in and performed very well in his first 10 league games, but since then he has shown his lack of experience both in tactical nous and man management. It is true to say

that the players must take a large part of the blame for us not realistically having a chance to qualify for the Champions League. What have you made of the managerial merry go round? What did you make of AVB’s departure? I wanted him to go at the time. We were not scoring enough goals and at one point Suarez had scored more goals after 15 games than Spurs despite Suarez being banned for the first six games of the season. AVB

completely froze out Adebayor who showed he can produce inspired performances in the league when he was brought in from the cold by Sherwood. Bale was a big loss both with his ability and leadership but the fact of the matter is the team has not been performing well this year. Do you think Sherwood will go in the summer and who do you think will replace him? I think it has already been confirmed that he will go. I

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think we need to go back to basics. We need to steady the ship at the back and build from there. I would welcome Tony Pulis as the new manager. He has worked wonders since he has been at Crystal Palace with arguably one of the worst teams on paper in the league. I think his management skills are similar to Harry’s and he has the potential to get the best out of our players. AVB made a number of high profile transfers in the summer. How would you rate their first seasons at the club? All the new signings have underperformed other than Erikson, Paulinho and Chadli to an extent. Like I said earlier in the season, it will take time for players to gel but they have had enough time to gel and it just hasn’t happened.

us for another season but if he goes we will need a new ‘keeper.

You predicted a 3rd/4th finish for Spurs with West Ham 13/14th. Would you What areas would you like to like to change that? see improved in the I think you guys will finish summer? roughly where I predicted but Spurs will be 5th or 6th. I think we need a new left back, a new fast central defender and a new striker. Which West Ham players We have an embarrassment would you have in the of riches in central midfield Tottenham squad? and I think we need to ship out some of these players. Kevin Nolan in my opinion Hopefully Lloris will stay with has been your best player the past few years. Although

temperamental, he wears his heart on his sleeve. If only we had more players like him in our team we may still be fighting for the Champions League qualification. What’s been your opinion of West Ham this season? With the lack of spending West Ham have engaged in (other than Andy Carroll) I think you’ve done okay. I haven’t watched you play much but I do think you will need to spend £20m next year to look to push on

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Dear Sam

Dear Sam You probably haven’t heard this – I’ve not seen it reported anywhere – but my brother-in-law reckons Manchester United are looking for a manager. Seems they sacked that Chris Moyle so now they need a new gaffer. I reckon that’s the perfect job for you. Let’s face it mate, you’re no spring chicken any more and managing a big club like West Ham is bound to be a bit much for a man of your age. Now you’re in the

autumn of your career you ought to think about taking it easy. A nice little backwater like Manchester would suit you down to the ground. According to my brotherin-law, the Mancs need to go through a rebuilding process, which would be ideal for you. No pressure to get results immediately; no need to perfect your unique brand of modern, attacking football the moment you get there – all you’ve got to do is keep them out of the Conference and you’ll be a hero. You could probably manage that.

Another plus point is that Man U fans are prepared to give their managers a bit of time to bed in. Weren’t you friendly with that bloke who had the red face? He was there for ages, despite making any number of cock-ups. Perhaps he could give you a few pointers – he could certainly tell you where they keep the key to boardroom booze cabinet. I reckon you’d like Manchester. To be honest, the East End isn’t necessarily the best place for someone

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who hasn’t got much of a sense of humour. I’m sure you would feel more at home in a town where they still think the Chuckle Brothers are cutting-edge. They’re kinder up north, too. You won’t get any of that constructive criticism that upset you so much after the Hull game. I’m glad you took my advice about not cupping your ear again when the booing started after the Palace game. Is that because you finally recognised we really are pony? As you know, I’m not normally one to give you a hard time. But, let’s be honest, that wasn’t your finest hour, was it? What were you doing playing Linda at right back for a start? I’ve been telling people that you must have stumbled across Zola’s coaching manual, which he left behind when he got the tin tack. He was a great believer in playing left-footed players on the right and right-footed players on the left. Anyone with two left feet found themselves playing in the middle. Still, we don’t have to tell those Yanks who own Man Utd about any of that, do we?

I understand their normal line of business is running an American rugby team called the Buccaneers, so they won’t know anything about real football. Hey – when you’re at the interview you could do yourself a favour and tell them a couple of jokes. Just ask them where the chief pirate keeps his buccaneers – it’s under his buckin’ hat! If you do get the Man U job, I’ll be sorry to see you go. It’s a shame most of our players never seemed to understand your complex, progressive tactics. The ball boys seem to have got it, though; I see they’re now positioning themselves in Row F so they can get the ball back into play that much quicker. Don’t you listen to all the moaners, mate. I reckon you’ve been a breath of fresh air. You wouldn’t believe some of the weird and wonderful stuff we had to put up with over the years before you brought an air of sanity to Upton Park. You’re not going to believe this – but we once played with two up front. Imagine that! Laughable, isn’t it? There were these two little fellas called Cottee and McAvennie. Stand one on top

of the other and they’d still only come up to Big Andy’s shoulder. What use is that when you’re trying to get your head on another laser-guided cross from the boy Downing? To make matters worse, they only seemed interested in the fancy stuff – I can’t ever remember them helping out at the back. Admittedly, they got lucky one season and scored 50 goals between them – but we only finished third, which just goes to show that if you want real success you have to concentrate on the defensive side of the game. You’re a genius, Sam. Trouble is, you’re ahead of your time. But they’d love you at Old Trafford. And, do you know, I don’t think there’s a West Ham supporter worthy of the name who wouldn’t love you to be in Manchester next season as well. So, get that job application in the post today. You and Man United deserve each other. Ecky thump, lad (whatever that means) Your mate behind the goal Dear Sam is written by Brian Williams. Follow him on Twitter @BrianWill26

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Bill West

Have lessons been learnt?

I asked a few West Ham fans about the club's season so far. Most of their reactions were: "It could have been worse." After a winless run in the league in December plus the embarrassing cup results to Nottingham Forest and Manchester City in early January, I thought this would be another disastrous season like the one we endured under Avram Grant. But a fantastic February has much saved our season. Although we are not mathematically safe, it's highly unlikely we'll be playing

Championship football next season. But as a Hammers fan I should expect more from my team. We should be aiming for the top half, and not just content with avoiding relegation. The time has now come to either bring in a new manager or demand that Sam Allardyce completely changes his style of play. Some of the football played this season has been abysmal. No doubt about it. The club doesn't deserve any money to watch the dross that has been served up at most matches.

It's all well and good saying we've kept several clean sheets this campaign. That's great, but our position in the league shows that goals matter more, and we simply haven't scored enough. To have our only top striker in Andy Carroll injured until the New Year and relying on Modibo Maiga and Carlton Cole to fire in the goals is amateurish from an experienced manager in Allardyce. We have to change our identity as a club, both on and off the pitch ahead of the Olympic Stadium move in 2016. We can't have this brand of football when we move into the new stadium because no investors or new players are going to crave to join us if we struggle past teams like we did against 1oman Hull City in March. It's simple - either the board sack Allardyce and appoint someone that will implement West Ham's history and traditions, or tell Big Sam he's got one more chance to show he's the man to lead us into the future. Overall it’s been a drab season but hopefully lessons have been learnt for next season - whoever is in charge. Follow me on Twitter @bill_west_

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Danny Rust At the start of the season, Sam Allardyce said that he was expecting his side to challenge for a European spot come the end of the season. He then followed that statement up in the London Evening Standard a few weeks ago when he wrote that he thinks that if Andy Carroll was fit for the whole season then the Geordie would have scored at least 15 goals and the club would be in the European places. Some would not agree with Big Sam, but one thing is for sure: the Hammers have not achieved their aim for the season. At Christmas it looked like we were struggling and may suffer from second season syndrome. Luckily, a fantastic February resulted in us pulling clear of the drop zone but there is no chance of the Hammers competing for a European spot. A poor start to the season continued up until January and the manager should have prioritised the FA Cup. Although it is obvious that maintaining the club’s Premier League status is of paramount importance, all West Ham fans would have loved a cup run. It is also difficult to forget the embarrassment that took place at the Etihad Stadium, when the Hammers were

Was Europe target too optimistic? easily brushed aside in the League Cup semi-final. February saw the Hammers take on teams around them and so it was hoped that the club would take some all-important points from those games. However, it was not expected for the Hammers to gain a maximum of twelve points from the month. That has seen the Irons break clear of the relegation zone and now the Hammers’ safety is almost certainly secure. Now the side can play without fear and with no pressure on them.

The current points total is only one less than the club had at the end of last season, so one more win will see the club surpass that. So, in a way that will be seen as a positive. But the playing style has worsened this year and many have been calling for Big Sam to get sacked, in favour of bringing in a manager who plays more attractive football. The target of European football may have been a bit optimistic and now the club will just be pleased that the club have all but secured their Premier League safety.

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Very West Ham

The season to forget

Being from Southern Ireland, the boys at VeryWestHam were given the present of the dream start to the preseason as the Hammers arrived to take on Cork City FC. Even better, after linking in with some contacts at Cork City, we met with Sam for dinner the night before the match and then joined the team during their warm up session on the morning of the game. At that point, everybody looked happy and confident and we had every right to be optimistic about the coming season after a decent first

season back, with a definite shape and proven game plan, ‘unmarkable’ Andy Carroll’s return from a ‘minor’ injury ‘imminent’ and promises of additional striking back up. Moreover, Alou Diarra was back and looking like the international standard midfielder we had bought the previous year. Likewise Joe Cole was looking fit and injuryfree and unbeknownst to us, Downing on the way. Top half, surely? Maybe even a run at the last European spot. And at least two or three decent scalps along the way, with our old

friends at Man United looking particularly vulnerable. A good start with a win against newly promoted Cardiff, and then it all went flat as we stuttered without a cutting edge up front. Excellent and recordbreaking defensive showings merely distracted from the fact that with Kevin Nolan strangely misfiring, we couldn’t hit a cow’s backside with a banjo. Apart from a memorable victory at White Hart lane, when the Allardichi method reached its pinnacle, we were tepid. Then the defence fell

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apart due to a string of unfortunate injuries culminating in the embarrassing thrashings from Nottingham Forest and Man City as we were bundled out of the two cup competitions and we were left playing for our self-respect and Premiership survival. As the New Year arrived we suddenly looked in real trouble, anchored to the foot of the table and starting to fall adrift of the main pack and still no sign of Andy Carroll. January brought some token signings and clearly we were still banking on Big

Andy’s return to save our skin. And then Ravel Morrison abandoned ship to add to our woes with rumours about unhappy agents and similar vague nonsense. And then Carroll did return and simultaneously we started scoring and getting results, even if the return was further complicated by a three match ban. The atmosphere had changed and we went on a winning spree that has all but guaranteed Premiership football next year. All in all 2013-14 has been a year to forget. Drab football,

seemingly endless waiting for Carroll’s recovery, no real emergence of new talent from the youths, and finally, very little to keep our interest up over the final half dozen games. You’d almost miss the annual relegation neurosis we traditionally suffer – it may be a sweaty affair but at least it’s not boring! But there were some positives. Adrian has been an excellent signing and ironically, the player who looked a bit ‘wobbly’ back in the July preseason in Cork! Ravel may yet be the creative midfielder we are so lacking, but one suspects that with the obvious lack of depth in his commitment to the Hammers cause, if he performs to his potential then he will likely be snapped up by Man United et al. Either way, he is most likely to appear at the Olympic Stadium with a visiting club. Winston Reid and James Tomkins are the Premiership’s most underrated centre back pairing while Mark Noble remains our best performer. Let’s hope we hold on to these three as we increasingly look towards the Olympic Stadium era when standards (and expectations) will surely rise.

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David Bowden

Tough summer ahead for West Ham

Safety is now all but assured for the Hammers albeit it has been quite a nervy end to the season with a lot of poor displays mixed in with some very positive ones. Sam Allardyce will have a long summer ahead bringing in players that can take this club to the next level. Of course him achieving that will rely heavily on the money given to him by the board. There is no doubting though that the club needs strengthening in a whole host of positions, with

rumours of players leaving and positions being threadbare in areas already, a number of rumours will be flying around in the summer. First of all the club will need to buy a new back up ‘keeper, Jussi won’t be around forever and rumours in the press include David Marshall of Cardiff, who is a top class ‘keeper but I can’t see him wanting to come and be second choice to Adrian, so I think you can tick that off the list. Another name that has come up is Matt Gilks of

Blackpool on a free. Hardly one to get the heart rate up but a solid pro none the less and it would save vital funds for other positions, so I wouldn’t necessarily mind the Blackpool stopper at West Ham. I think we can all remember our run in December and January which saw Allardyce have to pick four full backs across the back four, I never want to see that again, it is just not good for the old ticker. So a priority (especially if Winston Reid was to leave) is

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a couple of centre backs or a solid full back who can cover centre back efficiently. The press have linked us with Joleon Lescott and Micah Richards of Manchester City. There is no doubting that those two would be quality acquisitions but I can’t help feel both those players will have better offers. The club also won’t be able to afford both those players and I can see a young centre back from abroad coming in for cover. One player I would love to see here is Keiran Trippier of Burnley. I watch a lot of Championship football and he is one of the best young players in that league. He is solid defensively and very good going forward. Whether we will be able to sign him now that Burnley are going up is a different question but he would be a class signing. I expect that Allardyce will secure the signing of Armero for a low fee. The left back looks good going forward but a little suspect at the back. He will have these last two games of the season to prove to the club he is worthy of a long term deal, but reports in the media suggest he has impressed the staff and players in training, so I

fully expect that deal to go through. Onto midfield now, and central midfield is a key area for me. Noble’s place is secure but there is definitely a place next to him up for grabs. With Diame sounding off about a move to a top six club (in your dreams Mo) the club will have to find a player who can add a bit of flair in central midfield. With rumours of Michael Carrick said to be wide of the mark, it will be interesting to see who Allardyce has in mind but a player of Carrick’s calibre is just what our midfield needs. We already have a readymade player for attacking midfield in Ravel Morrison and I know it is an old cliché but he will be like a new signing when he comes back.. I believe he will start to push Kevin Nolan all the way next season for the regular starting spot just behind Carroll so the club needn’t worry about spending any money there. An attack-minded winger who can score goals should also be the priority for Allardyce and his scouting team.

With Downing struggling to find the net and Jarvis scoring just four so far this season, there is an argument to find someone who is a striker/winger in the summer. With rumours aplenty surrounding Ross McCormack of Leeds coming to the club, perhaps his presence could change the club’s fortunes around. I would look at Solomon Kalou for a potential player to look at. He has pace and trickery as well as an eye for goal, he was linked with us last summer and would be a very solid acquisition. Finally up front, we have seen this season that Carroll can get injured and that he needs a bit of competition to keep playing at a high level. There have been a lot of rumours of foreign players being looked at, I don’t mind who comes in as long as he can find the back of the net on a regular basis. It is going to be a long summer for Allardyce and one that will be scrutinised and judged by every Hammers fan. Good luck Sam, rather you than me. Follow me on Twitter @Bowdenwhu

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Thomas Johnson

Has it been a successful season for Man City?

After our last home game against Tottenham, the team heads up to the Etihad Stadium to face the blue side of Manchester, for the second time following the embarrassing defeat in the first leg of the League Cup semi-final. It is fair to say that City are an entirely different beast to what they used to be, fuelled by the billions of their Sheik owners they can afford to lure in any talent from around the world. Recently proved in the study conducted by ESPN The Magazine and SportingIntelligence naming

City’s players the ‘best paid team in sport’. It’s strange to think that just five years ago the Hammers actually finished above Manchester City. At the end of the 2008-09 season, West Ham United climbed to the lofty heights of 9th place with City a point behind in 10th. A relegation and promotion for the Irons and many millions spent and a Premier League title for the blue half of Manchester and the times could not have been more different for West Ham and Man City.

This is not begrudging City their success because I actually quite enjoy watching them. The talent in their squad and the attacking style of manager Pellegrini makes them a more attractive prospect than the likes of Chelsea and Spurs. The likes of Agüero, Silva, Kompany and Nasri have many qualities, but for some reason it hasn’t fully worked out for City this season. Injuries have come at tricky times. Agüero missed the first leg against Barcelona and has struggled to find form for a while, Negredo has

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run out of steam after a blistering first few months in England, and Kompany is in and out of the team, it’s something that we Hammers fans can understand what with our horrible record with injuries. But when you’ve spent multi-millions assembling a squad that on paper should have the Premier League title wrapped up, you’d expect more than just a League Cup come the end of May. The Champions League always looked too early for City with the likes of the Madrids and a rampant

Bayern Munich, but it was an improvement on recent years. They’ve paid dearly for some slip-ups in the Premier League title race too, bogeyside Sunderland almost escaping the Etihad with a win before going on to do just that at title rivals Chelsea just three days later. The early season away form has proved costly too, but another summer of strengthening and they will be at it again next season and Pellegrini will know just what needs doing to launch another pursuit of the Premier League crown.

West Ham haven’t fared greatly in recent visits to the Etihad, the less said about the 6-0 humbling in the League Cup in January the better, but we have also failed to take many points off the top four with just a point away at Chelsea, so unfortunately it looks like we won’t be seeing a surprisingly ceremonious end to the 2013-14 season for West Ham United when heading to Manchester on May 11th. Follow me on Twitter @SoundOfVinyl

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Opposition View: Man City

Man City fan Chris Tanner speaks to Tim Holland How do you assess Manchester City’s season? Overall it’s been OK. We’ve got ourselves to blame for not being top of the table. The pressure got to us and we’ve just not performed over the last few weeks. The loss to Liverpool was avoidable and that was the decider for me, win that and win the league, lose and that’s it. Now we’ve got to rely on us not slipping up. How would you rate Manuel Pellegrini’s first season at the club?

I think despite my moaning he’s done well. I think we’re competing at a better level than last season and barring a few poor performances like the Sunderland and Aston Villa matches, we’d have been cruising to the league title. There are some areas to improve for next season but we’ve won silverware and still have a chance for the title.

be Yaya Toure. He’s been the focus of our team this season and his energy has been unrivalled in the middle of the park.

Who would be your player of the season?

No I don’t think so. We need to be qualifying for the Champions League each season and for that we need to be in the hunt for the title. I don’t think we’ve helped

That’s a tough call. Aguero has been in the goals this season but for me, it has to

Your aim at the start of the season was to be competing for the Premier league title with an eye on Champions League next year. Has that changed?

Fancy writing a West Ham column? Or would you like to interview some of your favourite West Ham players of the past?

ourselves this season, as I said sloppy defeats to teams struggling at the foot of the table have shaped our season but further progression in the Champions League is a must. How have your signings performed this season? We spent a lot of money during the transfer window but I think the signings we made were good. I was sceptical about Fernandinho and the fee we paid but he has been quite a consistent performer. Negredo and Navas have both added something to the team in terms of flair and goals. Saying that Demichelis has been a liability at times unfortunately! Micah Richards has been linked with a move to the Boleyn Ground. What do you make of that? I’ve been an advocate of Micah playing for England so I’d be disappointed if he left this summer. I can see you getting Lescott though. He’s exactly the kind of player that Big Sam likes. What have you thought of West Ham this season? Sam Allardyce is so unpopular that he’s now

making West Ham unpopular as well. I don’t like his style of play or his attitude but he has given you some stability I suppose. Which West Ham players would you have in your squad? Winston Reid looks destined for greatness and I’d like to see us put in a bid for him this summer. I was surprised that Morrison left

because I think if he can be trained up he can be a world beater. In our last interview you predicted that City would be 1st with West Ham 13th. Would you like to change these predictions and what are your thoughts on the match? I think we will come 2nd to Liverpool unfortunately and I think we’ll beat you 3-0.

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West Ham Ladies Picture by Robert Craven and Essex FA

After the West Ham Ladies stormed to victory in the Essex County Cup, Blowing Bubbles caught up with captain Stacey Little, Danica Revell, Lindsey Morgan, and Vicki King to give their votes in six categories. At the bottom of each category, we have also decided who we think should win.

ball is dropping Lily strikes it first time on the volley on the edge of the box over the ‘keeper. DR: Lily Mellors vs Keynsham. It was a brilliant volley over the ‘keeper with an assist from a great through ball from Sarah McCrea.

VK: Lily Melors vs Keynsham. She watched the ball drop over her shoulder and volleyed it in to the top right hand corner, an absolutely class finish. Our Winner: Lily Mellors

Goal of the Season SL: Lily Mellors vs Keynsham. Sarah plays a ball over the top and the ball has bounced up and away but Lily continues her run. As the

to the loose ball and lobbed the Portsmouth ‘keeper from outside the area.

LM: Vicki King vs Portsmouth. As West ham broke down the left hand side, the ball was crossed in to the box and following a weak clearance, Vicki ran on

Beat Team Performance SL: FA Cup vs C&K Basildon. I've chosen this match for a number of reasons. Going

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into the game we hadn't played in about eight weeks due to the bad weather and it was our first game back after losing a few players. Team spirit was better than ever. When we went 2-1 down, the effort to get back to 2-2 then to go ahead showed real determination. DR: Charlton [Home]. Although we were unlucky, that was the best football I've seen us play all season. We kept it on the floor, played, quick one twos, lots of communication, and people working for one another. LM: The best team performance of the season was the come back against Gillingham, the league leaders. We looked like we were down and out after a poor first half performance, but came out second half a different team and got a late equaliser to level the game

Best Individual Performance SL: Sarah McCrea vs Charlton. Sarah caused Charlton's right back all sorts of problems. So much so that she was subbed at half time. We went on to lose 3-2 but Sarah also scored both of our goals in this game. DR: Sarah McCrea. She's played really well up and down the left wing since she has joined us and has scored some great goals. LM: We have had a lot of players come and go this season but the standout performance for me was the two penalty saves by Lauren Picton in the semi final of the Essex County Cup against C&K Basildon to get us through to the final.

VK: My defensive partner Danica Revell for her performance against VK: Cardiff in the League Cup. Watford in the FA Cup. It was It wasn’t the result that what a game we lost but Dan was was important that day, it solid throughout, won all her was the attitude and hard headers and made some work of the 11 girls on the very important last ditch pitch. An absolutely standout tackles. performance against one of the best teams in our league. Our Winner: Sarah McCrea’s performance vs Charlton Our Winner: Gillingham

Best Goal Celebration SL: County Cup Semi Final vs C&K Basildon. Although I wasn't involved in this goal celebration I'd have to say Danica's winning penalty against C&K Basildon that got us into the Final of the County Cup. I can only imagine the togetherness and joy for all the girls celebrating that moment. DR: When I scored the winning penalty against C&K Basildon to get us through to the Essex County Cup final. LM: There's no greater feeling than the whole team celebrating a goal. Portsmouth at home when Vicki King scored the winner. Everyone celebrated together. VK: Basildon away in the Essex County Cup Semi-Final. We won the game on penalties following two great saves by Lauren Picton and the whole team rushed to celebrate. Our Winner: Danica’s winning penalty in the Essex County Cup Semi-Final Read the complete list of awards and votes at

The Ladies play their home games at Thurrock FC, Ship Lane, Grays, Essex, RM19 1YN.

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Blowing Bubbles #38 (West Ham United v Tottenham Hotspur 06/02/2014)  

In this issue: *Exclusive interview with David Gold *Blowing Bubbles' End of Season Awards *Why we are caught in a management trap *Tough su...

Blowing Bubbles #38 (West Ham United v Tottenham Hotspur 06/02/2014)  

In this issue: *Exclusive interview with David Gold *Blowing Bubbles' End of Season Awards *Why we are caught in a management trap *Tough su...