Thursday 23 January 2020

The Image That Sums Up West Ham's Survival Battle!

At the start of the season nobody expected West Ham to be in the trouble that they now find themselves! With an experienced and erudite top tier manager, a reasonable amount of cash to splash, and in Fabianski, Diop and Rice a decent spine to add flair players that could push the club to the next level. It all seemed ready for the great leap forwards.

But wind forward to late January and a real dogfight awaits the Hammers. Do we have enough spine to survive the battle? We looked at our current squad and asked the simple question? On a tough game trying to get something away at Man City or Liverpool  or scrapping it out against Watford or Burnley what names do you want on your starting XI - who can we call lovers and who are our fighters?

For sure, a bit of class can ultimately separate things when teams go toe to toe, but in order to survive you need a healthy supply of fighters to create a platform for the lovers to do their thing!

Here's VWH's verdict - Pellegrini brought in plenty of lovers, many quite injury-prone, but do we have enough warriors in the ranks?

What do you think of our ratings? Can Moyes bring out the inner fighter in some of our fancy Dans?


Hammers Remain Uber Cautious As Transfer Window Starts to Close

West Ham fans are becoming increasingly anxious as they watch their team nosedive down the Premiership towards the dreaded Chumpionship, apparently with nothing to stop the rot! While it is patently clear that the squad needs to be strengthened if they are to have any chance of survival, to date the club have only managed to bring in Darren Randolph and extend Conor Coventry's contract, neither of which seems likely to massively change their survival prospects.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the club have been linked with a variety of possible signings, many of which seem more than a little far fetched; Gabigol, South American Player of the Year on a loan deal? hardly; Gedson Fernandes from Benfica? errr? 

But perhaps the most outlandish to date has been that Supertraitor Dimitri Payet might return on loan from Olympique Marseille!!! Apart from the absence of any footballing logic to such a move, what on earth would make anybody think that Mr Payet would want to rejoin his 'friends' at the London Stadium? 

Payet has continued his form since his escape from London and maintained the impressive scoring rate he managed at West Ham of a goal every 4 games, notching 29 goals in 121 appearances for Marseille since returning. 

However, now 32 years old, the lad has filled out a bit and to add insult to injury Marseille are sponsored by no other than Uber Eat!!! Hammers fans took time out from the misery of their relegation battle to poke some friendly fun at the increasingly portly French gentleman. 

The best on twitter is shown above but in all honesty when you look at developments at West Ham since Payet departed you have to wonder was his decision quite as ill-advised as it seemed at the time?  

Lets hope West Ham don't get a special delivery of humble pie when (yet another) disastrous season draws to a close - now that would be uber-annoying!!!

Hammers in Dramatic Double Veteran Swoop!

WARNING: This is a sarcastic and ironic piece. If you are one of those inexperienced West Ham fans who gets overly earnest and uptight when we get into relegation threatened mode then perhaps this skit may not amuse. Otherwise, for the veteran circus-watching fans in the absence of any news here we go...

An Artists impression of how the hybrid signing might look
You could feel the sense of panic rising last night as West Ham crashed to a depressing 4-1 defeat to the Foxes of Leicester! David Moyes rose admirably to the challenge of capturing the depth of dysphoria by labelling the performance the worst under his reign at the club. Even the normally self-aggrandising Brendan Rodgers could hardly find superlatives that were magnificent enough to praise his troops, and by extension, himself!

No wonder then fans are calling, nay, screaming out loud for reinforcements as the current crew look out of ideas and frighteningly lacking in either pace or creativity across the squad. But fear not! for help appears to be at hand with reports in the Daily Mail that West Ham are in the market to swoop for a double solution in their chase for Ronaldo Vieira!

In what will be the first of a new wave of hybrid cut n shut players, the Hammers have opted to combine the ace goalscoring abilities of Cristiano Ronaldo with the box to box physicality of Patrick Vieira, probably. 

With the Hammers board finding it hard to bring in new recruits, this novel approach of combining two players into one is the ideal solution. However, with a combined age of 77 years, the Hammers face possible criticism for elder abuse. Given the ongoing torture of average fans by the circus-like management, that will hardly raise any new concerns for the club who remain stoic and focused in the face of external and internal criticism.

Other fans have expressed concern as to how the club might transport the double player to matches given his considerable physique? However, our resident sports transport technician, Alfie Windybottom, has reassured those with short memory that the Benni McCarthy seat is still available on the team coach having been specially constructed to accomodate the striking ace when he arrived to ease similar January window woes in 2010. 

Meanwhile, in other news, Sampdoria have understandably rejected a paltry £12 million bid from an English club for their Star Midfield dynamo Ronaldo Augusto Vieira Nan who at 21 years of age is now a regular in their squad, spearheading their campaign to avoid the drop from Serie A as they are currently 16th and just 4 points above the relegation zone. The lad has excelled since joining the club for £6 million from Leeds United in 2018 and is one of the rising stars of Italian football having played in every game for Sampdoria so far this season.

One Sampdoria fan chuckled "Sampdoria selling Vieira right now would be conceding to the inevitability of relegation - it would a madness akin to West Ham not bringing in new players when they are in a state of freefall or, even worse, selling Declan Rice!"  

Meanwhile, with Michail Antonio back from injury, West Ham can heave a sigh of relief as the sometimes striker, sometimes right winger has also been a massive success in the past filling in at right back  were West Ham also, once again, need reinforcements.

All in all, things are looking good for the Hammers and this superb move will surely end the foolish carping about a perceived need for new signings. The club did not get to its lofty position as the 16th richest club on the planet by squandering cash during the annual January histrionics!


Wednesday 22 January 2020

Rodgers and the Jammie Dodgers

It's more hope than expectation tonight as David Moyes troops head for the King Power stadium in search of much needed points against high flying Leicester. The Hammers lost 2-1 in laste December to the Foxes, with Manuel Pellegrini departing 2 hours later as they wre just a point above the drop zone, but in reality, they are now only separated from Bournemouth in 18th position by goal difference.

The Hammers were easily beaten in December by an under strength Leicester that did not have the services of Jamie Vardy on the night but still coasted home, even missing a penalty along the way! Brendan Rodgers is not everybody's cup of tea, but it's hard not to be impressed by his achievements at Leicester who are looking good for a Champions League spot and still represent the model for other clubs trying to progress from second tier Premiership status.

Moyes' men will need to show a lot of grit to get a result tonight but Leicester have been stuttering of late, while West Ham look hungrier and more disciplined. However, without Felipe Anderson and Andriy Yarmolenko, the Hammers look a bit soft up front and really need Manny Lanzini to rediscover his form if they are to create enough to get a result. Sadly, it looks like Michail Antonio is not quite ready to bring his abrasive style to the mix, so Seb Haller will need to lead the line with minimal support up top. 

Having said all of that, it is West Ham, and this is the kind of low-hope fixture that they have a knack for springing surprise results from. Mystic Mark Lawrenson reckons Leicester will prevail 2-1, which raises hopes that the Hammers might nick a point but Reggie the realist feels that that's an unlikely scenario. West ham are 6/1 against, with Leicester at 1/2 and the draw at 7/2. 

Let's hope for some much needed luck - after the Sheffield United debacle Moyes and Co will feel that they deserve a Jammie Dodger or two!

Sunday 19 January 2020

Experts Predict West Ham Survival Chances - and it makes for worrying reading!

There are just 16 games to go in this season's Premiership and West Ham are in a real relegation dog fight! Will the Hammers avoid the dreaded drop? We asked our resident experts for their take on our likely points tally from each remaining game and came up with some worrying predictions!

Our current Position is 16th with 23 points from 22 games. Olly the Optimist sees us finishing on a healthy 55 points! Pete the Pessimist reckons we will crash out of the Premiership with a mere 32 points, while Reggie the Realist sees us scraping home on the last day with a win at Villa (possibly to relegate them instead of us!) and finishing on 40 points (with a total of 10 wins).

One thing is for certain, it's not going to be boring!!!


The Truth About Yesterday's Performance

VWH's Youth Reporting Team Enjoy the build up to Yesterday
Another point gained as we crawl tortoise-like towards 40 point. In truth, this is how it was last time under David Moyes - tight, patient, tactical and conservative. Everton looked there for the taking but Moyes had few options with a desperately depleted squad where the starting XI essentially self selected. Right from the start you could see that we were going to have to play it tight with a starting XI that had no real pace, lacked height across the team for set pieces, and relied upon Noble and Rice putting in a busy and physically demanding shift with no real support available from the bench if either tired or got injured.

Despite these major impediments, we looked determined and passed the ball really well, building attacks slowly - mostly because we had no pace to do otherwise! A point will therefore suffice but with some very tough fixtures ahead, it's hard to see us not slipping into the relegation zone again over the coming 4-6 weeks. At least with Moyes we won't panic!

Yesterday also highlighted how thin our squad is right now. We need reinforcements. Imagine if any of Haller, Rice or Noble got injured??? Zabaleta was superb yesterday, as was Noble but they cannot be relied upon to keep that up week in and week out. You really have to wonder why Diangana has not been recalled from West Brom - he would have been a real addition to our bench yesterday as we lacked a game changer to bring on and at 70 minutes the game was there to be taken if either side had a decent impact player to introduce. Neither did!

Here are our player ratings in what was a solid overall performance.

Randolph: Great to have him back! Quiet day but handled everything well and decent distribution with kick outs.No chance with the goal. 7/10.

Zabaleta: Tremendously mature performance. Gave not an inch at the back and was decent going forward. Neither he nor Snoddy rely on pace to get down the wing and seem to work well for each other as a result! 7.5/10.

Cresswell: Decent performance all round. Linked well with both Fornals and then Masuaku. Set pieces not so good. 7/10. 

Diop: Very reassuring to have him back to his best. Solid and confident in defence and chipped in with a brilliantly headed goal. 8.5/10

Ogbonna: Solid, Solid, Solid. It's really hard to decide who he prefers alongside him - Diop or Balbuena but he looked comfortable with Issa yesterday. First CB on the team list fully justified again. 8/10. 

Noble: Worked unbelievably hard to keep us on top of the visitors. Everywhere for 60 minutes but then faltered a bit. We desperately need reinforcements. In a side with no pace he managed our passing game plan to perfection. 8.5/10.

Rice: A big presence in midfield and a major part of why we look more solid defensively. Possibly prefers the Moyes method to Pellegrini's more open game? 7.5/10.

Snodgrass: In the thick of everything good that we did offensively. Nice free kick for Diop's goal. Linked well with Zabba and Noble to control the right flank. 8/10.

Fornals: Has settled into the Premiership and looks comfortable in the team. Strange early sobbing as he looked much more likely than the rather flat Lanzini. 7/10.

Lanzini: In and out but still not back to his old self. The only player with real pace on our side yesterday but was caught alone when we tried to break. Also, does he like playing with Haller? There is very little evidence that they are linking well to date? 6/10.

Haller: Hmmm. Lacks pace and his languid style creates an air of disinterest. Has physical presence and at last we are starting to get some crosses in to him. Very average performance for a £50M striker. 6/10. 


Masuaku: Lovely on the eye with his twinkle-toed style. Playing further forward suits him but Arthur lacks the killer touch and is no real substitute for Felipe Anderson. 7/10.

Ajeti: The best that we've seen from him so far - maybe there's hope that he can be more than just emergency cover for Fornals. Bristled for the few minutes that he was on. 6/10. 

MOTM: Issa Diop.

Saturday 18 January 2020

Dazzler and Diop Return As Moyes Looks for Solidity

The excitement is gathering at the LS as David Moyes looks to ease the tension on a relegation- threatened West Ham. The gaffer has gone for an attack minded side with Lanzini, Fornals and Snoddy supporting Haller up top. At the back, Issa Diop gets s big chance to demonstrate his undoubted ability as he comes in for Balbuena. 

No Antonio or Anderson though and a bench that once again includes a number of untried youngsters. Masuaku is our most offensive (!) Substitute so the starting XI will need to deliver if we are to realistically hope for a much needed win!


Hammers: Randolph, Zabaleta, Ogbonna, Diop, Cresswell, Rice, Noble, Fornals, Lanzini, Snodgrass, Haller

Substitutes: Martin, Reid, Balbuena, Cardoso, Masuaku, Ajeti, Ngakia

Friday 17 January 2020

Disturbing News For Hammers Fans

West ham welcome Everton to the London Stadium today hoping to recover after the disappointment of losing under controversial circumstances at Sheffield United last weekend. David Moyes is talking tough suggesting that his side can develop upon their superb 3-0 crushing on Everton in one of his final games during his successful previous stint as club manager.

Indeed, the Hammers have looked much more organised both offensively and, inevitably at the back, since his arrival. However, Everton have also formed up under new boss Carlo Ancellotti and have risen up the table to 11th. With  series of super tough fixtures coming up, the Hammers simply need some points on the board so they will be inclined to play it tight and tough.

Dazzler Randolph looks set to walk back into the side after boomeranging back from a successful period at Middlesboro and Moyes has hinted that he is likely to start. Otherwise, Antonio could he back while Anderson is a doubt.

Paddy Poor- Maker has Everton as favourites at 7/5, the Hammers at 15/8 and the draw 12/5. Worryingly, Mystic Mark Lawrenson reckons the Hammers will prevail 2-1....but he's usually wrong with most things to do with West Ham!



At Last, Some Movement...

It's already more than half way through January with very little transfer action at relegation-threatened West Ham. Darren Randolph has returned to steady our dodgy defence, while exciting youngster Conor Coventry has signed a new contract, but otherwise there has been precious little for Hammers fans to celebrate.

Most meaningful January action happens in the final few days, so it's too early to panic. In addition to bringing in a defender and a box to box midfielder, West ham need to clear out some deadwood. To that end it has been confirmed that Roberto will be heading on loan back to Spain to Alaves, probably early next week.

The Spaniard has endured a torrid time at the club during which his contributions have been highlighted as major factors in the Hammers lowly position in the Premiership table, and ultimately the departure of Manuel Pellegrini.

Maybe Carlos Sanchez might be next?


Tuesday 14 January 2020

Barcelona Hitman Perfect Fit for West Ham in Relegation Charge

How Andy Suarez might look at the Hammers Treatment Room

It's been repeatedly rumoured that West Ham might take a punt on South American striker Gabriel Barbosa or 'Gabigol' as he is known. The Hammers certainly need goals to support their efforts to avoid relegation in a season that has gone pear shaped.

However, in bad news for Messrs Gold and Sullivan, the hopes for capturing Gabigol look to be fading with reports that indicate Barcelona are considering bringing the striker to the Nou Camp to replace Luis Suarez as the Uruguayan hitman recently sustained a season ending knee injury.

With ever closing door another one opens, they say, and for the Hammers the Barca situation represents an ideal opportunity to bring in a top forward at a bargain price. Suarez would surely now be available on loan until the end of the season and could really add energy to our medical room. 

In reality, the medical team have been starved of opportunities to work their magic since the departure of 'Big' Andy Carroll. It's been rumoured that some staff keep a picture of Andy in the medical bay just for old times' sake to remind them of the days where the hopes and dreams of Hammers fans rested upon their belief that the medical team could get their top player back in time to change our fortunes. Replacing the persistently injured Carroll with a quality striker the likes of Suarez could be just the filip West Ham need!

Meanwhile, as some Hammers fans lament how unlucky the club is with injury, its worth noting that according to current figures West Ham are merely mid-table in terms of numbers out injured (six players at present) which makes the need to select three unknown kids for the bench at Sheffield United all the more concerning as our squad is clearly small and threadbare!

All of which raises the issue of incoming transfers who need to meet simple criteria (1) Be of Premiership standard (unlike Ajeti, Sanchez, Roberto), (2) Have a good history of avoiding injury (unlike Wilshere), and (3) Be capable of getting stuck in at the messy end of a messy season.

We are half way through the transfer window and apart from a new Conor Coventry contract, there's been no incoming... 


Sunday 12 January 2020

Clear As Mud: Hammers InVARiably Lose Out in Latest Fiasco

OOogh - that looks like a deflection to me!
Friday night's clash between arch-rivals Sheffield United and West Ham was a thriller. The blades came out full of intent and dominated the first 20 minutes but thereafter West Ham slowly took control, playing some nice football and dominating possession. However, the game changed suddenly on 53 minutes when a slack goal kick by stand in keeper David Martin let the Blades in for a simple goal. The Hammers huffed and puffed before Declan Rice decided enough was enough and went on a surging run through the centre, slipping a  neat pass out to Robert Snodgrass to rifle the ball home against the post for a late late equaliser.  Pure Hollywood as the Hammers celebrated with much abandon.

Ant then those buzzwreckers at VAR decided it was handball as in a desperate attempt to dispossess Rice, John Egan had headed the ball against the Hammers player's upper arm. No big deal, usually....BUT the goal was overturned.

Interestingly, many observers have commented that the call was harsh but correct - however, a quick look at the Premiership Website (see below)  suggests that it's far from that simple! The ball went directly from Egan's head onto Rice - surely that's a deflection???

With the Hammers now firmly top of the table for VAR decisions that have gone against any club you have to wonder if the lost point might prove crucial as the season unfolds!

The International Football Association Board (IFAB) updated the Laws of the Game for the 2019/20 season stating:


Any goal scored or created with the use of the hand or arm will be disallowed this season even if it is accidental. The handball rule now has extra clarity because it does not consider intent by a player.



Premier League players will be allowed extra leeway when it comes to ricocheted handballs.  It is often impossible to avoid contact with the ball if it has deflected off the body of an opponent, team-mate, or even another part of the own player. So a handball will not be awarded if the ball touches a player’s hand/arm directly from their own head/body/foot or the head/body/foot of another player who is close/nearby.

Friday 10 January 2020

Moyes Springs Uncharacteristic Surprise With Young Guns Ready to Strike!

Wow! It's a big game tonight with the world watching as West Ham face bitter rivals Sheffield United. It'll be a tough encounter for the Hammers as they travel to a hostile Yorkshire reception where they will need to be at their best against a high flying Blades side who are hot favourites to take all three points. 

David Moyes has been forced to bring in Zabaleta for the injured Ryan Frederick's but also has surprisingly opted for Masuaku ahead of Fornals! Robert Snodgras also slips to the bench while Manny Lanzini will be expected to add some flair up front. 

The real surprises are on the bench as three of the U23 side get a spot - Goncalo Bento Soares Cardoso (defender), Bernardo Costa Da Rosa (midfielder) and Jeremy Ngakia (striker). This is hardly an ideal setting to enter the world of Premiership football but in Moyes we trust!

In less reassuring news, Michael Pliver is the referee. The Blades are evens for the win, West Ham 3/1 against with the draw at 5/2. KO is 8pm. 


West Han United: Fabianski, Zabaleta, Balbuena, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Rice, Noble, Masuaku, Lanzini, Anderson, Haller
Subs: Martin, Snodgrass, Fornals, Cardoso, Diop, Da Rosa, Ngakia

Remember This? How Things Have Changed Since Tevezgate!

It's been a crazy eight years for VeryWestHam since the blog first appeared in Summer of 2012. 1400 posts and almost 2 million visits since we arrive at tonite's big TV clash with our arch enemies at Sheffield United. To mark the occasion we are reposting our third ever offering from back in 2012. Annoyingly, the Blades have finally recovered from their relegation during the Tevez affair and are now looking likely to manage an unexpected top-ten finish in the Premiership while West Ham  once again, need points in a relegation battle. It'll be no place for feint hearts out there tonight. You wonder if Mr Tevez might be watching?

Here it is 

VERYWESTHAM Post #3 August 2012.

David Sullivan's comments in the match programme for the Villa game serve to remind us of the immense financial burden that the Hammers continue to shoulder as the Blades keep bleeding them for the compensation award from the Tevez affair. Another 10 million this year for the ever-disgruntled Blades to waste on earnest lower league types so they can grind out results on rainy Tuesday evenings at Hartlepool and Scunthorpe….ZZZZZZ.... No wonder their fans can't let go of the past. 

Carlos helps us to a crucial 3-0 defeat that was the catalyst for the Blades sickening demise

However, the figures revealed seem totally incongruous beside the outrageous monies that were linked to the Andy Carroll deal and leave one wondering what's really going on financially behind the scenes at Fortress Boleyn. There can be no doubting that the two Davids have brought much needed financial shrewdness to the club, but sometimes it’s impossible to make sense of all the speculation about transfer bids etc. Is Andy Carroll really that (£80K a week) good? Can someone who looks like a roadie for Status Quo really help sell that many jerseys?

PARTING OF THE WAYS: Francis Rossi has had his ponytail cut off after 35 years
Andy Carroll's dad, possibly.

On a brighter note, in these worrying times when Man City have seized the premiership title like some sordid business acquisition, the Blades stunning demise since they were awarded the 24 million emphasises that money alone does not guarantee success. Wouldn’t it be delicious to draw them in one of the cup competitions?

A Blades fan celebrating another 0-0 draw with Tevez cash yesterday

Monday 6 January 2020

Hammers Nail Down Dazzler in First Acquisition of Window

Hammers fans will be delighted to learn that Darren Randolph is set to return to the club. The 32 year old left in 2017 in search of first team football with Middlesboro.

Now two and a half years later he is on his way back as reports indicate that the Hammers have agreed a fee of around £3.5million to bring him back.

Randolph will provide much needed back up for Lucasz Fabianski but first of all will need to agree personal terms and complete his rehabilitation from a thigh injury that has sidelined him for the past 9 games.

Prior to that, Dazzler was living up to his name and has been enjoying a very successful time both at Boro and for the Republic of Ireland for whom he is first choice keeper.

Welcome back Sir!


West GillingHam United: A Combined Gills-Hammers XI

As the mighty Hammers of East London return home after a 2-0 win over mighty League One Gillingham at the Priestfield Stadium last night, to celebrate the first ever FA cup clash between the sides we consider the finest players to have served for both Gills and Hammers: West GillingHam United!

Darren Randolph: Top Irish International Keeper, Randy enjoyed a decent spell at West Ham before a £5million switch to Middlesboro in 2017. Back in 2006 Dazzler was at the Gills for a short three game loan stint. Rumoured to be on his way back to West Ham this January and he'll be very welcome as back up for Lucasz Fabianski. 

Paul Konchesky: A West Ham youth, he enjoyed an excellent two year spell between 2005-7 including 'that' FA cup goal 9and a subsequent penalty miss) in the 2006 final. Moved on to Liverpool and Leicester before a decent 25 game season at Gillingham in 2016. 

Steve Walford: Skillful centre back who made over 100 appearances for the Hammers in a successful 6 year spell between 1983 and 1989. He also managed to slip in a 4 game loan spell at the Gills in 1988. Decent coaching career after he retired. 

Gary Breen: Enjoyed an excellent two year spell at the Gills between '94 and '96 before moving on to Peterboro and then the top flight. Disappointing relegation year spell at West ham in 2003. Amazing to think he failed a  medical at Milan and was once linked with a move to Barcelona!!! A popular pundit on Irish Radio these days.

Kenny Brown: Tenacious right back who made 60 odd appearances for the Hammers between '91 and '96, including a titke-wrecking goal vs Man Utd in 1992. His dad was also a decorated Hammer. Fitted in a 4 game spell at the Gills in '98-'99 season. 

Steve Lomas: Had a successful eight year period at the Hammers from 1997 to 2005 during which he patrolled midfield with his determined and abrasive style. Won the Intertoto cup in 1999 but relegated in 2003. Moved to QPR and then on for an 8 game spell at the Gills. Then endured an up and down managerial career that included a stormy time at Millwall! 

Matt Jarvis: Spent his early career at Gillingham where he amassed 110 appearances before the transfer to Wolves and then a £10 million move to West Ham. Never quite delivered upon expectations at Upton park where it was hoped he could provide the ammunition for Andy Carroll to fire. Moved on to Norwich in 2015 and then Walsall in 2019.

Olly Lee: Spent 3 years on the West ham books from 2009 to 2012 but never made the step up to full appearance. Moved to the Daggers and then on to Gillingham for a first spell on loan in 2012. Since then has journeyed through Birmingham City, Hearts and Plymouth with a three year stint alongside brother Elliot between 2015 and 2018 at Luton. Back at Gillingham and enjoying a creative midfield role. 

Manny Omoyinmi: Another who never quite stepped up to the top tier. Five year spell at the Hammers where he made 13 appearances before moving to Oxford where he enjoyed his best period from 2000 to 2004 scoring 9 goals in 67 appearances. Had a 9 game loan period at the Gills in 1999 where he scored three goals. 

Frank Nouble: Another who didn't quite step up to the first level. At the Hammers between 2009 and 2012 where he made 13 appearances and scored a a single goal. Pacy forward. He has had two spells at Gillingham - 2011 (13 games, 5 goals) and again in 2016-17 (12 games, 1 goal). At Colchester for the past two seasons where he is enjoying his most prolific period.

Fred Corbett: West Ham’s first ever black player, who made his debut for Thames Ironworks (where he was employed as a labourer) in a 1-0 defeat at Reading on 16th September 1899! Scored 13 goals in 33 games during West Ham's first season (1900-01) and then enjoyed spells at Bristol City and Brentford before a final season in 1911 at New Brompton who became Gillingham FC in 1912. Died at just 43v years of age, cause not documented.

So there we have it - There is a pattern of players going on loan to the Gills from the Hammers or seeing out their careers at Gillingham after an earlier spell at the Hammers. 

Sunday 5 January 2020

When your sporting stars align

In the latest of our occasional series of guest blogs we have the thoughts of Professor Henry O'Connell, Liverpool fan, Tipperary hurling fanatic and top shrink. Henry had the pleasure of catching his beloved Reds when they stumbled into the London Stadium last year and were lucky to get away with a 1-1 draw as they were strangely out of sorts and couldn't get any rhythm, even after being given a 1-0 start due to a blatantly offside goal (yes VAR would have disallowed it if it were this season!). 

Over to you Henry...

The start of a new decade and the recent success of my two teams (the Tipperary hurling team and Liverpool FC) has got me thinking that my sporting stars are starting to align perfectly for just the second time in my life, like that brief magical period of a few weeks in the summer of 1990.

For non-Irish readers, hurling is an ancient Irish game that resembles field hockey but is played at a much more frenetic pace, with the players being able to catch and run with the ball. The ‘Premier League’ of hurling is the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship, played between 12 different Irish counties. The season runs from May to September with the final being played in Croke Park Dublin in front of 80,000 people. Every boy (and many girls) from hurling counties grows up supporting their county team and dreaming of one day playing for them. Despite being 46 years old and never being a particularly accomplished under-age player, one of my get-to-sleep fantasies is still the one where I score an injury time winning goal for Tipperary in an All-Ireland final with all of my friends, family (and enemies) in the crowd.

Hurling (and its far less elegant companion game of Gaelic Football) has strong historic links with Irish independence and nationalism and, therefore, a certain anti-Englishness. However, most Irish hurling fans are also avid followers of the actual Premier League, and everyone has a team. So while I was born as a supporter of the Tipperary hurling team (being a native of that county) and started going to their games with my father from the age of 6, I became a supporter of Liverpool FC, by my own choice.

In fact, I remember the exact moment when I became a Liverpool supporter. It was 1982, I was nine years old and I had a vague idea that there was this great football team that wore all red and whose fans sang songs. I was in a shop in our village and I picked up a Liverpool FC mug from a shelf. The mug had details of all of Liverpool’s titles and achievements. I was astounded at the number of successes. At the same time, I thought of the strong Irish contingent with the club at that stage: Mark Lawrenson, Jim Beglin, Ronnie Whelan and Ian Rush (who I thought was Irish). And then a wave came over me and I remember saying to myself something along the lines of: ‘these guys are brilliant!’ Thus began my love affair with Liverpool FC.

So anyway, back to the summer of 1990. Tipperary had won the All-Ireland championship in September 1989 and so they were still the reigning champions in the summer of 1990. The 1989 win had been extremely special, being Tipperary’s first championship win since 1971 (and so the first in my lifetime). And Liverpool had just won the First Division title in May 1990. But the absolute peak of sporting-stars-alignment took place specifically on June 25th 1990. I sat (and stood and jumped and screamed) with my father and brother in our sitting room, watching Ireland beat Romania in a penalty shoot-out and progressing to the quarter finals of our first ever World Cup, to take on the hosts Italy in Rome.

Of course I didn’t realise or appreciate just how special those few weeks were until many years later. Just after the Irish victory over Romania, I headed off on that Irish rite of passage to ‘the Gaeltacht’ (Irish language school) in Connemara for the rest of the summer. There I watched the Italy game on June 30th and saw Salvatore ‘Toto’ Schillaci score the only goal as Italy progressed to the semi-final at Ireland’s expense. Two weeks later, on July 15th, I got the news from home that Cork had beaten our beloved Tipperary in the Munster hurling final, thus eliminating us from the All-Ireland hurling championship. And the rest, as they say, is history. Tipperary would go on to win intermittent but too infrequent All-Ireland championships, in 1991, 2001, 2010, 2016 and again last August, making us the current reigning champions. And despite keeping the trophy case ticking over since 1990, Liverpool would never again be champions of England. To add insult to injury, the greatest rivals of Tipperary and Liverpool (the Kilkenny hurlers and Manchester United, respectively) would go on to have unprecedented levels of success in the subsequent three decades. 

But of course 2020 looks like Liverpool’s dismal record might finally come to an end. Even the most cautious and pessimistic of Liverpool fans realises that the current lead is a healthy one. So in May 2020, Tipperary will still be the reigning All-Ireland hurling champions, Liverpool will (please God) be champions of England (and Europe, and even the world, if you take that latter competition seriously). So, three decades on from that last sporting zenith in 1990, my sporting stars will again (please God, again) be aligned. As for the Republic of Ireland football team – well I guess you can’t have it all…  

Here Come the Shouting Men!!!

"Billy Bonds used to XXX Trevor Brooking's *@?!"

So starts the Hammers vs Gillies antagonism in The Shouting Men, a 2010 film about a group of Gillingham fans who follow their side on a cup run that includes a trip up to St James Park to take on 'mighty' Newcastle United!

The most striking (and highly amusing) character is Barry, a wheelchair bound psychopath who uses his disability to draw people in before regularly exploding into comedic football hooliganism!

The film is a gem, full of very amusing scenes but also with some relatively serious themes around the nature of friendship, mental health and homophobia. Each of the characters have personal issues that emerge as they 'rampage' their way up the motorways of England. It's well worth a watch if you want a laugh and is readily available in 10 minute segments on Youtube.

As for today's visit to Priestfield, David Moyes has promised to field a strong side as he recognises the connection Hammers fans have with the cup (and his side need some confidence-boosting results!). While it will be nice to see some of our top players on show, it would be great to also get a look at the likes of Conor Coventry who is captain of our U23 side and has been hovering around the margins of the first team squad all year. Coventry signed a three year deal earlier this week that could in time prove to be our most important business during this transfer window.

The Hammers have not met Gillingham since 2005 where we completed a double over them during our promotion-winning season. The earlier game of that season (23rd October at Upton Park) saw a Hammers 3-1 victory as Master James Meagher (our occasional VWH columnist) was club mascot for the day. Bobby Zamora, Marlon Harewood and Hayden Mullins got the goals in an enjoyable victory.

So far in this season’s competition, Gillingham overcame Sundeland 1-0 (after an initial 1-1 draw) and then beat Doncaster Rovers 3-0 in the second round at Priestfield. They lie 12th in League one but have a decent home record and will certainly compete. Ex-Hammer Olly Lee is in midfield for Gillingham today. During the week Gills Boss Steve Evans has issued a give us your best shot challenge to David Moyes who has responded by promising a strong starting XI.

Kick off is at one minute after six pm with the minute in recognition of the ‘heads up’ campaign for mental health awareness – a recurring theme in The Shouting Men. Go watch it before the game!


Saturday 4 January 2020

Barbie Can Grab The Goals for West Ham: Gabigol Latest

West Ham's interest in Brazilian hitman Gabriel Barbosa has featured widely since the transfer window opened. 'Gabigol' moved from Santos to Inter Milan at the tender age of 19 but found Serie A life tough and then went on loan for a similarly unsuccessful year at Benfica. Since then he has been on loan back in Brazil for the past two seasons at Santos and now Flamengo during which time he has grown considerably with an outstanding scoring record of 70 goals in 112 appearances, prompting comparisons to Neymar.

Not surprisingly, Premiership clubs have been linked with him, with Chelsea and West Ham heading the list. Flamengo have made an offer to try to keep him at the club but at this stage a move back to Europe is very much on the cards. At present, Chelsea are re-entering the transfer market after a ban and will be keen to capture a suitable back up for Tammy Abraham with Olivier Giroud seemingly on his way out of the club.

Reports this morning have suggested that Gabigol is readying for a Flamengo exit after a tweet thanking fans for their love. It is also reported that Inter want to progress the Gabigol situation in order to raise funds for a bid for Christian Eriksen. ExWHUEmployee has confirmed that West ham's interest has substance but David Moyes was more coy at his recent press conference. Either way, it would appear that any potential transfer will progress over the coming weeks as it is likely to prompt a series of related moves.

Barbosa looks ready to return to Europe having improved his physique and recovered his scoring confidence. He was awarded South American footballer of the year for 2019. With superb close control, a powerful shot, pace, excellent link play and a cheekiness in front of goal he is equipped to set the Premiership alight. He is older and has somethging to prove as he looks to increase upon his current haul of 5 international caps. He would undoubtedly combine well with Felipe Anderson and Manny Lanzini and could provide the pace and trickery that Seb Haller needs to realise his potential up front. 

However, whether West Ham can attract him over other competition remains to be seen. 

Friday 3 January 2020

Surprises as Hammers Attacking Midfield Square Up

Things are looking up at West ham with the change in management and a sense that we can wipe the slate clean on a season that has stuttered and dipped.

As David Moyes looks to his available resources he will feel that he has decent options in the absence of other options beyond Seb Haller, Michail Antonio has again reverted to a central role up front - and with good effect!

In midfield we have a number of talented players - none of whom have quite kicked into gear. Felipe Anderson was our record buy and is generally thought to have underperformed - especially in comparison to last season when he was almost unplayable at times. It is interesting that in fact his stats for the season to date are stronger than his attacking midfield team-mates. 

Pablo Fornals has grown and grown but still rates lowest in terms of overall contribution. Meanwhile, Andriy Yarmolenko started well with a series of goals but has been hindered by injury. In contrast. Manny Lanzini  seems over his injury troubles and is now coming back into form and has a tremendously high accuracy in his passing game.