I read the news today, oh boyLennon/McCartney
About a lucky man who made the grade
EVENTS off the pitch took at least as much precedence as the game against Everton. Instead of a match report I’ll present a diary of West Ham-related events throughout the day.
After the short ride in on the Central Line and a stroll through Westfield watching happy dads and sons playing table tennis, I headed for the food banks collection point to say hello. Possibly the only thing our monarch and myself have in common is these days I don’t carry cash (the only time I ever need it is when I get the car washed) and was unable to contribute.
Between 1 April 2018 and 31 March 2019, the Trussell Trust’s foodbank network distributed 1.6 million three-day emergency food supplies to people in crisis, a 19 per cent increase on the previous year. More than half a million of these went to children. This is a disgraceful statistic. In the fifth largest economy in the world that figure should surely be zero – and I loathe the idea of foodbanks. However, my moral objection doesn’t mean I won’t contribute and every Christmas the missus and I do a shop for our local centre. Yes, I know it’s a paltry effort – but it’s something.
Following a short walk along the river with a mate we arrived at the site for the Hammers United protest around half an hour before events were due to commence. As with many others, I suspect, we were less about protesting ourselves and more about seeing what the fuss was about. Hellos were said, introductions made, and we spent an enjoyable few minutes reminiscing, joking and taking the piss with friends old and new. My favourite line came from a girl replying to my observation about a nameless person associated with the club whom I described as “incredibly fucking thick”. “Yes”, she said, “It’s the only part of his personality that’s authentic”. Boom!
Estimates vary between one and two thousand as to how many people turned up – but either way it was a good turnout. As well as many familiar faces, there were also a good proportion of familiar “faces”. Disappointingly, I didn’t hear a word of any of the speeches due to a poor PA system, even if I am told all contributors spoke well. In all honesty I’ve been dubious about the aims of any protest and have expressed that opinion on social media. But it seems to me Sullivan, Gold and Brady’s PR output over the previous week – it’s always offensive – was enough of a goal in itself – even if it was of the “own” variety.
In her emetic Sun column Vice Chair Karren Brady described her highlights of a decade at the club as “naming the Billy Bonds Stand” and “the first game at the London Stadium”. Highlights indeed. Following her promise of a “World class stadium for a world class team” she has rowed some way back to “First and foremost West Ham are now financially stable” and compared us against failing Bury FC. The only “world class” aspect of her tenure is the phenomenal effort at managing her own expectations.
The takeout from all this is that under the pressure of the forthcoming protest the club press “machine” revved up with all the efficiency of departing Hammers keeper Roberto defending a corner. For as long as the board are embarrassed in this fashion they will continue to blunder.
Off we tootled to the search areas prior to going into the ground and it became apparent my mate was not well. Almost doubled up with pain, he was struggling to even walk and sweating like Harold Shipman on a Saga holiday. By the time we moved through the gates it was clear he needed more assistance than even I, as a trained first aider, could offer. Left curled up against a pillar I went in search of help.
The first steward I spoke to had clearly never been trained for such emergencies and didn’t know what to do. As did the second. Controlling my anger and pointing out my mate could well be having a heart attack I asked to speak to their supervisor. He just shook his head.
Eventually, I managed to get hold of somebody who knew what he was doing. Steward Henry was brilliant and took charge of the situation as we got the patient sorted, seated and on the way to recovery. For all the claims of how our stewards are trained, they clearly are not. Although a bad situation could have been a lot worse it is nonetheless hugely concerning three separate stewards didn’t know what to do. For all the good it will do I shall be writing an appropriate letter.
By this point the Hammers side to face Everton had been released. Five starters over 30-years-old. A bench comprising of a keeper, a striker, four centre-backs including two with no first-team experience and a wide player. This is not as has been claimed “our best ever squad”. Part of my friend’s brief rehab included a rest in the club café – a place I’ve never before entered. On the wall were paraded the shirts of the 1980 FA Cup winning team to provide a useful and stark contrast with our current side.
The match itself was of Shakespearean drama – unfortunately the play was Much Ado About Nothing. A game of low quality, both goals came from first half set pieces. The home side had the better of that initial period but faded following the equaliser. Those around me agreed former manager Manuel Pellegrini would have most likely lost. Also clear was current boss David Moyes desperately needs quality reinforcements. I don’t imagine anybody thinks he will get them.
Let the protests continue.