Forest fires are a natural event. They help to clear out or the deadwood, allowing new trees to flourish. West Ham are going down this season – that is my prediction. And it may be a good thing and the only answer. Our move to the London Stadium has turned out to be a disaster and even the first game there against Juventus exposed our problems which have dogged us since. Going down would allow us to clear out the deadwood and have a rebirth.
But, the first question which needs to be answered. Is, as some people think, West Ham actually dead , extinct, is no more, has passed on, gone to meet its maker, stiff as a board, resting in peace , pushing up daisies, kicked the bucket, shuffled off this mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisible? This is an ex-club.(Can’t remember where I got all this from)
In the imagination, one retains a Dickensian dream of matchday. The cockney leaving the warmth of his coal fire to go over the road to watch his team. Some walked to Nathans to partake in an eel pie or having a few pints in the Boleyn Tavern prior to watching the game and having a good punch up or banging on the windows of the opposition coach. Walking past street vendors , touts , police horses and steaming horse manure.
Then watching our team of all white boys until 1968, when Clyde Best appeared. Who would have thought black people could play football? And we knew that foreign players were tricky, but all we saw of them was Bert Trautmann, a sort of Kraut.
I can lay claim to my West Ham heritage. I was born in Plaistow hospital and lived on a road off of Green Street. My grandfather attended the cup final of 1923. When I was a boy, I walked up Green Street with our cleaning lady’s husband (my Dad wasn’t interested in football). I watched my three heroes in action – all local boys, bearing in mind West Ham was in Essex in those days.
Most games I attend now are with my ten year old grandson. Now, the question I ask myself is whether he is less attached to the club than I was, bearing in mind some consider it a stiff parrot. In actual fact, he can be described as a West Ham nutcase or perhaps acorn. My son’s dream for him is to make him as enthusiastic for history or geography and the plethora of subjects waiting to be studied. Instead, he is a walking encyclopedia as far as football in concerned. If he is not watching football, he is playing it or FIFA 19.
Many clubs rebuild or move to new stadiums. In the USA, where a club is a franchise, some clubs have even moved cities. The area around the Boleyn Stadium and Newham itself have changed dranmatically. Shops such as Nathans Pie & Mash would have closed anyway, due to landlords raising rents and unaffordable rates.
From the moment, the UK won the right to stage the Olympics in 2012, the fate of West Ham was sealed. This should have been obvious to everybody who was involved in the construction of the London Stadium. Unfortunately, people such as Sebastian Coe were deaf to the calls to design the stadium so that it was adaptable to football. Instead £486 million was laid out on the original construction and then a further, disgusting £274 million on renovations.
The stadium itself is a concrete bowl and the lump of twisted metal which stands beside it, which is apparently a work of art, sums up the West Ham story.
But to say we are dead is totally incorrect. There are many negatives. We have owners who have a past which is shaming and do not engender loyalty. We have a manager who patently is too old for the job and has run out of ideas. We have a stadium where the atmosphere is deficient. We have players who are carpetbaggers, more committed to money than effort. They are unable to give that final 10% which makes all the difference.
But like the clearing in a forest created by a fire, we can rebuild and look forward to a better future. In life, patience is a virtue. A tree grows slowly, but we have tried to circumvent natural growth by lashing out money on sub-standard players and managers, not learning lessons, but making the same mistakes time and time again.