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West Ham United
August 19, 2012
Posted by Billy Blagg on 08/19/2012

I remember being dismissive when West Ham lost at Villa Park on the opening day of the 2010/11 season; "It's only the first game, Avram Grant will sort things out..." He never did, of course, and the Hammers were relegated with barely a whimper.

So, I'm not going to be using the same argument following West Ham's 1-0 win at Upton Park as there was much to admire about the Hammers' display and, you sense, a drawing of a line in the sand. The three points and the victory were vital in terms of getting a grip on the new season and when things come down to a point or two at the end of the campaign, who knows how important they may be?

August 17, 2012
Posted by Billy Blagg on 08/17/2012

In this glorious summer of sport, English football’s long tarnished image has suffered at the hands of British athletes performing heroic deeds, many for a fraction of the money thrown in the direction of what is often perceived as grasping, indifferent under achieving playboys.

But is this right? Last year’s Premier league campaign was reckoned by many to be one of the finest seasons on record, highlighted by a nail-biting final day that had even the most lethargic and neutral armchair supporter, up and pumping the air in excitement. Ok the European Finals showed that England haven’t progressed a jot in over 20 odd years but at least the domestic campaign offers us the exciting influx of at least a decent proportion of the world’s best football talent… doesn’t it?

August 4, 2012
Posted by Billy Blagg on 08/04/2012

(Originally posted on my Blog and at following the Hammer's win at Wembley in May)

It’s odd to think that, in many ways, West Ham have endured yet another torrid year. The fact that the Hammers remained unbeaten for long periods during the season, recording a record number of away wins before stumbling slightly, only to end the whole thing on such a brilliant high with the best football day out many of us have had for a long time, has made it easy to forget the turmoil of February and March.

Posted by Billy Blagg on 08/04/2012

Well, it's good to be back! I've been away for a season - did anything big happen while I was gone? - and I'll be in-shape and prepared for the new kick-off just as soon as I've shed the uniform of the alter-ego that Lady B likes to refer to as 'Captain Olympic'.

May 22, 2011
Posted by Billy Blagg on 05/22/2011

Survival Sunday: Was there anyone in the country with even the remotest interest in football who wasn't enthralled by the days events? With the excitement garnered elsewhere, the lack of even a small chance of retaining the last bit of pride left in east London was a bitter pill to swallow. I was probably more disappointed this week than I was last that West Ham couldn't even give us a last day hurrah.

I'd hoped for a decent win so that I could underline the importance of the lack of detail that has gone into this season's campaign - something I was interested to see was picked up last week by the Telegraph's Henry Winter, a couple of Mirror hacks and no lesser light than La Brady herself (Not that I'm suggesting any of them read my Soccernet blog, you understand...).

Perhaps we could point to just one loss or a dropped point here or there to convince ourselves that it could all have been so different. But the awfullness of this season was underlined by an inept capitulation, of which the only reedeming factor was the fact that we ended the campaign so adrift there wasn't even a sense of 'What If?' about it all. 3-0 at home to Sunderland says all that need be said.

May 16, 2011
Posted by Billy Blagg on 05/16/2011

Anger, frustration, disappointment, surprise - I really didn't see this coming with the players they had at their disposal - and, yes, a bit of sorrow I guess; but the main emotions I've suffered since confirmation of West Ham's relegation to the Championship following the 3-2 defeat at Wigan, is the horrible sense of resignation and ennui - and that is what hurts more than anything.

You see, I'm used to the annual roller-coaster of supporting West Ham. The exhilaration of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, the joy of seeing young players come through the Academy and make their mark on the game before leaving for the promised land of Champions League football, exciting wins, dismal losses, bizarre decisions, crocked players, overpaid wasters, the way the unexpected becomes the expected - all these things are part of the pain and pleasure involved in supporting the Hammers. But this horrible season has even stripped me of the capacity to relish the low points. Frankly, I'm tired - so tired - of watching the people who run this club continually try to outdo themselves by shooting off their mouths while simultaneously shooting themselves in the foot.

May 15, 2011
Posted by Billy Blagg on 05/15/2011

In a classy move that just about sums up the 2010/11 season, West Ham sacked manager Avram Grant less than an hour after their 3-2 defeat at Wigan resigned them to the Championship next season.

Grant was apparently pulled out from the post-match press conference, a club spokesman returning 20 minutes later to confirm that Grant was 'no longer Manager at West Ham United'. Grant was said to be close to tears and emotional after the game saying "I'm sorry for the supporters, the people in the club and the players". Reserve team coach Kevin Keen will take over for the Hammer's last Premiership hurrah at home to Sunderland next Sunday.

May 7, 2011
Posted by Billy Blagg on 05/07/2011

"Que Sera Sera", they sang "We're going to Cov-entry". Gallows humour was at a premium at Upton Park on Saturday as West Ham stumbled through another must-win game and eventually gained a point that, in the last ten minutes, probably should have been three.

It's been an odd season all round the country, but no weirder surely than the Boleyn Ground, where the Hammers continue to frustrate and annoy as - just like last week at Manchester - the team started slowly in a 15 minute spell that allows the opposition the chance to stamp their authority on the game. West Ham seem to be content to be second best in the tackle and hope their reputation might give them what they seem to think they deserve. As John Lennon once remarked: "Strange Days Indeed!"

May 4, 2011
Posted by Billy Blagg on 05/04/2011

Ultimately this was still a defeat, I guess, but there was quite a bit to admire about West Ham's fightback in this match and there were fairly long periods where I believed a point wasn't beyond the Hammers' capabilities. Eventually though, the result was decided in the first 15 minutes with Nigel de Jong's long shot and Jacobsen's Own Goal from an excellent Zabaleta one-two that left the Hammer's full-back with little option but to clear from underneath his own bar and into the net.

It was the most inadvertant OG and, had Jacobsen left it, then the ball would have been tapped in at the far post by a lurking Balotelli, but even so for me it was Jacobsen's and not the City players goal - much as the Danish defender may not want the stat on his record!

April 24, 2011
Posted by Billy Blagg on 04/24/2011

The Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year has been presented every year since the 1947–48 season and, despite changing times and the introduction of Player Awards that seem to have gathered more credibility over the intervening time, the fact remains that this award is the one that players used to treat seriously and the only one that contains names such as Stanley Matthews, Bobby Moore, Bobby Charlton, George Best, Thierry Henry, Kenny Dalglish and Nat Lofthouse.

It is the award from people who watch every game and have no vested interest in fads, sponsors and the televised bias of companies looking for ever-expanding viewing figures both at home and abroad.

Billy Blagg Born at an early age a mere defenders' spit from the Boleyn ground, Billy Blagg has seen every West Ham game from 1898 onwards. Blagg was mentioned by Kenneth Wolstenholme in 1966 as one of the people on the pitch during the famous Hammers win over West Germany that lifted the World Cup and he returned to the pitch again for the 1975 FA Cup Final but stayed on the terrace for 1980 FA Cup victory. Blagg, 26, now lives with his eighth wife and innumerable children in a small semi-detached with chintz curtains in Dagenham, Essex and still attends every Hammers match and training session.

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