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West Ham United
September 28, 2009
Posted by Billy Blagg on 09/28/2009

I'm not employed by Soccernet and I'm nothing to do with Radio Five Live; I was born and raised in the east end of London and I support West Ham - the name is on my birth certificate. Therefore, I do not have go overboard in praise of a team that have spent hundreds of millions of pounds, nor abuse a cash-strapped lightweight side who struggle when injuries occur. I will merely say that West Ham's season gets under way at home to Fulham on Sunday and leave it at that.

As I heard the City team being named as I drove to the 'Fustillian and Bucket' to watch this game on ESPN, it wasn't the names of Tevez, Wright-Phillips or Bellamy that made me groan aloud but rather that of Martin Petrov, returning from injury, one of the myriad of players who seems to love playing against the Hammers.

September 23, 2009
Posted by Billy Blagg on 09/23/2009

Less a match report - I've neither the money nor the wherewithal to travel to Bolton in mid-week currently - more a match moan.

I don't know why I let Carling Cup defeats like this get to me - God knows I should be used to them by now - but they always do. I said before the season began that I always think this competition is a way for a club like West Ham to bring some silverware back to the boardroom. Working on the premise that we are a mid-table club then, if we put out a decent side and play to our potential, then we should only be concerned about the clubs above us and when most of them send kids out until the final is it really asking too much to get further than the 3rd round occasionally?

September 20, 2009
Posted by Billy Blagg on 09/20/2009

Gianfranco Zola's admission that he is concerned over the future of Dean Ashton is at least a recognition of something that most fans have been discussing for some time. Even someone with a bit part on 'Casualty' knows only too well that an ankle injury that has taken the best part of two years to heal does not sound right and it can only be guessed at the problems that have really taken their toll on the Hammer's striker.

It's hard not to feel sorry for both parties in this matter; Dean Ashton would surely have been contemplating South Africa next summer had he remained fit and West Ham would either have benefited from the 15+ goals a season Ashton would have supplied or, perhaps, the £30m+ that Dean would surely have recouped in the transfer market as his Premiership goal tally mounted. The fact that the infamous Hammers injury blight originally occured at an England training session is an ironic fact not lost on anyone

September 19, 2009
Posted by Billy Blagg on 09/19/2009

West Ham's Liverpool hoodoo struck yet again as the men from Anfield came away from Upton Park with all three points in an action packed game. Liverpool will probably point to a period of second half domination as cause for celebration, but the Hammers will equally bemoan some injury woes that ensured their three substitutes would be used just to replace limping players, at a time when they could have done with some tactical opportunities.

It could have been so different though had the excellent youngster Zavon Hines made the most of a glorious chance after only two minutes when he robbed defender Carragher - who looked unsteady against the attacker all evening - and shot against the post. Fair play though, Reina came out quickly and replays later showed that Hines probably did well to even bend the ball onto the post.

September 17, 2009
Posted by Billy Blagg on 09/17/2009

West Ham today announced the signing of Mexico striker Guillermo Franco on a free permanent transfer following the end of his contract with Villarreal.

The Argentinian-born forward has scored four goals in his last six internationals since June, including one in the 3-0 win away to Costa Rica in the World Cup qualifer last week and had been linked with a return to South America but CEO Scott Duxbury and technical director Gianluca Nani managed to secure his services after careful negotiations.

September 13, 2009
Posted by Billy Blagg on 09/13/2009

I've seen none of this game at all. I could blame it on the fact that I'm currently painting my bathroom and I was tired, or lay the guilt firmly on the extended 'Last Night of the Proms' coverage that meant that Match of the Day started later than usual but, whatever the reason, the fact is I fell asleep before Paul Scholes was sent off in the Spurs v ManU game and woke just in time to hear Gary Linekear announce '..and now for our last match we travel to Wigan..' (no surprise there then - West Ham must figure in more last match scenarios than any other club!). Despite this fortutious intervention on my sleep pattern though, I then went straight back to sleep again or, if I was awake, then the match was even worse than I feared and I've wiped it from my brain.

September 1, 2009
Posted by Billy Blagg on 09/01/2009

The transfer deadline closed at midnight with just the much reported and wholly expected James Collins deal being completed, as the centre back joined Aston Villa in a £5m move.

As Hammers MD Scott Duxbury had earlier spoken of 'only offloading the fringe players' you have to wonder exactly how the management are going to explain away the Ginger One's transfer. The arrival of Da Costa reported earlier presumably brings cover to the defence but Collins had started the season partnering Upson and, even after he supposedly turned down a move to Stoke, was still playing in the centre of defence last Saturday against Blackburn. Disguise it which ever way you want but a fringe player Collins wasn't!

Posted by Billy Blagg on 09/01/2009

In a surprise move, West Ham announced that they have signed Portuguese defender Manuel Da Costa from Fiorentina and sent attacking-midfielder Savio Nsereko in the opposite direction in a swap deal.

The Hammers will retain 50% of any fee gained if Savio is sold on and West Ham chief executive Scott Duxbury called it: "..a good deal for everyone concerned." Duxbury explained further "Although not for the want of trying, Savio has struggled to make an impact for various reasons, while Manuel is also looking for a fresh start. Had our financial situation been different we would have preferred to have kept and developed Savio."

"We will continue to look at home and across Europe for the brightest prospects as they best fit our vision for this club's future. However, we are required to make savings and our policy has always been to sell players on the fringes rather than established first-team players.

"With the fee we received for Savio and 50% sell-on together with acquiring the highly-rated Da Costa, it represented a great deal.''

Posted by Billy Blagg on 09/01/2009

I've seen nothing of the Blackburn game at all - even the MOTD 'highlights' eluded me - but I understand from those who did go that nothing happened. Can I just repeat that: NOTHING HAPPENED. Sooo.... in keeping with the fact I like to keep this area fresh and free from anything that might be construed as normal behaviour, I'd like to tell you about the match I did go to and that was Colchester's home game with Leeds at the new Community Stadium. Why Colchester? Well, you might not know this but, since moving away from my beloved East End five years ago, I actually live within a stone's thrown or spitting distance of the new Colchester United ground and, in fact, I quite often spit and throw a stone in that general direction.

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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