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West Ham United
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.

April 23, 2011
Posted by Billy Blagg on 04/23/2011

This result flattered Chelsea and, whatever West Ham's failings - and they have a few - the usual hoodoo arrived in the shape of injures to Parker and Upson and an opposing striker who hasn't scored in an age. Take any team from Upton Park; show me a striker who hasn't found the net in years and BANG! - goal drought over. The only thing more certain is that the sun will surely come up tomorrow. West Ham? Gotta love 'em, haven't you?

Avram Grant once again tinkered with the line-up, re-introducing Freddie Sears - who inevitably put in the type of performance that questioned why he'd been left out - and recalling Spector for the injured Parker. Last week's starters were back on the bench while Gabbidon and Da Costa were the central pairing. Really it didn't look good from the off - particularly when the scorching weather being enjoyed by the rest of the country was interrupted in West London by a downpour and thunderstorm of biblical proportions turning the top surface into a skid-pan that held the ball up..

April 16, 2011
Posted by Billy Blagg on 04/16/2011

At the end of this game, decided by Gabriel Agbonlahor's injury time goal, the West Ham players slumped to the ground, looking drained and shell-shocked. This was a 'must-win' game that the Hammer's looked to have taken an undeserved point from, but Villa got the winner their play merited following a second-half mauling of the home defence in which both Ashley Young and Stuart Downing left Hammers defenders trailing in their wake in a succession of potent attacks.

The fat lady may not yet have sung for West Ham United but she is sure as hell on the podium and gargling and nothing bar another 'Great Escape' Mk II will see this season ending in smiles.

April 13, 2011
Posted by Billy Blagg on 04/13/2011

News that Benni McCarthy has left West Ham after the club 'mutually agreed' to terminate his contract will surprise and upset no-one. When someone at Upton Park described McCarthy as a 'waste of space' it was rumoured that space immediately contacted it's Solicitor about suing for defamation of character. In a time of austerity and high unemployment - something that continues to threaten someone not a million miles from this keyboard - the thought of the former South African striker taking home an obscene amount of money every week was something that stuck in the craw of, not only every West Ham fan, but anyone who has any sense of impropriety and an understanding of professionalism.

April 9, 2011
Posted by Billy Blagg on 04/09/2011

Sound like anyone we know? "... this was Bolton's seventh [now eighth] straight win over West Ham. That's seven [now eight!] and that's Bolton. It's all very well talking about bogey sides but this is not good enough and it's not good enough by a long way. Those seven defeats [now eight] won't all be down to Avram Grant, David's Gold or Sullivan, or even a good many of the players but, unless you blame the only constant - us, the fans - you have to look at other reasons."

I'm not sure if it's a done thing to go quoting yourself, but I wrote the above when Bolton beat West Ham at Upton Park at the beginning of the season and started the rot that has landed us where we are today. Silly me - I actually thought we might break the hoodoo given the importance of the game, but instead we got to sit back and admire the skills of Daniel Sturridge and suffer another chastening experience at the Reebok. I suppose we should just be thankful that bloody Kevin Davies didn't score again.

April 2, 2011
Posted by Billy Blagg on 04/02/2011

I don't know how the West Ham team feel after this, but I just felt deflated and numb. It would be stretching things a bit to say the Hammers deserved to win - Man U, and Rooney in particular, were simply irresistible at times - but the defeat was hard to stomach and the scoreline (West Ham United 2-4 Manchester United) a terrible injustice.

It's true that the visitors gifted the Hammer's a two goal lead - both scored from the spot by Mark Noble after, first Evra handled and then Vidic tripped Cole, and at times the home side were just left defending desperately. But there was something about the way Manchester were playing and the confidence in West Ham's approach that suggested the home side were weathering the storm and would take the points. As it was though, Ferguson's substitutes changed the game and West Ham were left clinging on for much of the second half.

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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