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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?

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 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 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.

March 30, 2011
Posted by Billy Blagg on 03/30/2011

It has to be seen as a bonus point against Tottenham although, so confident am I that West Ham are moving in the right direction, I'd actually put a couple of quid on at Honest Joe's Bookmakers that the Hammer's would come away with a win from this one. Still Joe has collected enough of my hard-earned dosh over the years so I guess another couple of sovs won't make much difference...

As it is, the home side put the claret and blue under enormous pressure for large parts of the match and were denied by the post three times and, primarily, a superb Robert Green. Even so, West Ham had their chances with Cole in particular spurning a one-on-one opportunity early on that he really should have made more of.

March 13, 2011
Posted by Billy Blagg on 03/13/2011

This was a result that seemed very much determined by the order in which the numbered balls were drawn from the bag a few weeks back. The raucous atmosphere of the Brittania Stadium and those little refereeing decisions that can often go for or against you, all seemed to conspire against West Ham who, despite a battling display, came up short in their attempt to reach Wembley for the semi-final.

Although last week's 3-0 league win at Upton Park was pretty much dominated by the home side, as the final whistle blew in this superb cup-tie the overall feeling was that there was little between the two sides; this match following the pattern of the season's earlier Carling Cup tie and drawn league meeting in producing a tight contest. It remains to be seen how the result affects the respective sides as the Hammers return to the relegation dogfight in top form as Stoke, inevitably, turn their attention to the opportunity of going to Wembley for the first time since 1972.

March 6, 2011
Posted by Billy Blagg on 03/06/2011

West Ham followed up last week's win against Liverpool with a back-to-back victory against a fairly lacklustre Stoke City, enabling the Hammers to climb out of the bottom three as well as giving the side a confidence boost for next week's FA Cup 6th Round game against the same opposition.

From Demba Ba's 21st minute goal, the result looked in little doubt and it's a sign of the growing confidence in both players and fans that there was something almost expected in this result. The clean sheet also suggests that, at last, the defence are coming to terms with the formation expected of them although undoubtably, the threat upfront and in midfield is easing the pressure. In short, this is exactly what the Hammers should have been doing from last August.

February 27, 2011
Posted by Billy Blagg on 02/27/2011

Oh yes! This was more like it; almost certainly our best display and result this season against a team that we normally barely compete with. Not only did West Ham deserve all three points, it was also a comprehensive display with Liverpool amazingly being outplayed in areas of the pitch. Major praise must go to the astonishing Scott Parker - can this man get any better? If I came home and found him in bed with my Mrs I'd make them both a cup of tea (Be aware though Scott, she's still holds a torch for Les Fedinand).

February 21, 2011
Posted by Billy Blagg on 02/21/2011

Thomas Hitzlsperger at last made his West Ham debut after six frustrating months for player and fans, and showed what everyone has missed by scoring a screaming opener in a 5-1 demolition of Championship side Burnley in this Fifth round FA Cup tie at Upton Park.

Further goals from Carlton Cole, a header from Winston Reid following a pinpoint corner from Hitzlsperger, and a late strike from Freddie Sears sealed a win that looked easier on paper than it sometimes was to watch. Certainly going forward the Hammers can look every inch a solid Premiership side but at the back.... oh dear! Burnley can probably run them pretty close.

February 12, 2011
Posted by Billy Blagg on 02/12/2011

This was either a magnificent game of football or a stunning example of defensive incompetence but, either way, it is almost certainly a match that West Ham will take more pleasure from than West Brom.

It's not often a team comes back from a half-time deficit of 3-0 and the last time West Ham did it, everyone had long sideburns, Rod Stewart's 'Sailing' was Number One and the Hammers could boast a side that contained Billy Bonds, Trevor Brooking and Frank Lampard's old man. Now? Well, we have Scott Parker's Churchillian speeches, I guess...

February 6, 2011
Posted by Billy Blagg on 02/06/2011

Only have a few minutes to talk about this match and then I'm incommunicado all week so, in a week in which I seem to have spent most of my time trying to understand a whole new batch of acronyms at three (count 'em) Train the Trainer courses, all I can think to call this is PPP. Poor, Poor, Poor.

A solitary Zigic header from what was probably one of the afternoon's few clear-cut chances was enough to dent the home side's hopes and, in truth, as we sunk to the bottom of the table West Ham looked very much what we are; strong relegation candidates. Or should that be SRC's?

February 5, 2011
Posted by Billy Blagg on 02/05/2011

There's no doubting this was a vital three points. As I've been saying for some time, I don't believe Blackpool are out of the relegation mix and the more clubs West Ham can drag into the mire the better their own prospects are.

In this match though, you wouldn't have thought the Hammers had too many worries. Two goals from the in-form Obinna and one from debutant Robbie Keane were enough to put West Ham in control as half-time approached. Blackpool's solitary strike on 42 minutes pinned the Irons back to 2 - 1 but Obinna scored with a cracker just 90 seconds later and it took the wind out of the home side's sails.

January 31, 2011
Posted by Billy Blagg on 01/31/2011

A Victor Obinna hat-trick earned West Ham a home draw against Burnley in the 5th round and helped, very slightly, to banish the memories of Wednesday night's sem-final Carling Cup defeat.

It was an excellent game with Nottingham Forest showing why they are pushing hard for promotion from the Championship but, it has to be said, also proving that there is a big gap between the two divisions, West Ham resting nine of the players who performed at Birmingham in mid-week and still looking comfortable after a first-half scare.

January 27, 2011
Posted by Billy Blagg on 01/27/2011

Walking back to my parent's house from the 'Hammers' pub in East Ham after this gut-wrenching defeat in the Carling Cup semi-final, it occured to me that this match almost summed up my life supporting West Ham United. In many ways it actually sums up my life full-stop - but I'm seeing someone about that and the psychiatrist has asked me not to talk about it.

From joy and expectation to abject misery and disappointment, all in the space of 45 minutes plus extra time. They say you can't script it but really, with West Ham United it has all been writ before and just needs dusting off every few months.

January 23, 2011
Posted by Billy Blagg on 01/23/2011

Anger, frustration and disappointment have been West Ham bedfellows for most of this season but in this match those emotions reigned for another reason, as Everton's injury-time equaliser denied the Hammers three points they really should have had. That the Hammers can thank referee Peter Walton for the late, late goal seemed in little doubt, being at the visitors had to play the last few minutes with ten men when Piquionne was sent for over-zealous celebration of his 84th minute goal.

Following Avram Grant's post-match comments that 'perhaps we should treat a goal more like a funeral' I think we should fully expect, next time he scores, to see Piquionne lying prostrate on the floor as six of his teammates carry him back to the centre-spot. I look forward to seeing it at Wednesday's Carling Cup semi-final at Birmingham.

January 16, 2011
Posted by Billy Blagg on 01/16/2011

About an hour into this non-event of a game, a look around at the crowd told the whole story. People sat with chin on hand, rubbing eyes, scratching heads - one Gentleman looked to be asleep - and barely anyone said a word. If it was a summation of Avram Grant's tenancy of the Upton Park hot-seat then it said much; if it was a ploy to lull Arsenal into a false sense of comfort then - like Grant's other tactics - it failed lamentably.

This then was abysmal. No fight, no clue. no interest. This club is either in such a state that we can't even manage to string together a team capable of just chasing Arsenal and annoying them or, as I suspect, this was one match too many for a Manager who looks beaten before the game starts.

January 12, 2011
Posted by Billy Blagg on 01/12/2011

West Ham United 2 Birmingham City 1 (1st Leg Carling Cup Semi)

This was a little corker of a game that swung wildly over the 90 minutes, promising a nail-biter for both sets of fans when the Second-leg is played at St. Andrews later in the month.

That West Ham go into that match with a narrow advantage is thanks to substitute Carlton Cole perhaps, but more likely the major pat on the back needs to go to Brum's keeper Ben Foster, who ten minutes from time, allowed a weak shot from Cole to trickle through his legs to the delight of the home fans. It was particularly amusing in view of the abuse heaped on Robert Green by the Birmingham supporters, considering Green's own performance was top-drawer and confirmed his own World Cup nightmare is now firmly consigned to the archives.

January 10, 2011
Posted by Billy Blagg on 01/10/2011

I have galloping Man-Flu currently - feel free to send cards and chocolates..oh! and Brandy - and didn't get to this one. The weight of third-round matches meant only the goals were shown on TV, but I understand from Blagg minions that a virtual West Ham second XI were pretty much in control of this for long periods and, had they taken their first-half chances (nice to see the second string have the same problems as the first) then this would have been over as a contest long before half-time.

January 2, 2011
Posted by Billy Blagg on 01/02/2011

Rumours that Avram Grant needed extra tissues to stem the flow of blood from the nosebleed induced by the Hammer's dizzying rise to 15th place in the table can probably be discounted, but there is no doubt this home win, which took West Ham out of the bottom three for the first time this season, was a crucial result.

It's true that the home side made the most of the chances that fell to them while the visitors were guilty of failing to take theirs, but there is a feeling that confidence is growing with this unbeaten 5 match run and the points taken over the holiday period so far have made a significant difference to the outlook for the rest of the season.

December 29, 2010
Posted by Billy Blagg on 12/29/2010

It was honours even at Upton Park as Everton levelled the Hammer's 16th minute opener - an own goal by Hibbert with an 'assist' from Kovac - with a goal remarkably similar to the one that Piquionne scored at Craven Cottage on Boxing Day, Coleman hitting home unmarked just before half-time.

Other than that it was a frustrating evening for Hammers' fans hoping to see their side build on the three points gained at Fulham just two days earlier. It wasn't that the home side were particularly poor or even that the visitor's were good - given the claret and blue's poor record against the Toffee's, a draw might even be considered a bit of a result! - it was just one of those games that cried out for someone to just show that extra bit of class or turn up the pressure a tad more.

December 26, 2010
Posted by Billy Blagg on 12/26/2010

This fair took me back to days of yore - when I were a lad (before me sex change) - and my favourite terrace song:
"Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells
Jingle all the way
Oh what fun it is to see
West Ham win away"

An away win - what a Christmas present! So unexpected and yet so welcome; the Hammers coming from behind to lift themselves off the bottom and give a real boost to confidence in what is a vital time. It's so easy to read too much into just one win but it shows this season isn't over just yet. Or have I just been at the eggnog a little too much?

December 18, 2010
Posted by Billy Blagg on 12/18/2010

Scott Parker, as ever, was magnificent as the Hammers came away with a point from Ewood Park but once again this seemed to be two points lost rather than one gained as this was surely the best possible time to play Rovers.

The home side, who surprisingly sacked manager Sam Allardyce in mid-week, looked to be in a nervous mood with the visit of the Premier League's bottom club and I was praying this game went ahead as I expected the Hammers to win away for the first time since August of last year. Well, you can't complain that I'm not an optimistic sort, can you?

December 12, 2010
Posted by Billy Blagg on 12/12/2010

As Alan Hansen mentioned on Match of the Day; 'Manchester Cty have better players than West Ham and if you want to compete against better sides then you have to be organised'. The rest, as they say, writes itself.

To beat a Championship chasing side, you need to be commited and at the top of your game while hoping the opposition are below theirs. Wolves proved back in October that it is possible, but the Hammers are a long way from achieving that feat at the moment and you have to view this as a regular day at the office for both sides.

December 6, 2010
Posted by Billy Blagg on 12/06/2010

The Hammer's away-day blues continue and that's about all there is to say. It would be wrong to suggest West Ham deserved something from this - one shot on target simply isn't good enough to argue that point - but in all other aspects the claret and blue looked equal to Sunderland and didn't look in terrible trouble for most of the game.

The deciding goal was Sunderland's only significant contribution and considering much was being made of the Black Cats three-pronged attack, the porous West Ham defence seemed to continue its improvement under new coach Wally Downes.

November 20, 2010
Posted by Billy Blagg on 11/20/2010

Please, please - can someone please make it stop?.

If you want to see what West Ham were like in this non-existent excuse for a 'match' then take a look at the Soccernet Gamecast. 'Awful', 'over by half-time', 'searching for a consolation they don't deserve' and on and on and on. Is 'abject' in there? Only I like that word....

Ex-Hammer - how many times a season do I say that? - Glen Johnson put the home side ahead, while Maxi Rodriguez and a Dirk Kuyt penalty put Liverpool in total control by half-time but, frankly, who cares? They could have put Doris the Tea Lady in a red shirt, pitched her out and she would have weaved magic around this string of washing wearing a claret and blue shirt.

November 15, 2010
Posted by Billy Blagg on 11/15/2010

This didn't look like a goalless draw and the fact Ian Holloway felt it was the 'best nil-nil I've ever seen' may reflect that. At the end though, this was another three points dropped and with Liverpool coming up next week - the last time the Hammers won at Anfield, Mafeking was still waiting to be relieved (check your History books!) - it's hard to see how the Hammers won't go into December still rooted to the bottom.

November 11, 2010
Posted by Billy Blagg on 11/11/2010

An easing of the job situation till after Christmas allowed me to attend this floodlit game at Upton Park and, while it would be unfair to say I wished I'd saved my money, the end result was nonetheless extremely disappointing.

After Saturday's encouraging display, I think most fans expected three points from this fixture and we all looked at this week as the turning point of the campaign but, after this, I'm struggling to see anything other than a season-long struggle with little salvation at the end. I really fear for Saturday's home game against Blackpool.

November 7, 2010
Posted by Billy Blagg on 11/07/2010

I'm simply not sure of what to make of this anymore. West Ham deserved to win this game and should have won it; being denied a blatant late penalty. On the other hand, I probably would have settled for a point before the game and Birmingham came within a post of taking all three points themselves.

Similarly, the Hammers performance was more than encouraging, the Irons looking much more incisive and nothing like a bottom of the table side. Then again, once again we've failed to win and are still rooted to the bottom. I'm starting to get a headache...

November 1, 2010
Posted by Billy Blagg on 11/01/2010

Just noticed my incisive review of this match is missing from the Soccernet pages so I'll just confine myself to confirming that the Hammers won in extra time mainly due to a magnificent performance from Scott Parker - no change there then - and the introduction of a lively Obinna from the bench.

Overall though, Stoke had their chances and the Hammers rode what little luck they have ever been granted by that Great Ref in the Sky. Manchester United next? I may be able to get to that one!

Posted by Billy Blagg on 11/01/2010

Ahh! One nil to the Arse eh? 'twas ever thus huh, sports fans? Confined as I was to Match of the Day highlights, it was interesting to gauge reactions to this from other sources.

Some saw this as a continuing improvement that had only been broken by the home defeat to Newcastle while others saw this as nothing more than a backs-to-the-wall frenzy that almost worked but which, ultimately, ended in the inevitable.

One reaction I saw suggested that the Hammers didn't 'want it enough' and the constant rearguard action was more down to giving the ball away in crucial areas than any type of tactical nous.

October 24, 2010
Posted by Billy Blagg on 10/24/2010

Now call me an idiot - it wouldn't be the first time - but I really thought that, prior to this game, West Ham were in a false position in the league and this match would be the start of a steady climb up the table. Now after this? Frankly, we're in a relegation scrap and I'm not seeing three other teams worse than us. This was awful. Plain awful.

Now admittedly, I was working away and only managed to catch the second half live (in a pub in Nottingham - it was pretty lonely) and judging from later MOTD highlights our best football was played in the first 15 minutes, but I'm pretty sure a game lasts 90 minutes minimum, and the half that I did see showed me a team lacking even the basic fight and will to win that is the minimum required in this division.

October 20, 2010
Posted by Billy Blagg on 10/20/2010

Working just a stone’s throw from Norwich’s Carrow Road Ground this week I took the opportunity to grab a ticket to see a Championship game in which the high flying Canaries - Ha! See what I did there? - were playing against a struggling Crystal Palace outfit in what promised to be a good fixture for the home side. But any neutral - which I kinda suppose I was - would have found it difficult to believe that it was the men in yellow who were pushing for promotion while the South London side propped up the table.

From the off, Crystal Palace looked sharper, more inventive and cohesive and far more dangerous with the excellent Wilfred Zaha looking a real handful. This lad is surely destined for greater things on this showing.

October 17, 2010
Posted by Billy Blagg on 10/17/2010
XXXXXX © Getty Images
Frederic Piquionne saw one shot smack against the crossbar before having a goal unfairly disallowed with the last kick of the game as the Hammers came away from Molineux with a creditable draw thanks to Mark Noble's fiercely struck penalty after 53 minutes.

Quite what referee Mark Clattenburg saw - although TV replays suggest he couldn't have seen much - is likely to remain unknown but if Piquionne did use his hand to control the ball before netting in the last minute, then it is the most liberal interpretation of the body part I have ever seen. I am constantly amused by how far the hand now stretches upwards but, in this case, I'm intending to contact Medical Practitioners immediately as I seem to have a nipple on my 'hand'!

October 2, 2010
Posted by Billy Blagg on 10/02/2010

A scrappy encounter led to a share of the points and West Ham ending the day back at the bottom of the division. Even so, it was a fourth successive result for the Hammers and being as there is only three points seperating the Irons from 10th place, it's still too early to start panicking. Mentally though, it would be better if that win came sooner rather than later.

Pre-match much was made of the fact that Rob Green was facing his World Cup nemesis Clint Dempsey, scorer of the U.S. goal that so spectacularly ended Green's World Cup hopes. It was inevitable then I suppose that it was Dempsey who opened the scoring, volleying in from 12 yards on the half hour mark.

September 25, 2010
Posted by Billy Blagg on 09/25/2010

As the blessed St. Morrisey of Steven once observed: "I was looking for a job then I found a job, and heaven knows I'm miserable now". Employment beckoned and the Blagg coffers are once again getting swollen - until they find me out at least - but, sadly, this means not only working away but also working, and you may want to sit down for this one, at weekends.

So here I am in darkest Dereham, no radio and just a text from my best mate, an Upton Park Steward no less who tells me: '1-0 to the Cockney Boys, dominated throughout and it should have been about four more'. I have nothing to add except I think we are on our way back.

If anyone wants to help me out with match reports for the rest of the season then please email me at billyblagg@hotmail.com

September 18, 2010
Posted by Billy Blagg on 09/18/2010

This televised lunchtime match delivered plenty of entertainment and provided both prospects for better things ahead and a dire warning of what might be to come for West Ham.

The good news first is that the Hammers are starting to look more like a cohesive unit again and, with Scott Parker running the show in midfield, it wouldn't have been that much of a shock if the visitors had taken all three points from this game as they had plenty of opportunities. And the bad news? Well, this match could just have been as easily lost. Poor Rob Green is having a nightmare and his nervousness is destabilizing the whole defence while up front the Hammers look toothless and in dire need of some goals from the forwards.

September 12, 2010
Posted by Billy Blagg on 09/12/2010

There were vague signs of improvement in parts of the West Ham team that slumped to their fourth successive league defeat at the hands of the visitors from West London, but issues at the back still continue to cause problems that it's hard to surmount.

It's unlikely that anyone foresaw anything bar an away win today anyway, but when you go behind to what was a virtual free header to Essien after only two minutes then it's going to be a difficult job to find a way back. But when Hammer's keeper Robert Green failed to hold a fairly tame Drogba free-kick after 17 minutes and Upson's hasty and reckless clearance only cannoned off Kalou and back over the head of Green, you could see the confidence draining away.

August 29, 2010
Posted by Billy Blagg on 08/29/2010

Result! I said anything less than a 4-0 thrashing would be a good day out and so it proved. Of course, ManU correspondent Mark Payne thinks the Hammers got off lightly but the man is obviously confused by watching too much attacking football, £40m footballers and the ball being pinged about under floodlights on a Wednesday night. What did he expect?

At least, we let them have a stroll around and allowed them to look good. We could have come to clog and drop ten men back in defence. I tell ya - he'll miss us when we're gone!

This is the face of 21st Century football and you'll excuse me if I don't get too uptight about it. It'll be another 'avoid a thrashing' game next weekend when Chelsea come to visit and then we can concentrate on the other league - that's the one that doesn't incude oil-rich owners and Leeds United. I can't wait...


August 25, 2010
Posted by Billy Blagg on 08/25/2010

The Two David's reduced the price of match tickets for this game to £10 per head. At the end of the game while I waited for some of the 20,000+ fans this cup tie generated as a result to dissipate, I found two 20p pieces lying on the floor beside me. So that's £9.60 this match cost me - and I still reckon the club shouldn't baulk at giving me another fiver back!

August 21, 2010
Posted by Billy Blagg on 08/21/2010

I'm not sure I know what to say about today. West Ham were under enormous pressure to reverse last week's insipid performance against Aston Villa and, certainly in the first half where they ran Bolton ragged, they looked to have done that but when the whistle blew for the end of the first period, Carlton Coles' missed penalty was all that the Hammers had to show for an attacking 45 minutes where they created a good seven or eight chances and took none.

Now take another look at that result and recall that this was Bolton's seventh straight win over West Ham. That's seven 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 won't all be down to Avram Grant, Gold or Sullivan or even a good many of the players but, unless you blame the only constant the fans, you have to look at other reasons. As to what those reasons may be - well, how long ya got...?

August 16, 2010
Posted by Billy Blagg on 08/16/2010

Look, I know this was a bad defeat and I realise that the Hammers looked lacklustre and out of sorts and the score could have been as bad as that suffered by West Brom, but - come on! - it was only the first game.

I say this because I remember how cock-a-hoop I was when the Hammers won last year's opening day away game, little knowing that it was the only away win I'd celebrate all season. I'm also mindful of my England coverage this summer and the dangers of expecting both too much and too little. This is still a West Ham side with enough in it to not expect too much of what occured last season but, even if it does, there's surely enough experience with Avram Grant and the two David's to ensure it doesn't all end in disaster.

May 9, 2010
Posted by Billy Blagg on 05/09/2010

A real end-of-term affair in which the highlight was the return, after a season long injury, of Luis Boa Morte who scored a delightful goal before criticising owner David Sullivan in equally impressive terms.

Manchester City equalised the Hammer's opener within three minutes when Wright-Phillips - all 2' 6" of him - rose like a salmon to head home. It was that type of day!

May 2, 2010
Posted by Billy Blagg on 05/02/2010

Disappointing (again). I really expected, with the pressure off and Fulham's poor record against West Ham at Craven Cottage - they've not beaten the Hammers since before England last won the World Cup - that the claret and blue would add to their woeful away record today. Added to the fact that Fulham rested over half the team that so spectacularly secured a Europa League final place last Wednesday and you have to view this as another poor result in a season of poor results.

April 24, 2010
Posted by Billy Blagg on 04/24/2010

Thirteen minutes from the end of this nail-biting match, Scott Parker drove through the middle of midfield; he looked left, he looked right - he saw no-one - so, with not many other opportunites presenting themselves, he instead smashed a shot from all of 25 yards which dipped and curled and virtually burst just inside the post and past the groping Wigan keeper's fingers to put West Ham 3-2 up. Upton Park went wild. At the right time and at exactly the right place, the Hammer's real Captain showed just what a class act he is with a goal of classic proportions.

When the final whistle blew and the result from Hull came through, the players and fans celebrated what all had hoped for but few had dared to believe. There was to be no last match drama; a point or three at Fulham wasn't really essential after all (although it would be nice), the usual last day bum-squeak wasn't required, instead it was a reflection on an awful season that has proved just one thing - there were three teams even worse than West Ham this time around - and for that we can all just be grateful.

April 19, 2010
Posted by Billy Blagg on 04/19/2010

"West Ham are scrapping for points" said the nice man from ESPN Soccernet. I really must get myself a new Oxford Dictionary; mine seems to be out of date. Either that or there is some new definition of 'scrapping' that I hadn't previously come across.

This was a totally inept performance that was nicely summed out by ex-Hammer Benayoun's opener, a nicely guided ball into the bottom corner via Yossi's stomach. What a sickener for Carlton Cole and his fellow forwards. They are struggling to steer the ball in via head, feet, knees or shins yet Liverpool players can volley home with a touch of belly!

April 10, 2010
Posted by Billy Blagg on 04/10/2010

There was a collective sigh of relief at the final whistle; this may well have been the day that West Ham ensured another season in the Premiership. The three points garnered here in a hard-fought match mirrored the loss of those at Hull in what many considered was a home banker that would bring the Tigers within range of West Ham.

It's not over yet, of course, it would be just as wrong to start celebrating now as it was wrong to start calling for the head of Zola a few games back, but it's hard not to see the decision to stick with the Italian has proved to be the correct one. The team are playing for him and there was a grim determination against Sunderland that augers well for the remaining four games.

April 6, 2010
Posted by Billy Blagg on 04/06/2010

There are several ways of viewing this result; Hammers win an unexpected point away against a form team, Visitors lose three points thanks to a missed spot kick from a man who shouldn't have been given the opportunity to waste, Home side unlucky after Ref fails to award a stonewall penalty and, finally, gutsy comeback in final minutes mean West Ham still have some fight left and offers encouragement for the remaining games.

You can choose your own, of course, but in many ways that pretty much sums up this excellent Sky televised match as West Ham twice battled back from behind to secure a point and a bit of much needed confidence.

March 27, 2010
Posted by Billy Blagg on 03/27/2010

I don't know about Gianfranco Zola but I'm considering my future after this latest debacle. Despite Tuesday nights mess and the horrendous stories flying about of David Sullivan's bust-up with Steve Clarke, impending disciplinary action for the Hammers coach and much mud-slinging and name calling, I actually thought the whole thing would bring the team together and provide a spirited display that would result in three points.

But it didn't...in fact, in many ways, although the performance against Stoke wasn't as shambolic as the display against Wolves, this was even more of a shocker. Gianfranco Zola is said to be considering his position overnight but I would have to say - much as I have supported the Italian - I think his position is now virtually untenable. Our last three home games have served up three defeats against sides sitting alongside us that we were confidently expected to get a result from and, late in the day though it may be, I just see no way back for Zola from this.

March 23, 2010
Posted by Billy Blagg on 03/23/2010

"....Mr Blagg is not at home at present. He is out looking for Barry Fry's telephone number and investigating train times to Norwich and is expected back some time in July. Please feel free to leave a message and Billy will speak to you when he has fully recovered.... BEEEEEEEEEP...."

March 19, 2010
Posted by Billy Blagg on 03/19/2010

The result was probably as expected but I thought the scoreline a trifle harsh on a Hammers side who gave a good account of themselves for an hour of the match until Drogba scored Chelsea's second, prompting the stuffing to fall out of West Ham's attempts to make a game of it.

When Alex put the home side ahead after 16 minutes and with Chelsea playing some smart football, the game looked over as a contest but a superb strike from Scott Parker ensured the Hammers went in level at the break.

March 7, 2010
Posted by Billy Blagg on 03/07/2010

On the face of it - according to pundits anyway - this was three points waiting to be collected. West Ham had won their last two home games and, since Arsenal knocked them out of the cup in January, the Hammers were unbeaten at home scoring five and conceding none.

The visitors on the other hand hadn't won away all season and lost their last four, scoring none and conceding ten. All set fair then until you look at the top of the page and see the teams playing. Bolton Wanderers are West Ham's nemesis. Forget Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool and all - we've picked up points over those in recent memory and even managed a double occasionally. Bolton? A mere cup win on the way to the 2006 final (and that was an extra time result) and a do or die Tevez-led league victory in the relegation-escaping season after.

February 25, 2010
Posted by Billy Blagg on 02/25/2010

I saw nothing of this match and even the match highlights have passed me by so far so I don't feel confident in passing any judgement on this whatsoever. Better teams than West Ham have been knocked about at Old Trafford though and probably will be for years to come.

Rooney was virtually unplayable apparently - which is bloody annoying as I think Sir Alex should have given the lad a rest so he's fit and raring to go for the World Cup...

February 20, 2010
Posted by Billy Blagg on 02/20/2010

In what probably had to be seen as a 'must win' game, the Hammers dominated proceedings at Upton Park and ran out comfortable winners; if they had scored the fourth or fifth goal their play deserved we'd have been calling this a bit of a thrashing but whatever way you look at it, this was a stylish win that showed a fair gulf between the two teams. There may be some difficult away games coming up but West Ham have hit their stride at just the right time.

When you're struggling at the wrong end of the table and confidence is low, there is nothing better than to go into a game following a win in your last outing, and find yourself a goal up after only three minutes and, thanks to Behrami's goal after an interchange between Franco and the Swiss International, that was exactly what happened.

February 11, 2010
Posted by Billy Blagg on 02/11/2010

On a bitterly cold evening in the east end, West Ham at last got the result they needed to send everyone home a little warmer and with a little more hope in their heart.

It would be wrong to suggest that the Hammers turned on the style and brushed aside Birmingham, but the midlanders gave a good account of why they are sitting comfortably in mid-table and, once they had gone ahead, the home side showed the type of form that has eluded them for most of this season as a goal in each half from Diamanti and then Cole enabled the Irons to take three valuable points from a match they had to win.

February 8, 2010
Posted by Billy Blagg on 02/08/2010

You'd think it would be hard to make this result worse than it was but I seemed to achieve that on Saturday evening when, for reasons I'd rather not go into, I found myself at 5pm in a bar in Sticksville, Suffolk with poor radio reception, no mobile connection and no TV (yes - such places do still exist).

I knew West Ham were 1-0 down to a first half Burnley goal - although only Saturday's nights Match of the Day could reveal the full horror of the 'up and over' played forward by Danny Fox and Nugent's lob over a struggling Upson and stranded Green - so I was hoping the second half would bring about an improvement and, at the very least, an equaliser.

February 1, 2010
Posted by Billy Blagg on 02/01/2010

There's no disguising the fact that this was poor fare until about the last 20 minutes and also a severe disappointment in view of the expected performance resulting from the G&S takeover in mid-week. It had surely been hoped that the appearance of Gold and Sullivan in the Director's box and a bit of home crowd fervour would drive the home side onto a victory they might expect against a side they traditionally do well against. It wasn't to be though as West Ham spluttered through a pretty tiresome 90 minutes.

On balance it may be Blackburn who will go away thinking they should have got more from the match so I suppose there is some element in saying the home side did well to take a point, but this toothless display does little to dispel the gloom and threat of relegation, and only Gold and Sullivan's loosening of the purse strings is likely to blow those cobwebs away.

January 29, 2010
Posted by Billy Blagg on 01/29/2010

I suspect the benefit of this point, or loss of three, will really only be seen at the end of the season but I was a bit disappointed as I thought with the week West Ham have had, the team might have been galvanised and gone on to take all three points after Matthew Upson put them ahead half-way through the second half.

It wasn't to be though as Danny Webber's goal in the 75th minute gave the home side a draw and ensured Portsmouth remain rooted to the bottom while the Hammers remain out of the bottom three.

Beyond that though, there is not much to add as a chilly trip to Portsmouth in mid-week was never on the cards and the shots and goals highlights on Match of the Day revealed little except some disappointment from Zola. Let's move on, shall we?

January 4, 2010
Posted by Billy Blagg on 01/04/2010

Sometimes the intial thoughts that pop into your head after a game are worth much more than hours spent in critical appraisal and, leaving Upton Park my first thoughts were 'we didn't deserve that' and 'I can't believe we actually lost'.

In retrospect perhaps, you can look at the Arsenal bench, compare it to West Ham's and see exactly where the match was won - or lost depending on your stance - but at the time the Hammers looked to be so much in control of the game, it looked like one of those days where the more-fancied side would come unstuck.

December 28, 2009
Posted by Billy Blagg on 12/28/2009

Losing to Spurs is always hard to take but it was never going to be esay for the Hammers to get anything from this game, struggling as they do against sheer pace. Inevitabiliy, It was Aaron Lennon who caused confusion for the first goal scored by Modric after only 11 minutes and, with the Hammers again struggling with injuries in-between, Defoe scored against his old club late on to tie up the points for the home side.

December 27, 2009
Posted by Billy Blagg on 12/27/2009

There are many cliches in football and the 'six-pointer' and 'it's more important we got the points' are just two of them.

This then was a...errr... six-pointer and, poor thought the display was, it was more important we got the points (I'll try to improve in 2010, honestly!). The win came courtesy of a penalty from Diamanti when Mark Noble was hacked down by returning former Hammer Hayden Mullins; a man who impressed during his spell with the Irons and who would surely now be holding a Cup winner's medal had he not cruelly missed out on the 2006 FA Cup Final (Had Mullins been playing Gerrard would have been better marked, is my theory). Hayden was given an excellent reception which does prove that Hammers fans do treat ex-players kindly when we think they have given good service. Mind you, his tackle here would also have done him favours.

December 26, 2009
Posted by Billy Blagg on 12/26/2009

A wholly unexpected point at home that could well have been three had the referee not taken notice of a bad decision by the linesman who flagged for a foul by Matthew Upson that never was.

Mike Dean, surely realising his mistake, made Frank Lampard take the penalty three times because of encroachment by Chelsea players but Jnr. held his nerve and scored all three times to earn Chelsea a draw and give England's 2010 World Cup hopes a boost.

December 20, 2009
Posted by Billy Blagg on 12/20/2009

I was busy sorting parcels when this result came in and I've seen nothing of it, even the highlights passing me by.

Sometimes though, there is nothing to say and silence speaks a thousand words....

December 12, 2009
Posted by Billy Blagg on 12/12/2009

There was an air of inevitability about this result. In a weekend in which Dean Ashton announced his retirement and Gianfranco Zola talked about needing to take six points from the next two away games, the feeling that injury struck Hammers would come up short against a battling Birmingham side was always a distinct possibility.

As ever though, it's West Ham we're talking about, so there had to be an extra kick in the pants as they left the Midlands pointless and it came in the guise of ex-Hammer Ian Bowyer who scored the only goal against the club he supports in the 52nd minute.

December 7, 2009
Posted by Billy Blagg on 12/07/2009

Reporting on last years match between these two sides I had some idiots email me to tell me that I was being 'disrespectful' to Manchester United so I'll try and be as reverent as possible here and say that, although shorn of defenders and with crippling injuries that would seriously affect most sides, the Champions were still far too good for a similarly stricken Hammers side. OK that good enough for you?

Now, on to West Ham...

November 29, 2009
Posted by Billy Blagg on 11/29/2009

Apart from the superb entertainment; the good thing about this match was it proved a number of points and highlighted others. So where do we start?

Well, most importantly, the three points were vital to West Ham and any attempt to underplay the significance of the result cannot be condoned. Most of us would have taken a 1-0 win at the start of play, bearing in mind the injuries to Upson and Behrami, and a 2-0 would have been accepted by all. The 5-3 scoreline though, just served to show that the Hammers do have enough firepower to worry the teams around them but, conversely, we will continue to suffer from time to time until they address the problems in defence.

November 21, 2009
Posted by Billy Blagg on 11/21/2009

Sadly, I'm only able to rely on TV highlights for this game, but I know some people who were there and they tell me a 'best bits only' package would still produce a show of well over 45 minutes; a shame then that Match of the Day saw fit to lead with the 2-2 draw between Manchester City and Liverpool, a game that Radio 5Live described as 'simply awful'. Still, we wouldn't want to deny a large proportion of the country a chance to see the usual clubs and the usual tedium so we'll just have to make do with what we have.

So what have we? Well, it was on before Chelsea and Manchester United, I suppose...

November 8, 2009
Posted by Billy Blagg on 11/08/2009

One step forward, two steps back; there is no denying this was a desperately disappointing result against a side that always seem to do us at home. That's bad enough, but, like last season, the result was a travesty as the Hammers deserved something from a game they dominated for long periods. Everton's goals came against the run of play and picking the ball from the net seemed to be the only thing Rob Green had to do all afternoon.

But, we lost and undid the good work of mid-week, been dumped back into the trouble zone and also, once gain, surely given the fragile confidence a knock. So what went wrong?

November 5, 2009
Posted by Billy Blagg on 11/05/2009

There were three minutes of a four minute period of stoppage time on the clock when young Zavon Hines swivelled and hit home a precious goal to give West Ham a 2-1 win against Aston Villa. The crowd erupted and I, for one, can't remember the last time I've been hugged by so many fat, bald blokes (?). It was late - very late - but I didn't think it was anything less than West Ham deserved for a battling display that was full of conviction, tenacity and good football. In fact, this was a cracking match with both sides showing good form.

November 1, 2009
Posted by Billy Blagg on 11/01/2009

I suppose, for the sake of symmetry, I should say this is a draw that felt like a defeat as the Hammers had done to them what they did to Arsenal last week; but that would be a lie as Sunderland bossed the second half and a point seemed only fair and was, in any case, probably a result I would have taken before the game began.

Gianfranco Zola though looked dispirited after the match and was obviously annoyed at the way the Hammers let a two goal lead slip away by allowing the home side to dominate for long spells in the second half even though they were down to ten men for most of it.

October 26, 2009
Posted by Billy Blagg on 10/26/2009

This was a draw that felt more like a win and the home point, perhaps, may represent a solid base that could kick start West Ham's season, such was the impact felt in pulling back a two goal deficit from a strong Arsenal side who looked solidly in command until the final 15 minutes of the match.

It would be unfair to suggest that West Ham were outclassed by Arsenal until the latter stages; certainly in the first 15 minutes the Hammers had given as good as they got, but, once the home side were forced to chase the game after poor defensive errors, there is no doubt that the likelihood of a Hammers comeback looked extremely unlikely. I'm ashamed to admit at one stage that I was just hoping that the score finished 2-0 rather than it turning into a rout.

October 19, 2009
Posted by Billy Blagg on 10/19/2009

I can't help but feel that West Ham are trying to fulfill a self-perpetrating prophecy here. A few weeks back, with less matches played than their rivals and only two home games, one against local rivals who've got a bit of a sign on us currently and Liverpool, who we've not beaten since referees last wore top hats, we find ourselves in the lower reaches of the division. "Woe is us - it's relegation" scream the knee-jerkers and, all of a sudden, we start playing like a relegation haunted team; Confidence drains away and top players - not the ones usually open to fans criticism - suddenly start looking second rate. Saturday's game was a case in point.

October 4, 2009
Posted by Billy Blagg on 10/04/2009

Well thanks, West Ham. I have been telling all and sundry this week that the Hammers position in the bottom three was mainly down to the vagaries of the fixture list, and that our real direction would be revealed when we played Fulham. On this showing though, I'd have to admit that direction may be backwards!

One up against ten men with only a last gasp equaliser to spare the blushes, is really not good enough at this stage. More worringly, the lack of onfield leadership, defensive mistakes, bad luck and positional confusion is merely giving ammunition to neutrals and pessimistic fans who sense that a season long fight against relegation is the best we can hope for. It should have all been so different though.

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 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 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

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.

August 25, 2009
Posted by Billy Blagg on 08/25/2009

The years rolled back at Upton Park on Tuesday night as '70's terrace hooliganism returned to East London in scenes that could have come directly from another 'straight to bargain bin' sequel of 2005 film 'Green Street'.

This time though there was no Frodo Baggins and no socio-macho altercations posing as entertainment; this time the violence was real and meant at least one man was stabbed as over 200 police in riot gear tried to quell the violence as bottles and bricks were thrown in pre-match street battles that were later described as 'large scale trouble'.

Life imitating 'Art'? Well, this was always going to be a powder keg of a match and trouble was never going to be far from the surface but perhaps the Police were a little unprepared for scenes that some fans won't have seen before, but which will remind older supporters of days when supporting your team was a darker and more dangerous occupation.

August 23, 2009
Posted by Billy Blagg on 08/23/2009

I wasn't in particularly good humour as I approached this game and I was in even less of one after. I've long maintained that the football season starts too early and goes on too long and this game in particular - a red-blooded local derby guaranteed to warm the cockles on a cold autumn or winter day - was not aided by being played on a baking hot Sunday lunchtime when the attention of most sensible people should have been on Steve Harmison bearing down from the Vauxhall End rather than Cole peppering the Sir Trevor Brooking Stand.

August 15, 2009
Posted by Billy Blagg on 08/15/2009

We all know it's a marathon and not a sprint, but it is a deeply satisfying to start the season with an away win, and even better when the performance is as comprehensive as this.

West Ham were comfortable winners at Molineux with a goal in each half from first, England under-21 captain Mark Noble, and then new club skipper and England centre-half Matthew Upson on 69 minutes. Wolves weren't without attacking options though and Robert Green was in fine form to deny the home side. Quite why England think they have a goalkeeping problem when Green is available is puzzling; if Robert played for a top four club then nobody would doubt his ability.

May 26, 2009
Posted by Billy Blagg on 05/26/2009

Carlton Cole and Junior Stanislas both scored in the 2-1 defeat of Middlesbrough to round off the season in fine style and condemn Boro to relegation.

On a baking hot day in East London, the football looked a little leaden at times and there was very much an 'end of term' feel to proceedings despite the fact that the media had tried to buoy Boro's hopes of survival. In fact, the Teeside club and its fans had obviously already decided their fate, as there was none of the desperation and urgency usually associated with these matches and Boro only had a few hundred fans follow them down for their last hurrah.

May 18, 2009
Posted by Billy Blagg on 05/18/2009

West Ham's Euro hopes disappeared with defeat at Goodison Park; a game in which James Tomkins saw a straight red and the Hammers finished rather in disarray.

It all looked so good when Radoslav Kovac opened his account with his new club, scoring spectacularly from 25 yards in the 24th minute after Everton had made a strong start, but the game changed after 38 minutes when Tomkins was adjudged to have tripped Tim Cahill, Everton were awarded a penalty and the Hammer's defender was sent off.

May 10, 2009
Posted by Billy Blagg on 05/10/2009

You know it's going to be a bad day when you've been unintentionally held up and get to the match or the pub a minute or so after kick-off, just in time to see the opposition roll the ball into your net...

Of course, for West Ham it's Liverpool in general and Steven Gerrard in particular, and we should all really be used to it by now so, what can only be described as a bit a pasting, didn't really come as any great surprise. As I've said earlier, the Hammers can hold their own against the Stoke's and Fulham's of this world but, with what is esentially the season's fourth and fifth choice forward line, this side aren't really likely to give a team like Liverpool much in the way of sleepless nights.

May 5, 2009
Posted by Billy Blagg on 05/05/2009

Another good away win for the Hammers against a team who, rather like West Ham, have rather flown in under the radar this season. This was Stoke's first home defeat of 2009 and only their fourth at home all season and rather negates the 'well, whaddya expect?' opinion I got from Blagg Jnr when I told him the result.

Stoke City are a tricky mob at the best of times but when, as they did in the second half in this game, they give their all to the cause backed by a vociferous home crowd, they become even more difficult to handle.

April 26, 2009
Posted by Billy Blagg on 04/26/2009

Petr Cech's superb penalty stop from Mark Noble gave Chelsea all three points at Upton Park and provided a welcome boost to the visitors, who face the rather more daunting challenge of Barcelona in the semi final of the Champions League on Wednesday.

Salomon Kalou's 55th minute opener for Chelsea followed excellent work by Frank Lampard, who responded to the inevitable abuse with the equally inevitable solid performance. I doubt either of these things will ever change.

April 22, 2009
Posted by Billy Blagg on 04/22/2009

Some newspapers had this down as a lucky point for West Ham but I'm not sure why. True Villa went ahead as early as the 11th minute while West Ham's equaliser came in the 85th and Villa did have several chances to stretch their lead in the first half and the Hammers would surely have had trouble recovering from that.

But a quick look at the match statistics will show that the Hammer's forced as many corners as Villa and had the main percentage of the possession and, once Saviola and Sears were introduced in the 74th and 81st minutes respectively, the Hammers constantly stretched the home side's rearguard to the extent that it looked like any third goal would come from the visitors.

April 14, 2009
Posted by Billy Blagg on 04/14/2009

Roman Pavlyuchenko's solitary second half strike was enough to earn Tottenham the 'double' over West Ham this season and, sadly, bragging rights for the 2008/09 season.

You'd have to say that Spurs probably deserved this victory though; the Hammers didn't create enough in the final third and missed the influence and menace of Cole and Parker. The Hammer's only real chance came shortly before Pavlyuchenko's winner, when Di Michele should have done better when he raced through Woodgate but seemed not to realise how much time was available when giving Gomez the chance to save.

April 7, 2009
Posted by Billy Blagg on 04/07/2009

This really was an inspiring win. With Scott Parker out and Carlton Cole - injured playing for England in mid-week - expected to be sidelined for six weeks, there is no doubt that the Hammers looked as if they would find goals difficult to come by and, with Sunderland desperate for points, this had the air of one of those games where the struggling side might expect to upset the more fancied hosts.

However, Zola's promise to give the kids a run-out turned out to be more than just giving them first team experience, as Junior Stanislas and the increasingly impressive James Tomkins, both scored to give the Irons a richly deserved victory.

March 25, 2009
Posted by Billy Blagg on 03/25/2009

If Blackburn fans were looking to gain three easy relegation-busting points against a team that looked tired and jaded just five days before, then they obviously hadn't looked at the past meetings between these two sides.

To say that West Ham are Blackburn's bogey side is an understatement and, with wins by the Lancashire side against the Hammer's about as rare as hen's teeth, some people might look at the territorial advantage gained by the home side in this match and opine that the curse had struck again.

March 16, 2009
Posted by Billy Blagg on 03/16/2009

Good grief! Just how bad was this? I fully expect to see a new dictionary definiton of 'poor' appearing in the standard Oxford next year; it will read simply WHU 0 WBA 0 - 16th March 2008.

There was no excitement, no shots, no atmosphere and nowhere to hide. Both sides seemed content to come away with a point and I'm not sure if this says less about the Hammers than the Baggies. West Ham can claim to have been seriously understrength with injuries and suspensions but even that doesn't excuse the lack of urgency and the constant back passes to Robert Green.

March 6, 2009
Posted by Billy Blagg on 03/06/2009

I won't waste your time with this one as I only saw some brief highlights on Match of the Day, and the chief concerns on that viewing were a superbly worked West Ham goal that ultimately won the match, and some appalling tackling and crazy referring decisions that seemed to puzzle just about everyone apart from match ref Stuart Atwell.

In a nasty game that threatened to spill over on several occasions both Scott Parker and Lucas Neill could count themselves lucky to finish the game on the pitch while Carlton Cole, dismissed for a second bookable when his high leg collided with Boyce's low head, could justifiably ask if that, or the earlier booking for a late tackle, deserved so much as a yellow.

March 2, 2009
Posted by Billy Blagg on 03/02/2009

A poll on the WestHamOnline site surprisingly revealed that an overwhelming majority of fans thought West Ham would lose this game. The Hammer's recent poor form may have something to do with it; then again City's abysmal away record suggested the run must end somewhere – and that somewhere was more than likely to be Upton Park (we have a record of this type of thing!).

More likely though was the fact that the Hammers faced that hardiest of foe; the sold striker coming back to wreak havoc on his old club and, being as Bellamy had an excellent record against his former clubs - and there are now a helluva lot of 'em - the fans seemed to fear the worst.

February 25, 2009
Posted by Billy Blagg on 02/25/2009

West Ham slumped out of the FA Cup as Middlesbrough finished off what they threatened to do at Upton Park two weeks ago; the Smoggies generally out muscling and out playing a disappointing Hammers outfit.

The whole evening wasn't helped by the bizarre circumstance of ITV showing the replay on a night that Sky were covering two games in something called the Champions League, said games involving Chelsea, Inter Milan, Liverpool and Real Madrid. There are some people out there who prefer this type of tedium and they were all in the same pub!

February 22, 2009
Posted by Billy Blagg on 02/22/2009

The classic phrase is 'a game of two halves'; but this represented a game of 80 minutes against 10 (You can do the maths and tell me what that represents!).

Two goals down after 11 minutes, West Ham looked down and out on a ground they have never won on and against opponents who seem to have the 'sign' on us. If that wasn't bad enough, Kevin Davies - who would surely be picked for England if he had to face the Hammers every week - scored his inevitable goal against his favourite opponents.

February 21, 2009
Posted by Billy Blagg on 02/21/2009

A frustrating afternoon at Upton Park, as a lacklustre and strangely off the pace home side struggled in a cup-tie that they must have had good hope of winning on current form.

Herita Ilunga's late goal gave West Ham a draw that they will probably relish, as there was a definite suggestion in the air that Boro's messy goal on 22 minutes was going to prove enough to put the Teesiders through to the next round.

February 8, 2009
Posted by Billy Blagg on 02/08/2009

In a fascinating rather than exciting encounter, Manchester United scored the only goal in a tightly fought contest.

This was a game that had so much huff and puff in midfield - with little to show with regard to shots - that nil-nil looked written all over it. In fact, it was difficult to believe that the Hammers had lost it at the final whistle. It's not exactly that the home side were unlucky, more that they had nullified ManUre's attack to the point at which it looked as if both sides would be happy with the draw.

February 1, 2009
Posted by Billy Blagg on 02/01/2009

"Move along - nothing to see here"

West Ham fought out a goal-less draw at the Emirates, extending their unbeaten run and frustrating the Arse into the bargain.

It was pretty much defensive duties all afternoon and Arsenal had two reasonable chances that fell to Adebayor although Man of the Match James Collins also saw Clichy clear a header of the line just before half-time. Otherwise that's about it. I'm not going to waste my time writing about it and yours reading it except to say how gratifying it is to be able to see West Ham go into a game like this with a reasonable chance of getting a result. Well done to a defensive unit that is now looking rock solid thanks, presumably, to excellent coaching. Odd how things can turn around, isn't it?

January 29, 2009
Posted by Billy Blagg on 01/29/2009

The score doesn't tell the whole story here as a rampant Hammers tore Hull open so easily it could have run into double figures under the Upton Park floodlights.

As it was a first half-goal from Di Michele - who played superbly and deserved more - and a second half strike from Carlton Cole, were enough to cement West Ham's position in the top half of the table and give Hull a football lesson in the bargain.

January 24, 2009
Posted by Billy Blagg on 01/24/2009

There's no denying this was a comfortable win for West Ham against opponents who never managed to put the Hammers under any type of serious pressure.

Following the North-east side's win against Premier opponents Stoke in the last round it was obvious that ITV would show this as one of their weekend matches hoping, no doubt, for the type of upset long associated with West Ham or, at the very least, an 'up and 'at em'' performance from the home side.

January 18, 2009
Posted by Billy Blagg on 01/18/2009

Make no mistake this was an impressive win over a Fulham side that have been bang in form recently and who have had - prior to today at least - a good defensive record.

The Hammers went ahead early in the 7th minute when Di Michele - who was replacing the missing Bellamy - pounced on a poor attempted clearance from ex-Hammer John Pantsil; the defender having tried to turn a chested down ball back to his keeper.

January 12, 2009
Posted by Billy Blagg on 01/12/2009

Honours even at St James' Park and round at our house as Cockneys and Geordies - or at least two teams representing them - fought out an exciting draw.

Probably both sets of fans will point to individual instances in which a victory could have been snatched - both sides probably had valid penalty claims turned down, for example - but a draw was probably a fair result as want-away keeper Shay Given made a stunning save from Jack Collison while Newcastle had their chances too particularly in the closing stages.

Despite going behind to the inevitable Michael Owen goal - he really does love to score against the Hammers - West Ham struck back through Craig Bellamy before the break and went ahead when Carlton Cole sprung a poor offside trap to power the claret and blue ahead.

However, youngster Tony Carroll headed an equaliser after 78 minutes to ensure a share of the spoils although a superb late tackle by Matthew Upson denied Gutierrez with the last shot of the game.

This result keeps West Ham firmly in 10th place with Newcastle tucked in just behind them; strange then that the media - not happy unless West Ham are being slated in some way - described this as a relegation battle. On this showing, and providing the Bellamy and Parker rumours are shown to be just that, it's probably the Hammers who can look forward to a better second half of the season.

January 3, 2009
Posted by Billy Blagg on 01/03/2009

You know the score with these games. Win and it is just what everyone expects anyway, lose and you're a mug.

Against a side that made the semi-finals last season, West Ham might have expected to struggle given their problems with meeting lower league sides over the years. But, in truth, the Hammers strolled to victory here and the result was virtually assured by half time after Ilunga scored his first goal for the Hammers after 10 minutes and Mark Noble slotted home from the penalty spot after 39.

December 28, 2008
Posted by Billy Blagg on 12/28/2008

A desperately needed home win came late, but was deserved none the less, when a Carlton Cole shot deflected off of Diego Tristan to deceive the Stoke keeper. The MOTD highlights showed Cole shaking his head and beaming wildly and he must have been thinking what the rest of us were; when your luck is down you get nothing - see Aston Villa - when it's up you it a deflected winner with five minutes to go. Crazy game!

In fact, West Ham showed a good deal of fortitude in this match. They went behind early with just five minutes on the clock when Faye lost his marker James Collins and headed in from a Fuller corner.

December 26, 2008
Posted by Billy Blagg on 12/26/2008

A fine away win this, after Portsmouth squandered the chance to take a first half lead just before half-time when ex-Hammer Jermaine Defoe missed his spot kick - to the delight of the travelling faithful.

The Hammers, who dropped behind early in the eighth minute to a Behladi goal only to equalise through the increasingly impressive Jack Collinson, came good late on when Carlton Cole was on hand to tap in after seventy minutes with Craig Bellamy scoring twice impressively to wrap it up.

December 20, 2008
Posted by Billy Blagg on 12/20/2008

Five defeats at home before Christmas is relegation form. Two goals at home in six games is relegation form. But now - were we in any doubt - we've really hit the point that decides when the relegation dogfight has started; that is the dreaded 'play well but unluckily lose to a fluke goal' scenario. Heads down everyone - we're in a battle!

Those wonderful Soccernet statisticians tell me that West Ham had twenty shots on goal of which eight were on target, but sometimes it seemed much more as Bellamy terrorised the Villa defence and forced Brad Fieldel into several top notch saves.

About
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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