Wednesday, 29 April 2009
Have you ever wanted West Ham to lose?
An odd question to ask on a West Ham blog but I mean it most sincerely folks, have you ever wanted West Ham to lose a game? I came very close earlier in the season when we played Macclesfield in the League Cup. I was amongst a 10,000 weak crowd for the game and witnessed a woeful performance, requiring a late equaliser, a sending off and extra time to overcome a team who had lost every game in the old Fourth Division. It was obvious that the team was playing without inspiration, heart and even hope and it was absolutely clear that Curbishley had to go. A section of the crowd turned on the manager and chanted that he would be out of work in the morning and a humiliating defeat in a relatively meaningless cup (let's face it, even Tottenham can win it!)seemed, for a while, like a resonable trade off - anything to remove the curse of Turds from Upton Park! But then Bowyer equalised, Cole (a replacement for Sears) started to terrorise the hapless minnows and the claret and blue blood started pumping through my veins. Each goal was greeted like a goal scored against Manchester United or Tottenham and I exercised an opt out clause on my provisionally arranged pact with the devil. So, in the end, even a passionate yearning to see Turds replaced was not actually enough to make me want my beloved Hammers to lose.
But there was a game I was keen for us to lose. For this we have to go back to the last game of season 2003-04, away to Wigan. In case you have forgotten, this was the final league game of a truly depressing season. We were bumping along in the Fizzy Pop all season, Roeder had been belatedly sacked, Brooking had inspired hope, only for Pardew to be appointed and to recruit a bunch of players that had no place at West Ham. We used an incredible 36 players that season - and by incredible, I mean the number of players, not the quality! Remember Quinn? And Stockdale? And Connolly? And Mellor? And Harley? And Deane? Remember those depressing draws against Norwich, Burnley and Forest? Remember the 4-1 defeat at Millwall? Remember the surrender at home to the Baggies after Defoe's sending off? Remember the 1-0 defeat at Palace? I remembered that last one keenly, but Brian Deane seemed to have forgotten it when we entered the last ten minutes of the game at Wigan!
The equation was simple. If Wigan won their final game of the season and Palace failed to win, then the Latics were into the play offs. If they failed to win then Palace would replace Wigan. Now Palace were on a fantastic run, transforming from a team struggling against relegation into the favourites to make it into the Premiership should they squeeze into the playoffs. Wigan, meanwhile, were moving in the opposite direction, falling away as the pressure mounted, and our track record against them was good - we had thumped them 4-0 at Upton Park. I knew, absolutely knew, that if Palace made it into the playoffs, then they would win the final. It was obvious, it was written in the stars, there was nothing anybody could do to prevent it - if they qualified! But the solution was simple, blindingly obvious in fact. All Pardew had to do was pick a team of stiffs and smile as we lost, slamming the door in the face of the Eagles if they failed to win.
And it was all going to plan as we ticked into the last minute. Wigan were beating us 1-0 and Palace were losing. A point meant nothing to us - our final league position would not change - but our chances of winning through to the Premiership would be hugely enhanced by denying Palace participation in the playoffs. So what happened? Well in a supreme act of shooting yourself in the foot, Carrick crossed and that useless great lump Brian Deane thumped in a header. 1-1, Wigan out, Palace in, and Destiny would not now be denied! As the goal went in my son cheered, not understanding the implications, but I was swearing and ranting, calling Deane all the obscenities in the book. "Dad", my son said confused, "We've just scored!" My reply was short, "Yes we've scored, the f****** own goal to end all f***** own goals!"
And why am I writing this now? Well earlier this season I struck a £20 bet for Newcastle to be relegated and England to win the World Cup. It pays out £1200. Now, just imagine, last game of the season, the match means nothing to us but if Boro win, they stay up and send Newcastle down. It will hurt but in those circumstances, I might just cheer on Miserableborough. Not for the money, you understand, but because I hate Shearer!
Posted by Hammersfan at 17:31