It aint over until Fat Sam sings. This afternoon should be a walk in the Upton Park but this is West Ham so anything could yet happen. Cardiff have been trying to convince us that a 2-0 lead going in to the second leg is a dangerous lead but it's no where near as dangerous as a two goal deficit, of course. In fact, with any other club you would say it is game over, start selling the tickets for Wembley...
The trouble is, we've all been there when West Ham have turned a winning position into a draw or a defeat. One of the earliest games I went to see (14th November 1970) saw us surrender a 3-1 lead against Wolves to end up drawing 3-3. Moore scored that day and knocked out the referee into the bargain, borrowing his whistle to stop the game so the official could receive treatment. Clyde Best grabbed two but a Bailey piledriver saw Wolves share the spoils.
I was at Upton Park too on April 2nd when we were leading 2-0 against Revie's Leeds with twelve minutes to go - then on came Eddie Gray to rip us apart. Final score 2-2. (Best and Bonds).
Roll forward to the 11th of December 1971 and I was on the terraces at the Dell to see us go in at half time three goals to the good (Best, Brooking and Bonds) only for Terry Paine to rip us apart second half - final score 3-3.
April the second again, this time in 2011: we lead Man Utd with two Noble penalties and Vidic should have seen red. Cue Rooney, swearing into the camera, and a final score of 2-4.
How about 8th of November 2003, three goals ahead inside 20 minutes (Deane 2 and Defoe) and then Judas is sent off. Final score 3-4 with Deane grabbing the match ball by scoring in his own net as well!
These are the stand out games for me but others will carry their own personal scars. The one reassuring thing is that Allardyce wasn't in charge in any of those games...but he was in charge when Blackpool blew a first leg two goal play off advantage to lose the second leg 3-0! But come on, lightning can't strike twice in the same place can it?
This is West Ham guys!
So it's time for calm heads. No red cards is the first priority. Let's get the ball and keep the ball. No sitting back, that would be fatal. Just control the game in exactly the same way as we controlled the game at Cardiff. The first goal could be crucial. If we score it, Welsh hearts will be broken; if they grab it, they will suddenly fancy their chances. Nothing should be taken for granted but we should go into the game brimming with confidence but playing as if the score is still 0-0.
Come On You Allardyce Irons!