So we approach the end of the last full year at the Boleyn it’s time to look back at the last 12 months and perhaps it is safe to say it has been a topsy turvey year but one that perhaps promised at first great things but quickly stagnated to the inevitable finish of the Allardyce era in May only to be reborn under Slaven.
January and things were rosy in the Boleyn Garden, sitting 6th as the New Year was seen in, but even that while looking good, was a drop from the 3rd place just a few weeks before, and actually was just a continuation as the club then just sat and stagnated week after week dropping 6 places to finish 12th in May. In fact the last 19 premier league games of the BFS Era produced just 16 points in the premier league. Many would say that is relegation form but how close is it, what if for instance the season didn’t run from August of one year to May of the next but in fact ran from January to December. In the Premier league that would actually still be 38 games so I have sat down and worked out as far as I can remembering there are still Two games left this year.
Splitting it into two halves with the summer mid-season break which gave some of the failing clubs the chance to change their managers, which 8 clubs have done this calendar season including of course the Hammers. The fairest option is as well to split the league into Two, the top division being the 17 clubs to play the whole year in the top flight while in the lower league we have the 6 clubs to only play half a season, the 3 that left after the summer break and the 3 that replaced them.
So at the end of May as the season broke for the summer, we bade farewell to QPR, Hull and Burnley. Hull and Burnley pay the price for their previous years form as though they were bottom 3 in May overall, in the Year 2015 league they were both out of the Relegation places. Newcastle were the second worst team from January to May collecting only 13 points out of 19 games, just 1 point better than QPR’s 12, Then Came the Hammers with 16, quite a turnaround when you think the previous 19 games had brought about 31points. So of the 17 teams left in May West Ham were the second worst team, perhaps further evidence why the previous manager had to go.
From the resume of the Premier league in August though the Hammers have far improved their points tally, collecting 28 from the 19 games, which when compared to the other lowest placed teams with us in May, Newcastle, Villa and Sunderland is a great achievement for Billic. David Sullivan’s spending in the summer transfer window certainly has paid off not just in the points gained, but the style of the football it has enabled Billic to construct.
Don’t forget that Newcastle’s last 3 points came last game in May against us otherwise they would have been relegated out of the 17 to survive the cull.
Just 4 weeks later West Ham were back in action as we had the Europa League to deal with, which was stuttering to say the least and ended before the fun really got going, but it gave us 3 extra games at the Boleyn, and also it gave the players a head start as they started the second half of the 2015 season.
Second from bottom faced Top in August as the form book was ripped up and thrown out the Window, West Ham defeated Arsenal in their back yard to start what hopefully would be a revival and show that by playing in the Europa League it did give us an early season boost. But as if to prove that no matter who the players are or who the manager is, West Ham will always flatter to deceive, Leicester turn up at The Boleyn to grab a victory that was a surprise to those that were there, but when you look at the 2015 table perhaps the Foxes victory wasn’t that a surprise. Bournemouth’s on the other hand was a shock, as good a game as it was I doubt many of us saw that result in advance, as was then the Liverpool away day win at Anfield ending 52 years of Hurt. 6 points out of the first 4 games was perhaps expected, just not in the way they were achieved. Victories against Man city Palace and Chelsea and the club are riding crest of a wave, injuries though have started to tell and prior to the Swansea game it is now 6 games without a win, though a draw away at Man United is welcome and Stoke are generally our nemesis as are Everton so points against those two teams are welcome. Over all for West Ham Collecting 25 points out of 17 games is a good return and good basis to hope that if the upward spiral can continue, we may start the season at the OS with another European adventure
As the table shows, the title has already been won by a team that can’t win titles Man United & Liverpool are sliding, but it is the revelation that is Leicester City that stounds out. Perhaps in their performance of the Calendar year there is hope for all the lesser teams and may be finally shows that teams outside of the recent Big 6 teams can compete at last and who knows, may be just may be, in May 2016 we could have a New team winning the premier league title for the first time since 2010. The form of Chelsea since August is evident that as they have slipped down the table into mid table obscurity, Spuds have rose to be in the top 3, while it’s no surprise that 3 of the 4 teams that had a dismal start to the year have carried that on from August, Villa Newcastle and Sunderland year points tally are abysmal, 3 clubs with large fan bases that just lurch from manager to manager while nothing ever changes.
One last point to consider is that across the year, West Ham’s lowest position in the league table proper was where we finished in May, 12th, this season we have been constant in the top 10 so perhaps our final position in the Calendar year table is harsh.
So I present the up to date 2015 Premier league table as of Monday evening after the Southampton game.
Tuesday, 29 December 2015
Wednesday, 2 December 2015
There is a place in Green Street
They call the Boleyn Ground
And it's been the ruin of many a poor boy
And God I know I'm one
My mother was a single mum
saved for my season ticket
My uncle was a west Ham Fan
and we lived in Canning Town
Now the only thing a West Ham fan needs
Is a Ticket to the game
And the only time i was satisfied
was when i was at the Boleyn
Oh mother, tell your children
Not to do what I have done
Spend your lives in sin and misery
In the House called The Boleyn Ground
Well, I got one foot on the platform
The other foot on the train
I'm goin' back to Green street
To wear that ball and chain
Well, there is a place in Green Street
They call the Boleyn Ground
And it's been the ruin of many a poor boy
And God I know I'm one
Im not sure I’ve done "The House of the Rising Sun” justice, but in part, that song does resonate with me, especially the part about it being the ruin of many a poor boy as it seems at times it has been like a drug to me, one that i still haven’t been able to shake. That though of course change next season, the move and they way the club have gone about it has left me feeling angry in the past, that anger has now subsided in to resignation and a sense of finality. To myself i see the club as dying in May, finished, gone, caput, no moore, extinct.
The reason is it will no longer bare any resemblance to the club i was born into supporting, and the reasons look to have started years ago, many blame the advent of Sky and its support of the Premier league founding and its ignorance of the record books of the football that came before it. One such example of their re-writing of history is the lauding of Jamie Vardy equalling the record feat of Van Nistleroy in scoring in 10 consecutive premier league games. As good as a feat it is many don’t realise that the actual record is 15 consecutive games to score in achieved by Stan Mortensen of Blackpool, though his feat was broken by Injury so it wasn't 15 games in a row for Blackpool he scored in.
The premier league now seems to be run purely and simply on a money making model, football is in a way secondary now, Teams are now Brand names with clubs fighting to get their name seen as much as possible on the world stage. Their is no greater evidence of this than our own clubs new badge for for its re-birth next season in Stratford and it use of the word London. That can only be put down as an attempt to project the name in to lands that, as yet, don’t realise West Ham is in London, god forbid they realise its in East London. Fans are no longer treated as fans, but as cash cows, they’re to be relieved of as much money as possible, bombarded with daily emails offering us the chance to buy from the club nothing but tat.
Football without fans is nothing but it seems many get suckered in by the clever marketing by the clubs and West Ham are one of the best. The outside world will tell you that by moving to Stratford we are all getting our tickets 25% cheaper, as that is the story pushed often by the club, the truth is only Band 4 fans get that big a discount, and many i know that have been so far have upgraded to band 3, to avoid the poorer view in band 4, and in upgrading that discount disappears down to around 5%. The way the season ticket migration has been handled smacks of it being maximum money orientated rather than it being a service for the fans. The fact they employ salesmen to carry out the interviews should really show what the tactic is, as they are trained like car dealers to extract the maximum they can out of those sitting in front of them. Lets not forget the +2 policy of allowing non season ticket holders be served in front of some that have held Season tickets for well over 20 years, where is the reward for loyalty, for standing by the club during some of its worse seasons in the past 40 years. No reward is the answer.
I am a bitter man and i only have myself to blame, so mothers, and fathers, tell your children, not to do what i have done, don’t let them spend their life in sin and misery following west ham, tell them football is to be enjoyed, and whatever they do, don’t join the SAB.
On the field though despite the recent return of 1 point from 9 i still have a good feeling about this season, and to be honest, only the defeat at Watford was really disappointing as i really thought we could of done better against them. The defeat to Tottenham though is disappointing but there are times where you have to admit we were beaten by a better team and that is probably the only time we could of said that this season. It seems we have the same points this season after 13 games than we had last season, and the pro Sam media have been quick to point that out. problem is what they don’t get is the way we achieved our points this season is far superior than we did last season, add to the fact that this is Billic’s opening season so he has yet to build his own squad, whereas last season was Allardyce’s fourth at the club and was built by him. I still can’t see us struggling this season and stating to drop away into a slump that happened in the late part of last season, not that i think we can hold onto 6th spot as well, i fancy us to finish between 8th - 12th position, though if it was to be below 10th then i may be disappointed. then again, come May i doubt our league position will really bother me as then end will no longer be nigh, it will be upon us.
Lastly, I listened to the radio 4 programme this week which featured Gary, and it really was a great documentary, The 2 nuns made me laugh and to think all the years i have lived around the area and visited for football since i moved away, i never knew those nuns lived there. Gary’s revelations were no surprise as I’m sure he has let it be known that this is the year he considers his last (for the time being) and wish him every success in his plans for when football to him is no more. There is no way that in not missing a game since 1980 he couldn't have had family moaning at him, i know from experience, about the amount of time he spends at West Ham so his dedication can only be admired.
In the programme there were the locals, pleased we were leaving, though the fact we have been here 112 years surely means when they moved into the area the club was already here so they would have known from day one what to expect, and hammers fans, though the one that called the Boleyn Ground a run-down ramshackle of a stadium perhaps needs a trip to spec savers. i promise that next time i will try be more upbeat in what i write, enjoy today even in defeat as "The End is Nigh"