Tuesday, January 27, 2009

FA Cup Run Continues

In 1984, the University of South Carolina Football team started 9-0 and moved to number 2 in the polls. This was a heady times for the Gamecocks. William Price Fox, noted author and Gamecock fanatic wrote a book about that "Black Magic" season which I got for Christmas the following year. Arch-rival Clemson was on probation that year and could not appear on television live. As a result, the biggest game of the year was only shown on tape delay. Fox and his game-watching companion couldn't get tickets for the game and were stuck waiting for the replay that night. Now, in South Carolina, there is no bigger event than the Carolina-Clemson football game. There would be almost no way to avoid knowing the result in the lag between the final whistle and the replay. Fox and his buddy decided to garrison themselves in a rural motel, stocked with enough liquor and food to ensure they would not have to leave the room at all during the day. The motel was off the main roads so they didn't have to worry too much about someone in a passing car yelling out the score. It happens. Like I said, this is a big deal. Long story short; they made it to game time without knowing the outcome, Carolina scored late to win the game, and Mike Hold and William "The Refrigerator" Perry had a signature moment in the rivalry.

I do not have to go to those lengths to watch a delayed West Ham match. First off, I don't think there is a rural motel in South Carolina that would carry Setanta. Secondly, there are only a few other West Ham fans in town and they don't have my phone number where they could call and spoil the score for me. Against Hartlepool, there was one moment of spoiler potential. I had arrived at the pub a few minutes before the match and the Man U-Sp*r match was on. I watched the end of it and should have known better than to continue to watch after it was over. Of course, West Ham was the first highlight shown. As soon as I saw the claret and blue, I clapped my hands over my ears and ran out of the building. A few moments later, another patron came out and said it was alright for me to come back in. Of course he also said WHU won 7-0 and he was sorry to spoil it for me. I told him if that was the actual score, I would forgive him.

The match itself was pretty bland. The Irons looked subdued while Hartlepool looked to be trying their best for every moment. David tried hard as well but with better results. Of course, we are not exactly Goliath are we? At about the 41 minute mark, my youngest boy said, "I gotta go to the bathroom!" Yes, there was an exclamation point at the end of his sentence. When a four year old says that, you are pretty much stuck going to the bathroom. As he was wrapping up, the five year old came knocking on the door. By the time, we got done, it was extra time and the score was 2-0. Fantastic timing boys.

Middlesbrough is next in February and the team should be more up for that match. The sweet sixteen is nice but eight is great. First up though, is free-falling Hull. These do not appear to be the same teams that faced each other a few months ago. I see a much different result occurring this time. Of course, I won't actually see the result as I don't think the match is even live on broadband and the first replay I could reasonably get to is on Friday. I won't be able to stay off the Internet or Fox Soccer that long. Well, life can't be all surprises can it?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Tape Delayed Wins Still Count as Three Points

On Sunday, I had to avoid the reaches of the internet that would have the EPL scores. I surfed around a few US news sites and a few other regular sites of interest while waiting on the match to be replayed on Setanta at 5:00 p.m. Our cable carrier does not offer Setanta as an option, leaving only the satellite companies. Unfortunately, my house is surronded by tall trees and no signal is possible. Therefore, I am subject to the opening hours of the Cock n' Bull to catch any match not on Fox. Now, if WHU is playing one of the big four, the pub will be open no matter the time. But, for a match versus Fulham, I am going to have to wait until regular business hours.

There are only two televisions in the bar and both were tuned to the Eagles-Cardinals game when I walked in. It is a soccer bar though and the tender was happy to turn it to the West Ham match for me. It only caused a few grumbles as another table had to readjust to watch the NFL game on the TV over the bar. The downside for me is that I had no sound on my game. Stuck with my own analysis of the action, I watched another fine performance by the front line and generally solid play throughout. I think Di Michele played very well and showed his ability with the ball. It will be interesting to see if he can raise his play with a run of three or four starts. When he has been coming in as a late sub, he has been invisible. Over ninety minutes, his deftness may prove redeeming. Cole continued to bruise away and get another score off a nice Di Michele pass. He also set up Noble's PK with a strong run.

Two of the ex-hammers looked to still be on the payroll for at least a little bit. Bad defense led to two of the goals. How about that strike from Konchesky? Green appeared stuck for a minute, but who can blame him? I don't think anyone expected that shot from there with that much juice and aim. A clean sheet would have been nice, but three points was vital. It clears the relegation zone by a few games and marks a win in a "should" win situation.

This week, I am back on tape delay for the Hartlepool match. Man, I love the FA Cup. It's Hoosiers on grass. But Monkey Hangers? Seriously?

Friday, January 16, 2009

A Nice Read

A commenter on West Ham Till I Die posted a link to this article. It appears someone in the media believes in the way WHU is operating.

No more Freddie Ljungbergs

In Duxbury's words, it was an end to the "haphazard way of spending money" and the start of a model of working that would lead to the club being self-sufficient, not reliant on a wealthy benefactor and certainly not – as had been predicted following the Carlos Tevez saga, the financial travails of its owner Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson and the fallout from the departure of manager Alan Curbishley – in the business of conducting a fire sale in the January transfer window. If anything, the window is a relief for West Ham as it means they can provide concrete evidence that they are not in crisis.

A Talented Child

From the Mail Online: Craig Bellamy looks set to leave West Ham after angrily storming out of the club's Chadwell Heath training ground

Seriously? Stormed out? Is this possibly true or another seeming misstatement by the Mail in their never ending pursuit of transfers that will justify their statements about WHU having to sell players to stay solvent?

I like Bellamy on the field for the Hammers. He is non-stop action: feet and mouth. He gets into the other team's face and head. The simple truth though, is that he is a vagabond, staying with no team for an appreciable length. On top of that, he has hamstrings that betray him quite often, making his availability a dicey proposition.

The bright side way of looking at a possible transfer is that the club will double their investment, lose an injury-prone player, make a statement to Cole that the team believes his is the man, and be able to develop new talent at the position (Freddie, Freddie, Freddie). The dark side is losing the heart of the scoring with no proven replacement and realizing your team does not have the financial means to compete nor the same desire as the fans to see a winner.

Stay or go, I don't know. Get it over with though.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Newcastle 2-West Ham 2

I took up my normal spot Saturday morning with the other West Ham fan here in town, and low and behold, we had increased our numbers by 50% as a third hammer joined us for the match. Parker played as well as he had all year. Ding! His price just went up. Bellamy's did as well as he harassed the Newcastle backs all day and then keyed their cars on the way out of the lot. He tweaked a hamstring late so I am sure we will see him again in a few months. Maybe that will keep the buyers at bay for a bit.

Carlton Cole has finally learned to complete the third item to his checklist:

1. Control ball
2. Turn around
3. Kick ball into net

For the first three and a half months of the season, item 3 was "fall down" or "give ball to other team." After Zola pledged to work him until he was sick a few weeks ago, Cole has responded with a great run. It is nice seeing him tie it all together. Now, he will bruise the other team and score goals. Nice.

The line of the match came from Dan after Andy Carroll scored; "Damn you O-Town!"

Who knew he quit the big money world of manufactured pop to become a thorn in our side?

Oh, he's in there.

The play of the match was me, slamming my cap on the floor after Neill made a fantastic goal at the wrong end. It bounced eighteen inches straight up and back into my hands where I deftly placed it on my head just as I realized the goal had been disallowed for some reason. Neill was shaky all match which is just not that unusual. What was strange though, was the tremors coming from the rest of the backfield for the first part of the match. It felt like the old days of October with Collins falling over and Collison eating with some fans in the first row for a while. They finally came around though and held strong enough for the tie. WHU should have scored at least two more but Newcastle had their shots as well.

Once again, a point is a point, but it would be great to see how we do without giving up a goal in the first twenty.

From the Times Online: Truth is elusive in Harry Redknapp's world

From the official website: Zola Excited for the Future

"Sometimes we get carried away by the enthusiasm of going forward and scoring that sometimes we concede something [at the back]. But trust me this team can play even better. I can tell you we can produce the football like we did in the first 15 minutes of the second half at Newcastle for even longer. I have confidence in my players.

"They were determined to win, they wanted to win. In the end, I had to keep some of them from running forward. It is positive though, it means they want to win. They are determined to improve, they are willing to do everything to get the team to a high level. It is a fantastic thing for a manager to see."

I am excited as well. Now, if we can just make it to February without losing too much.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Never Ending Story

This will excite potential buyers.

A new twist in TevezGate From the Guardian


The transfer of Etherington is complete after a few stops and starts. He was huge presence in one match this year but has not been consistently solid. If there is a list of those who have to go, his name is the not the worst to see. Good luck to him.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Arsenal (amongst others) wants Upson

From The Guardian online

But West Ham, despite the uncertainty over their long-term ownership, will fight to keep all of their established stars. ­Gianfranco Zola, the manager, will trim his squad by a handful of fringe players, as he seeks to work with a group of 20 outfield players and three goalkeepers.

I hate reading all the speculation. Maybe it would be better if I just tune in on match day and see who is still on the team.