Who are you? We’re West Ham


Sam Haseltine* is one of the brains behind Football United, new host for Salut! Sunderland and other sites. He has been solid as a rock in the process of transferring our archive across from its old home at Typepad to WordPress (and cannot be blamed if some text arrived in garbled form and a few pictures don’t look quite right!). He’s also a passionate Hammers fan, runs the fans’ site West Ham Process and is deaf to my request that his club delays its revival until after we play them on Saturday …

Not a great start to the season. Are you beginning to get worried?

You’re right, not the best of starts. I take confidence in knowing we have a whole three more points than Spurs did at this same point last year! I’m not getting worried just yet, feeling a little down as it wasn’t quite what we expected going into the season. After our run of form at the tail end of last year, we were confident that it would continue into this year, hopefully making us serious Europa League place contenders. I would still put my neck on the line and say we will be there or there abouts this year.

Some fans still hark back to the Tevez saga and claim the Hammers shouldn’t even be in the Premier. or should have had to fight their back after disciplinary demotion. Nonsense, or do they have a point?

I was hoping this wouldn’t come up! I’m so bored of talking about it now…it’s been, it’s done, it’s finished, concluded, whatever you want to call it. We got an initial fine, our club got dragged through the courts, we got another fine (totalling about £30m) and yet some people still persist in thinking that we should still be relegated. The fact of the matter is, a lot of Sheffield United’s and Kevin McCabe’s wrongdoings were overlooked (they too were guilty of third party involvement to some degree) and, more importantly, they were not good enough over the course of the season. They only had to not lose against Wigan to survive. We clawed back 11 points and they threw it away. We’ve been dealt a massive financial blow as a result of all Kevin’s Mcbaby’s crying and moaning and, potentially, are now actually in a financial situation that could have been worse than actually being relegated. Sheffield United in the Championship…any great loss to the Premier League?

You had a pop at Liverpool fans earlier in the season, saying in so many words they were quiet as church mice. the reaction was loud enough. Any regrets?

I don’t regret the comments – although when written it was in the heat of the moment, so could possible have been better articulated.

I won’t stoke the fire by commenting further, but I would say that opinion on the matter must just depend on where you sit in the ground. From my seat it always seems pretty quiet in the away end when Liverpool are in town.

Events at the Millwall game showed how nasty football can still be. What was your feeling on the incidents, and the division of responsibility?

The atmosphere was fantastic and it was a brilliant result.

However, some of the scenes were obviously pretty ugly. I’ve every confidence that this was an isolated incident and does not signify the return of football hooliganism. I don’t condone in anyway shape or form the actions of both sets of fans on the night, but frankly I feel that a lot lot more could have been done by the police. They were not organised enough, they were too few in number and most importantly they were naive in their preparations.

They didn’t allocate enough tickets for one, when they realised this they had to let more ticketless fans into the ground because of the trouble outside. Everyone knew that halving the allocation was a bad bad move. They also put the away fans in the lower tier, yet left the upper tier empty – could they have not just reversed that? In my eyes that would have immediately reduced the risk of any trouble in the ground because the two sets of fans were seperated.

There was no need for the mindless few to invade the pitch on three occasions – although (and this was failed to be reported in the press) on the second and third invasions, those left in the stands roundly booed the people on the pitch.

Leaving aside results so far, where will each of our clubs end up this season?

You boys look strong this year – although the Cattermole injury is a blow. I think we will both finish in similar positions to be honest. Before the season started I contributed to a forum thread predicting the outcome of the league and I had us down as 8th and you as 9th.

Who will be the top four, in order?

Well I, in the same forum thread, had it as:

1) Chelsea
2) Liverpool
3) Man U
4) Arsenal

Although I am now completely doubting that!

Think I will say:
1) Chelsea
2) United
3) Arsenal
4) City (originally I had them finishing 5th, but they look very good so far)

And who will go down?

The relegation candidates for me are Portsmouth, Hull and Birmingham (although I would really be happy to see either of Wigan/Bolton/Stoke to go down)

Moneybags ownership of clubs. Good or bad for the game?

Well as West Ham proved, it can go wrong! Personally I think they’re bad for the game despite the fact it opens up new a whole new dynamic to the league. I suppose I’m a purist in the sense I like to see the teams who play the best football be successful.

Who, for you, are the West Ham, greats?

I always find these questions difficult because there is always the same list of names that come up (McAvennie/Devonshire/Brooking/Hurst/Moore/Peters)…but being that from that list I’ve no first hand experience of seeing them play (different generation!) I don’t really feel worthy to name them! From my era, the two stands outs therefore have to be Dicks and DiCanio – massive fans of the both of them.

Who knows, had we not such a shocking money grabbing board at the time, I could one day be naming Joe Cole, Lampard, Defoe, Carrick, Johnson and Ferdinand in amongst a list of greats. Oh well.

Pop Robson, Anton Ferdinand, George McCartney and many more …which players or staff associated with both our clubs stand out, for good or bad reasons?

Being that, again, I’m only familiar on a first hand basis with the latter of those names, I can only really comment on them. Ferdinand for me never quite fulfilled his potential with us, but was a big fan of him. I think it was right to move on and I wish him all the best. I was very disappointed to lost McCartney as really rated him as a player. He left under a shroud of confusion which I don’t think we ever got to the bottom of.

Club versus country. Who wins for you, and why?

Same thing for West Ham these days isn’t it?!

The Eduardo question (which will not be renamed the Beach Ball question): dying seconds of last game of the season; you need the win to stay up/secure a European place/win promotion after a forced relegation. A blatant dive wins a penalty and the points. You take it gladly, you take it guiltily or you’re so ashamed you almost wish you’d lost?

Take it gladly and repent my sins later.

Lazy man’s question. What didn’t I ask that I should have done?

Lazy man’s answer: don’t know!

Will you be at the match? If not how will you keep tabs and what will be the score?

Considering going but probably won’t make it. Will try and keep tabs with an online stream..I’m working on a little something with FootballUnited now to make that a reality, be sure to look out for it in the near future. Oh, and we’ll win 1-0.

* Sam Haseltine on Sam Haseltine:
Been blogging about West Ham for well over a year now over at westhamprocess.com and now currently work for the up and coming football blog network, FootballUnited (expect big things!). Been supporting West Ham since 1993, first game I went to see we lost 2-0 to Wimbledon. Despite the result, I’ve never looked back! Have been a season ticket holder for around seven or eight years now and stand the lower tier of what has now become the Sir Trevor Brooking stand (right next to the away fans).

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