Who are you? We’re the Hammers (1)

Ciaran

This was going to be a double header, an introductory piece by one West Ham previewing Saturday’s return to nailbiting football and a set of Q&As featuring another. But we should do each contributor justice and run them separately. Here’s the first, supplied by Ciaran Byrne*, who quite likes Mackems, thinks Mags petent plus haut que ses cul (look it up) and brings a first to the Who Are They? series: an invitation to a post-match gig featuring his punk/oi! band the London Diehards…

Have you been pleasantly surprised by the Hammers’ performance this season, or is it much as you expected?

Yeah, very surprised. I think a lot of people think Zola is the man behind it all but Steve Clarke is the unsung hero. I can’t remember a defence as good as this
one for around 20 years at West Ham. We’ve actually been able to hold on to some leads now which was always a major failing with West Ham over the years.

Should you have been in the Premier at all? Sheffield United might have a view on that, but what is your take on the Tevez affair?

Who knows what went on behind closed doors, only the men with the money doing
dodgy dealings can tell but I’ll tell you this: Sheffield Untied can blame
one man for the crap season they had, and failing to beat Wigan or even drawing
with them in their last game of the season was the reason they went down. I
think they FA was banking on us getting relegated, hence the 5mill fine and no
points deduction. Their world caved in when we stayed up and they were left
with egg on their faces. Should we have been deducted points? Who knows, the FA
didn’t think so. I’ve spoken to a fair few Sheffield United fans about this and
most are embarrassed by their club’s actions. They all blame Warnock for sending them down. I have to say I’d agree with them.

What did you make of Roy Keane’s decision to walk out of the Stadium of Light?

I’ll be honest, I hated him as a player. But when he went into management he
said a lot of things most genuine football fans were thinking too. He’s a good
leader but I can imagine him being a hard task-master and someone you wouldn’t
want to cross. I think the Sunderland job may have been a bit too big for him
to be honest, maybe a smaller championship club would have been a better starting point
for him.

What do you honestly think of Sunderland – the club, the fans, the place if you’ve been there?

In a way Sunderland remind me a lot of West Ham: good fan base, good supporters, under-achievers who never had the team the fans deserve living in the shadow of a so-called bigger club.
Not a fashionable club to support but who’s supporters are real and can in no way be called glory hunters. I’ve been to Sunderland on more than one occasion, and there’s a few lads we go drinking with and they come down to West Ham too. I personally like the fans, never had a problem. The pubs around the ground are ok, real pubs, not some gastro abomination that seems to be the norm in certain areas of London. Ground is nice, but the stewards and old bill are some of the worst I’ve ever encountered. Absolute tossers with a big chip on their shoulder and an attitude problem to boot.

And Newcastle?

The Geordies are a funny lot. I’ve had a beer with a few of them over the years,
and it only takes five minutes for them to tell you how hard they are/how many
fights they’ve had/how many girlfriends they’ve had/how great Newcastle is/how
shit Sunderland is. I have trouble understanding some who get more incoherent
the drunker they get. The media seem to love them and think that taking your
shirt off and watching a game is a true test of loyalty.
Saying that, I don’t really have a problem with any fans who just want to go and
watch football, have a beer and have a laugh. Take the football away, we’re all
the same really.

West Ham greats. There’s been a few – from the Moore/Brooking eras to Joe Cole, Michael Carrick and di Canio – but who stands out in your mind, even if you’re too young to have seen the best?

Well Billy Bonds stands head and shoulders above most for me, He epitomised what
West Ham was about. Great player, hard as nails and a gentleman. Julian Dicks
was a great player too I thought. I think he was a bit naive in his younger
days but he was a great player to watch. It’s a crime these two players never
got a game for England. They were great players in their day. For my all time
favourite West Ham player though, I’d have to say Liam Brady. A footballing
genius who’s probably the best passer of the ball I’ve ever seen. His vision
was absolutely perfect and whenever somebody talks about a “midfield general” I
always think of him.

Any thoughts on players linked to both clubs: McCartney/Pop Robson/Anton Ferdinand and others?

I liked McCartney when he was with us, I thought he was a good reliable player
and you knew what to expect from him. As for Ferdinand, I was glad to see the
back of him. I didn’t really rate him to be honest. He lacks concentration and
is nowhere near as good as his brother and I think you paid way over the odds
for him, he was only with about £3mil tops imho. He may prove me wrong, I doubt
it though. Callum Davenport was good for us in the Championship a few years ago,
but to be honest, he didn’t get many chances after that hence the loan spells.

Ciaran Byrne on Ciaran Byrne: My name’s Ciaran and I work in IT. Boring I know but I also play guitar in The London Diehards which I juggle with football and work. Check ’em out at our myspace site.

What were your thoughts when Zola arrived out of the blue (and the Blues) to manage West Ham? How has he done?

As I said, getting Zola was good for the club. I wasn’t too sure at first, but
with Steve Clarke, they make a great managing partnership. A good comparison
would be with him and Roy Keane. Zola came with a highly rated and experienced
coach which took a lot of the heat off him. Keane was under a lot of pressure
from the start, much more so than Zola I thought.
The Italian director of football we have called Nani (strange name but there ya
go) has also helped a hell of a lot. I think he was the man behind some of our
decent transfers as was some of the players that we’ve signed and they’ve been
good on the whole from what I’ve seen. Time will tell though.

Does anyone in your family have recollections of the 8-0 win against us? What have been your own highs – and lows – as a Hammers fan?

Anyone in my family! Ha ha.. that’s a good one, I was born and bred in Tottenham which is about 8 miles from West Ham so most of my family and mates were Spurs fans. I hated Spurs as a kid and still do now! So nobody has any recollections of the 8-0 but I do remember a night in 1990-91 when we beat Sunderland 5-0. Our very own donkey Eamon Dolan got two (whatever happened to him?). I think Marco Gabbidini was playing for you lot then and before the game everyone was saying how he’d tear our defence apart! That was a great night of football. For some reason we always seem to do well against Sunderland at home.

Club vs country. Who wins for you and why?

Club all day long. The last great England team for me was the Euro 1996 team.
After that, it just seems that the players aren’t interested. John Terry is a
crap captain, as was David Beckham. They just don’t have the passion and
commitment of players like Terry Butcher and Stuart Pearce. The whole
international football experience now is so corporate and sterile from the
games to the stadia. Wembley can f*** off as far as I’m concerned cos they
ain’t getting none of my cash for their overprice watered down lager (can you
water-down Carlsberg??) and extortionate ticket prices. I’m fed up with the way
football is being run now, it’s been taken away from the working man and given to
the corporate businesses and the well off. The St George’s Cross is now a
marketing gimmick and as for them face painted twats…don’t get me started! I
hope it’ll come back to bite the media in the arse when people just won’t be
able to afford to go. Sky TV have killed the spirit of the game off with the
stupid kick-off times and fixture switching at short notice. Not only that, but
the introduction of all seater stadia has ruined the atmosphere for good for me.
I used to love standing over at West Ham in the 80s, as I’m sure many Mackems
did at the old Roker Park, it was an intimidating place for teams and away fans
to come to which gave us a bit of an edge over the opposition. There’s none of
that now. You can’t fart without a steward telling you to be quiet. Not sure if
you saw the Middlesbrough letter that went out to the fans over the excessive
noise (!!). We did – Salut! Sunderland

What will be the score in our game? Will you be there?

Against you, I think we’ll struggle if our injuries get any worse. We’ve got
some key players out both long and short-term so we could struggle if we pick
up any more. If we have Carlton Cole up front, I think we may have the edge
over you, but after last night there could well be an upset for us. We were
really lacking up front, and if you capitalise on that I think you may come
away with the points. You never know though, both our teams are so
unpredictable! Personal prediction is 2-1 to us – so expect us to lose 3-0. My
predictions always go awry!
As for being there, sadly I won’t be there, but I won’t be far from a radio. I’m
a season ticket holder but on that day, my new band (THE LONDON DIEHARDS) have
got their debut gig. So if any Mackems like their punk/Oi! music and are coming
down for the game and fancy a blinding night afterwards, get down to the
Fiddler’s Elbow in Camden.

Who are you ? What do you do? How long a Hammers fan, why, how active? And can you please supply a suitable photo?

Supported West Ham since the 1980s and been going regularly since then. Bought a
Season ticket about 6 years ago for the first time ever and had one since. never
needed one before, just turned up on the day and paid! Go to a fair few away
games but lately its becoming more and more expensive so I’ve curtailed it to
about three (barring the London games which I go to anyway).

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