The John Lyall Gates at the entrance to the Boleyn Ground

Fool me once, shame on you! Fool me twice, shame on me!

The match on Saturday did little to ease fansā€™ concerns that the season could be recovered enough to spare the blushes on much of the squad, indeed the club as a whole. Whilst many hearts bleed for the club they have loved for a lifetime, there are those who have reached the end of the love affair and have decided enough was enough. Regardless of team performances, which have largely been poor for most of the season, the fanā€™s displeasure with the club ownership continues and more with perceived words spoken in forked tongues.

ā€œCarcajanette isn’t expensive, it’s an honest little wine, especially if it’s allowed to breathe for a while, unless, of course, the grapes have had too much of the Dordogne wind in which case they have a tendency to sulk. I think you’ll like itā€ – Raymond Delauney – School for Scoundrels

For many, the Davids have become the master ā€˜deceptorsā€™ regardless of what defensive protestations they might make and the club will never be healed until they decide to sell to the elusive multi billionaire that simply just isnā€™t around the corner right now. David Gold admirably agreed to answer probing questions on The West Ham Way podcast but many would begin to scrutinise his answers with a microscope to detect flaws and subterfuge.

What has become abundantly clear is that the owners and in turn the club simply do not have the financial footing to make huge investments in the squad which is so desperately thin and lacking quality to make challenge higher up the league. Transfers are offset by the manageable debt the club owes to the owners and the stadium issues may take a long time to resolveā€¦if they ever will, unless there are secret plans to eventually buy the stadium and gradually convert it to a footballing arena.

What is most troubling about this whole sordid affair, is that most of these major issues either were known a long time prior to the moveā€¦or if that were not the case, then the complete moving process was flawed from the very beginning! Regardless if Gold and Karren Brady have started to admit errors along the wayā€¦itā€™s a bit too late for the discombobulated and disenfranchised fanbase. The fact remains that fans were ā€˜soldā€™ an idea and whether led kicking and screaming or followed like ignorant lemmings, the claret and blue masses question why did they move and why were they not made aware of all issues a long time before any final decisions were made? Cries of deception at worst or incompetence at best are volleyed from the tomato rotters which have been ignored and forgotten.

Finally, the club started to react to fanā€™s displeasure when meeting recently with fans’ groups, possibly to fend off the prospect of public protestations and fans marching, however the hard work and commitment by the fan groups has paid off. Certainly in the short term to make the club sit up and listen, now everyone will wait to see if the club will at last make good on new commitmentsā€¦but this will be a long road until many are satisfied. This process has in itself caused divisions within the fanbase and indeed amongst the fan groups who began to have different ideas of what the point of marching wasā€¦but all that can be wished for now is that fans and groups can uniteā€¦not necessarily under one banner but certainly under one purpose to continually hold the club and board to account for past, ongoing and future issues.

Although many within the club and amongst the fanbase may have thought that a stay of execution was in place prior to the game on Saturday against Burnley, there were still many who were adamant that a public display of displeasure was appropriateā€¦whether right or wrong is open to debateā€¦but what is for certain, the club nor the Stadium owners were prepared to deal with the inevitable displays of protest.

It was ugly, it was unsafe for the players, it led to infighting amongst West Ham fansā€¦but it was not surprising given the recent meetings, negotiations and rhetoric from the owners. As soon as the first goal was conceded, it was as if the lab technicians had lit the blue touch paper and sat back to note the results and the side effects.

Many of the older fans have born witness to similar situations from previous regimes under the Cearns and Brown but it was always under the Upton Park umbrella, however there have been quantum shifts from where West Ham once stood. I fully understand why groups of fans are not willing to return to the stadium and have been broken for the last time. Indeed I too was driven to hibernation some years ago after the Brown days of despair and the Bond Scheme fiasco.

The corner flag uprooting on Saturday to be planted in the centre circle was a carbon copy of days gone by. However the years, where other life forces took hold and guided me to support from afar have in some ways healed my ailments of years gone by. Time is the great healer, however, this pain may be most severe, most chronic and take more than a generation to overcome.

Attempts to have wool pulled over oneā€™s eyes is nothing newā€¦even the oldest profession known to man, promised the earth and passions that would move mountains in the name of loveā€¦but all that happened was momentary pleasure and a heavy tax bill at the end.

ā€œI simply gritted my teeth to hide the excruciating pain and played the next three sets on strategy,
determination, and one legā€ – Raymond Delauney – School for Scoundrels

The majority of West Ham fans feel they have been duped regardless of whether the dupers ever intended as such. There is no return to promised lands nor grounds cut up and where new foundations lay. The only course of water is to follow the simplest path and gradually erode areas which offer greater resistance. The truth is known, the veil of secrecy has been cut down and the cracks have exposed a multitude of inadequacies and burps.

The club must now set out on a path to makeā€¦almost full restitution but be under no illusion, the perceived promises cannot be honoured by those lacking such qualities and the future security is modelled on the team remaining in the Premier League. That continued membership is reliant on support, urgency and a might that the club simply do not have. It is based upon an ongoing process of reinforcing the squad and moving forward with greater ambition and purposeā€¦all of which requires a continuously increasing amount of money that only billionaires and multi national companies dare to play with.

The school for scoundrels and the tomato rottersā€™ bell has been rung for the last time and the fanā€™s eyes and ears have been opened wide to glare upon any false prophets whilst the attempt to ensure ultimate accountability rages on.

Jon Pope

By Jon Pope

Use to sit in the BML for 10 years, been a West Ham fan all my life, and my great grandfather was a founder member of the TIW. I also help run the Hammer Chat website.

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