The John Lyall Gates at the entrance to the Boleyn Ground

“You can know that the final show is coming up, and prepare yourself for it mentally, but when it finally occurs, it’s like a dream. You stand there feeling the love the audience has for you, and you think, ‘Is this really going to end?” – Phil Lynott


Are we looking at the final battles that West Ham will engage in the Premier League? Will these last games be our bitter swan songs before we descend into the fiery pit of hell where we will face sinners of equal importance? It certainly doesn’t appear that the management and players can turn around their performances to gain notable points of the board, however our saving grace may yet reside in three other teams who might just be that little bit worse than us.

I have been made to stand in the dock and swear to tell the truth and nothing but…so I can honestly pledge all of my hopes into a team that has faltered from start to almost the end but my optimism and realism has faded fast over the last few weeks. The performance against Liverpool was atrocious! Other fans would be more charitable than I, but I considered it an indictment of our weaknesses and our poor attacking dreams.

The Swansea match was shockingly bad, from start to finish, but I came away from that encounter still hopeful that points could be gained from the games against Burnley and Southampton. Surely Moyes could have and would have sorted out the lads with a good kick up the backsides, a damn good dressing down and injected some fighting spirit into this misfit rabble? Surely we could not go another game in defeat, without three points and lacking that purpose to bring home the bacon.

But…we did! The first half was much improved on what we had recently been fed but the second half was dire and a reflection of the troubles around the club. Moyes struggled to latch onto opportunities to shake things up in the second half, whilst Burnley were ready and waiting to pounce when spaces began to emerge in midfield where our players had switched off.

Once again, the formation would have us set up with limited attacking presence and in which would have us one dimensional in purpose. Arnautovic was largely isolated up front but also failed to capitalise on half chances. Lanzini, put clean through by a fact finding Ogbonna header, failed to find grace in his firing. The players settled for forays down the left hand side with Antonio, who once again largely bulldozed his way forward with limited success whilst the right hand flanks were mostly baron wastelands.


The first half endeavour would have us think that rectifications had been made during the time since the Swansea humiliation. Effort and purpose was there for all to see. With a slight adjustment in tactics and more decisive finishing…the lads could have and should have been two nothing to the good at half time.

The fifteen minute reprieve seemed to emulate the season thus far. The team had gathered ground in the first half, only to be halted by untimely breaks and this failure in momentum saw our roots cut and the fluid draining from our stems. Like wilting daffodils we played…green seemed and yellow bellied. The players’ frustrations were as stark as a Banksy daub on a wall but never quite as valuable nor welcomed.

There were troubles all over the stadium, but the strike on the pitch boiled with conviction until the barriers broke and the Burnley waves came rolling in with little challenge nor spirit to find an alternative course of action.

Moyes failed to set up a team that would suit the current strengths in the quad. The players have not been performing on many of their levels but they are afflicted by the same bacterium that once took hold in the black death days of Bilic. Fans were ready to strike a protestor’s pose and most onlookers were ready to voice their displeasure either at the team or at the ownership that has sold the club down the fast flowing and turbulent rapids.


Many of the faithful will look upon our remaining fixtures and wonder where will the points come from? We should have picked up at least four points prior to the Burnley game which should have made seven. Three games down and zero points. The teams left to play are either challenging for European battles for next season or are in similar predicaments to ourselves. This may indeed go down to the wire, the final game to decide if we be saved or have our legs cut from under us.

I fear our fate has already been decided and the Championship awaits…but for how long? Will West Ham be comfortable in the second stage and will they have the gumption to extricate themselves at the end of next season in order to play Premiership adventures once more?

The only certainty now is how this black cloud that has descended over our club and how has it affected our well being as fans but also the players. The players and management may bemoan at the support. The media may be ready to make carvings of our fanbase without knowing the minutiae but the truth will come out…and for most it already has.

There may be little comfort for Hammers’ fans right now and even less to cheer about but we were always safe in the knowledge that the fans were always almost together as one…but that is not the case…and the longer this continues, the more acidic the situation will become. Many are bewildered and even angered that the situation has been allowed to continue with little address.

Many would look upon our plight with rose tinted specs and marvel in our current surroundings…however many, even in the mainstream media are starting to take note, asking the right questions and be less gullible when protestations of innocence are spun from corporate towers.


The fate of the club and this season rest solely with the team and manager. Can they deliver? Can they raise their performances? Can they bring more points to the table before we show our final hands? There may still be hope, where other similar teams perform less favourably than ourselves and maintain their occupancy in the bottom three. Many have stated that regardless of platitudes, there might be purpose that fills the air with optimism and keeps the whiskey in the jar O! However, the libation is soured and we are all nursing the hangover from hell…one found in nightmares most horrid and most foul!


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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