And now we've completed the signing of Romania's captain, the 31-year-old Razvan Rat… busy day at Upton Park. Big Sam seems very impressed that Rat has taught himself English. And with 88 caps and Champions League experience he looks like a good signing.
So Carlton Cole is leaving. His finest moment for the club was scoring in the play-off final against Blackpool a year ago, when he had a great game. Under Zola he looked like he might become the top striker he had the potential to be, though he was never quite the same after a bad knee injury, even if he did always give wholehearted commitment. His scoring rate was never quite high enough but as his tweets have indicated, he did have a genuine feeling for the club and had his pay halved to play for us in the Championship last season. And he's never complained about being on the bench this season and scored that crucial equaliser against Chelsea. Always believe in CC. Good luck at your next club, Carlton
Well, West Ham and Liverpool have agreed a £15 million fee for Andy Carroll, although the big man remains undecided about his future. It's understandable he should want to consider his options, having seen Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing resurrect their Liverpool careers. If Newcastle came in there would be the hometown club pull to consider too and it's possible a club like Everton or Spurs might step in. In his first season at Liverpool Carroll played in the FA Cup Final and won a Carling Cup winners medal, so guess Big Sam has to convince him that we can compete for trophies. Full credit to the board for making the money available though. And if it doesn't work out I hear Carol from Ken's Cafe is available…
Did anyone notice that in Match of the Day's Goal of the Season competition four out of the ten goals were against West Ham? These were Adel Taarabt scoring against us for QPR at Loftus Road, Jermain Defoe belting one in for Spurs at White Hart Lane, Gareth Bale scoring the winner at Upton Park and Kevin Mirallas' first for Everton against us at Goodison. Though MOTD did include Andy Carroll scoring for West Ham against West Brom. Either this proves it takes a stunning effort to score against our superb defence or we let in a lot of goals.
Inside Ken’s Café Matt
is excited by Yeovil getting promoted, though Nigel hates them for once
depriving Enfield of promotion in the 1990s. Iain is showing Carol pictures of
his dogs, Carol’s gone off that David Cameron and there’s even a second appearance
of the year from The Gav. And there's more good news over at the Newham Bookshop where someone from Hackney Council has just bought five copies of The Joy of Essex, enough to keep me in Maldon Gold for an evening or two.
Within Upton Park
Winston gets his Hammer of the Year award and several fans are in fancy dress.
Fraser has come as a member of Dexys and Matt is masquerading as a Vicar’s Son.
It's a year to the day since we beat Blackpool in the Play-off Final. Reading almost
score twice early on as Jussi makes a great save from Pogrebnyak’s header and Gunter
fires into the side netting.
But we take the lead
on 23 minutes thanks to a blunder from young goalkeeper McCarthy, who has just
been called into the England squad. The keeper boots a clearance into the back
of Andy Carroll and the ball falls to Kevin Nolan who passes the ball home.
He’ll never score an easier goal. “That’s why you’re going down!” chant the WHU
later we score again. Diame overhits his cross but Carroll controls it
brilliantly to play the ball back to Ricardo Vaz Te who fires through the
goalkeeper into the net. Michael the Whovian, possibly the only WHU fan attending the Jo Grimond anniversary bash in Orkney, will have enjoyed that one.
The rest of the
first half is exhibition stuff as Carroll bullies the defence, Diame fires over
and Carroll produces another great knock-down for Nolan’s header to be tipped
on to the bar by McCarthy.
ANDY CARROLL WE WANT YOU TO STAY
“Andy Carroll we
want you to stay!” serenades the entire ground.
At half-time Nigel
announces that if we win 5-0 and Swansea lose 5-0 we can still make ninth. We pay
for thinking about the league table though, as West Ham start the second half in
a catatonic state.
Just as Nigel and
myself are discussing bagging Wainwright fells, McCleary fires home a deflected
shot and then, after a fine move, ex-Hammer Jobi McAnuff crosses for the unmarked
sub La Fondre to slot home after 53 minutes.
At least this
jolts the Irons back into life. Fearful of Matt getting angry, Nolan plays in
Carroll for a shot against the keeper. Can we hold on for a draw? Thankfully
Reading revert to uselessness as Noble plays in Kevin Nolan, who outpaces the Reading
defence and slots home. We even get to see Modibo Maiga, who makes the fourth
goal with a cross on to the head of the unmarked clucking Kevin Nolan. It’s a
hat-trick for Nolan, surely not the same player that Nigel predicted would
never score in open play for West Ham again?
It all gets very
end-of-season as a conga starts in the lower East Stand, fans wave palm trees
and an inflatable parrot drifts on to the pitch. The Bobby Moore Stand demands
“We want our parrot back!” before a steward obliges.
Even the ref can’t
be bothered to extend it, playing only two minutes of added time. We ‘re tenth!
And Spurs are in the Europa League.
LOITERING WITHIN TENTH
The players return
for a lap of honour in t-shirts thanking us for our support. Jussi throws his
gloves in our corner, Big Sam looks avuncular and Kevin Nolan has enough
children to cast a Dickensian musical. Meanwhile it’s High Ho Silver Lining from Jeremy Nicholas on the PA.
The season ends
well with two pints of Maldon Gold at the Black Lion and Nigel asking us to
name the only seven football teams to have a Tory MP in 1997 (don’t ask the
answers, but one was Southend and another was Wycombe).
top half, our best finish since Curbs kept us in tenth for a whole season and it's certainly a nice little earner for the club with £700,000 prize money on offer per league
place. Now all we have to do sign up Andy Carroll…
Bit concerned to see Chelsea's Davis Luiz wearing a t-shirt declaring "I belong to God" after Chelsea's Europa League triumph. Surely belonging to God constitutes third party ownership? We got into enough trouble over Carlos Tevez and that was without a Deity claiming third party rights. If I was Dave Whelan I'd be getting my writs out for the lads and demanding Chelsea's immediate relegation...
Meanwhile we find the bizarre situation of West Ham not needing to win on the final day of the season to stay up. It'll never catch on. Beat a relegated team and finish tenth... what could possibly go wrong?
Well, we were never likely to get much out of the David Moyes love-in. West Ham dutifully stood by as Everton scored their first and only had two worthwhile efforts, Nolan producing a good save save with a snap shot and Carroll hitting the post late on from Jarvis's cross. Jussi had another great game and managed to save from Anichebe with his unmentionables.
Still makes a change to be finding the end of season vaguely boring. I remember people complaining that it was really boring under Curbishley because we were always tenth. We came to regret such complacency by the time that Millwall plane was flying above Wigan. Now it's just a relief to be out of it with an end of season party game against Reading to come.