Eyewitness Report: West Ham United 1 - Liverpool FC 2 (Take that you Walrus!)

Posted by Harinder on April 7, 2014, 12:38:48 PM

My irrational dislike of West Ham is probably well known. I don’t hate the fans. I don’t particularly mind their existence. It’s just something I can’t put my head around to bring myself to work it out fully. The early scars are embedded I guess. The journey to the ground is a relatively easy one via London Waterloo and the Jubilee Line to West Ham and then a change on to the District Line for Upton Park so it’s not the getting there. Who cares really? They are another team on the journey to beat.

When you get out of the station and turn right it begins to hit you. Will the Irons batter us? Will their Hammer come down like the mighty Thor and be swung with guile and brute force to cast aside this Liverpool who dare to dream in East London?

This is Sam. This is Allardyce. This is not going to happen so they can hammer away all they like. The only hammer time I’m expecting is one blasting from a T-reg souped up Ford Fiesta cruising the mean Green Streets of Wesht ‘Ahhhm.

Joking aside one thing we can all relate to is waiting for others pre-match. A ritual within its own right. Either passed nearby at a pub or, if you’re a non-drinker like myself, outside the ground. Waiting with Chivasino we chewed the fat on what could be a momentous day. Twitter and Facebook for team news and a chat with Alan_X and his matchday clobber (he was relaxed and casual in a “Hassinator would probably approve” kind of way). My nerves showed. I said something along the lines of this is a game we should probably win but I’m waiting for that feeling of “should” to go to “will”. Minus the “probably”. I keep thinking that having some nerves is ok. If it is all plain sailing go in to the match I’m taken back to West Bromwich away and being too confident of the win. That win didn’t come.

Whilst waiting we made our way to the outside of the away turnstiles. I thought it would be a bit cruel to take a snap of the lad with the cardboard sign asking for a ticket. That card must have passed through at least 4 to 5 sets of hands as each time I saw it someone else was holding it. Spares for the game are nearly as extinct as the dodo. It’s a tough place to be looking for a ticket at a ground and I empathise with anyone who’s trying. You want in. Desperately. To say you were part of the journey to the promised land and to cheer on the team you follow so passionately. I don’t think anyone who’s just chancing it would go so far as to using a sign. Never seen it before and I suspect it will be out again at more matches.

Everyone arrives at once. Turnstiles done, very very wet floors await as well as the hustle to get on to the terraces and we’re underway. Once in, I realised where Row S and seat 89 actually was and look down at the goal. This proved rather handy later (no pun intended).

First half

It teased. In pockets the play was predictably bitty in that we pushed them out and wide. They were getting a bit of luck via Demel and Diame. Downing had a rush of blood and got down a few times. Even did a trademark overhit cross as well as the other trademark of disappearing in the murky shadows of the Boleyn Ground.

A free kick came and happened in a flash. I'd just finished my usual look around the ground of what's what and what's where and the ball then just whizz over the bar. Had that gone in what came after may have been different.

West Ham did try and play a bit of football. I say a bit as they did pass and go wide as mentioned earlier but they didn't capitalise and we almost did.

And we hit the post. At one point looked like it was going over. Me of little faith. I should have known better. Suarez clips the bar and West Ham breathes a sigh of relief

Our play improved from this point. We battled harder and let's not assume that they didn't want a fight of sorts. They wanted to be physical at times and push into our players. Skrtel and Sakho though were more than capable. They obviously went for Flanagan as the perceived easy target and Jon rode whatever they put in front of him.

As the on pitch battles ensued so did our singing. Can't speak for other areas but everyone around me was happy to belt out a song and just keep going. Back on pitch it was the same. They came forward. We defended. We went forward. They blocked

They gave a penalty. We'd been a threat on the break but the final product had either been saved, blocked or skied. Up stepped the captain. No doubt in my mind.

1-0.

So. Seeing is believing and what followed is farcical. West Ham attack, ball comes across and Andy slap come face strokes Mignolet. Ball bundled and flag goes up. Demel puts in back of net. Everyone and I mean everyone saw the linesman flag. Carroll clearly came into Simon and caused the inability to keep it. I will never understand the referees decision. He gives the goal and he then goes to the linesman and still, STILL, holds on to his belief

1-1. Anthony Taylor deserves everything being verbally thrown his way

Half time musings

• Jimmy Saville chant directed at a fan. Couldn’t see at who or why
• Followed by “You're on the register”. They sang so loud they missed the penalty. We're in the lead. End of chant
• Alan Devonshire. I think he was in a Panini sticker album of mine at some point. Probably hard to swap too.
• Wonder what the half time talk will be? What will we change?
• Hello Lucas :)
• If the bubble machine breaks down or runs out of fairy liquid West Ham are done for… the shopkeepers are watching the cricket.
• Need to vary my daughter’s TV viewing. I have a rather annoying “Baby Annabel” ad tune going round in my head!

Second half

Lucas on. Coutinho off. We’re either going to trounce them or get trounced. I don’t think we want a draw. Doesn’t help seeing Carroll coming in for a corner. He still runs off in that lazy non-urgent way. When he was at Liverpool I had time for Andy. He’s gone. My time for him long dissipated too. Much like the first half there are a lot of battles for the ball and ultimately control of the game and who will dictate the pace.

We’ll keep singing. That battle long been won by us. That one corner of noise banging  away at “blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah ahhhrrrmeeee” isn’t making much sense to me. Unsure what it’s like for those watching on TV but my match experience thus far has been singing, seeing a lot of fouls and something just waiting to bubble over into us trouncing them. We’re not getting trounced anymore. That feeling has gone. The draw is a distant memory.

As is an attempt on goal. I think we all woke up when Andy crashed the bar. Sturridge had just gone close having shot straight at Adrian. I don’t think we’d fallen asleep at the back but the header came from nowhere. Nothing came after that from West Ham that troubled us. The smack of the bar was loud enough to set poetry in motion. Some great movement led to Sturridge hitting it hard but it sadly going over the bar. I didn’t even notice that Lucas had been coming further forward until what happened next.

Looking on from where I was sat he’s on the left. Flanagan right and progressing. Lucas receives pass and gives pass and Adrian fouls. I’ll like to clarify something here. It was a penalty. Straight away the West Ham fans who could see it knew it. Liverpool fans knew too. We were in the best place to see it. From my angle I see Adrian go into him and bring him down after Flanagan put it past him. For one gentleman in the row in front of me it all got too much. He couldn’t watch the penalty. I motioned to him all would be ok and to look.

He didn’t. So much for my convincing skills… 2-1. Let the battering commence. And yes. Steven Gerrard IS our captain. This feels good :D

It so nearly came too. Moments later Suarez is in but West Ham defend in a West Ham way. Even after that Sturridge is set free again but volleys it to Adrian. Suarez again does the crossbar challenge from the first half… dare I say even better than the first half attempt with the outside of his foot. Like everyone else I wished that had gone in. More Suarez. More Sterling but no more goals. Final whistle and it’s 2-1.

We are top of the league. Singing “We are Liverpool” at the end was never-ending it seemed. The only bit that I can say annoyed me is when Sturridge came over to give his shirt. I don’t know who it was who wouldn’t give it to the intended person he threw it to. Daniel shouldn’t have to implore with you to do the right thing.

The walk back was a funny one. Learning from last year that Upton Park would be rammed I walked to Plaistow instead. The old adage of “everyone’s a pundit” is so true but oh so funny. Here are a few snippets of the fans from West Ham I overheard

“You can see dat he’s a cheetin’ git. Wen dey got dat pen ‘n’ after-erds in all. Dat Gerrarrh knees lockin’ up”
“Gerrard’s one of the best mi-feeldurs in der worl’. Das why we lost it lad”
“Allardyced again. Put it up. Andy knock down. Rinse and repeat.”
“Ann-unny. Ann-unny.”
“Same time next week old boy fer Fat Sam’s adventures”

For me it was three points and real feeling of what will happen next? Deep down inside I feel this. I believe. I convince myself not to be over-confident and to exhibit some nerves as being cocky isn’t in my nature. I randomly say things to the missus along the lines of “note the time, note the date, Liverpool are going to win the league. Mark my words”. I won’t be at the Manchester City match as my wife is running the London Marathon. She’s got until 1.37pm to finish it.

I’m nice. If she can’t manage that then she’s got an extra 2 hours.

My next visit to Anfield will be on Tuesday 15th April. I don’t know what to write before it. I don’t know how I could write after it. I’ve always felt like many as someone on the outside looking in on others grief. I lost no-one. I wasn’t there. This is never about the ‘I’ though. We all lost someone. We all were there.

We will always be there together.

Justice for the 96. We never ever walk alone

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