Much has been said this year about the lack of football seen in Claret and Blue. Countless times I have heard West Ham fans proclaiming that this just isn’t “The West Ham Way“. Ask any West Ham fan who can remember and they will recount stories of Billy Bonds, Bobby Moore and the fabulously attacking Alan Devonshire. For our younger readers, I will remind you of the likes of Joe Cole and my idol, the one player I fear has ruined football for me for the rest of my life – Paolo Di Canio.
Now you may be wondering why he has ruined football for me and I will reply to you with one simple sentence;
“We will never see a player like this again at Upton Park”
The man was everything you needed for your club; Class, Charisma, Personality, Commitment, Passion, Goals, the list goes on. I could blog all day about the man but for now I will revert my attention back to my original point.
We have heard Allardyce all season long bemoan to the media that the “West Ham Way” died a long time ago. He reminds us all that he has been tasked to get us out of a very tough division and that his direct football is the best tactic for doing so. Whether you agree with him or not (I don’t), he does raise a very good point. When was the last time we really saw our team play the “West Ham Way”?
I think I have the answer. Not only was I there, but I remember it very very well and needless to say, one of the all time greats Mr Brooking was at the very heart of it.
the 02/03 season was one of the most up and down seasons in recent times. In addition to a very under performing team (arguably the West Ham Way!) Glenn Roeder had to leave the helm due to a serious brain tumour and so up stepped Mr Brooking as the caretaker manager. To set the scene, we were hovering in the relegation zone and needed 6 points from Chelsea at home and then Birmingham away… Given our recent run of form against a new look Chelsea under the Abramovic era, our hopes weren’t looking promising.
But then came someone who knew what it meant to play for West Ham. He also knew what the Upton Park Faithful wanted to see for 90 minutes and because of this, he went with the most attacking formation of the season playing three up front and recalling Di Canio following an extremely public outburst and falling out with Roeder. We battered Chelsea for 70 minutes with wave of attack after attack thwarted by a very strong Chelsea defensive line.
Cometh the hour, cometh the man
Brooking brought off Les Ferdinand to introduce the West Ham talisman who capitalised on a Trevor Sinclair parry to smash into the roof of the net. We had beaten Chelsea by fighting fire with fire. Using attack as the best form of defence and never giving up. The West Ham way. The following Sunday we went to Birmingham and nearly did it all again but to no avail, picking up a 2-2 draw and arguably going down with the best squad of players ever seen.
What made this win better than any of the others? Funnily enough it was the Birmingham game. The fabulous inconsistency mixed with attacking flair has always been “The West Ham Way”. We have and probably never will be world beaters, which makes it even sweeter when we give the Man United’s and Chelsea’s of this world an upset we can be proud of, something we can build on, only to go and lose away at Bradford the following week.
The sheer unpredictability of our team mixed with the unbelievable highs and the relegation lows is “The West Ham Way” Something Big Sam may want to bear in mind next time he enforces the fabulously gifted James Tomkins to send over an ‘eye of the needle’ pass over our midfield to the hapless Mr Cole.
We don’t mind the lows Sam, truth be told, we expect them. Just give us the magic along the way…..
Article courtesy of Richard Williams at his NEW blog ‘Claret Sweat and Tears’