Last season was a funny ol’ season, wasn’t it?
We were favourites to bounce straight back up as Champions. Favourites in every game we played home or away. Favourites do what Newcastle did only a couple of seasons before.
Instead, we did it the ‘West Ham way’.
Of course, there’s no doubting that we should’ve probably fulfilled those expectations and bulldozed our way back to the promised land without breaking a sweat. But we didn’t.
With Premier League quality at the club, such as Sam Allardyce, Kevin Nolan, Robert Green, Mark Noble and Matty Taylor, it shouldn’t have been a problem. But it was.
The likes of Doncaster, Crystal Palace, Bristol City and Ipswich should’ve been simple points on the board (with respect). But they weren’t. The way teams saw a game at Upton Park as their cup final made it tough, playing for a draw from the start and hitting the Hammers on the counter attack, a new experience for West Ham fans.
We all know that the club will never do what’s expected of them and, if they do, it won’t be without a few hiccups along the way.
Last season was the perfect example of that. We had our hiccups and, as a result, sacrificed automatic promotion and a possible league title for a trip out at Wembley that no one will ever forget.
Would you swap that play-off final win at the Home of Football for automatic promotion, that one day of emotion? Of course you wouldn’t.
What I’m trying to say is this – we embraced the Championship, went through the season in a typical West Ham fashion, filling the majority of away ends we visited along the way and enjoyed ourselves (most of the time!) and ended it with an unforgettable day out at Wembley.
What more could we have asked for?
Obviously the disappointing losses to Cardiff, Ipswich, Burnley and Derby weren’t enjoyable but, what about the annihilation of the likes of Nottingham Forest, Barnsley, Brighton, Blackpool and, of course, Cardiff in the play-offs? They made it all worthwhile.
It was, after all, a thoroughly enjoyable season. One that no one will ever forget. One that had us on edge throughout. One that we all knew, deep down, was going to have a happy ending.
Never again, though. Please, never again.
We can now push on and begin life back in the division we belong in. David Gold and David Sullivan can continue helping us grow as a football club, shrinking its debts as they go.
Big Sam can now build on a successful first season in charge, improve his squad and establish us as a decent Premier League side again.
And us? Well we can continue being the best fans in the world, supporting the best team in the world in the best league in the world.
Thanks for the memories, Championship, it was fun while it lasted.