The smell of ’93

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…or, another West Ham Report.

First of all apologies to those of you who made the West Ham review the most read article on the site this season. If I knew that there would be so many hits then I wouldn’t have waffled on so much. The thing is that’s how I felt about the game then, still is to be honest, it’s just the head has cleared just enough to try and put something a bit less…, well a bit more…, that’s it I suppose, just a bit more.  Even if that means it’s a little less authoritative.

The thing is, I can only remember two previous times that I’ve felt as bad as I did when that third goal hit the net. The first was that afternoon in 1993, the second the play off final against Gillingham. The disappointment at Wembley was more about false hope, of something taken away at the last minute.

Yesterday felt much more like that aftermath of that game against Plymouth, except for the lack of ‘stop at home’ chubsters waiting to rub in their victory in the Challenge Cup. Just in case you’re not sure what I’m on about, I think I’m trying to say that yesterday felt relegation.

Hope was pretty much wiped out within ten seconds of kick off with a mix up between Filan and Jackson that told you everything that you needed to know about the next 90 minutes. Across the game, Latics were clueless and gutless in equal measure, West Ham played well, but no so well that they were unbeatable, we just made them look that way.

In fact, to be fair, West Ham were as bad as Latics in the early stages as both sides showed that the nerves might be getting to them. The first goal was going to be vital, but nobody really wanted to take it and in the end it had to be gifted to the Hammers. John Filan, who will certainly be glad to see the back of April, showing us his new trick of lolloping off his line to get in the way of Boyce and allow Louis Boa Morte to start the rout.

After that it was a teaspoon of lethargy, a little pinch of flapping and a whole bag of shite, the perfect recipe for a walloping served with jus d’embarrassment. Where ever you looked there was something wrong. Where there was heart the body was letting people down and where there should have been ability, there was just a whole lot of nothing.

It’s a good job that the player of the season votes were taken before the game. If they’d waited to half time then it’s likely that a West Ham player would have walked away with it. The only Latics player to gain anything close to credit yesterday was Emile Heskey, yet again working hard for the full 90 minutes, trying to pull his team mates out of the crap that they seem happy to be wallowing in.

Being up at half past six this morning is my only excuse, but I forced myself through watching the entirety of this one back (isn’t funny that the only time we’ve made it to game of the day is the one where the players make complete idiots of us?). It doesn’t get any prettier; in fact the additional views of the dug out make it worse.

I’m sure that he wasn’t like that for the whole game, but every time Sky picked up on Jewell he seemed to be filled with a mixture of bemusement, resignation and dejection. If he thinks that it’s all over, then perhaps he could do the decency of letting us know. At least that way we can skip the game next week and get onto drinking the home portion of the season away.

If I seem to be taking it well, then I’m not. I still feel somewhere between let down and ripped off. It’s never nice to see the people representing your team, wearing your shirt, put in a bad performance, it’s worse to see them put in a lackadaisical one. When they can’t even be bothered turning up for such an important game, then frustration doesn’t even come close.

The temptation was there to scream abuse, to boo them off the pitch but they didn’t even deserve that. The only thing that they deserved was what they got; I turned my back on them. That I managed to wait for the final whistle to do it, rather than leave with the majority after the final goal, tells you more about me than it does anything about the game.

Now I’m grown enough to know that it was only one game, that it doesn’t represent the season as a whole. Some of the criticism handed out since the game has been more than a bit silly. To treat the likes of Matt Jackson and Arjan De Zeeuw as anti-heroes is just plain ridiculous just as belittling the effort that Heskey has put in for the team this season.

The daftest thing about the whole piece is that the defeat has changed very little in terms of our prospects. Survival is still, sort of, in our own hands. As long as Latics match the teams below us, or do better than the teams above us then we’ll get another season at this level.

I’m still reckoning that the target is three points and with Boro winding down for Agia Napa you never know what could happen. Actually you do, if they play anything like they did in the last two games, Latics will get beat. I have to admit that that I’ve not got a clue, anymore, about whether they’ve got it in them. For the first time this season allowing the possibility that maybe they haven’t.

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