It was actually a great journey up to the Midlands today. Decent traffic, weather was a bit pants, but that’s the way it goes. From memory normally opening day of the season is a nice affair weather wise, sunshine and warmth. Not rain, thunder and lighting.
We arrive, grab some food from a Tesco that’s right near the ground an park up, it’s literally just gone midday, around three hours to kick off. Lunch is scoffed (for the record I had a cheese sandwich, bag of ready salted Walkers crisps and a grab bag of sliced apple pieces) and we settle in to listen to the Spurs vs Man City game on the radio. Outside the rain lashes down at a crazy pace and many a fan walk past us totally drenched. Rather them than us!
Around 2.30pm we make the 5 minute trip to Villa Park to discover we are with the Villa fans. It’s a good time to point out why. I end up going to quite a few games with a mate, Paul, who is in a wheelchair. So we are in the official wheelchair section and at Villa Park, it’s stuck with loads of Villa fans, the opposite side to the rest of the West Ham supporters. Great! Never a good thing as I think of previous times this has happened. The only blessing today is that both clubs wear claret and blue, so my replica shirt blends in a bit more. But the early need to relieve myself means a trip right into the heart of the Villa fans for which I cover my shirt up as much as possible to try to avoid any hassle. The hassle came later.
Anyways, the excitement of the new season is shattered when the team is announced. Green, Reid, Tomkins, Upson, Ilunga, Faubert, Noble, Kovac, Parker, Boa Morte & Cole. Most of last years “flops” with added new singing, Winston Reid – a New Zealand international, making his debut for West Ham and playing right back. Not a good start, would have liked to see new signings Piquionne and Barrera feature from the start. It was announced that Hitzlsperger was out for this game, a shame for sure.
The game itself. WithVilla losing their manager just days before if we were gonna have a chance to beat them, surely this was it? But from kick off we were under pressure. I haven’t seen the replay, but the first goal looked offside from where I was. We just had nothing in reply to Villa, they passed the ball better, attacked with more invention and most of all they looked much fitter than we did. Reid on his debut looked shocking as well. Really terrible, hope he can improve big time, bloody needs to on that showing! But Villa ran us ragged, in every area of the pitch. We had none of the creative players on the pitch, no one who could really do something exciting. Avram Grant had sent out last years relegation fodder. Tomkins tried his best to give Villa more chances, giving Carew the best chance to score and he really should have. Half time, two goals down, it could have been much worse that’s for sure.
Positive start to the second half with Barrera and Piquionne both coming on, Boa Shitte, sorry Morte and Kovac making way. We played much better, attacked and created chances, very different from the first half. But looking weak at the back meant we conceded a third and couldn’t quite convert any chances up the other end. So a 3-0 defeat, a bad performance and I could have had no real complaints had it been 6 or 7 nil at the end.
During the game we had thunder, lightning and a huge down pour. Was kinda satisfying seeing these over paid footballers getting soaked whilst we stayed dry. The Villa fans opted to bee Robert Green at every chance. Yes he made an error in the World Cup, but should he be the scapegoat for the England team’s failure? No! Drawing to Algeria is pants, and the display against Germany was terrible, so many errors on the pitch, more blame to be placed around that just on Green’s shoulders.
But the way they booed James Milner, one of their own was crazy. Yes he might be off to Man City in a big money move, but instead of not playing, he’s out there giving his all for them. Funny how when he added a third they cheered and cheered. When he was taken off, they clapped galore. Funny how fickle some fans can be. Stick to your convictions. This is where the hassle started, not as bad as we have had before, but the Villa fan in front of us turned round and started to give us some lip. Giving it all “I didn’t boo Milner, I didn’t boo Green”. I was gave him lip back in the end along the lines off “well done mate, good for you, shame ya fellow Villa fans are as clued up as you then.” He was going on and on, even with my “Yeah mate, turn round, the game’s that way”. I fully admit I was being more than a little sarcastic in my tone and there was definitely a feeling it could explode. The stewards had words with him in the end, I mean come on dude, you’re winning 3-0, leave it out! If you get kicks from turning around and abusing fans stuck in wheelchairs, you obviously have a very sad existence. It’s not like we chose to be sat there, your crappy stadium plan dictates we have too, we would rather be with our own supporters. Total douche bag that bloke.
Back to the car, in the car park, Paul tries to reverse to turn the car round, to make it easier to get out when they re-open the road and we’re set free. But a jobsworth copper on a bike speeds up and parks behind him wagging his finger! The car park was pretty empty as well, it would have been no hassle, but he sat there being a twat. Good news is we managed to dodge some traffic and made it out and back in a decent time. No complaints there, just a shame the game was such a crap event from a West Ham fans point of view.
With Bolton up next, the team will need to be changed from what started. We’ll need an attacking team, especially against Bolton and especially being at home. The fans there will need to see something positive from the team. I bloody hope this is the case!
Written: 16th August 2010