This will be a slightly longer post, as I cover three games in one. The reason for this is threefold.
1) I can catch my blog up the season more quickly
3) It means I can skim over the 7-1 defeat to Manchester City.
So let’s get that one out of the way.
One game a season, I can act like a normal home fan. I can get up at a respectable time, go get breakfast with other fans and take a steady amble to the stadium. This week I was a ’home’ away fan.
It’s always weird for me to go back to the Academy stadium. I practically lived there for a year before I began my travels. There’s an air of nostalgia about it. Although can you really be nostalgic about something that was only a year ago? I mean, I get nostalgic about the pie my mother made last week.
What!?! It was good pie. 😏
I was safe in the knowledge that I wasn’t the only Hammer this time. Having enjoyed herself at Yeovil, Mum was coming with me and this time had enlisted my reluctant father too. I think he was probably only there because Mum had promised him coffee.
Outside the ground, we ran into fellow Hammers. A couple all decked out in Claret and Blue.
’Glad to see someone has made the effort up.’ I called
’Got no choice, our daughter’s playing!’
It suddenly clicked that they were the Longhursts, Kate’s mum and dad. And that is how I met the famous (or should that be infamous) Geoff Longhurst, whose tweet went viral when Kate became our deadline day signing.
Mum and I took our seats whilst Dad went to get the promised coffee. Looking over the team list.
’Ooh KB’s injured, we might be in for a shout!’ I joked.
I received a whack on the shoulder with a program.
’Don’t be mean to Ellie (Roebuck), still an England goalkeeper.’ I ignored her and carried on looking at the team sheet. ’I just don’t want to them to be embarrassed like the men were.’
Well, that’s put the mockers on it, Mother.’ Football fans, we are a superstitious bunch!
Dad returned and not alone, having managed to find the Longhursts again. The five of us made our own little away section. We needed all the support we can get, we had a drum to out cheer!
There was only one teeny tiny, minute, little flaw with that plan. I had come down with a severe case of laryngitis and bronchitis. My voice was so broken, I not only looked like a prepubescent boy. I sounded like one too.
The other side of Mum was a young family, all dressed in City’s sky blue. Poor mites hadn’t realised what they were sat next to.
We were down 3-0 within 17 minutes. Caroline Weir, new recruit for City, (part of the mass exodus from the Liverpool starting 11), had scored within the first 2. The stadium was echoing, booming with City chants. Not to mention that damn, drum which still haunts me.
’She’s big! She’s blue! Shes coming after you! Jill Scott!’
Well, that’s just mean. Poor Jill!
Geoff laughed when he heard that chant.
’Kate used to hate playing City when she was at Liverpool.’ ‘She always had to be the one to try and mark Scotty’
Looking at our midfield it appeared Kate had drawn the short straw again.
Crick came over to find me at half-time, looking awkward as all hell. It was the first time we’d been on opposing sides.
‘If you’re here to mock, you can leave.’
Crick laughed at me and telling me she was actually there to see my mother. ‘I like her better than you’. She and mum laughed whiled I sulked.
Again it was an uneventful half-time whilst those two caught up and bantered at my expense so I just carried on sulking.
‘This can’t get any more painful, right?!’ Never, faithful readers, never tempt the footballing Gods. It will, under no circumstances, fall in your favour.
FOUR more goals in the back of our net. Although we did get a consolation goal through Esme de Graaf.
Four more goals meant more chanting from the home fans. More of the drum *shudder*. 😡
‘Right, enough of that! Bubbles on three, Mother!’ And so we proceeded to sing what can only be described as the WORST rendition of Forever Blowing Bubbles ever. Well, I had laryngitis, no idea what Mum’s excuse was.
Side note: whenever I chanted for Irons, the two tots next to me chanted for City.
’You’re doing it wrong’ I giggled ’It’s supposed to come on West Ham.’
The parents laughed, but then a little voice piped up. ’But I want City to win!’ Fair enough, kid, fair enough.
And so I managed to antagonise yet another child. I told you this was a running theme, right?!
The match mercifully finished with a score of 7-1.
I went down to the hoardings just to clap my team off. I imagined that no one felt like hanging around after that result, but as soon as she had finished warming down, my buddy Raff came over. What do you say to a result like that? Not much is the answer. Just as Raff was about to leave my Dad asked for another photo, as our shirts matched this time.
On seeing the photo online, Crick commented that Raff looked very done with me in that photo. (A large part of our friendship is her winding me up over my soft spot for Raff.) Firstly, Rude! Secondly, little do you know, Crick! But more on that later.
Brianna came over and chatted again. She gave me my moment of the day when, after hugging me goodbye, she hugged my parents too. Being very British, I am not sure they quite knew how to handle being hugged by someone they had just met, but it meant a lot to me.
As we were leaving the ground, we spotted KB going into the tunnel. She was telling people it had been a good day, as it was also her birthday.
Me, the ever bitter away fan: Speak for yourself, KB!
She laughed ‘I was!’ and headed out. KB, I love you normally but not that day.
Crick and Pete (another member of my City family) were waiting for me to see if I wanted to go for a drink with the gang. No, really not after that, but I hadn’t seen them in a while and I had to take the chances where I could.
In the pub, of course, there was mocking and a couple of digs but that’s what families do. And they are my family. They always looked out for me and never minded I wasn’t a true blue. When I was with them, I was one of them. Now even though I’m not, I am still a member of the gang.
That’s why it’s saddened me recently to see some newer fans to the women’s game bringing the nastier side of football over. I understand the rivalry, football is tribal as I have said.
However, there’s been an attitude shift in some of the newer fans and fans of newer teams. It’s not what the women’s game is about.
We don’t have segregated seating for a reason. We don’t do home and away pubs for a reason. I want to keep it that way. I want the women’s game to progress, of course I do. I want the better facilities, the pay and the respect the men’s game has but not the bitterness, the arrogance and the hatred. Respect is earned not just warranted.
I guess I had more to say on this game than I thought. So stay tuned for part deux of this post where I talk about the two games against the Scousers. After all, you haven’t found what the title means yet!