I am going to try and keep this one shorter and sweeter than Part One.
We lost 1-0. The end.
Not really, just my poor attempt at humour.
Liverpool were an unknown entity this season. The biggest casualties in the season’s transfer window, they lost 13 players and their manager in a very short space of time, which had resulted in a younger squad having to get to grips with the league much sooner than they had anticipated.
West ham was missing Hendrix, who was resting because of injury, and Rafferty, who had picked up a knock against Manchester City. It was definitely not going to be a walkover.
I had decided to break up my journey and stay with friends this time, as another 5 amstart would have killed me. I had been congratulating myself on this piece of decision-making, when I realised (as I was hurtling down the M6) that I had very unwisely left my ticket on my dresser.
Now I love my club, I do, but whose bright idea was it to just issue a ticket per game instead of having season cards?! I mean, come on!
Thanks to the lovely ladies in the box office, a replacement ticket was waiting at the box office by the time I got to London.
After spending the night with my best friend and her two gorgeous but slightly mental dogs, back to Rush Green I went. I was slightly on edge with this one as it was the most unpredictable fixture since Reading. Other games I could gauge based on last season’s performances. As previously mentioned, there was like one original player left, so who knew?!
We went behind within 15 mins thanks to an unlucky rebound. Becky Spencer had made a great save, only for it to spill into Sweetman-Kirk’s path for her to slot it home.
We pushed hard in the second half with Kiernan, Visalli and Flaherty all trying but we couldn’t quite clinch it.
The back to back defeats were disappointing but our defence was looking stronger. So every cloud.
Two highlights for this trip were to finally meet my Twitter friend Emma (she will play a bigger part in the Chelsea blog) and to collect my gift.
Once again, dear readers, I had been sent on a mission from the Twitter Gods. Glen, the goalkeeping coach, had chosen me to pick up a pair of goalie gloves from our number 13, Anna Moorhouse. News of my 16 hour round trips had reached him and he wanted the Twitter universe to know that someone at the club was grateful. So that put a smile on my face even if the final score didn’t.
Another local-ish game and, having been promised fish and chips by the sea, Mum accompanied me again. Although, truth be told, I had no idea how I was going to deliver on that promise. Southport is technically Southport-on-Sea, but that is a total misnomer. There is no sea to be seen. Like anywhere. Just lots and lots of sludgy sand.
Our first obstacle was getting from one Liverpool station to another. What should have been a 5-minute transfer took near to half an hour. Eventually, Mum did the very un-Londoner thing and asked for directions ,forgetting rule one in the Londoners Code of Honour: Thou shalt walk around aimlessly until you find it or give up and go home.
It turns out we were directly opposite. Can’t see the wood for the trees and all that.
After another hour’s Mersey Rail ride, we were at Southport. Seriously, this is almost as bad as Rush Green! Why do the women’s teams not play in the same city as their parent club? Due to my mother’s understandable but slightly irrational phobia of being late, we were over two hours early so we decided to walk to the ground. Foolishly, my mother also agreed to let me navigate as I had been here before for a Manchester City match. Honestly if you hate being late, not a wise move to get me to lead!
’Are you sure this is the way?’
’Yeah.We turn here to go over the bridge and across the train tracks.’
’It looks like we are going into the Asda delivery yard!’
Now, dear readers, it doesn’t take a genius to work out who was right.
After a quick stop in the pub, ( Mum’s shout, as my bank card couldn’t take the hit), we headed to the ground.
As we entered the ticket office, we saw a young woman pull up beside the ground.
’That’s an opposition player, isn’t it?’ Mum whispered.
’Yeah, it’s Georgia Brougham. She used to play for City.’ I answered.
’How’d you know that?’’The Everton tracksuit gave it away.’ Mum deadpanned. Maybe not then.There were more West Ham fans than I had anticipated, although the majority were family of the players. Having run into Geoff again, we took seats together. Brooke Hendrix, our number four, was out, having broken her nose twice in as many weeks. She came over to say ‘Hi’, which was good because Geoff had an all-important question to ask.‘Here, Brooke, your nose? Kate didn’t do it, did she?’ Brooke laughed and shook her head.‘Oh good, only because she’s got form for that.’ She broke the Yeovil goalie’s jaw once by accident. And then another player’s nose.’Brooke bid us adieu, looking well and truly terrified of her new teammate.
Later in the game, Geoff remembered some poor Chelsea goalkeeper, who also had a facial bone broken in a friendly. That game had to be called off.
Side note: Kate, who was mortified by her Dad’s stories, blamed her inherited pointed elbows. It’s a running joke now though that whenever a foul is conceded by West Ham, we always ask if Kate did it. 😂
We conceded within five minutes, a mix-up between our back line and our goalkeeper meant that Everton’s Walker could squeeze between the two and slot it home. We were on our way to three defeats on the bounce.
The Everton fans were quite quiet, even when they scored. I suppose the last team games has been against fans with drums and chants. Everton with their polite clapping, seemed odd in comparison.
Thankfully, a well-timed header from Ross in the 19th minute brought us level. I knew there was a reason we had stolen her from the Sky Blue Mancs.
Everton are a very physical side, very aggressive and hard to break down. There is no tackle they are afraid to try, no player they are afraid to take on. Even Kate ’bone breaker ’ Longhurst was cautious around their midfield. We played further back, going for the long balls rather than the 50/50 challenges.
Right on the whistle a lovely throw in led to a beautiful goal by Lehman, our number 7.
We finished the half with a narrow lead, looking bruised.
Crick and I will usually send each other updates on the score of the matches that we are at. So I quickly messaged Crick our score at half time. I also complain that I am cold but we have managed to get the families around us to chant
My phone buzzed. her message said that she wasn’t surprised, as we should beat Everton. She sent a virtual face palm at the mention of the chanting.
Dear friends, every time Crick says we should beat a team, we do not. It’s like she curses us. Unless it’s Yeovil. I will give her that. (Sorry Yeovil)
We started the second half a little brighter, buoyed by the late second goal.
At 51 minutes, a second Everton goal skipped through Spencer’s fingers. Didn’t I tell you Crick had put the mockers on?! Thankfully it was ruled offside.
A couple of minutes later Briana Visalli was tearing down the wing when a defender slid in for the tackle and sent her flying. Bri ended up almost in the side hoardings.
’Oi!’ I yelled from the stands. ’You leave her alone!’ I am very protective of Bri (not that she needs my protection from anything).
An Everton fan behind me did not appreciate this nor did they appreciate the penalty the tackle had awarded us.
’She dove for that! Never hit her that hard!’
Mate, if she’d been hit any harder, she would have landed on Southport Pier.
The Everton goalkeeper got low and made a great save. We were in for a nervy second half.
Both sides had great chances but both keepers (and the woodwork) were on form.
During the last five minutes of normal time, tensions were running high both on and off the pitch. We had two bookings in five minutes (surprisingly one was our teenage striker, Leanne Kiernan. The second one was less surprising. Just check the title of this blog if you don’t know 😏)
Off the pitch, the Everton fans were finally finding their voice.
’Ref what was that?! Send her off!’
’ Cheating gits, get up!’
Me, being mouth almighty, wasn’t standing for that.
’That was a tackle and a fair one at that, unlike your lot!’ My mother glares at me.
‘You’re gonna get us killed by a bunch of Scousers, you know that, right?! Shut up!’
Finally, after six LONG minutes of extra time, the final whistle blew and we had won.
We made our way down to the barrier to say goodbye to the team.
As we waited, some bloke came up to us moaning that the stewards wouldn’t give him any programs.
They cost a quid. Of course they weren’t gonna give them away. Still, he wouldn’t shut up so I gave him mine because there was nothing about West Ham in it and I repeat it was a quid.
Kate came over to talk to me and her dad for a while and the program guy asked her for her autograph, which Kate happily signed. A few more minutes of chatting and he approached her for an autograph again. Confused, Kate checked he was sure, as she had already signed it. But he insisted so she signed.
Bri came out to see us and started to chat with Mum. Program Guy reappeared asking for an autograph. Our number 15 was about to sign when he shook his head and gestured for Kate to sign.
’Look mate, I will but I am still number 12 that hasn’t changed in the last 4 minutes!’ He still wanted his third autograph. Life long fan there, Kate.
We headed out after this and made the long walk back to Southport, managing to avoid all supermarket loading bays this time.
We even managed to get Mum’s fish and chips by the squishy sand. Close enough. And so ended a successful away day.
This one, however, came back to haunt me a few months later when a mate tagged me on Twitter. It seems the documentary about the team had caught some crowd shots. The crowd being me, Mum and Geoff.
However, it’s only after watching the documentary I realised you hear mouth almighty before you see me.
All together now: COME ON WEST HAM!
Next time, we take on the reigning Champs, I take a road trip and a self-induced International break.