Oi Not When She’s Playing
Mum was not a fan of the women’s game. For many reasons. It just didn’t have the excitement, the passion, the drama and the drive that the men’s game did for her.
She has tried (or more likely I had forced her to try). She’d watch the international games on TV, and try to learn who the players were, if only to try and keep up with my incessant babble. She also gallantly went along to Manchester City games with me and became a stubborn member of the Ellie Roebuck fan club when I compared her to KB. Let’s just say that at 5’7” to KB’s 6 foot odd, she did not always measure up!
But alas it was not to be. I couldn’t return the favour and inspire the same passion for ‘my’ football as Mum had done for me.
‘I just don’t like it. I know it might not be politically correct but I just like men’s football’
However I am not one for giving up. I decided to give it one last shot.
The first home game I could get to was Yeovil at the end of September and I asked Mum to come along. Well, I use the word ‘asked’, Mum would probably say I didn’t stop nagging until she agreed to come with me.
To be honest I think Mum came with me for the nostalgia, as to get to the ground you have go through ourold neighbourhood. For Mum, our entire journey was filled with key places from my childhood, where I went to school, the pool I learnt to swim in and of course the local pie and mash shop. Cockneys, what can I say! ?
Rush Green is a bitch to get to from anywhere in London. It’s in the middle of a housing estate in Essex which is served by just three buses on a Sunday. (This, dear readers, is the London equivalent of being in the sticks).
After a train, two tubes and a bus, we had made it. Although we did almost miss our stop as Mum was convinced it couldn’t be where I said it was.
‘It’s too residential, are you sure we’re on the right bus, Faceache?’
Faceache is the delightful and hilarious nickname I have had since birth, in case you were confused. My Mother’s warped sense of humour at its finest. We descend from clowns. Not particularly relevant but it will explain A LOT.
‘Yes Mother, I am sure. In fact, move. We need to get off’.
‘Well the giant, crossed hammers I just saw gave it away somewhat. Come on’.
It was nice to see a few more claret and blue shirts than last time. In a reversal of my last match there was just one lone Yeovil fan in yellow and green. That being said, I did the maths and Mum and I had still travelled further than the away support. So no excuses for the turnout ?.
After getting our tickets, programs and the standard football tea, (i.e. weak, scalding hot and in a cup with ill-fitting lids), we were in.
Whilst the players warmed up, Miles came over bringing with him Paul, our assistant coach. Paul wanted to meet the rogue traveller who thought 16 hours of travel for 90 minutes of football was a good trade-off. We chatted a little and then he left with a handshake and only the vaguest idea that he had made Mum’s day.
Yeovil definitely play a bruising style of football, which threw our players out of their rhythm. There were lots of chances but we weren’t converting them. Then the unthinkable happened. Yeovil scored.
The linesman’s flag went up and it was ruled offside. A collective, almost audible sigh of relief. We could hear our skipper, Gilly, yelling at her backline. ‘That was an effing warning. Keep awake’.
Oh captain, my captain. You may be a Millwall fan but with that passion you are an honorary hammer,whether you like it or not.
As my mother said, we like Yeovil. We wanted them to win their first match, just not against us.
Side note: when they did win their first match, Mum’s verdict was well done for them but they can’t win anymore.
We were level at the break.
Not much to report at half time really. We changed ends and we tried to get a chorus of bubbles going. We were unsuccessful.
We seemed a bit sparkier in the second half, but Yeovil are a hard side to break down.
As we were now on the left, it meant we were on Raff’s side.
‘Is that whose name is on your shirt?’
‘The ex-Chelsea player?’
‘Not sure how feel about ex-Chelsea playing for us’.
‘Well, we have three of them now, so not much choice on that one. Anyway we have had players from Chelsea before in the men’s.’
‘Normally it’s the other way round, they steal our youth players’
‘Victor Moses, he was Chelsea then came to us’
‘He was on loan. Doesn’t count’
‘Carlton Cole then’. Ha. She stuck her tongue out at me which I understood to mean she conceded the point and was grateful for my input.
Raff got a throw in right by us.
‘Go on Raff’ I called encouragingly to have some cheer going. We do not sing at Rush Green apparently.
She turned around and gave me a thumbs up before taking the throw.
I was smiling until I felt a sharp pain across my arm. My mother had just smacked my shoulder.
‘Ow, what was that for, what did I do?’
‘Oi not when she’s playing, don’t distract her’.
Sub Leanne Kiernan made a break for it and curled in a beautiful goal.
1-0 to the Irons.
10 mins later Yeovil equalised. 1-1
Then BANG! A minute later sub Rosie Kmita got on the end of a Julia Simic pass. One touch, left foot and top corner.
2-1 to the Irons.
It was a nervy end to the game, but we had our first win.
We walked round to the players’ tunnel. ‘Going to say a quick hi to Raff and Bri then we will go. Ok Mum?’
One of the staff members was wrangling the ball girls so they could get their autographs and threatened to sell them if they didn’t behave.
As we were waiting, Dad rang mum to see how she had enjoyed the match. She told him she would call him back and she hung up. He called again. And again.Three times in the space of four minutes. Mum rolled her eyes.
The same member of staff laughed and told her ‘I’ll answer it next time and tell him you’re just getting your kit back on and to give to it five.’
We found that hilarious but when we relayed the story to dad, he somehow did not ?.
Gilly saw us and waved, and Bri came over and gave me a hug.
And then Raff wandered over. ‘Here she is, my biggest fan’ she said to Mum as she gave me a big bear hug. I think I probably I went as claret as my shirt. ?
On our way home, Mum didn’t stop talking about how nice everyone was, that it was so good the players came and talked to you and wasn’t Claire lovely.
(I think mum might have forgiven Raff for her West London past).
‘You know, I take back what I said about Women’s football.’
‘Oh aye mother, go on’ I thought to myself, and then out loud, ‘Why’s that then?’
‘I just couldn’t get behind Manchester City, they just aren’t my team. This West Ham Team though, I definitely can.’
Just like that I had a convert, after just one game. The moral of this story is never give up and you will get the result you want.
Or failing that, wait until your childhood club finally gets a women’s team that you can go and see.
And no transport dramas confirms the theory I should definitely not be allowed to travel on my own.
If it was the same person with the ball girls, who usually keeps everything in order at the end of game while making us all laugh, as the one I am thinking of, there should be one of him (don’t know his name) at every game.
Always smiling and laughing, making sure as many of the younger fans and some of us oldies get autographs a pictures. You can see through the joking he keeps an eye on everyone and is rightlt protective of the players and the little ones.
No idea what he does for West Ham but he seems to do a lot before and during each game. If you pass him he will always smile or help with anything.
He is part of going to a game at Rush Green! See the game, See the players, See the funny guy!