Hope Just Turned Real For West Ham

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Effra is fights off mental illness as the West Ham Premiership Season rollercoaster does another sickening loop.

With our one-shot win against Arsenal hope has turned into belief, and there’s no emotional hiding place left.

You can tell yourself a hundred times about ridiculous good luck, remind yourself that beating Arsenal one week and losing to Sheffield United the next is the kind of thing that West Ham have been doing for eons, or just remember that we well could stay up and then have all that heroic passion smashed to pieces by some suits meeting at the other end of town, but you won’t be able to help succumbing to the belief that the great escape is now part of the script.

I think I actually stopped trying to control myself from about the moment Bobby Zamora lofted that ball over Lehmann’s head, and I am now so far gone that I sure I’ll be able to come up with something to keep me going even if we lose next Saturday. In the end there is no other way to do relegation. You don’t get to jump off the ride just because the anxiety is threatening your physical and mental health and you’re sure you are going to be chucked off in the end anyway.

You have to feel sick to the pit of your stomach every week. You have to spend your waking hours with the fixture lists of at least four other clubs in your head doing the arithmetic, you have to celebrate when important players in other teams get injured, you have to become a self-righteous hypocrite about refereeing decisions, Champions-League fixture pile-ups, and anything else that gives your team a moment’s advantage at somebody else’s expense. And you have to turn half the people around you into nervous wrecks too so that they can’t stand being anywhere near you on a Saturday afternoon or whatever hour of whatever day Sky has decreed the torture should take place.

This relegation business now feels like what fighting relegation is supposed to be like. No pretend-hope now, just the unbearable, gut-wrenching real thing.