To All The West Ham Haters…

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Effra has a special message for the friendly Premiership rivals.

Dear West Ham haters,

I know that you would like us to apologise for avoiding relegation and depriving you of the opportunity to wheel out your clichéd sanctimony about justice having been done. Wouldn’t you all have loved it if we had gone down because Tevez missed a 90-minute penalty just as the Sheffield United and Wigan were contriving something at Bramall Lane? I have lost the will to try to explain to you all the facts about just what West Ham were and were not found guilty of again, or to remind you of the other offences that the Premier League has chosen not to punish with points deductions, or even to investigate properly. But your moral sanctimony is as hypocritical as it is futile. By every measure beyond the final chapter, this has been a catastrophic season at West Ham. We have survived a takeover bid made to line the pockets of Middle Eastern property developers, our players have succumbed to the demons of drink, drugs, violence, and gambling whilst making allegations of racism against the fans because we dared to criticise them, and our first manager this season let a complete breakdown of self-discipline derail a promising career.

As a result of the interaction of these things we lost eight games in a row without scoring for seven in the autumn and went another 10 without a win through the winter. Whilst this implosion was going on, you were all massively enjoying it because it’s always satisfying to watch a club you hate suffer and because you think West Ham fans lord it about being a special club. What better than all the footballing world turning into a weekly soap-opera to find out just how rotten and self-indulgent West Ham really are. Now that we have found a way through this devastating morass with a Chairman that although loaded with money has some sense of football values, a manager who having gone to the emotional abyss on his return to the Valley found from somewhere the mental strength to remotivate himself and his team, and a set of players who rediscovered some connection to each other and the fans, we are being massacred as the symbol of moral decline in the game, something that when everything was indeed totally rotten you all thought was addictive entertainment.

As a result of our resuscitation as a football club, we won 7 of our last 9 games and beat the Premier champions and the teams finishing 4th, 6th, 7th and 10th in doing so. Get mad about that if you like. Tell us that it all began with a non-goal against Blackburn because it did. Tell us that, despite our own efforts, we’ve got Bolton and Arsenal to thank for ending Chelsea’s quest for the Premiership because we do. Tell us that Alan Pardew gave us a parting gift in getting Robert Green signed because Green’s immense performance at the Emirates gave us three massive points that allowed us not to turn up the next week at Bramall Lane. But don’t tell us that there was something rotten in our effort for the past two months because Carlos Tevez was playing.

West Ham fans have had a glimpse of the end of the footballing road this season, when we were left with nothing but self-loathing for turning up, for still caring. The aftertaste of those months won’t quite go away, and even on Sunday Nigel Reo-Coker chose to remind us of them. The only special stuff is moments of beauty the pitch, as Tevez has blessed us with, and our solidarity with each other in the agony and the euphoria. From where we’ve been finding that there was a road part of the way back is something that we’ve every right to celebrate.