You can laugh all you like about West Ham getting relegated. But fans of rival Premiership clubs know they’ll miss us (and not just because of the easy points most of them have been guaranteed out of us for the past few seasons). We are a club perennially engulfed in high drama, calamitous hi-jinx and often-comic indignity. And beyond the prosaic business of watching men kick a ball around, isn’t it this sort of compelling off-pitch narrative that really makes football so brilliant?
Football is a soap opera, the Premier League is Dallas and West Ham have, for the past six seasons, been playing the role of Cliff Barnes: a harebrained maverick, forever pursuing futile and ill thought through schemes, usually hapless, always hilarious but somehow charming all the same. In fact, like West Ham, all relegated teams should be made to fight their own fans at Grosvenor House. FA should make it a law. Sky could even make it pay per view.
Oh yeah, you’ll miss us alright when you’re sitting in a quiet stadium on a cold Wednesday night in November, watching your side play Norwich City, feeling depressed, wondering if you might just as well have stayed home and watched The Fast And The Furious 2 on Sky Movies, when you could have had your away end filled with thousands of noisy Hammers, getting all cocky after taking an early one nil lead before watching in horrified disbelief as we capitulate to a three one reverse in the second half.
We are a club perennially engulfed in high drama, calamitous hi-jinx and often-comic indignity
But don’t cry for us. We derive a faintly perverse pleasure from relegation’s bitter and all too familiar kiss. Four times I’ve watched West Ham go down in my time as a Hammer. I cried like a big baby the first time, in 1989. But last weekend I was laughing, like an imbecile chuckling at the moon, at the sheer absurdity of the spectacle.
I f*****g love getting relegated I do.
For the first time in a while, my outlay on a season ticket might even allow me to see us win more games than we lose. Of course, it goes without saying that, after an exciting eight match unbeaten run at the start of the season, we will lose a drab away game at Doncaster after which our preposterous owners will publicly threaten to fire whichever stooge it is they’ve hired to manage the team not two months previously. But, like I say, that’s the kind of nonsense that makes us so special.
We look forward with genuine excitement, and a strange sense of romance that’s somehow illusive in the Premiership, to away games at Leeds, Forest and Millwall (and, yes, you read that right, our relationship with Millwallis subtly romantic. That plane they flew over Wigan at the weekend with the hilarious banner? They were just trying to tell us they loved us and wanted to marry us).
Anyway, the point is, relegation is great, the Premiership is for spods and, after all, football, much like everything else that surrounds us in the physical world, is just a pointless distraction from the nagging truth that we are all marching grimly to our own sorry relegation to the grave. Come on you Irons.
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