Where do you stand on the current West Ham regime – David Gold and David Sullivan?
Back in the day I thought they were going to be at the club with Tabor etc as there was a lot of unrest with Terry Brown. I know they are fans and even at Birmingham their staff were West Ham people and I’m sure they will do their best but they are also business people. I believe if the club remained at Upton Park for them it would have been like a mortgage that you’re in over your head with and forever paying it off without really owning it free from the banks etc. When we move they will have a manageable rent deal and a massive asset in the Boleyn ground to sell and carve up. They’re then in a good position to have fun as fans or sell out again to someone even richer, someone to take the club forward. I will say one thing that needs to be said and that is for years season ticket holders never knew what Terry Brown even looked like, you can’t say that with the two David’s. They are a rare breed of fan accessible chairmen.
Where do you stand on the Olympic stadium move?
Well for someone like me with the fond memories of 70s and 80s, you won’t be surprised when I say the Olympic Stadium move is the day I keep my carpet slippers on and watch on TV. I accept we have to move with times and those Hammers under 30 should embrace the new. For me I don’t see the West Ham thing of ours being about grandeur, I remember being disgusted at Arsenal’s arrogance when they considered making a bid for Wembley to be their home and now there is us doing the same thing. For me, I always felt football is as much about social things, and for me you can’t take Nathan’s pie and mash shop, the Boleyn and Queens, Ken’s café and football’s longest walk to our own Green Street with you. I also feel that for most fans going to Upton Park today is almost like in pilgrimage to be with their roots, of where their parents’ history is or because they have moved out from their east end roots. We also have a sizeable following in recent years of European fans who will tell me they support the Hammers because of the character of the club stadium and its fans’ history more so than anything we have achieved on the pitch. They say they love us because we are so different from Chelsea, Arsenal and co. Will that still be the case when we move?
What are your views on the current team? Who stands out?
I like and respect Mohamed Diame and he did say he didn’t want to leave us last season when the Arsenal rumours broke and now wants a new contract. I’m also keen to see Ravel Morrison play and get more games this season. Downing knows that the England squad is open to him so he will have to start playing more. We have players that can cover in all departments if only we bought a 20-goal a season striker.
What do you think about Sam Allardyce and the current style of football?
I was always a Big Sam fan as felt he was underrated for what he achieved with Bolton. I certainly wanted him to get the England job over Steve McClaren. But although he did a good job for us last season, I was hoping on getting someone like Martinez who went to Everton. I remember being at Peterborough away when our fans filled half the ground and were singing from two separate stands in unison ‘We are West ham United and we play on the floor’. The next day Allardyce threw a tantrum in the press asking ‘What is this West Ham way, can someone tell me?’. To be fair to him, I’ve see some great games at Upton Park last season and it’s been a long time since I felt could say that. He has bought some good players in like Jarvis, Downing, Cole, Diame and Ravel Morrison. I think he does know what the West Ham way is although he is always going to do it his way but I do see some compromise since Peterborough away.
What’s your favourite West Ham match or highlight?
Boxing Day game 1973 watching Clyde Best hammer two goals past Chelsea standing in the Shed end full of West Ham fans, we won 4-2 that day. We had Bobby Moore still playing, a young Trevor Brooking gliding across midfield but Chelsea were a team like today, packed with international superstars. They had Bonetti, Harris, Webb, Hudson, Hollins, Osgood, Tambling, Baldwin, and Houseman. There was a saying in the football media that West Ham went down with the Christmas decorations but not that day. The train was bouncing all the way back to Mile End and that’s where the fan song started from “ jingle bells, jingle all the way, oh what fun it is to see, West Ham win away”
What’s your prediction for the season?
With all the pre-season management changes in the Premiership I hope we should improve on last season. Added to this is that we’re as being the 4th tallest team in Europe. I honestly thought 6/7th place should have been our target as we finished 10th last season. But with all our eggs now in one basket with Andy Carroll and he is still out injured, we are looking to play safe this season again and survive.
Cass’ new book, One-Eyed Baz, is out now and his documentary film ‘Casuals’ is available on DVD and to download. He’s also appearing in the forthcoming films The Hooligan Factor, What’s the Score and Svengali.