I once resolved to never again make a New Year’s resolution for the simple reason I am too weak-willed to keep them. But by calling on the same set of double standards that means I believe every time one of our players goes down in the box it’s a penalty and when an opponent is brought crashing to the ground it’s a blatant dive, I am quite happy to make them for other people.
So this year I have nine resolutions that I would like West Ham United and those of us who support them to adopt.
1) Chase FA Cup glory
I would like a solemn pledge from the club that this year we are going to have a serious crack at a tournament which means the world to everyone with claret and blue blood coursing through their veins. Had Lionel Scaloni sportingly returned the ball to Liverpool via a mighty hoof into the River Taff in 2006 it would almost certainly now be the case that you don’t have to be of an age when you are thinking about your pension arrangements to be able to remember the last time we won it.
2) End the injury hoodoo
Find the person with the voodoo doll that, given the number of injuries suff ered by our most creative players in 2015, must now have so many needles inserted into various parts of its unholy body it will resemble a hedgehog. Either that, or start training on the spongey stuff they use in kids’ playgrounds and insist on playing the second half of the season under the rules of Bubble Football.
3) Keep the club’s badge
Ditch the idea for the new badge before the players wear it in public and we embarrass ourselves. We were told we were getting a ‘bolder, cleaner and more vibrant club crest’ that is ‘the handiwork of worldclass designers’ – do me a favour. Th e crossed hammers are still there, of course. But where we once had a castle we now have the word ‘London’. What’s that all about? We know where we are! Or is this the first baby-step on the road to an American-style franchising system. I hope I’m wrong, but when the London Hammers find themselves playing the Manchester Red Devils it will be the day I finally hand in my claret and blue scarf and take up fishing.
4) Sign a right back
Buy a decent right back during the summer transfer window. Right now I wouldn’t take Carl Jenkinson on a permanent deal if he were on sale for 12 quid, let alone £12m. For that sort of money we could make a serious bid for Serge Aurier, who is busily making a name for himself at PSG. They used to say right back was the easiest position of the lot. Not these days, when the job is a delicate balancing act between getting forward and taking care of the defensive duties. Time to get someone who can do both.
5) Learn the lyrics
Please, let’s get the words to Bubbles right. It’s: “They fly so high, nearly reach the sky” not: “They fly so high, they reach the sky”. A small point, but the little things make all the difference.
6) Enjoy a pitch invasion
The club should climb down off its high horse and agree to allow supporters on the pitch after the final game. It’s going to happen anyway, so why not withdraw the draconian threat of lifetime bans and accept the inevitable with good grace? People are looking to have a party, not a riot.
7) Keep on laughing
It’s time we all stopped laughing at Chelsea. Seriously? Nah – of course not! In fact, if you can find a bit of spare time in your busy day I’d urge you to laugh at Man United as well.
8) Support safe standing
Let’s have an unequivocal commitment to safe standing at the Olympic Stadium. David Gold hinted at it in an exclusive interview with Blowing Bubbles editor David Blackmore in 2013. The club’s co-owner said then: ‘We now don’t have the violence we once had and already what exists is unsafe standing. ‘At Upton Park, we currently have unsafe standing that is illegal and anti-social. The fans who want to stand should be given an area to do so. I think in five years we will see safe standing at football stadiums because, let’s face it, it’s not very expensive to install and it’s safe, very safe, in fact it’s twice or three times safer than what we have at the moment.’ Well said, Mr Gold. But, as Elvis so neatly put it: ‘A little less conversation, a little more action please.’
9) Replace the statue
As the club has decided to take the Champions Statue to Stratford, even though it was partly paid for by the local council, the least it can do is put something else in its place. There used to be some public toilets where our World Cup heroes now stand, and I’m sure the local residents would be relieved in more ways than one to see the lavs rebuilt. But if the consensus is for another statue, how about John Hartson and Eyal Berkowich? Their training ground bust-up would fittingly represent the kick in the teeth that the tradespeople of East Ham and Plaistow will be given as a result of the move to the Olympic Stadium.