A kinder draw would help West Ham’s awful first match record

We stink on the opening day, but what do you expect with this run of games?

So now it’s official, West Ham have the worst record of any team on the opening day of the Premier League.

Worst that is, in terms of the number of defeats. We have been lucky enough to start 24 campaigns in the Premier League and we have now lost 13 times, with a 46 per cent win record.

But if you look at clubs like Barnsley for example – they have only lost once on the opening day of a Premier League – but they have only had one. Therefore, that’s 100 per cent. You can make statistics say anything.

Thirteen defeats does not make us the worst opening day team. Especially when you look at the opponents we have faced in those defeats. We have played Chelsea away twice, Liverpool away twice, Man Utd away, Man City at home twice, Tottenham, Arsenal and Leeds in their pomp.

The only really surprising opening day defeats were Wimbledon at home in 1993, but then we were newly-promoted and Wimbledon were the established bully-boys (Remember Sam Hammam allegedly chalking up some unpleasant graffiti in the away changing rooms?) and Aston Villa away in 2010 under Avram Grant where the old adage was proven that a good pre-season counts for nothing.

There have, of course, been some memorable opening day wins in the Premier League, most recently at Arsenal in 2015 when Reece Oxford had Mezut Ozil in his pocket.

But I recall successive trips to South Yorkshire in the late nineties, winning 2-1 at Barnsley on a gloriously sunny day, coming from behind with goals from Hartson and Lampard.

Then the following season a fantastic performance at Hillsborough to beat Sheffield Wednesday 1-0 with Ian Wright scoring on his debut.

As a newly-promoted team we dispatched Blackburn Rovers 3-1 at Upton Park in 2005, then Charlton the following year by the same score, both times coming from behind we also won away at Wolves, home to Wigan, and under Allardyce in successive seasons against Aston Villa and Cardiff.

So it’s not all doom and gloom in the Premier League era. But my memory goes back further.

In the days when pitches were usually mud-baths by late October it was always such a treat to see a billiard table surface usually bathed in sunshine.

In 1983 we played Birmingham City at Upton Park and won 4-0. I wasn’t there that day but was at the next home game when we beat Leicester 3-1 in the middle of five straight wins.

My most enduring image of Alan Devonshire is the photograph on the programme cover for that game, a shot by Steve Bacon from the opening day Birmingham game, athletically hurdling a challenge from a Birmingham defender.

After the euphoria of 1985-86, finishing third I remember standing on the Chicken Run on the opening day of 1986-87 and watching Tony Gale curl a free kick into the top bin to earn a 1-0 win over Coventry City.

Like this season, the next two games were away. We drew 0-0 at Oxford and won 3-2 at Old Trafford.

Maybe it is a West Ham thing – but opening day thumpings are something of a regular occurrence.

Boasting a midfield of Mark Ward, Stewart Robson, Alan Devonshire and Liam Brady I felt confident of victory in 1987 when we faced QPR at Upton Park. We lost 3-0.

In 1988, Southampton were nothing to write home about but they walloped us at The Dell 4-0.

It can’t be lack of preparation. Not from so many different managers. It has to be luck, the run of opponents and the blending of new signings.

Even as big fish in the smaller pool of the old second division we could only manage a 1-1 draw at Stoke in 1989 (Paul Ince made his final appearance and Frank McAvennie had his leg broken by Chris Kamara) and a 0-0 draw at Ayresome Park against Middlesbrough in 1990 in which nothing really happened.

It was also 0-0 against Luton in 1991 in our first game of the Bond Scheme season, but Clive Allen popped up with the winner a year later at Oakwell in a 1-0 win over Barnsley.

It’s a shame we have such a shocking record on the opening day because it often sets the tone for the rest of the campaign.

Win, and win well, and you have momentum. Lose heavily on the first day – like we did at home to Manchester City last month – and there is immediate pressure on the next game.

It’s no surprise that recent relegation seasons of 1977/78, 1988/89, 2002/03, 2010/11 all kicked off with thumpings.

It’s something we need to get over – but a fixture next year against someone outside the top six would be helpful!

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