There was a chant that rang out from the terraces when we took on Dinamo Zagreb just a few weeks ago. That chant continued away at Manchester United and then at Leeds United, and really seemed to gather pace.
It’s a chant that had not been heard at the London Stadium in all the time we have been tenants, and it’s also a chant that in the latter days at the Boleyn Ground was rarely heard. That chant was the one that ends in ‘claret and blue army’ and starts with the current manager’s name. Yes, I’m talking about the one that goes like this: ‘David Moyes’ Claret and Blue Army’.
Who would have thought we would all be singing that one come the second coming? As a long standing West Ham fan, it was almost a norm to sing our manager’s name. I have sung for John Lyall’s, Billy Bonds’, Harry Redknapp’s, Glen Roeder’s, Gianfranco Zola’s, Alan Curbishley’s, and even Alan Pardew’s claret and blue army.
But then along came Avram Grant and Big Sam and that chant became a rarity even in the Bilic days. I guess the chant truly died during the Allardyce years when Sam showed a clear dislike to the West Ham faithful which culminated in the cupping of his ear at the end of that infamous game against Hull.
That single action not only condemned Allardyce but also that chant to history but now this season it has been resurrected and now rings out from the terraces with a most unlikely recipient. I could not have been the only one who was a little dismayed when David Moyes was appointed for the second time.
He was, after all, a manager who just a few years earlier had been discarded not only by the fan base but all the club owners who paid his wages. He seemed the cheap option, a manager well past his sell by date and an appointment that typified our board’s lack of ambition.
But now almost two years since his second appointment, opinions have changed. He is now the ‘Moyesiah’, the man who has not only saved us from relegation twice but has led us to the promised land of European football. Surely it’s a given that we should now all chant his name?
But us West Ham fans can be a fickle bunch. In the words of a certain Matt Myers character, is Moyes ‘worthy’ of such adulation or is it too soon, or is it a simple fact that it’s a chant that should simply be resigned to history? The chant was regularly heard up until the dismissal of Harry Redknapp. It’s a fact that up to that point we were the traditional West Ham team.
We appointed managers mainly from within and we celebrated the style of play rather than the number in the win column. It’s no surprise that we still hear songs about Christian Dailly, Ludo Miklosko, Di Canio and Joe/Carlton Cole. Yes there are newer chants but they seem not to last the course much like the players these days.
The claret and blue chant epitomised a time when we were everyone’s second team, a time which now seems long ago. Some may say that David Moyes has earned his name to be chanted from the terraces but for me, it’s just a little bit too soon.
West Ham fans are on a high at the moment. The dark days of Pellegrini are behind us and the board protests seem almost a whimper these days. All past frailties seem to have been forgotten but many of those frailties for me are still present.
Yes we are back in Europe, but we are in Europe with a wafer thin squad in several positions. We have seen the progress made this season by several players, namely Fornals, Bowen and Benrahma but our season may simply rest on the fragile hamstrings of Antonio.
We are a very different team with Antonio not leading the line. Yes our reserves beat the Manchester United reserves in the cup with no Antonio in sight but it’s a simple fact that with Antonio upfront, we would not have been hanging on for large parts of the game. It also cannot be forgotten that it was David Moyes’ decision not to bring another striker into the fold.
I know that many of us would love a cup win coupled with a mid table league position, but isn’t that what we always crave? And so to confession time, at Old Trafford a few weeks ago I did join in the chant of ‘David Moyes claret and blue army’ but I found it uncomfortable, and after one attempt I ended up being mute.
For me it’s simply too early. Yes Moyes has done well but it could so easily come falling down. I take nothing away from his current achievements but let’s see him have a little more success before he earns that chant.
We have had one great season but as the Greek philosopher Aristotle once said: ‘One swallow doesn’t make a summer’ and for me that could be changed to ‘one season’. Should we arrive in May and be celebrating another top half finish with a piece of silverware in our dust ridden trophy cabinet, then just maybe I will join in that chant with full gusto.
But for me, at the moment, I think I will save my vocal cords before I start singing the chant of ‘David Moyes claret and blue army’.