‘We no longer throw games away at the death – we rescue them’

Fans have different reasons for wanting to leave a game early but is there ever an acceptable time to go?

Our 2-2 draw against Leicester taught me an important lesson about playing to the whistle and why, if Craig Dawson hasn’t given up on the match, neither should I. 

With 87 minutes gone, and West Ham losing 2-1, the game seemed to be gone also – and in anger and frustration, I had had enough of West Ham’s losing ways. 

I felt I’d wasted enough time on the match. I turned off the TV and stormed away. 

It wasn’t until two hours post match of me stomping around the house and sulking about losing that I thought to check my phone and noticed that, to my great surprise, we hadn’t lost the match afterall.

Sure, a point isn’t as great as all three, but it’s much better than a hole in the head – or also, nul points.

My mood then improved somewhat, but I felt a little foolish for giving up on West Ham when it turns out they hadn’t given up at all – and it got me thinking: Is there ever an acceptable minute to give up on West Ham United and call it a day?

Or, if we’re expecting the players to put in a shift for 90+ minutes, is watching the full match the least we can do – even if we are paying for the privilege?

Leaving before the final whistle isn’t uncommon. The most practical reason for ducking out early comes win or lose – although it’s an even more enticing prospect when we’re a few goals behind. 

A stadium full of fans departing at a set time puts quite a strain on public transport, and for those who don’t want to spend another 90 minutes stuck in a stop and go system with the reward of arriving at Stratford only to get shoved like claret and blue sardines onto trains, a couple minutes of sacrificed football can save a lot of time getting home.

Even with fewer fans at Upton Park, this still posed an issue at our old home – and we were largely playing far more unwatchable football than we are now.

There just weren’t frequent enough services on the District Line to get fans home without significant queuing and waiting, and lest we mention the even more infrequent appearance of the Hammersmith and City Line trains making what amounted to guest appearances when it suited.

When West Ham went 3-0 down by halftime to Portsmouth at home in 2006, you’d be forgiven for thinking the second half of the game was being played behind closed doors.

I was alone in my section by the time Yossi Benayoun knocked in a late consolation goal in the 91st minute, but it wasn’t enough to keep us from losing 4-2 and it certainly wasn’t enough to keep fans in their seats. 

It can be tempting to abandon an unsavoury away match too, particularly when you’ve got a distance to go to get home. 

On New Year’s Day 2007, we were losing 5-0 away to Reading when my hangover and I had had enough. 

I decided to head for the exits before Reading hit six; I didn’t even make it to the staircase before Kevin Doyle hit his second and Reading’s sixth. I have zero regrets about my early departure on that day.

On a side note, the 2006-07 season clearly appears to have scarred me for life.

Sometimes a losing streak also sees tickets not sell in the first place – which is arguably worse.

Where’s the drive for players to turn up when the fans don’t wish to watch them or believe in them? 

I accidentally bought myself and my pal our seats for the second leg of the Carabao Cup 2013/14 game against Manchester City after City went 6-0 up in the first leg. 

Some 14,390 people attended this match. I’m not sure what the only other people in our section were expecting for the outcome, but given they angrily stormed out when City went 3-0 up, it was something else entirely. 

The thing with leaving early is that, historically, we are at our worst during that terrifying last 10 minutes of the match – so you really weren’t missing much if you called it a day.

But things have changed in claret and blue in the Moyes era and this is a different West Ham United now. 

It’s a West Ham United that is still capable of pulling a result out of the bag in those dying embers of the game instead of just throwing it away. 

Given that we are still pushing for top five even though wading through the fatigue from being one of the few teams to have played all their games thus far this season, they’ve probably earned a full house at the full time whistle. 

So if there’s one thing we learned from the Leicester game – and dare we forget last season’s Lanzini screamer away at Spurs – it’s that we’re not just the club that gives away late equalisers.

Every now and then we’re the team that snatches them too – and that celebration is always worth waiting for.

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