It’s a bit of an understatement to say that it has not been a great start to the season. It was always going to be a tricky home start with the league champions first up, followed by one of our bogey sides. But I suspect that no one expected us to be bottom of the league after three games and with no goals scored.
Surely an away trip to a recently promoted side would be the game in which we picked up our first points of the season? But we came away from Nottingham with nothing to show for all that hard work. After a hard fought opener against Man City, Forest was looked on by many as a place for us to pick up all three points, but those of us of a certain age know different.
Trips to Forest have never been ones that I have taken lightly. The history books show that we have not performed well at the City Ground. The fixture for me was one of those banana skins. Yet for our previous visit during the Sam Allardyce era I fully expected a win, after all Forest were not even in the Premier League and a FA cup win was just what the club needed before that difficult League Cup tie against Manchester City.
It was when I looked at the team that day that I just knew it wasn’t going to go our way. I had problems recognising half the names and I could just imagine the Forest manager at the time, Billy Davies, telling his team how disrespectful West Ham were on that day by putting out such a weakened team. The result? A five nil defeat.
This season though there was another factor that filled me with trepidation and that was the presence of a certain ex-Manchester United player in the Forest lineup. It had been an off-season embarrassment in our quest chasing of Jesse Lingard, a mercenary who really had no interest in joining us, yet for some reason we couldn’t see that.
I felt that he would come back to mock us on that day in August. Fortunately he seemed to have little impact but we lost a game that I felt we could have taken at least a point back to London.
History shows that was the first time West Ham had lost a game in the top division at the City Ground since 2 April 1986 in the old Division One, but we all know that as West Ham supporters we can’t rely on a winning history to show us anything. After all, West Ham have a history of not going with the grain.
The team has surprised me on a regular occasions. The West Ham Way, if there is a way, seems to be that of getting shock wins against the so-called big teams, and then rolling over against so-called minnows.
False sense of security
I regularly dread cup draws and almost feel relieved when we draw a Manchester United rather than a Kidderminster Harriers or Cheltenham Town. And that’s the problem being a West Ham fan, the team will lull you into a false sense of security.
Take those two opponents I just mentioned. Firstly Cheltenham Town, I was nervous going to the Gloucestershire club back in August 2017 but I needn’t have worried. It may have been a game in which for long periods we huffed and puffed but we did come away with a 2-0 victory.
A trip to Oxford United then in September 2019 should have been a formality, shouldn’t it? Well we all know what happened that night; A 4-0 defeat and I walked back to my car that night thinking why had I bothered to travel all that way.
When we drew Stockport County during Covid we all couldn’t attend but I still had sweaty palms as I watched Craig Dawson score to take us through and hopefully end this hoodoo. Then, of course, we had Kidderminster last season where if it was not for Bowen and Rice we would have been embarrassed yet again.
West Ham Way
That’s the thing being a West Ham supporter nothing is taken for granted. A win at Old Trafford can be followed by a defeat against a lower league side, it’s the West Ham Way. Thus a defeat against Nottingham Forest merely makes me shrug my shoulders and go: ‘Ah well, normal service has been resumed’.
Those of us of a certain age have seen it all before. When asked which games I worry about, or which months of the season look the toughest, I have to say all of them as you never know which West Ham team will turn up. No matter who manages the club or who plays for us, one thing is always certain and that is uncertainty.
We never quite know what we are going to get on any given day. I suppose that’s what we love about the club but as I drove away from Nottingham on that Sunday afternoon it still hurt. With a West Ham high there is always a low somewhere along the line but that’s what we get when we support the Hammers and I wouldn’t change it for the world.