It’s been another massive season for players and fans, and one we’ll remember for years to come. West Ham once again set Europe alight, this time winning the Conference League, even if we didn’t exactly reach the same heights in the league, only just avoiding relegation. Here’s a look at this historic season; this is the 2022/23 A-Z of West Ham.
A is for AWOL: It was easy to forget Gianluca Scamacca was a West Ham player this season. The prolific Italian goal scorer was signed for a pricey £35 million this summer, but after a fairly promising start, back-to-back injuries and a general level of disinterest and misuse from David Moyes put paid to his season, and it became a rarity to see him in east London. Will almost certainly pack his bags for Italy shortly, if he hasn’t done so already.
B is for Bowen’s Babies: He didn’t get off to the best of starts this year, but new arrivals on the horizon kick-started his scoring with a very sweet goal celebration referencing his twins with partner Dani Dyer. We probably could have done without singing ‘that’ song to the mother of his children as she walked, heavily pregnant, around the pitch at our last home game, but we all certainly wish the new additions the best.
C is for Committed: Gone are the days when a manager would be given time to turn things around. Now everyone’s a little bit Watford and constantly chasing the high of that ‘new manager bounce’. Only two teams in the bottom half of the table decided to remain committed to their man at the helm – us and Forrest, and both teams stayed up. We even went on to win a trophy.
D is for Dawson, Craig Dawson: The loveable defender departed West Ham for Wolves for personal reasons in January – a move that broke our collective hearts. It’s not just that we missed him, it’s that relegation rivals Wolves signing him was a factor in them staying up. Reportedly, he’ll still be sent a medal for his role in the earlier stages of our European triumph – a very deserved accolade for him.
E is for (I get so) emotional, baby: The cup final was incredibly emotional, but another stand out heart-strings moment was Pablo Fornals’ teary response to scoring against both Bournemouth and AZ Alkmaar. For all his hard work and positivity, Fornals was not playing as regularly as expected – a particular surprise given how desperately we needed squad rotation and how vital he’s been in previous seasons. These goals meant something to him, and he showed it.
F is for Flair, as in Brazilian Flair aka the skill set of one Lucas Paqueta: West Ham haven’t always known what to do with Brazilian ‘flair’ players (here’s looking at you, Felipe Anderson) but this one needs no adjustment. He’s a spinning, pin-point passing, delight to watch – with the fantastic build up to his assist against Leeds getting praised in the Blowing Bubbles WhatsApp chat.
G is for Gold, as in hearts of: This year saw the sad losses of both Chairman David Gold and his daughter, Jaqueline Gold. Nothing divides opinion like our board, but Gold really did have his heart in the right place when it came to the club. I’m genuinely sorry he couldn’t be here to see his club lift a trophy; not just as our owner, but also as a fan.
H is for Haggle: Normally our transfer business is a shambles of embarrassing low bids and poor negotiating, but this summer we really did sign some impressive players on paper – and some were impressive on the pitch too. We brought in Thilo Kehrer, Gianluca Scamacca, Emmerson Palmieri, Nayef Aguerd, Flynn Downes, Lucas Paqueta, and Maxwell Cornet. The latter disappeared for so long with injury that when he eventually returned to the pitch, our own fans sang ‘we thought you were dead’ to him.
I is for International Break: This season saw a first ever intentional pause for a month in the winter so we could observe a human rights violation masquerading as a football tournament. It disjointed the season for all fans, and meant that this season started about five years ago and I can’t remember a single thing that happened before December.
J is for Jogadinha do Paqueta: Not content with dancing down the pitch, our light footed Brazilian knows how to move off of it as well – and he’s even got his own song to dance to. His rhythm is contagious, with a post-Prague video showing him and his teammates having a blast dancing along with him in a fantastic display of togetherness and team spirit.
K is for Kevin Nolan, who has a winners medal from a European cup final: Who had that on their bingo card in 2014? Not Kevin Nolan, that’s for sure. Not me, either.
L is for ‘L’, as in loss: West Ham lost 20 of their Premier League matches this season, mostly away from home with 13 losses on the road. With just eight wins at home, for season ticket holders in Band 1 paying £1,025 per year, that’s £128.13 per win. Bargain!
M is for MASSIVE: Everywhere we gooooooo.
N is for Nil, aka our goal tally in August: It was a terrible start to the season, as we endured League losses to Manchester City, Nottingham Forrest, and Brighton in our first three league games. It wasn’t just the lack of points that sounded the alarm; it was our inability to even find the net in our first three games. By the second matchweek, we were the only Premier League team without a goal to our name.
O is for Ousted: Although we didn’t achieve loads in the league, we did manage to claim one major scalp in our relegation dogfight – a 2-0 win against Everton that led to the sacking of sworn enemy and perpetually terrible football manager Frank Lampard. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer man.
P is for Prague: The capital city of the Czech Republic, often called the ‘City of a Hundred Spires’. But for Hammers, it’ll now be the ‘City of Thousands of Irons’, where we traveled in our masses and took home our first major European trophy in 47 years. They may not print that on the Prague tourism map, but it will forever be remembered in east London folklore.
Q is for Queue: Now we normally love a good old queue, but this season decided to see how far that love could be pushed by making the process to merely get in the ground almost as painful as the domestic performances we were watching on the pitch. Nothing like queuing up for an hour to watch your team lose. Irons.
R is for Relegation battle: Because you know we love one! In fairness, this year everyone from 10th place down was involved in a relegation battle – and even Chelsea weren’t mathematically safe for a time towards the end. But as flawless as we were in Europe, we were poor domestically. Moyes made the right call to invest in Europe over the UK, but we need to improve squad rotation to perform on two fronts.
S is for Stat: We love a stat in football, and proving there really is a stat for everything, Jarrod Bowen is the first Englishman to score the winning goal in a major European final since Alan Smith for Arsenal in the 1994 Cup Winners’ Cup final against Parma.
T is for Takeover: Rumours are part and parcel of football seasons now, but with the death of one of our Chairman, there’s a little more room for speculation. At the end of the season, news broke that Qatari Sheikh Jassim was reportedly interested in buying West Ham if his Manchester United takeover bid fails, but it’s not something we’ll hold our breaths for. Although we do have the second biggest stadium in London – and that’s not something to be sniffed at.
U is for Unbeaten: Not only did we win a European trophy, we did it without losing a single match on the journey to Prague. We won 12 out of 13 games, a monumental feat, and never lost. We became the first side to beat Alkmaar away from home since Lyon (remember them?) in February 2017, made it to our first European final in 47 years, scored 35 goals, and only conceded nine goals. Everything about our European adventure was a massive achievement.
V is for VAR: Another season, another travesty of VAR use where West Ham are concerned. At one point in the season, we were the most hard-done-by club in the Premier League, having lost seven points from incorrect VAR decisions. Denials for penalties against Liverpool and Manchester United late in the season led David Moyes to demand an apology – naturally none came on this occasion, but the PGMOL did have to apologise for a perfectly good Cornet goal being ruled out against Chelsea. What will they get wrong next season? We can’t wait to find out.
W is for ‘Winning, it’s what I do’: The famous phrase uttered by one David Moyes which launched a thousand LOLs. It’s Moyes who gets the last laugh though, as West Ham’s shiny new trophy suggests winning is in fact, exactly what he does.
X is for X-rated: The BBC were forced to apologise twice after Declan Rice said West Ham are f***ing massive during their live broadcast of our victory parade.
Y is for Yellow: In the words of Coldplay, it was all yellow as West Ham didn’t get any red cards this year. Not one. We finished top of the Fair Play league with just 43 yellow cards. The worst behaved team, Wolves, notched up 83. It’s nice to be nice, but does being too nice show a lack of a cynical edge? Either way, it’s good to not have so many liabilities in claret and blue and to finish all our games with a full team out there.
Z is for Zouuuuuuu: Kurt kept his head down, and made it through the season without abusing any animals. it still sounds like we’re booing him with the now signature ‘Zouuuuuu’ chant, but he seems to know what we mean. I think so, anyway.