I’m writing this after witnessing another great night of football under the lights at Upton Park. There’s been some memorable nights over the years and this one is up there with all of them. The game had everything you want in a Cup tie and to score a winner in the 121st minute just made it more special.
I don’t think anyone could have predicted that result after Liverpool dominated the play and possession in the early stages and missed some guilt-edge chances. That all changed though, bang on half-time with a technically superb finish from Antonio. The more I see of this lad, the more I am impressed. Strong, powerful, direct and can score/create goals. He’s definitely turning into a crowd favourite.
With Liverpool scoring straight after the break I think we expected the worse, especially when Reid went off. Not to worry though as Collins was excellent against Benteke in the League fixture and again proved his value to the team by slotting in comfortably.
With the woodwork being smashed and chances being missed at both ends everyone was working out who will step up for the penalty shootout. Then in that final minute, the outstanding player on the night, Ogbonna rises to power a header in to seal the trip to Blackburn in the next round. My 10 year old Luis was buzzing, and to see him sing Bubbles and the Payet song put a smile on my face.
This team, is giving all fans a season to remember and nights like last night will stay long in the memory. Slaven and his staff deserve a huge amount of credit whatever happens in the final few months of the season. 6th in the League, 5th round of the FA Cup, playing exciting, adventurous football, It’s a good time to be a Hammers fan.
This weekend take us to my old club Norwich City. I was an apprentice there and Dad was Manager there for many years so it’s always a special fixture in the Brown household. Dad obviously has a lot of affection for both clubs and still lives in the area. Over the years there has always been a good relationship between the sides, going back to Dad, John Bond, Martin Peters, Graham Paddon and many more. Both clubs have really been good to Dad and he was honoured to have opened the new stand there a few years ago when West Ham were again the visitors.
I hope they stay up but they are playing a West Ham side that is a different animal this season. I’m going for a 2-1 win to cement us in the top 6.
On a personal front, this will be my last column I’ll be writing, as I don’t think it will be appropriate carrying on for obvious reasons. I am taking up a role at Millwall at the end of the month and all my energies will be with them.
Nothing changes though and West Ham will be the 1st result I look for on a match day.
Finally I do have one thing to look forward to and that is playing at Upton Park one last time.
No, not in Mark Noble’s Testimonial , even though I will be there as a fan, but in the Great Ormond Street Charity Match in May, with many ex-players and friends.