To Boo or not to Boo your team?

by James Baker

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

West Ham’s truly awful season plummeted to new depths on Tuesday at the Boleyn. A very well organised and clinical Wolves team came to the east end and did a real job on the hapless Hammers. I stood there for most of the evening with the same glum expression I have worn for most of this season. By the end of the game, though it wasn’t just the football that was eating me up inside.

First, to the football. West Ham were poor. They look disorganised, low on confidence and were not playing as a team. Instead of flying out of the blocks with high-tempo intensity they seemed happy to sit back. They could not string anything together and totally lacked any cohesion. Too many players seem to have hit a poor run of form at the worst possible time. The skipper, Upson has been looking shakier and shakier over the past few games and he was totally outplayed by the excellent Kevin Doyle upfront for Wolves. Another World Cup hopeful, Carlton Cole tried his best but still looks far from full fitness after his return from injury. Potential match winner, Alessandro Diamanti looked out of sorts and in fairness, Wolves had obviously done their homework on the gifted but erratic Italian. Keep him off his left foot and he will struggle. The usual excellence of Scott Parker seemed to be the only bright spark for the Hammers as he tried to single handedly drive us on.

Yes, the Hammers were poor but that should not take away from a brilliant performance from Wolves. They displayed brilliant unity, stopped the Hammers playing in midfield with young Mancienne playing in the middle breaking up most things West Ham put together, most of the time legally! The livewire Doyle ran the Hammers ragged at the back with some clever runs and touches. The score line certainly didn’t flatter them.

Yes, the performance did grind my gears but the worst thing of the night for me was the way many of our fans reacted to events. Wolves’ first goal came after a terrible mistake from James Tomkins at the back. I seriously believe this guy could go all the way to the top and he will learn from experiences like this. He had also been badly at fault for both goals in our previous home defeat against Bolton. He is low on confidence but Zola has been left with very few options at centre back. I expect he would have liked to have taken Tomkins out of the spotlight for a few games to work on his confidence. Unfortunately, the excellent James Collins was sold to generate some cash at the start of the season, Gabbidon came in for Tomkins the other week and was injured again and De Costa, our only other centre back with first team experience was serving a suspension. Tomkins needed the support of the Hammers faithful to get him through but was largely derided around where I stood. He seemed to have been carrying a bit of a knock as well and his head went down. In fairness, part of the chicken run and Bobby Moore stand did try to lift him when he went over for a throw a few minutes later but that wasn’t the reaction of some of the mindless idiots around me.

The atmosphere was great at the start of the game. The fans started to turn after the first goal. Then the boos came at half-time and then after each goal in the second half. Most of the ground was empty with 10 minutes to go. The fans had voted with their feet. Most of the ground sang to the players that “you’re not fit to wear the shirt”. It was very depressing.

I can never bring myself to boo anyone. I get as frustrated as the next fan but I believe abusing the players is not the answer. Poor Tomkins needed support and this was not evident amongst many on Tuesday. Benni Mccarthy played poorly on his home debut and clearly did not look match fit but to boo the bloke as he was substituted was wrong. The fans even booed Franco when he came off against Bolton last week but they were loving him again on Tuesday when he came on. Maybe I am being naieve and I am sure many feel that they pay their money and it is their choice to boo, but it cannot help the team. It seems that everyone knows that if you score first against West Ham, you are halfway there because their supporters will turn on them.

West Ham fans moan about the fickleness of Tottenham fans, the plastic Chelsea fans and the cockney red Manchester United fans. However, we are just as bad. Now is not the time to abandon the team and the manager no matter what you think of him. I will be there again on Saturday for a game that we will struggle to win but my support will always be there for the club I love and there will be no booing from me. Come on you Irons!!!

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  • Samuel

    You pay your money you make your stand. How else will supporters be able to vent there anger at sides that seem to be happy to pay huge salaries to players and then give half hearted performances.
    I agree it does nothing for the moral of a team but when the team seems hell bent on going down a division whilst hard working supporters spend their cash to go to the game. It is only action like this that will get things changed, and trust me change is good and is needed here.
    On a side note i hope the hammers stay up.

  • dexylongshot

    I was there and the booing was terrible, we’ve got to get behind them, you could see Tomkas head was all over the shop after the mistake and the booing just made him worst. McCarthy is a joke, one of the worst performances i’ve ever seen from 1 player in a hammers shirt. Why didn’t Franco start or even Mido? Benni was pony! Parker was class and very unlucky and Faubs made some gone runs again on the left with Diamante although has Bales says, keep of the left peg, he’s so predictable, I would have liked to see swap wings with Stanislas for 5 mins here and there, see if he can reach the byeline and get a few crosses in for Carlton. That i’m afraid was about it. The 3rd went in, the booing blew the Bolyen roof of and everyone was showered in those gimmiky clapper boards. On the upside, the Hammerettes dancing has made a 1% improvement on last week, Zola should take note.

  • Pablo the mule

    I appreciate your point about not booing but WH fans are simply not fickle. We haven’t had ANY success for over 30 years now so we’ve basically stuck by the various teams, players and managers through various crisis after crisis and relegations (plural). Hardly the act of a fickle bunch of fans. If anything we’ve been amazingly tolerant and patient. None of us expect to win a thing but we do want effort, passion and if possible, maybe some good football to boot.

    The reason it got so bad on Tuesday night is that the effort and passion was missing. I will always forgive/tolerate a bad performance based on poor form or a lack of ability as we have limited resources and generally average players (we’re hardly ever going to be Real Madrid are we?) but on Tuesday night the fans gave the team an amazing reception for the first half hour and were repaid with a total lack of effort or passion.

    The players simply did not seem to care or make enough effort. That is understandably not acceptable to fans who give up a large slice of their income and time to support the club.
    I was furious with certain players and still am. It’s my right and duty as a fan to let them know that what they did on Tuesday was not acceptable. Perhaps if Zola made that point as clear in the dressing room as the fans did on the terraces some of the players might try that bit harder. Their actions don’t reflect that they understand how much trouble we’re in. I could even accept the result if we had gone down fighting but it wasn’t even a contest.

    For Zola to say after the game that the players are trying is an insult to our intelligence. I sat through the whole game and am very clear that certain players did not give their all for the cause. In fact, no where near.

    If they perform like that again on Saturday they’ll get the same crowd response and rightly so. They need a rocket up their ***** not sympathy.

  • Devo’s Barnet

    Well said Pablo The Mule. Your post sums up my feelings exactly.

    Whilst I don’t boo myself, I totally understand the right of the individual football fan to express their honest and true feelings about a performance, and when effort is nowhere near sufficient, especially in the situation we find ourselves in, it is simply not acceptable. As if Man Utd or Liverpool fans would stand for it and not boo if they were where we are and felt the effort was not there!

    I’m tired of people bleating about how it’s our fans fault that we again have a mediocre team and a manager that doesn’t know what he’s doing. We can control none of these things, so why is it so hard to understand that people choose to express their feelings of frustration verbally at the one time they get a chance to be heard, during the game?

  • dexylongshot

    Your right Pab, they didn’t show any spirit. That was the worst performance I have seen since Wigan beat us in the 07 relegation battle. That was the last time I can really remember feeling sick and wanting to do harm to someone! If we at least try and get stuck in, we have something to shout about. That season, the turning point was the game against The Spuds where Tevez jumped into the crowd. We still lost the game but Tev and Bobby were fighting tooth and nail for every ball and that was a massive turning point. The whole stadium was cauldron from that game on and it influenced the team and outcome of the season. I would love to see that sort of fighting spirit on Saturday against Stoke.

  • Devo’s Barnet

    I agree dexy. The Wolves game has gone, the opinions expressed from the crowd, but now lets get behind them again and hope it makes a difference! COYI!!!

  • Neil

    For me one moment in that game represented why certain fans boo, we went a goal down and then all of a sudden you nearly every single player up there work rate. Admittedly you always see that, but the difference was huge and should not have been able to reflect such a disparity.

    That effort should have been there in the first place, not after we go a goal down. But the boo boys are really annoying me, yes they are perfectly within there rights. Any idiot can see that, but is utterely does not help anyone that they choose to boo because of undrealistic expectations.

    In the past two years, the modern fans of West Ham are the only ones that have made a lasting effect on West Ham within the eyes of the footballing world. And that effect is the destruction of our previous through thick and thin mentality, that has not gone we know that but the rest of the footballing world no longer does.

    I for the first time find when mentioning I’m a West Ham fan very rarely hear our mentality mentioned in a positive light. Our fanbase is shit, I’m a youngster and I truelly believe me generation has spoilt a huge amount of what this club was about.

  • Pablo the mule

    Sorry Neil but it’s not the fans that have tainted the reputation of WH in recent years it’s the numerous scandals and crises that the various owners, management and players have exposed the club to.

    Also, I think you’re missing the point of the booing. It’s not about unrealistic expectations, I certainly don’t know any WH fan that expects us to achieve anything more than PL survival for the foreseeable future. Histoically we’re an average, mid table, top flight team that occasionally flirts with relegation or the odd cup run. I don’t think that many WH fans old or young have that much expectation for success.

    What they do expect is pride from those wearing the shirt and that is clearly lacking at the moment. I’ve had my season ticket for 18 years and have seen some bad performances in that time but Tuesday was about as low and angry as I can remember feeling.

    Yes, we should all stick together now in exetremely tough times and yes, I will get behind the team yet again on Saturday but don’t turn the reason for this crisis on the fans, it lies clearly at the feet of Zola and his players. They need to be told that and if it takes the fans to do that then so be it!

  • Ben

    I’m not a West Ham fan but I don’t think your new chairman appearing on every talk show on match days helps, especially when he promises to deliver top 6 football and a brand new Olympic stadium!

  • essexhammer

    I think that its fair enough to say dont boo, however as west ham fans we have tried everything this year to motivate the team and we are still left with gutless, pathetic performances as tuesday night shows in the end you become so frustrated you cant help but to vent your frustrations in a negative way. Whilst i agree it doesnt help the team its a natural reaction. I completely agree with the mule as a west ham fan i do not expect us to qualify for champions league or anything like that but you do want to see some effort and pride from the players but the problem is too many of the players are strolling round with theirs heads up their arses simply goin throught the motions and this quite frankly is not good enough and so long as the players continue too put no effort in i will be on thier backs at the end of the day they are grown men who get paid a hell of a lot of money for doing what they do its time they started standing up and being counted and start showing the supporters that they care and are willing to fight for the club, this will then inspire fans to get back behind them. Another big problem at the moment is that scotty parker aside the fans cannot relate to the players and it seems too many of them are there just to pick up a paycheck and are already resigned to leaving in the summer anyway if this is NOT the case its time for the players to show this to the fans and hopefully we can get some unity back rather than the us and them mentality that we all feel everytime we go to the boylen!!!

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