The Academy in Free Fall

Written by Big Raddy

West Ham United at home. I love this fixture, a love going back to the ‘60’s when the East Enders brought a frisson of passion and violence both on and off the pitch.

West Ham. Take a moment, what do they mean to you? To me, the name evokes a different era – The Academy, The Famous Three, The Chicken Run, Ron Greenwood, The Inner City Firm (hooligans), I’m forever Blowing Bubbles, Trevor Brooking’s header in the 1980 FA Cup Final. And my mate Fat Bob, who has endured 40 years of hurt.

The current Hammers are in trouble; no money, a poor team held together by the excellent Scott Parker, and a likeable but hands-tied  manager. I fully expect them to be relegated this season in the wake of the financial meltdown of the club. No money means a poor squad, and the young talent developed in the Academy has yet to have an impact upon the team. “And like my dreams they fade and die” ….. because this afternoon we will assist in West Ham’s decent towards the Championship

We go into the game on a fine run of form. Clean sheets, loads of goals from a variety of scorers, playing superb football and yet with that traditional Arsenal fragility that has you biting your nails until we get at least a 2 goal cushion. And (whisper it) we have a goalkeeper in form. – make that 2 goalkeepers in form. Chesney was superb at Newcastle and staked his claim, but Fabiansky has been very solid and finally deserves his starting place. Could Almunia have played his last game for us? I doubt it, AW is a very loyal man and Almunia, despite being in my opinion a poor GK, has done little wrong this season (little, not nothing !!)

No Jack today. Nor the unlucky Gibbs. It is a hard team to pick. With the return of Koscielny, will JD return to the bench or the older Squillaci? And who will play upfront? Two goals in two games for Bendtner, Theo looking very dangerous and confident after his brace at Toon, Chamakh consistently scoring. It is difficult to imagine all 3 starting, thoough AW will have a good idea as to whether NB can play with Chamakh. Could Chamakh play left side and NB in the middle with Theo on the right? And what happens when RvP returns?

In midfield despite no Jack, we are so strong. Denilson has played very well in his last two appearances and is pushing for a starting place. I expect Rosicky to get a rest after Weds, and Arshavin to start following his rest.

My team:

We have an embarrassment of riches 🙂

Barak Obama is a confirmed West Ham fan (wiki) having been a supporter since 2003. And according to the Daily Mirror, so is Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth.  Not sure how many games they go to !

This is another must-win game for us. We cannot afford to drop points at home against relegation fodder.


117 Responses to The Academy in Free Fall

  1. Big Raddy says:

    Brilliant pic Rasp. Just brilliant

    Ball, Geordie, Ray, Charlie but Who is the player leading the race?

    And what is Tony Adams doing in a black shirt??

  2. barumgooner says:

    Nice post once again. I agree that the Hammers are a likeable side but one which we should beat quite confortably, hopefully the boys wont be so generous as they were with WBA. Good side with the only query being whether AA wants to come out to play or not.

  3. Johnny Hoy says:

    Eddie Kelly.

  4. Rasp says:

    Morning Raddy,

    Great build-up for the game. I was wondering who the guy at the front was too – I’m sure one of our regulars will educate us.

    I hope we aren’t counting the points before the game has started today. Like you, I have a soft spot for wham, particularly because they hate titnum as much as us, but I’d like to see us keep up our average of 3+ goals per game and keep a clean sheet.

  5. Rasp says:

    There you go – Eddy Kelly, thanks Johnny and welcome.

  6. kelsey says:

    What a bland write up to today’s game.Must have taken you all of 3 minutes, oh Wilf Copping sends his regards 🙂

  7. Carlito11 says:

    I like the team BR- what I would have picked. Really looking forward to the game today- should be a good atmosphere and hopefully we’ll win by 3 goals!

  8. Big Raddy says:

    I don’t think it is Eddie Kelly. He had lighter hair and didn’t sport the mutton chop sideburns.

    Kelsey. Pleased you and Wilf liked the write up!!

  9. kelsey says:

    I agree with the team except I think Arshavin may be on the bench and Denilson will play.

    This is no forgone conclusion,but having seen West Ham play against the Geordies they are pretty clueless, and with Upson out their only real talent is Parker.

  10. kelsey says:

    It’s peter Storey, not eddie Kelly. I will bet Geoff’s, ethan’s and anybody else’s house on it.

  11. Tim says:

    After beating MC,today the gunners must show they have the consistency to challenge. WH are no pushovers and the gunners under rate them at their peril. Not everything goes according to script.
    I suspect WH will park the bus and the gunners must beware of the sucker punch.Having said that ,I expect the gunners to win by a two goal margin.

  12. Big Raddy says:

    Good call Kelsey. Geoff’s house is yours

  13. oldphil says:

    It’s not Eddie Kelly, it’s Peter Storey

  14. jason says:

    COYRRG means?

  15. Big Raddy says:

    Jason. Come on you rip roaring gunners.

  16. Rasp says:

    Hi Jason,

    ‘Come on you rip roaring gunners’ …. There was one guy in particular n the old North bank with a booming voice who made the phrase legendary

  17. Gooner64 says:

    Its Peter Storey. Chicken run brought back memories.

  18. James South Yorkshire says:

    Definitely Peter Storey – eddie Kelly was blonde

  19. gunnie says:

    The Queen is a gunner

  20. Neamman says:

    Alan Ball and Peter Storey

  21. Neamman says:

    Good article BR. I think that is the side we will see. I expect NB to be a sub because I think he will be starting in the CL. Better able to handle the cold than Chamark

  22. gooner0609 says:

    HRH is diehard Gunner. So was her Dad. She enquires about the scores and about 5 or 6 years ago had the whole team over for tea.

    When you refer to the Queen supporting West Ham you must mean Boy George.

  23. Big Raddy says:

    Gooner o609. LOL

    But as I wrote, it was the DM not me who claim the Queen is a Hammer. Guess it goes back to ’66 and her crush on Bobby Moore

  24. Big Raddy says:

    I remember the first use of your superb image Rasp.

    I can imagine her saying “We are not amused”

    Which post did it accompany?

  25. SoopaDoopaGooner says:

    Peter Storey is behind Eddie Kelly (No. 11).

  26. Rasp says:

    Ooh, you got me there Raddy, I’ll have a trawl back – I know it was one of your pre-match reviews.

  27. Big Raddy says:

    I was almost certainly at that game in 74/5 as I had a season ticket. Don’t remember a bloody thing!!

    And confusing Alan Ball for Eddie Kelly! Shame on me 😦

  28. gunnern5 says:

    Big Raddy: I was contracting in Coeur d’alene, Idaho in 1980 and none of the U.S channels were showing the FA Cup Final. Not wanting to miss the game I phoned a hotel in Cranbrook, British Columbia and fortunately they were showing the game – so I booked a room.

    I drove up on the Saturday morning – a beautiful drive through the mountains albeit close to 300 miles.

    They showed the game on a delay at 6:00 pm – so there I was with a steak dinner and a bottle of The Macallan in front of the TV having a great time until Trevor Brooking ruined my party – however by that time most of The Macallan had evaporated so I felt very little pain.

    The return journey was not as good as the drive up, especially with my headache!

    Boy oh boy that was 30 years ago.

  29. Big Raddy says:

    Goonern5. I love your memories. What a Gooner you are. a 600 mile drive and the cost of a hotel room. Just for a delayed showing on TV.

    Reminds me of my CL Final experience when I was in India. A trip I have written about previously. Another couple of months and I should be able shake that old story out again.

  30. Red Arse says:

    Hi Guys, 🙂

    Great post BR, up to your usual standards!

    Rasp you are a little genius with the pics, especially the one of Queenie with the cap!

    GN5, what a facinating tale you could tell of your life in the good ole U S of A supporting the Gunners from afar.

    What a brilliant bunch of bloggers! 🙂

  31. kelsey says:

    That will take a lot of beating gunnern5, I wonder if anyone can match that.

  32. Carlito11 says:

    Wigan in the next round of the fizzy cup at home 🙂

  33. LStrong says:

    What a mix of arrogance and ignorance! How many time do we need to be humbled by the Hammers before we learn not to take anything for granted! The 1975 FA Cup Q/F, 1980 FA Cup Final, the 2005-06 humbling at Highbury & Upton Parkand the 2006-07 defeat at the Emirates, to name just a few.

    This WH team is not poor, I have seen them a few times this season on Sky, they are in a false position at the moment. In Upson, Parker, Noble, Behrami, Cole, Piquionne, Barrera and Obinna they have some top players; while Collison, Stanislas, Tomkins, Nouble and Hines can be top players in the future.

    We should win today, but lets stop under-estimating the opposition. The Hammers are far better than WBA and look what happened there. Less arrogance and more respect please!

  34. SharkeySure says:

    “Goonern5. I love your memories.” – Can I echo that..??!!! I said as much last night in fact…

    Another great write up Mr Radders.

    Kelsey – did you really see Wilf Copping in the flesh..?? Are you and him really still watching matches together..?? Did DanDan get to meet him when he was over there..??

  35. LStrong says:

    Wigan at home! Great draw, but again, they still have to be beaten! Take nothing for granted.

  36. SharkeySure says:

    Thats a cracking side there Radders, I just hope that no liberties are taken with team selection with one eye on Tues match.

    I agree with ??? earlier, who said that we still have to be careful not to get suckerd today. If they’re an ‘easy team’, them lets start full throttle and get to 3-0 by half time, THEN ease off and rest players.

    Going for the kill has to be the only way. 97-98 Ewood Park, 3-0 inside up 10-15mins !!

  37. SharkeySure says:

    Well siad LStrong…and thats what I’m saying about todays match as well.

    We all get suckered in by Sky’s big build ups to so-called big matches when there’s always the same 3pts at stake.

    Treat every game like a Cup Final (just not the 2005 FA Cup Final!!)

  38. Neamman says:

    Hmmmm I didnt drive 600 miles but I flew from Canada to Scotland, spent a night at Glasgow airport and then flew to Copenhagen all on the hope of meeting someone from Germany who I swapped shirts with and who promised me a ticket for Galatsary. After 2 hours waiting and a few phone calls I got scared and brought a ticket from a tout. Well 15 minutes later I
    met the German guy and had two tickets!! In a fit of insanity I GAVE one away to some guy who was asking for tickets out loud. Yeah I was a little drunk by then. I wouldnt have minded if we had won the damn game!!! 2-3 years later I was offered a ticket to Cardiff for Southampton by the same German [he knew Mendes a player then] but I refused. I had been to three finals by then and we had lost every one so I figured I was bad luck. Anyway the 3 day trip to Copenhagen cost me around 3000 quid!!! For nothing!!!But the look on the lucky guys face was priceless, he could not believe he was getting a free ticket!!!

  39. Neamman says:

    Thinking about West ham I remember one day when I lived in Brentwood travelling back to Liverpool street after we had beaten WHU 2-0. Of course I walked into a tube full of Hammer fans.. it was a scary few minutes until I got to kings Cross [I think] and changed trains. I sat down next to an old lady hoping they wouldnt go through her to get to me. Actually I like WH. My sister married an east ender and her son actually was on WHU books as a kid.

  40. Rasp says:

    At last a home draw in the CC – that’s another million in the coffers.

  41. Are you counting rasp?

    Have to go now, enjoy your afternoon all, catch up later 😉

    Any offers to write a match report yet? See how the streams go, maybe someone from abroad will want to ……

  42. kelsey says:

    hahaha,peaches 😉

  43. kelsey says:

    sharkey said:

    Kelsey – did you really see Wilf Copping in the flesh..?? Are you and him really still watching matches together..?? Did DanDan get to meet him when he was over there..??

    I have actually met leslie Compton several times,Jack Kelsey(see one of my previous posts)and george graham,who came to my wedding.

  44. kelsey says:

    Really interesting listening to Bob Wilson on BBC Radio 5 about an hour ago.

    He stated categorically that we were after a big name keeper in the summer and it wasn’t Given or Schwarzer.

    He is very positive about Fabianski and Chesney,but said Fab needs a good run of consecutive games.He never mentioned Almunia in any way.

    He also stressed how much the ball has changed since he played,and as he was known for diving at a player’s feet sometimes that is so much harder these days as the ball swerves so much and it would therefore nearly result in a penalty for a mistimed (unintentional) dive

  45. Big Raddy says:

    L Strong. Of course you are right to say we shouldn’t underestimate our opponents, particularly in light of the WBA game. But how much fun do you think it would be to write or read a “sit on the fence post” prior to every game?

    The fact is we have a far better team than WHU and really should win this game.

  46. Big Raddy says:

    Super draw for the Carling. Couldn’t really have been better apart from MU at home.

  47. Big Raddy says:

    Kelsy. It is a good point Wilson makes about diving at players feet and pens. It is so hard for GKs – nowadays coaches tell them to stay on their feet.

  48. Rasp says:

    Hi Raddy,

    I know you are neither arrogant or ignorant, but I thought I’d give L Strong a chance and he’s made some good comments so maybe he’ll desist from the name calling next time.

    For many, it’s a superstition to never think a game will be easy. I have found myself building Minnows into Barracuda when assessing the opposition sometimes. If we ask ourselves the old ‘how many of their side would get into our team’ question, it is obvious we should win – but that was also true of W Brom …. doh!

  49. Big Raddy says:

    Rasp, he is entitled to his opinions. I guess it is the glass half full thing….

    And in no way did I take offence, what offends me is the anti-AFC jibe whenever it rears it’s ugly head.

  50. Big Raddy says:

    Kelsey. Good guess about Denilson – he has been playing very well. I

  51. SharkeySure says:

  52. SharkeySure says:

    Nicked that from another site !!!

  53. Neamman says:

    BR had it right except Denilson for Theo

  54. Neamman says:

    Though I hate the spuds to get anything lets hope they get a draw today with us winning of course!! i predict 3-0 for us

  55. SharkeySure says:

    “SharkeySure says:
    October 30, 2010 at 1:05 pm
    Well siad LStrong

    Can I clarify that I was only agreeng with the bits about not underestimating the opposition etc…and none of the other stuff !!

  56. Big Raddy says:

    SS. Beautiful (the video!!)

  57. Big Raddy says:

    OK Time to settle in fo the game. Crack open an early Tuborg, throw the wife out the living room, put on the lucky clothes, and get ready for an early goal to calm the nerves….

  58. SharkeySure says:

    I just had to nick it and share it Radders !!

  59. kelsey says:

    I have a gut feeling today which goes against the norm.London derbys usually are quite cagey and the odd goal can win a game,but I really see us hammering the hammers today.

  60. Rasp says:

    Thanks for the vid sharkey, brought a tear to my eye. I’ll get the tekky dept to put it in our Video Library.

  61. kelsey says:

    peaches the stream is completely dead.

  62. Neamman says:

    For Londoners lets have a thought for the Orient who are in trouble and really need a win today

  63. Neamman says:

    is there a stream for the game? Im watching BBC text

  64. Rasp says:

    We are not defending well ……

  65. Rasp says:

    Song trying impossible hrough balls and Denilson looks like he’s half asleep at the moment.

  66. SharkeySure says:

    Pretty poor half from us there. I’m expecting to see Theo on for Arshavin within 10mins of the restart.

    I just don’t get how the Russian can let so much of the game pass him by. I really wouldn’t bat an eyelid if we sold him. I really don’t like to see talent like that being wasted due to a lack of effort.

    Across the team there really isn’t a whole lot of effort being put into this….Sagna and Song aside I guess.

    Song really needs to stay on his feet for the whole second half

  67. Carlito11 says:

    Considering we’ve been bossing it fab2 has been at least as busy as green. Clichy has been caught out plenty. Squid doing well, song has been fantstic and nasri sagna linking well down the right but in general we’ve done very little of consequence

  68. Neamman says:


  69. Big Raddy says:

    Denilson had a poor half, missed tackles, poor passing and generally lacksadiasical. Sure to be subbed for Rosicky after a few mins. Then Theo on for AA and Bendtner for the last 10 mins.

    It is rare to see us misplace so many passes, though WH have been fortunate with a couple. Their midfield is working very hard and will tire in the final 15 mins

    And as usual Green is playing very well at the Emirates

  70. Neamman says:

    Damn Chinese censorship, feed wont work

  71. Neamman says:

    minuts left and 0-0???? I am almost glad i cant see the game!!

  72. Neamman says:

    If we cant beat the bottom side we dont deserve anything! L<(

  73. SharkeySure says:

    Song !!!!!!!!!!!!

  74. Neamman says:

    Now bloody Rangers have conceded. Thank God Orient are winning! The 3 teams I follow.

  75. Neamman says:


  76. Statics says:

    There’s only one Alex Song!!!!!

  77. Irishgunner says:


  78. Neamman says:

    This is what champions are made of! The ugly win. Come on spuds get a draw at OT. But I know you b*stards wont. You will let MU win again as you did in 99.Lt game of the season and spurs lose 2-1 at OT. If they draw we win the EPL.

  79. Carlito11 says:

    Thank god for song- brilliant all over the pitch. Theo looked quality and should have started. Arshavin fabregas were off their game today. Denilson looked like he was on half term holiday. There were times I thought we wouldn’t do it today… Let’s all praise Song!

  80. Neamman says:

    ok It late in China and I drink a bottle of Chilean wine I was given. Good Night all!!

  81. Big Raddy says:

    Considering we had two passengers today, we won well. Tight for sure but it should be recalled that we hit the woodwork twice and MoM was (once again at the Emirates) Green.

    That man plays out of his skin every time he comes to our place, Hope he gets relegated:-)

    Arshavin should be ashamed of a performance like that and Denilsson went back to the man he was last season.

    Still, we have taken 6 poinys out of MC over the last two games (no Tevez, no points) and about to be a few over Spurs.

  82. Big Raddy says:

    I agree Song was our best player today, just wish he would get carded so often for silly tackles on the halfway line

    Night Neamman

  83. SharkeySure says:

    Even Song had some poor moments, but his drive and determination were f***ing exemplary today.

    Well played young man !!!

    Special mention to Kozzer as well….brilliant

  84. Big Raddy says:

    SS, You are right Kos was great, in fact all our defenders played well

  85. Red Arse says:

    I am over the proverbial with that late win! 🙂 Fantastic! Yaay! 🙂

    I am also v. jealous and frustrated that all you guys seemed to be able to watch and I had to live off bits and pieces of updates.

    How do you do it? Bugger! 😦

    Glad you enjoyed it though! 🙂

  86. gunnern5 says:

    Red Arse: Where are you located?

  87. Rohan says:


  88. Red Arse says:

    Herts, Uk at the moment, GN5.

    I tried Sopcast out of China and it was censored almost as soon as I tried it.

    ESPN webcast did not even connect. I relied on text from you guys on AA. 🙂

  89. Red Arse says:


    You still in ‘Frisco area? I’ve missed your pithy comments, on “another site”! 🙂

  90. Big Raddy says:

    Spurs sure to roll over when a draw would be ideal for us.

    Last time they won at OT Jive Bunny were top of the charts!!

  91. kelsey says:

    well i missed the whole game,but it appears that song is our secret attack force.i know someone who will not relish the thought.

  92. gunnern5 says:

    Red Arse: We are spoiled for coverage in Canada. This morning Arsenal/West Ham, Wolves/Man City and Blackburn/Chelsea were all live on different stations and at the moment it’s Man U vs Spurs live. On Sunday we get Newcastle/Sunderland and Bolton/Liverpool both live.

    I have the advantage of picking up satellite signals from both US and Canadian channels.

    Who carries the games in England?

  93. SharkeySure says:

    “i know someone who will not relish the thought”

    Ha ha Kelsey – I spare a thought for ‘you know who’ as well. Poor bloke – having to be a bit gutted when we score a late winner, just cos of who scored it…lol

  94. SharkeySure says:

    Red – I posted a great link midway thru 1st half, I never missed a minute.

    English commentary as well – which is always a bit of a shame 😉

  95. SharkeySure says:

    That site shows almost every game involving PL teams, plus some other big matches as well

  96. Red Arse says:


    The Premiership games are mainly carried by Sky Sports. Lunchtime Saturday and evening Saturday shared with ESPN.

    Also Sunday lunchtime and late afternoon by Sky. (ocassional games on Monday eveningtoo.)

    Sounds a lot, but if Arsenal are not chosen for live coverage, we have to wait for recorded highlights on Saturday night, which can be frustrating in the extreme when everyone abroad seems to catch the game! 😦

  97. Red Arse says:

    Thanks Sharkey,

    I did try that link, but it said “could not connect” or somesuch, so maybe my browser could not access it. (I usually use IE8, but I also use Firefox or Chrome depending on my mood!) 🙂

    Increased my frustration no end!

  98. gunnern5 says:

    Red Arse: I can’t remember missing a single Arsenal game in the past 5 seasons. I even watch preseason games on Arsenal TV.

    Setanta have retained their EPL rights in Australia, Canada, Ireland and the US; they invariably select Arsenal games. When they don’t other networks pick up the option – which works out just great.

  99. Red Arse says:

    You are v.lucky GN5! 🙂

    I shall now go and gloat with my buddies down the pub! 🙂

  100. kelsey says:

    did we get the rub of the green 😉

    i see Clattenburg is popoular,yet again.

  101. Big Raddy says:

    Quelle surprise that it happened at OT in front of SAF.

  102. SharkeySure says:

    Clattenburg is a disgrace….

    What on earth was said between him and his assistant that allowed him to let the goal stand ??!!

  103. SW16 Gooner says:

    The full free-kick line-up:
    George Armstrong, Ray Kennedy, Charlie George, Alan Ball’s bonce, then Eddie Kelly and in front by a nose – Peter Storey

  104. RockyLives says:

    Brilliant, brilliant job of putting Song in the page header!!!

    We thoroughly deserved our win today despite the fact that several key players (Arsh, Cesc, Nasri) were not quite on song. Fortunatelty Song was on song to save the day.

    Shame Blackburn couldn’t hold on.

  105. RockyLives says:

    And Squelchy and Kozzer – are they starting to form a good partnership or what? I thought Kozzer was MoTM against Newcastle and I would give him the same accolade for today’s game. Song had a really powerful game and got us the three points, but I can’t think of a single thing that Kozzer did wrong.

  106. gnarleygeorge9 says:

    Hail Sheeps Head. Its 3 points like that from a last ditch goal that has Champions written all over it.

    Great post BR 😀 I love teh sense of history you bring with your pre match spiel. This one is your best.

    Now I know the game has been done & dusted, & we all move on to the next challenge, but here is my Hammers offering that always makes me laugh.

  107. gnarleygeorge9 says:


    Setanta don’t do EPL in Australia.

  108. Big Raddy says:

    Sheeps head 😀

  109. Morning all

    Just had a peek in drafts and kelsey you’re a star!!!!

  110. I’ve adjusted the hour but it might take a while to change on the blog – bear with us.

  111. […] The Academy in Free Fall Written by Big Raddy West Ham United at home. I love this fixture, a love going back to the ‘60’s when the East […] […]

  112. ford f550 says:

    ford f550…

    […]The Academy in Free Fall « Arsenal Arsenal[…]…

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