That year I first went to football, 1986, actually turned out to be a good one for West Ham. So much for Long John crying about the lost past, forgotten glory days. It was West Ham’s best ever season in the league. I know this. I appreciate the irony in it all. For that year, on West Ham’s last home league game of the season – versus
“Did you know, that John Lyall is only our fifth manager since Thames Ironworks became West Ham United FC in 1900?
“You ever actually been to West Ham, Silver?” Michael Taylor’s much older brother had said, while gate-crashing my informative playground lecture. I could have crumbled, but I had the wind of truth lifting my wings.
“Yes I have. Wednesday’ll be the second time I’ve been to West Ham versus
No one else in my year at school, in our small crowd of tiny infants, had been to a game before let alone the cup game versus
Long John came home in the early hours. I heard an argument start, both voices at war. Then silence. In the morning, I looked for a programme to take to school but he hadn’t left one out. West Ham had won the game and had gone second in the league and you’d have thought that Long John would have been ecstatic. But when I spoke to him, when he got in from work the following night, he was anything but happy that West Ham were right behind Liverpool with one weekend remaining and a game in hand; as extraordinary as it sounds, they really did have every chance of winning the league. But instead of celebrating the win, when I asked him about the game he narrowed his face and said how the winning goal scored from a penalty should never have been a penalty and how he was saddened that as a result,
I guess when looking at the facts of circumstance, fate all boiled down to Tony Cottee and the toss of a coin. Back in January he scored the extra time equaliser in the 106th minute that took the tie to a second replay and then the venue for that second replay – once again,
Extract from the novel, Barking Frog by Joe England