Babies Are Happening!!

Yes, TWIN babies!!  Here are some FAQ’s…

Q: How far along are you/When are you due?
A:  I am currently cruising through week 17.  The due date is December 7th, but my OB says twins often come a few weeks early…
Q: Was this a planned pregnancy or a surprise?
A:  VERY planned.  Over the last few years I have been going through a plethora of fertility testing and escalating procedures.  It was our second round of IUI that finally stuck!
Q:  Twins!?  Do they run in either of your families?
A:  Not really, not in the last few generations on either side, anyway.  We’re pretty positive the twins are a result of the fertility treatment.
Q:  Two girls??
A:  Yes, per our latest ultrasound today, with the disclaimer that most statistics I’ve read put ultrasound gender accuracy at about 95%.
Q: How have you been feeling?
A:  The first trimester was pretty hard, involved a lot of fatigue, constant nauseous feeling, intermittent vomiting and a terrible gag reflex.  Also, I was hit with a rough case of Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome, which is one of the possible side-effects of the fertility meds I was taking.  That knocked me on my ass for about a week and a half.
Lately, much better!  Aside from the physical awkwardness/discomfort of a growing bump, my worst complaints in the past few weeks are occasional heartburn and random single hiccup-burps.
Q:  Any weird food cravings?
A:  No, not really.  An aversion to sweets, actually.  Also, I find I’m highly suggestible to food ideas…restaurant commercials and meals mentioned in books.
Q:  Do you have a theme for the babies’ room?
A:  Yes.  Lilo & Stitch.
Q:  Can you feel the babies kicking?
A:  Not yet…so far anything I’ve thought ‘is that it?’ turns out to be gas 😛
Feel free to ask questions in comments, in case I’ve missed anything.  In the meantime, here are today’s ultrasound pics…
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Payexit – My Thoughts

It’s been a few days now since the bombshell, and I thought I’d express my personal thoughts, with the help of some gifs from the TV show Castle.

Thursday, January 12, 2017 began like most weekdays for me. I booted up my computer for work, and while I’m waiting for everything to load and/or open, I browsed West Ham news on my phone (there’s usually bit of that accumulated as I’m in the Central time zone, 6 hours behind England).

The first few headlines were transfer rumors and speculations, and then I see the link to Bilić’s pre-match conference.  I don’t always watch these, but on this day I did.  I started the video and then shifted my focus to my computer, so was only half paying attention, and then I swear my brain did a sudden record scratch and I started it over, giving it my full attention.  My initial reaction was stunned silence.

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I wanted so badly to not believe it, but there Bilić was, spelling it out plainly for us.  Here, I also have to add how much I appreciate Bilić giving it to us straight up, no flowery or vague PR bullshit.  Respect to Slav, big time.  I watched that video three times in a row.  I absorbed the details, noting Bilic’s demeanor.  I dare anyone to try and say Bilic is not devoted to this team; the raw emotion was tangible.  This player, to whom Bilic, the team, the board have given every advantage, preferential treatment, the highest wages in the club’s history, has chosen to shit all over all of them, not only demanding they let him leave after less than a year into his 5 year contract, but also refusing to play for us.  Refusing to play!

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My first tweet about the matter calmly stated my disappointment.  How could he do this to the fans who revere and worship him so devotedly?  My next tweet was a Re-Tweet a of Payet’s from last January, about how he was proud to wear the shirt of West Ham and that his future is here for many years.  I appealed that I didn’t want to hate him, but I was worried it might be to late to avoid.  Logically I knew what he was doing was a disgrace and a complete dick-move, even if I wasn’t emotionally ready for a sudden 180 in opinion for someone I held in very high regard.  Even though this season has had more cringe-worthy moments than not, we had Payet. The man was a free kick merchant.  We had Payet!  He was a genius who created more chances than anyone else in the Premier League.  We had Payet!!  And we just didn’t think anyone understood.  Turns out it was us that didn’t understand.

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I had to switch my focus to work for a while, and later spent some time reading other news stories and discussing things with others on Twitter.  I posted a tweet surmising that Noble must be feeling heartbroken, given the Bromance that had existed between the two.  Betrayal on professional and multiple personal levels.  It was just too much.  I’ll admit I addressed these tweets to Payet’s twitter handle…I knew perfectly well there would be no response, it just made me feel a little better somehow.  I posted another tweet, one last solemn rendition of the first line of the song his fans lovingly created for him (accompanied by a gif of Dean Winchester stoically crying) and with that I mourned and let go that which I thought I had, and accepted the new reality.

And then I just got mad.

In hindsight, maybe I should’ve regarded his douchey cars and how he dressed in outfits that cost more than my mortgage payment and which made him look like a tool, but I felt I was just being judgemental (what do I know about European fashion, anyway?) and told myself these superficial things didn’t define him as a person.  For this, I was irritated at myself.

More info came out throught the day, some elaborations of details we already knew, some new tidbits.  Pay raise demands, unprofessional attitude towards his training and teammates, a £1 million loyalty bonus to keep him here through the end of the season, refusing to sign autographs for children, and a hint of a rumor of why he might be separated from his wife…

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We learned his wife and family have already moved to France and that appears to be why he seems hell bent to go specifically to Marseilles.  I understand one has to do what they have to do for their family.  It would even be admirable, IF he hadn’t gone about it in the most unprofessional and disrespectful way.  I think anyone would be hard pressed to betray their club and the fans who worship him so thoroughly and instantly.  It’s almost like he made himself a challenge to see how fast he could fall from hero to zero.

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Some claim he’s at least partially justified because of the promises made to him by the board that didn’t ever come to fruition.  Myself, I think that’s in no way an acceptable justification for this course of action.

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The backlash from the fans came, and it came HARD.  There’d been speculation from some that he was unhappy and wanted to leave, but had you told me on Jan 11th that I would feel such revulsion, there’s no way I would’ve believed it.  In the following days, I’ve heard the sentiment that West Ham fans are the worst in the country when they turn against you, and it is true.  It wasn’t long until his Wiki page had been ‘corrected’ by angry fans (mostly changing facts to snake references).  Videos of fans denouncing him, throwing his jerseys out the window, the most ardent supporters admitting they had loved him but have lost all respect and sadly changing their Payet-centric social media profiles, all within hours of Bilić’s interview.  Those with Payet jerseys post the ‘corrections’ made, many to turn them into Reid jerseys.  There was even a musical cartoon video that made me laugh SO hard.  I myself included in every post, reply and retweet, the hashtag #SuckItPayet.  I was hoping it might catch on, but…well, I  just don’t have that much influence on Twitter.  Countless new renditions of his song (ranging in cleverness and intensity) flooded my feed.

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Bilić’s position in the interview was that they are not going to sell him in this transfer window.  Many people’s opinion seems to be we should just sell him, make as much money as we can get and just be done with the ungrateful bag-o-dicks.  Logically, I know this does make sense…

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…but when I feel wronged, I get vindictive and spiteful.   I say NO WAY should he get his way after his deplorable behavior.  That sets a terrible precident. Fine him for not appearing and let him rot in the reserves until such time as he acts with some goddamned integrity and works his way back to the first team and grovels and begs for the fans’ forgiveness.  Which, honestly, has only a slim chance of redeeming him if it’s at all possible at this point.

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From all the upheaval, a curious side effect has taken place…the fans on social media are more united than I’ve ever seen them.  And in consideration about the match about to take place, the exclusion of Payet from the game has the potential of also bonding the team and inspiring a strong unified front.  Support is rallied for other players to take this opportunity to shine.  I was still wary about the upcoming game, but cautiously optimistic about this newfound solidarity.

 

Match Day.  My match day experience varies quite a bit from those in England.  I roll out of bed with just enough time to throw on my jersey and check the starting lineup before kickoff.  It’s 9am here, I’m not drinking nor am I with a group of other supporters (there are a few Hammers in my area but we can only meet up when a match starts late enough for bars to be open).  My husband watches with me, but I am far more engaged than he is.

The first half passes with mediocrity, 0-0 at halftime.  Yes, I’m nervous.  But Super Slav makes a substitution and formation change which proves to be the exact thing we need.  Things are much more competitive and finally, Feghouli scores his goal.

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The intensity continues and soon Andy Carroll blows everyone’s minds with that screamer of a bicycle kick.  I believe my exact expression was, “Holy Shit!”

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I am downright giddy at this point, as we have a comfortable lead and the end of the game is quickly approaching.  Then, Lanzini, that adorable jewel, makes his run and amazing chip over the goalkeeper to float neatly into the net.  His celebration jump into the stands was worth the yellow, no question.

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The match ends, and the celebration is rampant on Twitter.  Every other tweet is “Payet Who?”  Players, staff and board members express barely veiled jabs at Payet in their praises of the virtues of working as a team and that no player is greater than the club.  And of course, I’m repeatedly including my new favorite catchphrase, “Suck it Payet”, in anything I post.

As I write this, it is Sunday night.  The question on my mind is, what is going to happen on Monday?  Will Payet show up for training or continue acting like a petulant, spoiled child?  I have no sympathy for whatever befalls him now.  Payet can suck a corner flag for all I care.

#SuckItPayet

8 Levels of the Noble+Payet Bromance

Here is my take on the various levels of Bromance between Mark Noble and Dimitri Payet.  Why does there need to be levels?  There doesn’t.  Why 8?  I don’t know.  This is the kind of thing that happens when I’m bored and have West Ham on the brain…


Level 1:  Standard High-Fives.  Fairly common among almost any teammates.  Job well done.  Outsiders probably wouldn’t immediately guess there is a bond between us.


Level 2:  Premium High-Fives.  I am happy to be celebrating this moment with you, specifically.  We’ll probably talk about whatever we’re celebrating later, while bonding.

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Level 3:  The “Bro” hug.  I want to congratulate you or maybe console you, depending on the situation.  Quick and manly, these are not a very big deal.  Usually requires a moderate level of friendliness before hugs happen.

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Level 4:  The “I love ya, mate” hug.  Similar to the Premium High-Fives, I’ve sought you out specifically and want to hug you.  You are special to me and I want to share my happy moments with you and it’s not awkward if it lasts a little while.


Level 5:  The “Let’s hold hands while we talk” level.  We like each other so much we find ourselves in various levels of physical contact, and we’re comfortable with that.  People can instantly tell there’s a bond there.


Level 6:  “Extreme Broment”.  A regular hug just won’t cut it.  I am going to jump on you or pick you up or something wild.  Someone’s carrying someone at some point.  Others might want to join in celebration but may be reluctant as they don’t want to intrude on the Broment.

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Level 7:  The “Embrace Me Now” level.  We are so excited to hug that we may slide into each other with force.  Also, it may appear we might just be about to…make out a little.  And that’s okay.


Level 8:  “Rolling On The Ground Together In Each Others’ Arms”.  Fairly self explanatory.  Ignoring all others, we only need each other to be happy.

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This concludes our walk through the levels of the Noble & Payet bromance.

Shove off, Andy, you’re not coming between us!

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365 Days A Hammer

It was a dreary, drizzly day last year on the day I decided to become a West Ham fan.  For the full story on that, check out this blog.  Today is my West Hammiversary (sorry, I’m a sucker for terrible puns) so I thought I’d reflect a bit on the past year and my journey as a new Hammer.

Starting out, I knew basically nothing about the official rules, the workings of English football leagues, or how much this all would effect my life.

YouTube has been a great resource. I watched quite a few videos on the team’s history, highlights of classic moments, and West Ham-related channels.  The first I subscribed to included Spencer Owen and Hammer & Talk.  I find Spencer to be rather charismatic and knowledgeable, with impressive video quality, but I could really care less for the video game ones and those seem to make up 75% of his content.  Hammer & Talk I find very entertaining, and he’s helped me expand my UK/football lingo, slang and profanity (who doesn’t want more creative ways to swear?).  My subscription list has been steadily growing, and guys like Spencer and Jay inspire me to get more involved in social media.  Even Mark the Rib Man on Twitter has been entertaining to follow as well as encouraging with his tweet responsiveness (he’s good for more than just giving you his meat).  Maybe one day I’ll become Twitter-popular enough that some of those guys will follow me back on Twitter.  Fingers crossed.

Speaking of Twitter… I started off following the team and maybe a dozen other relevant accounts like West Ham Central, Social and Photos.  Last month I took the leap and switched from using my normal Twitter handle to a new West Ham handle.  I’m maybe a little…enthusiastic about following anyone and everyone that expresses interest in West Ham, but my followers have been steadily increasing and I think I’ll pass my first 1,000 followers tonight (that’s exciting for me).  I’m making Hammer friends all over the place–I even found a new one in Kansas City today (that’s pretty rare)!  I even got trolled by my first Millwall fan after the FA Cup replay with Man United.

One of the problems of being 6 hours behind London time is at night when I’m spending the most time browsing the interwebs, almost all other Hammers are asleep. I even celebrate the start of match day on BST, because why the hell not? It doesn’t make sense to delay the joy of match day; I want to celebrate when everyone else is! It was an interesting change on Tuesday night when people couldn’t sleep after the Man Utd game. I had so many people to chat with!

On the other side, when I wake up, there a whole cache of West Ham news to catch up on.  I use one of those websites that collects all the West Ham headlines so I can read them all from one place.  In regards to this, If you know of a news collection site that will let me filter out the obnoxious amount of unsubstantiated transfer rumors, please let me know!  I personally don’t need to hear about someone almost changing teams until they have come over for the physical or have actually signed something (and posted a picture “signing” a blank piece of paper).

Also, I always skip past articles about projected line-ups for matches.  I’ll make the occasional comment about how I wish they wouldn’t start Antonio at RB–AGAIN–but I don’t get the point in reading articles where the whole of their content is just a guess of what team Bilić is going to play.

Question: if Payet just signed a new contract supposedly keeping him at West Ham until 2021, how come people are worried about other clubs signing him this summer?  How does this work?  What is the point of a contract if they don’t seem like they have any actual power to keep someone with the club they signed with?  I really need to sit down and do some research on this topic, I suppose.

I’m sure some of the aspects I find odd or have difficulty understanding has to do with the ocean rift between myself and the BPL.  I’m just a Yank after all, and I’ve never been sports-smart in general.  I’m amazed at things like away fans having a strictly designated section at stadiums and how general ticket sales are only a few weeks before matches.  That last one made it terribly difficult to make travel plans when I decided I needed to make a journey to Upton Park before the end of the season.  I ended up playing it safe and going Mark Noble’s Testimonial, as tickets were available 6 weeks beforehand and I could be reasonably certain they wouldn’t change the date. I’d been considering the Watford game in March which got moved due to the FA Cup match, and not just by a few days, but weeks!  I can only imagine how disappointed I’d be had I gambled with that game. But, the Testimonial worked out to be a great birthday trip for myself.  I was able to get a stadium tour and while Noble almost passed me by in the crowd of autograph seekers after the match, when I pleaded that it was my birthday, he came back, signed my program and wished me a happy birthday.  If I already didn’t think Nobes was a great guy, I’d have been instantly sold.  I’m a Noble fan for life.  I wish I’d have heard Baz serenading Noble at the time because I would’ve joined in and sung the shit out of that.

And then there was yesterday.  Yesterday they announced 2 games to be played in the US in July.  I was working and on a training call when I read the news, and I’m immeasurably glad my phone was already on mute because I legitimately squealed.  Now I’m excited to connect with the network of overseas Hammers I’ve connected with on social media.  My husband is also happy because we’ll get to go to a Mariners game in Seattle as well, crossing off another stadium from the list of baseball stadiums he has yet to visit (He supports my support of West Ham, but he’s really a baseball guy).  I am stoked about the Seattle game, a little less so about this random North Carolina team.  I still think they should’ve planned a match with Sporting Kansas City due to it’s MLS status, stadium size, atmosphere, central location in the country, but what can ya do…

Also on the subject of Sporting Kansas City, my love for West Ham and consequent learning of the rules has given me a greater appreciation for my local team.  I casually followed them before because of the aforementioned great atmosphere at the games, but now I really get into the game itself.  And if I can’t be at…well, basically any West Ham games in person, I can have a good footy day out from time to time.  It does help.

Something Mark Noble said during the Farewell Boleyn festivities the other night really stuck with me.  He said the fans were his family, and though it may just have been my empathy to his visible emotion, it struck a chord.  These other Hammers I’ve met at the Testimonial and (mostly) social media have been remarkably accepting and welcoming me into the supportership (¿is that a word?) family of West Ham United.  I love it.  It’s been a great year and I’m looking forward to everything to come.  Maybe I wasn’t born into it, but I’m definitely West Ham Till I Die.

I’m celebrating the end of my first year as a Hammer by planning my trip to Seattle.  Maybe for my next Hammiversary I’ll celebrate with a tattoo, what do you think?

Stuff I Say – West Ham v Swansea

Saturday, May 7th, 9:00am local time (Kansas City, Missouri).  I’ve just woken up, wearing my West Ham gear and watching in my living room with my husband and 4 cats.

[Kickoff]

Oh look, Carroll has the douchey braids again.

[2′: Payet first corner, taps it out rather than kicks]

Well that wasn’t what I expected…

Lanzini, get it!

[another corner]

Aaaah, almost

[6′ Payet corner, and then another. Lanzini makes tackle]

Nice, Lanzini!

[8′ Antonio approaches goal]

I want him to score so I can see his so-called best goal celebration

[9′ Cresswell to Noble, Noble way overshoots]

Awww man (sees Noble’s face) it’s ok, Nobes, we still love you!!

[10′ Announcer: Swansea can’t seem to get out of their own half]

Like it when they don’t start slow!  Gives me hope!

[Announcer says Payet without the T]

*cringes*

[11′ Announcer mentions Kouyate red card rescinded previous Swansea game]

Uh, YEA cuz that was bullshit¡

[13′ Announcer mentions Noble not being called up to England squad]

*sings* Noble for England *cat looks at me funny*

[17′ Free Kick given]

Niiiice……hoping to see somethin’ goood!

[Announcer says Payet without the T while saying the Payet song]

*cringes again*

[18′ Free kick taken, just over the bar]

Aaaaaaargh

[20′ Kouyate fouled by Swansea #33]

#33 I’m watching you *points to eyes then at player*

[24′ Swansea goal]

goddamn it.

[25′ Announcer: it was too easy]

Yea, shaddup.

[27′ corner kick, GK comes out and is on the ground, ogbonna overshoots]

AAAAAAAAAAARGH!  That should’ve been perfect!!

[29′ Randolph saves]

phew.

[30′ suddenly, second goal]

Seriously?!?!?!

Come on, boys!  Shut it down!  Randolph, I had faith in you, wake up!!!

[31′ Noble fouled, free kick taken, easily deflected]

[35′ Lanzini shoots wide, another corner, announcer comments on mood in the park has changed]

I was kindof expecting to hear a lot more singing today.

[39′ announcer commenting on Antonio as right-back]

Man, we need to get a right-back and let Antonio play his normal position!!

[40′ announcer mentions celebrations for Tuesdays game (camera focuses on Trevor Brooking), says: I imagine Trevor Brooking is invited to the celebrations]

Uuuh, ya think???  Come on, don’t say dumb things….

Man, it just needs to be halftime already so Bilic can get these guys’ heads screwed on right.

[44′ Payet shoots right to GK]

Has Payet got The Yips or what?

[2 mins stoppage]

[47′ Carroll to Lanzini (who is laying on the ground) but misses]

[Halftime]

[45′ Announcer: Swansea have only won once at Upton Park, 60 years ago]

*sigh*

[46′ Moses handball]

[49′ Moses offside]

[50′ Announcer calls Moses lazy]

Dang Moses, step it up!

[51′ 3rd Swansea goal]

GODDAMNIT!  *1 cat jumps off my lap and runs away*

[52′ Carrol attempt on goal, good shot, but straight to GK]

Time to think about making some changes out there, Bilic.  We trust you to make good choices….

[54′ Antonio attempt, back to Carroll, misses wide]

AAAAAAAAAArgh they’re making me sound like a muppet.  Like, an actual Jim Henson muppet.  Maybe Kermit.

[57′ Announcer says Swansea are playing with more confidence and more adventure]

Adventure??

[58′ Moses off, Sakho on]

Alright, lets hope this shakes things up somewhat.

[60′ Announcer: West Ham are all over the place at the moment]

Yea, yea, I can see that.  Shut Up.

[62′ camera shows crowd]

Wow, it must be warm out there today, nobody’s in jackets!  Much more claret and blue can be seen vs black jackets.

[64′ Corner, taken, deflected]

[65′ Carroll called offside]

Keep your stupid braids ON-side!

[66′ Antonio shot deflected, corner given, Payet takes, deflected, back to Payet, to Antonio, saved twice, finally Sakho gets it in]

HOLY CRAP, FINALLY!!!!

[68′ Antonio shoots, WAY wide]

Antonio, WTF was that???

[70′ Swansea first corner]

Ok, good, get it away.

[71′ Yellow Card for Sakho]

Weak, but whatever.

[76′ Kouyate off, Emenike on]

[78′ Sakho attemps, knocked out, corner given]

Alright Payet…..aaaand nope.

[80′ 70 yard run by Antonio]

Niiice, Antonio!

[Swansea tackles, people tumble to the ground, no foul given]

Aw come on now…

[81′ Reid given Yellow Card, Announcer comments West Ham fans starting to leave]

*feeling sad about this last Saturday home game at Upton Park*

[82′ Announcer says Emenike like EmenEEKEE]

*cringes*

[82′ Lanzini out, Valencia on]

Nooo, I love Lanzini!

It doesn’t do any good to have all the strikers out there if they can’t create any chances….

[84′ Ogbonna Yellow, didn’t even see what he did, so….no opinion]

[85′ Emenike kicks straight to Swansea]

Emenike, what are you even doing?!

[87′ Antonio very nearly makes own goal]

Jeeezus

[87′ Announcer:  West Ham haven’t done anything to deserve to win it, really]

Can’t disagree…

[89′ Payet takes a corner, Reid being held, no penalty]

*grunts*

[90′ Nice save by Randolph]

[91′ Payet shoots, misses, given corner]

Hey, I hadn’t seen or heard mention of Payet in a little while.  I guess he’s still playing. Sort of.

[92′ Yet another Swansea goal]

Oh, for fucks sake!

[Swansea players crawling on the ground in celebration??]

WTF is that? I don’t get it…..

[Final whistle blown]

Well, that was definitely disappointing.  Reading all the buildup on Twitter of fans getting ready for, traveling to the game, and how everyone was emotional about the last Saturday game at the Boleyn.  Honestly I thought I’d hear way more singing by the home fans, even when losing, just because of that.

They started strong, and had a lot of possession at the beginning, but couldn’t create the chances. Can’t complain about any massive referee mistakes today, which is a relief in a way, but just means their 4-1 loss was all the more due to poor performance, maybe bad luck.

Overall, I give this game one huge ‘Disappointed Bilic’

Photo Shape Editor: https://www.tuxpi.com/photo-effects/shape-tool

Still, one crappy game isn’t the end of the world. There’s still a chance of Europa league, so, here’s hoping for Tuesday….

My West Ham Origin Story

A few weeks ago I was in London for Mark Noble’s testimonial game.  I was asked probably a dozen times why I–an American–am a West Ham fan.  I thought I’d share my personal West Ham origin story…

Like many Hammers, my father is the reason I support WHU, but there’s a twist.  In fact, I’m fairly certain he wasn’t even aware of the existence of the team.

My dad passed away in 2013 from Multiple Myeloma (f*ck cancer).  He was very passionate about traveling, and his last trip, to Europe, was cut short due to illness.  I thought it fitting to use the bit of inheritance I got on my own European trip.

The trip was all over the place, hitting 7 countries in 15 days.  I don’t usually gravitate towards typical tourist attractions, preferring the unique and often geeky things.  I visited the village of Wells to see where Hot Fuzz–one of my all-time favorite movies–was filmed.  I attended a triennial cat festival in a random village in Belgium, which involved a 4 hour parade followed by an hour-long tossing of plushie cats from the village’s massive cloth hall.  You know, the usual.

While at The Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff, I met a Whovian traveling alone, so we ended up spending most of the day together.  She told me about The Who Shop in London, which was immediately added to my London agenda.

Of the 4 days spent in London, only 1 was raining steadily all day (I know, I was amazed).  This was the day I went to the cat cafe and then to The Who Shop. I spent most of the walk from the Upton Park station to Barking Road just trudging forward with my shoulders hunched and my hood up, despite the hoodie being soaked through.  At one point, I notice a large structure to my left.  Boleyn Ground, home of West Ham United.

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This is a weird revelation for me.  Some time ago I’d enjoyed a program called The IT Crowd. Long story short, nerdy guy trying to fit in with “proper men” names West Ham as his team, thinking he’s made the team up from seeing a ham in the pub, but then the whole table turns out to be Hammers.

So, finding myself realizing West Ham is a REAL real team I decide they will be MY team. That might sound odd, I know. I have thought about it, and with the other sports teams I support there was never really a moment where a conscious decision was made to be a fan. It’s either local area teams my family supported when I was growing up or the few teams I’ve eventually adopted after moving to a new area. This seems to be the normal way of it, I think, without a single moment of decision, but rather an inherited or slowly-grown loyalty you don’t ever find yourself questioning. But I’ve never considered myself to be exceedingly normal, so West Ham it shall be.

My vacation ended a few days later and, after a brief travel recovery period, I dove into the world of West Ham United. After reading up on their history, I get to more current news (this was the time after Big Sam but before Bilic was hired). I also spent countless hours on YouTube, watching old and new highlights, stories, and subscribing to relevant channels. On the one hand, it was probably good I started my self-education between seasons so I had time to learn as much as I could, but on the other hand, I was just impatient for games to start.

I had a lot to learn. I’m not overly into sports in general, and only casually support my local soccer team, so the official rules of the game were obviously important to get sorted out. I’ve also had to familiarize myself with football terms and UK slang. Cockney Rhyming Slang was an interesting discovery, but I’ve got enough of the common ones down that I don’t find myself getting confused as often. For everything else that doesn’t make sense, I am not shy about Googling. The announcers reference some person or event I’m not familiar with, I’ll look it up. The first time I heard the Payet song, I had to look up who Zidane was (that guy was intense). I’m still far from an expert, but these days I can answer more of my husband’s questions on my own than I need to research.

The first matches I watched were the Europa League qualifiers, poor quality online streaming on my phone propped next to my computer monitor while I worked. Eventually the regular season began and I was ecstatic to learn that the matches were aired by my cable provider.

I’ll admit at first I would record the early morning games and watch them when I woke up, but as it’s gotten more important to me, I now wake up early to watch them live. A few weeks ago I was in St Louis to attend a comic convention, and so I was back to watching a streaming video on my phone that morning, even for the first 20 mins walking around the convention until the game ended.

I decided it was important enough to me to attend at least one match at the Boleyn Ground, even if it was Noble’s testimonial and not a regular Premier League match, since that was the only thing I could get tickets to far enough in advance to make international travel plans for and that I could be reasonably sure the date of which wouldn’t be moved. It didn’t have the intensity I perceive from a competitive match, but I had such a great time and am absolutely glad I went.

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I realize there are those that will never consider me a “true fan”, since I don’t have the lifelong history with the club, let alone attend every game, but the team has my love, support and loyalty regardless. My passion and enthusiasm has only continued to grow.  I yell obscenities at the TV when one of the boys are fouled, I wear West Ham gear when watching every game, and I sing “Bubbles” with a bit of a Cockney accent because, really, it doesn’t sound right without it.  One of my lifelong-supported teams hasn’t had the best performance record over the past 2-3 decades, so if West Ham’s success this season is short lived, I can handle it.  However, I have a feeling they’ll shine bright for a while yet.  COYI!!

West Ham For Beginners

I put this together for my Brother-in-law who wanted to go with us to Mark Noble’s Testimonial despite not being a West Ham fan, and not knowing/caring much about sports in general….

West Ham United Football Club was formed in 1895 by employees of the Thames Ironworks shipyard.  The team was initially called Thames Ironworks FC, then reformed in 1900 as West Ham United.  They retain their connection to the ironworks through their badge (a pair of crossed riveting hammers) and their nicknames (“The Hammers” and “The Irons”).CrestsYou’ll see fans crossing their arms to emulate the crossed hammers.  A common chant heard at the stadium is “Come on you Irons”, and sometimes seen in acronym as “COYI”.

Since 1904, the team has played at Boleyn Ground in East London.  The stadium sits on the grounds of the Boleyn Castle, which is represented in some versions of the team’s crest.  The stadium is also referred to as Upton Park, after the neighborhood in which it is located.West Ham United v Manchester City - Premier LeagueIn 2011, West Ham United was selected as the preferred club to move into the Olympic Stadium after the 2012 Games, and in March 2013 the team signed a 99-year lease.  They plan to move into the Stadium before the start of the 2016–17 season.OlympicStadiumThe team’s anthem is “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles“, a song adopted by the team in the mid-1920’s.  Actual bubbles are blown at the stadium at the start of each half and when goals are scored.11416429743_90fffcc417_bThe team’s glory years are the mid-1960’s.  In 1965 they won the FA Cup, and in 1966 several members of West Ham were key players on the England team that won the World Cup.  There is a “Champions” statue near the stadium commemorating West Ham’s “three sons” who helped England win their only World Cup: Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters along with Everton’s Ray Wilson.  Bobby Moore played for the Hammers for 16 years, captained the team for more than ten years and was captain of the England team that won the World Cup.  He is widely regarded as one of the greatest defenders of all time.  He passed away in 1993 after a short battle with cancer, and the team has retired his number 6.

The team has had ups and downs in the years since.  They won the FA Cup in 1975 and 1980, but they have never won their regular season League championship.  They primarily play in the Premier League, which is the highest level in the leagues on English football, but have been relegated from and promoted back to the Premier League several times over the years.  For more detail on the League format, Relegation/Promotion, and Cups, watch this video.

Most recently, when they were relegated in 2011, a new manager was hired.  Sam Allardyce (aka “Big Sam”)  succeeded in getting the team promoted back to the Premier League the following season.  The next few seasons were less certain, with the Hammers floundering amid injuries, suspensions and criticisms of Sam by supporters relating to his perceived negative playing tactics.  Minutes after the last game of the season in May 2015, the club announced that Allardyce’s contract would not be renewed and that they were seeking a new manager.  He may not have been a popular figure among the fanbase–not that he seemed to care–but his job was to get the Hammers into the Premier League and keep them there, which, strictly speaking, he did. For that he deserves respect and credit, though some fans still have mixed feelings about the former manager.Sam-AllardyceBubblesIn June 2015, former West Ham player Slaven Bilić was appointed as manager.   In the start of his first Premier League season, West Ham beat Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City, 3 of the top-performing teams of the league.  In January 2016, the Hammers beat Liverpool twice in one season for the first time in 60 years.  As of March 5, 2016, the Hammers are in 5th place and have already achieved more points than they had at the end of the season in 2015 (and there are still 9 games left in the season).  They have also made it to the quarter-finals of the FA cup for the first time since 2006.  Many fans consider Bilić to be the best thing to happen to West Ham in decades.

The current captain of the Hammers is Mark Noble. Destined to be the longest serving one-club man at some point as he is considerably younger (28) than his rivals and his importance to West Ham is growing by the season. Noble is a combative midfield player who can win his duels, but is also good on the ball as a springboard for attacks. He was captain of England Under 21s when they lost the final of the 2009 European Championship to Germany, but has never been called up to the England team–a fact that baffles many fans and critics.

In December 2015, Noble was granted a testimonial match by West Ham following his long service to the club.  The game, to be played on 28 March 2016 is planned to be between the current team and a West Ham United all-stars team made up of former players, with all proceeds going to charity. It will also be the final testimonial match at West Ham’s stadium Upton Park, before their move to the Olympic Stadium in August 2016.

Players on the current team
goalkeepers1defenders2Midfielders2Forwards1

Dimitri Payet is a current fan favorite.  “We’ve got Payet” is a chant heard frequently during games.  Payet has scored more goals and assists than any other Hammer this season, even having been out injured for 2 months mid-season.

Michail Antonio is quickly becoming the best celebrator in the Premier League. After scoring recently, he did an ode to Homer Simpson and on scoring again the very next game, he broke out The Carlton.

West Ham have had a fantastic year, and many are hopeful this marks the beginning of a new era for the team.  With a great group of players who work very well together, and their upcoming move to the Olympic Stadium (which has already sold more season tickets than the current stadium has total capacity) it’s a great time to be a Hammer.

Spencer FC’s “Why I Love West Ham”

“Proper Men” like West Ham in The IT Crowd