He comes from Borehamwood

Saturday 14th July 2018

When I woke up this morning it didn’t feel like a ‘normal’ day. I openly admit I’m not at my best first thing so I wasn’t particularly looking forward to my 6.15am alarm, especially on a day where I could stay in bed if I chose to do so. Throw in the fact the wonderfully hot Summer we are enjoying means night time temperatures don’t lend themselves to quality sleep and the fact Rocky and Chippy (my 2 cats) decide it is time for me to feed them the moment the sun comes up, my journey to Borehamwood was always going to be laced with a degree of tiredness.

“The football season never ends” is a quote we tend to hear all the time. Usually said by non believers to those of us who spend 10 months of the year travelling all over the globe to watch and get behind our club. And we can support our particular argument if Huddersfield away was your last game back in May and Man City at home will be your next in August. With our pre-season opener coming before the World Cup has actually finished however, it feels difficult to argue with those who get no pleasure from the beautiful game.

Yet my walk up the pier this morning, my ferry over to the mainland, a walk and crossing I will make dozens of times in all weathers over the months ahead, was graced with gorgeous rising sunshine and a feeling of a ‘new era’ for our magnificent football club. And all traces of tiredness were quickly forgotten.

Ladies and gents, welcome to the 2018-2019 season.

Solent sunrise

Yet more players have joined us since my last notes of course and whilst I offer them a very warm welcome to the greatest football club in the world, any other thoughts would be based on nothing. I watch extremely limited amounts of football from other parts of the world and pay little or no attention as to what other teams’ players are doing so my knowledge of our new squad members’ talents, coupled with the fact absolutely none of us know whether they will be a success in English football or not, means I can wish them no more than the very best of luck and success with the cannon on their chest.

I’ve been to Borehamwood a few times over the years. Some on a Friday too. When it’s location near the M25 makes it feel less than ‘local’ if you choose to travel by car. But today I went by train. I remember having a beer in a pub near the ground in previous visits. And a curry too for that matter. But it didn’t stop me taking a look at TripAdvisor for details and reviews on what was on offer today. Especially as there was every chance I would be in the area by about 11am.

After an ‘Eggs Benedict’ in a local cafe (or a bagel with bacon, a poached egg & a sauce that was borderline to be exact) our first point of call was The Wellington. A pub that has quite obviously been there for many years, had a car park just about big enough for a fight and served the grand total of no ales, to be fair they were very welcoming. And they opened at 11am and had the cricket on. Bingo.

Then it was off to the Alfred Arms. They were very welcoming, sold the grand total of zero ales. And they had the cricket on.

The Wishing Well came next. You get the story. But they didn’t have the cricket on.

Elstree away?

With all the usual people attending however, our first pre-season pre-match jolly was mighty fine and I totally enjoyed it.

The game was highly likely to see us put out 2 teams. One in each half. And so it proved. And in our first pre-season outing we scored 8 and let in none. And we can’t really ask for much more than that.

And we’re off

Everyone looked relatively sharp and professional. Everyone looked like they were thoroughly engrossed in pre-season and before we travel the globe, a sundrenched Meadow Park enjoyed the fare on show.

I’m on my train home now. To get a ferry.

Singapore awaits.

Frank
@stubbsy70

Advertisements

Summer is boring…..apparently

Tuesday 26th June 2018

Looking back to when the final whistle blew at Huddersfield back in May or even at the legends game out in Madrid earlier this month, we all could very easily come to the conclusion there is very little to talk about before it all starts again in August.

Well, where do you want me to start?!

Away from the game for me personally it has been the usual story. Sunshine, cricket, gigs, festivals…..they’ve all been given the ‘treatment’. And the awesome Isle of Wight version of the latter links us nicely to the World Cup.

Watching football on the telly when I’ve got an interest in who wins due to an allegiance is extremely rare. And i’ve enjoyed that novelty factor more than anything else.

Of course I completely understand and can relate totally to the fact it is extremely difficult to cheer and encourage someone who I wouldn’t give the time of day to during the season but I am English. And on that basis I want my country to win it. And watching the Panama game in a sundrenched festival was quite something.

Awesome IOW

VAR is the big talking point of course. The fact it means off side decisions should always be correct is a massive plus for me. But the fact there are still clear penalties not being awarded and spot kicks being given when no offence has been committed suggests the system doesn’t remove the problems that were already there before it was introduced.

Events surrounding our own mighty football club are incredibly numerous considering we are ‘off season’. Comings and goings are always regular at this time and that will continue for some time yet. The biggest news of all is we welcome Unai Emery as our new leader. Time will tell as to how successful he will be of course but the way he has already stamped his authority is more than a good thing for me. Good luck Unai and welcome to the greatest football club in the world.

The fixtures are out. Or the rough guideline is anyway. TV will dictate the accurate version early next month. Whenever they are played we certainly face a tough start.

For me however, the most historical announcement is our club’s decision to take part in the Checkatrade Trophy. It might be an u21 side taking part but they will be considered ‘first class’ fixtures so it makes it a decision of considerable interest.

The competition is regionalised meaning we could be travelling to 3 very local teams during the group stages. But looking at last season, how Chelsea was considered to be ‘local’ to Yeovil, Plymouth and Exeter is beyond me! Or Southampton to Cambridge, Northampton and Peterborough for that matter!

Pre-season sees as head to Borehamwood for Unai’s first game before 2 games in Singapore and a couple of tasty looking trips to Dublin and Stockholm complete the line up. Very nice in my book and all before a ‘ball is kicked’ in the 2018/19 season.

Our forthcoming Eurooean tour will hopefully throw up some interesting and different destinations and we have as much chance of that happening than not. With the draw for the group stages not being until the end of August however, much will have already happened before that comes around.

But spare a thought for some of our potential (if highly unlikely) opponents. 14 clubs start their European adventure this coming Thursday in the 1st leg of the competition’s preliminary round!

Anyone fancy a trip to UE Engordany or Kl Klaksvik??

Frank
@stubbsy70

Madrid in the Sunshine

Monday 4th June 2018

So, is this classed as the final game of last season or the first of next? Surely with a 6 week break to Borehamwood away it must be the former. But we wore our new home kit for the first time. That throws a bit of a spanner in the works!

All this admittedly sounds mighty irrelevant but believe me it was discussed, at length, by those who decided to join 70 odd thousand others on a sunny Sunday afternoon in the Bernabeu Stadium. It’s what many of us do you see. Discussing matters like this and thinking long and hard about other facts, statistics and history in a quiz like fashion form good conversation and banter, be it whilst sat in a bar enjoying a few beers or trying to make the long journeys to away games go a bit quicker!

Going all the way to Madrid for a Legends game could be described as a bit mad. Stupid, pointless, irrelevant in fact. And I get that point of view. But cheap return flights, the promise of beautiful weather, an afternoon in one of the great sporting arenas and the magnificent sights, sounds, food and weekend nightlife served up by one of our continent’s very best cities proved too big a temptation to turn down when the match was announced a few months back. And please tell me which bit of that lot doesn’t sound attractive.

Rooftop cocktail? Don’t mind if I do

City wise, our host didn’t disappoint, the dozens of uber cool streets serving up exquisite tapas, fine beer and wine all making up a thoroughly relaxing few days. And meeting up with the usual travelling suspects added to that.

Outside the stadium come Sunday evening, the glorious weather, Real’s recent Champions League success and the prospect of the locals getting to witness some of their club’s past heroes in the flesh meant there was a proper party atmosphere and sense of occasion.

Into the couldron

Last time we visited it was one of ‘those’ nights. Memorable beyond belief I can still see Thierry waltzing through the Real defence to slot home and clinch an historic victory. There were Gooners all over the stadium that night but the vast majority of us were in our usual allocated position in Spain of way up in the Gods (tier 5 in fact).

Sunday we didn’t need to do that of course so taking our position along the side next to the press box we really got to take a good look at the stadium on matchday.

Hairs on end…..

If I’m honest, in the warm up and in the first 15 minutes or so I genuinely thought those representing the red and white could be on the end of a hammering. Not only did our hosts have almost twice as many players in their ‘squad’ as we did, the vast majority looked slim and fit enough to have retired the day before! Many of our lot (and I apologise now for my lack of respect) on the other hand looked……well…….like they were enjoying their retirement!

But d’you know what, in an entertaining encounter, they very much held their own and in the latter stages, arguably when fitness could have told (especially as Real brought on about 7 fresh pairs of legs!) they can count themselves a little unlucky not to have come away with a result from the game. Still, at least we got the away goal! 😉

A legendary cast

A thoroughly enjoyable day in and equally enjoyable weekend and I think it’s finally time for a football break. At least as far as actually attending matches is concerned that is. What with the World Cup being on the telly and all that.

Enjoy the Summer Gooners.

Borehamwood is just 6 weeks away!

Frank
@stubbsy70

Moments

Sunday 13th May 2018

That moment. That moment when Huddersfield Town Football Club gave our manager a guard of honour when they absolutely didn’t need to. That moment when shortly after, our manager diverted right, strolled purposely towards the away end, stopped just beyond the goal line and applauded and bowed to all those who were there to witness it. That moment when after 22 minutes every single person in the John Smiths Stadium rose and applauded in recognition of one of the English game’s greatest. Those moments were powerful. Emotional. Respectful. And It was a privilege to be there.

That moment when Marc Overmars latched on to Nic Anelka’s flick to make everyone believe in March 1998. That moment when Tony Adams smashed home Bouldy’s through ball to ‘sum it all up’ a few months later. That moment when we defeated the Geordies at a sundrenched Wembley to clinch the double. That moment when Dennis Bergkamp scored arguably the greatest goal the Premier League has ever seen. That moment ‘it was only Ray Parlour’. That moment Sylvain Wiltord slotted home to clinch the league title in the back yard of the biggest club in the country. That moment that we went to White Hart Lane and won the league. Again. That moment when Patrick Vieira slotted home our 5th penalty in Cardiff. That moment when Leicester went ahead in game 38 and we scored 2 goals to achieve something that has never been equalled. That moment in the Bernabeu when Thierry took them apart. Those moments in the San Siro. All 3 of them. Moments from Wales’ capital city to the London suburb of Sutton. Moments from Bucharest to Belgrade to Borisov. Moments from Vigo to Ostersund to Istanbul. Moments from Warsaw to Hamburg to Rome. That moment when Jens saved a penalty to avoid heartbreak in Villareal. That moment when moving to a new stadium just minutes from our spiritual and historic home rather than somewhere miles away became reality. That moment when Rambo steered home in extra time against Hull. That moment when we destroyed Aston Villa 12 months later. That moment when Olly Giroud chased a ball to the touchline and Rambo nodded home to clinch yet another FA Cup.

Last minute wins with 10 men at Bolton. Volleys from Kanu, Adebayor and Flamini at WHL. 2 cup wins in a week at Anfield. 5-2. Twice. 7 nil victories. More than once. 49 games unbeaten. I need to stop. The list is endless when you put your mind to it.

There have been frustrating, difficult, annoying and soul destroying moments too of course. We all know that.

Today sent shivers up my spine. And no matter how hard I tried for it not to happen, a tear to my eye too. As did all the memories I have mentioned above.

No matter when we got beat I loved it when our manager stuck up for us. In all those interviews when we were being criticised. It’s alright for us to analyse, debate and slate our own when we are together. That’s fine. But nobody else is allowed! And when that happened to Arsene’s face, often moments after a difficult defeat, he stood his ground for our club. And I loved that.

I’m no writer. No talented journalist. I’m a fan. And as a result others have written the kind of tributes that will be far better written than mine.

All I know is over 22 years he has been hugely responsible for some of the greatest moments in my life. And that is powerful beyond belief.

So whilst massively recognising it is time for a change of direction I will never forget the Wenger years at our great football club.

With Huddersfield securing another season in the top flight today was always going to have a celebratory feel about it. But with an icon such as Arsene Wenger about to see the curtain come down it could have been difficult for our hosts to get it right. After all we were at the home of The Terriers, not the Gunners.

Celebratory

I would like to finish by thanking and complimenting Huddersfield Town Football Club and their fans today. They were awesome. And showed class almost beyond belief.

And….we won away from home to boot!

So that’s it. A domestic final. A European Semi Final. A European tour secured for another season. And our manager, our boss, our leader has moved on to pastures new.

A new chapter in Arsenal Football Club beckons.

Exciting yes. Scary too I feel.

Frank
@stubbsy70

Oscar Winning

Thursday 10th May 2018

Looking back over the years I’ve always found the hardest games to analyse are those with an early sending off. And last night’s is no different. The one thing I can confirm however, is despite the fact I would want my team to win a game of conkers, walking away from a defeat in an irrelevant fixture is definitely easier than the opposite!

Overall I enjoyed the night if I’m honest. A minor pre-match pub crawl after an easy car journey and hotel check in had us in fine spirits and I was looking forward to the game in an altogether relaxed frame of mind.

And overall I think we were a tad unlucky on this occasion. The two biggest result influencing decisions are a sending off and a penalty. And both went against us. Was the incident that led to the former a foul? Yes, 100%. Was it a sending off? No. With Rob Holding clearly covering it was a yellow. But these referees love to be the headline makers, we all know that. And with the drama of a wannabe grade A celebrity the official could not wait to get the red card out. We spend thousands of pounds and travel all over the country week in week out to watch you mate.

The decision of course benefited the home team and if the boot was on the other foot I would have enjoyed the advantage as much as the Foxes’ fans. So I have no problem with that. But in what was growing into an entertaining affair it completely ruined the game as a contest.

We certainly had a go however, the frustration at the referee’s decision being obvious. And, especially in the second half, despite the numerical disadvantage, we looked dangerous going forward and Auba’s equaliser was deserved.

The penalty decision was soft. Minimal or no contact and a player who couldn’t wait to chuck himself on the floor. But that happens and arguably it was a silly and unnecessary ‘challenge’. But the pleasure the referee got from dramatically pointing at the spot was obvious once again.

So another away defeat in a season crammed full of them, it was a night with a degree of inevitability about it rather than frustration and disappointment. And I enjoyed the fact our players looked like they hated losing last night, even with the irrelevance of the fixture.

Leicester has dozens of Indian restaurants and it was a fine example that finished our evening with some late night tucker.

So, we reach league game 38 and head to a stadium where we have never played a league game. I was amongst those in the away end for a pre-season friendly a few years back so it is not entirely new territory and I recall standing behind the goal on the open terrace at their old Leeds Road ground for a 5 nil League Cup win back in the 90s too.

Sunday is a fixture that could have proved extremely tense for our hosts of course but their result last night securing another season in the top flight means it promises to be an afternoon of celebration. And one week after London N5 came out to salute our boss’s Arsenal career before he departs it will feel a very strange day for Mr. Wenger I’m sure. Especially when that final whistle goes.

A win for his final game? Would be nice.

ATWD

Frank
@stubbsy70

Emotion & Pride

Monday 7th May 2018

Back in May 1996 we took on Bolton at Highbury needing a win to secure European football the following season. With time running out and trailing 1 nil David Platt equalised and Dennis Bergkamp smashed in a beauty in front of a jubilant Clock End. And I mean jubilant too. It meant an enormous amount to us back then. Little did we know at that time but it was to be our last game with Bruce Rioch at the helm.

Our next permanent manager of course was to be a pretty much unknown Frenchman. Arsene who and all that.

Nearly 22 years on and it feels almost apt that in his final home game in charge we can look forward to our European adventure continuing for yet another year.

Sunday was a day full of great weather, good football, excellent goals, wonderful colour, positive vibes and a whole heap of emotion. And above all else class. Total and utter sheer class.

Colour for the boss

Emotionally it was a far more intense day than many of us expected. We all recognise for us to move forward the time is right for a change in direction. And those thoughts have created emotions from frustration to anger and from disappointment to apathy. The fighting, bickering and griping amongst those of us who supposedly support and love the club has been the most disappointing aspect at times.

But it was right for all that to be forgotten for one day only. And I felt not only did that happen but the vast majority of us felt like we were saying goodbye to our friend and leader.

There was still a slight edge to the match of course. A defeat would have meant we could still finish in 7th and needing to overcome European qualifying games in mid July as a result. And with our away form hardly giving us confidence that we are capable of picking up points in our 2 remaining games Sunday had importance along with it being the chance for us to thank and celebrate.

But from minute one it always looked like we would take maximum points from the game and so it proved with a handsome 5 nil victory.

Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal career started at our beloved Highbury. And the stadium he proved so influential in creating for our future as a football club looked magnificent in the May sunshine.

A perfect sight, atmosphere, performance and result for his send off. And the day filled me with pride.

Class

The whole process after the match finished was relatively short, brilliantly respectful and dignified on all fronts, unbelievably emotional and laced with sheer class. Arsenal Football Club at its typical best.

And on his big day, our manager represented those values in exactly the same way as he has throughout his Arsenal career.

Thanks Mr. Wenger.

See you in Leicester.

Frank
@stubbsy70

Thanks & goodbye

Beaten

Friday 4th May 2018

My flight home not being until Saturday afternoon means I’ve done the tourist bit today. A walk around the parks, palaces and plazas of Spain’s capital city in the sunshine. But a walk accompanied by a massive bout of disappointment and deflation.

Plaza

There wasn’t a huge amount between the 2 sides in either leg. But ultimately we have been defeated. And that will remain the same no matter how much analysis we throw at it. And whether you are a Gooner who gets angry when we get beat or one who just prefers to hide away in a corner in a dark room, the one emotion we all experience is disappointment.

Our trip has been entertaining of course. They always are. But there are aspects that need to be addressed. They are simply not right.

People who haven’t been on a European away trip tend to have 2 ideas of what they all about. Some think we are all thugs who maraud around their host city causing havoc. And others have this rose tinted view of exotic far off locations full of culture where we are treated with respect.

The staff in our hotel, in bars, restaurants could not have been nicer. Respect and friendliness we hope we extended in the opposite direction. But apparently, when you are a travelling fan, the local authorities have the right to treat you like animals.

Some of the things that happened last night were appalling and as a human being I find it beyond disgusting and against my human rights.

Arriving at the away end we are searched. Again, then again, then again. Not unexpected or a shock as we get that everywhere we travel. But that doesn’t make it right.

My ticket was in row 1. Row 1 was shut. When requesting help from the stewards, they simply shrugged their shoulders. So my and many of my fellow travellers’ seat didn’t exist.

Cage

I’m assuming it is due to that reputation we have in the UK of throwing things from the away end but the netting in front of us was outrageous. Unnecessary and seriously view impeding. This for an attending club from a country where such measures do not exist anywhere throughout the land.

And to think if it wasn’t for Arsenal helping with payment these were seats that would have cost us 80 odd quid!

With the game over many needed to use the toilet. It’s what our human bodies do you see. But the police would not let anyone go.

Then on leaving the stadium the local police decided it was their right to start smashing people randomly with their truncheons! This is not some third world country we are in. This is Spain’s capital city. I’m sorry but they are scumbags of the highest order.

Our fantastic reputation is and was irrelevant. They paid no notice. And we were treated like animals.

With plenty of video evidence something should be done about it. But it won’t. We all know that.

I like Madrid as a city. And I will be returning. Very soon in fact. But Athletico Madrid Football Club with the measures they put in place and the authorities they employ, seriously need to be taken to task.

Performance wise we were close. But not close enough. We lacked efficiency in the final 3rd against one of the best defensive outfits anywhere in Europe. But i think we all know we lost the tie in the first leg when we didn’t make the most of our countless opportunities.

Burnley come to town on Sunday for not only our final home game of the season but Mr Wenger’s last at the helm.

Our season needs to end. And quickly. It’s just a massive shame that Sunday won’t be on the back of a visit to yet another final.

Arsenal til I die……preferably not at the hands of some jumped up scumbag of a Spanish copper!

Maybe a bit generalistic. But I was there.

Frank
@stubbsy70

Not Exactly a Rarity

Tuesday 1st May 2018

The dividing lines between being deservedly beaten, only having yourselves to blame and perhaps a tad unlucky are often very thin. But looking at the current league table, with Huddersfield to play we have not beaten any of the bottom 10 teams away from home. And across the season that set of results cannot be described as anything other than abysmal.

We played pretty well on Sunday afternoon I felt. And to lose a point in injury time was a little bit harsh. When you look at the consistency in our away form however, it doesn’t matter how well we played the current crop of players are doing something wrong. One offs happen and form can be temporary. But across the course of the whole season the facts do not lie.

Thursday is a massive game so I am going to leave the domestic form there. It’s not a time to be negative. We enter the tie’s second half as big underdogs of course but for me we showed enough in the first game to give us a chance.

The rules with European football’s knockout stages make it like nothing else. And it’s the unpredictability that gives us hope.

My flight early tomorrow morning to a city I have visited just once before, accompanied by a promising weather forecast and of course the 2nd leg of a European Semi Final in a stadium we have never been to before make up an attractive package.

And along with the fun we will inevitably enjoy, emotions will be crammed full of nerves as much as anything else.

Buzzing for it.

Come on you mighty Gunners!

Frank
@stubbsy70

The Next Stop is Caledonian Road

Thursday 26th April 2018

For those of us who use the Piccadilly Line from Arsenal station, that driver’s announcement gives a proper sense of normality to every home game. And it’s one accompanied by differing emotions depending on our result. Tonight’s is full of deflation after a result our performance didn’t deserve.

Some will argue the colour and noise created before a home game of a certain magnitude proves detrimental to the team. Adds more pressure perhaps. And there is also the argument it shouldn’t be required. If us alone can’t create an atmosphere we might as well give up. The whole ‘you wouldn’t see that at Anfield’ bollocks. You also won’t see the fans acting with class and respect when their opponents turn up on the coach at Anfield. But that’s another discussion altogether.

Doing our bit

Overall I felt it worked tonight. It looked tremendous and the vast majority joined in to add the noise to the colour. A bit corny but overall those involved in the effort to help in the creation of an atmosphere for the occasion that is a European semi final deserve credit in my book.

Playing against 10 men only becomes easier if you are winning and your opponent needs, at some stage, to gamble to get something from the game. Those gaps appear and in the vast majority of cases, the numerically stronger team goes on to win the game.

But if your opponent will be quite happy with a 1 nil defeat things are very different.

Breaking down a mass defence is just as hard in that situation as if against eleven.

Travelling home tonight I’m asking myself if I would change anything about the way we played. And my answer is a definite no.

For the first half an hour we were excellent and nobody could have suggested we were not worthy of a 2 or 3 goal lead had we taken our chances. But having not made the most of our domination it was essential we remained patient.

The second period continued in the same fashion and pressure eventually told when Laca’s towering header from Jack’s fine run and cross broke the deadlock. A stadium that had been rocking all night throbbed beyond belief.

With plenty of time left we kept pushing to try and increase that lead and our visitors offered no threat at the other end admittedly influenced by our numerical advantage.

And that beyond all else is the most frustrating thing about the whole night. We were under no pressure and the last 20 minutes or so were totally about whether we could break Athletico Madrid down and increase our lead rather than anything else.

A tough second leg with a one goal lead and no away goal conceded has become massively more difficult. But we are not out yet.

I am proud of my team tonight and the way they played. On another night we could have been 4 or 5 to the good and with one foot firmly in the final. Certainly our performance deserved a huge amount more that a 1 all half time scoreline.

And it’s Old Trafford we head to next for arguably a fixture with less relevance than any other involving our 2 teams in recent memory.

But I still want to win.

Always.

Come on you yellows! (I don’t do blue or pink I’m afraid).

Frank
@stubbsy70

Mixed Up Emotions

Tuesday 24th April 2018

I was at an auction on Friday morning. No particular reason, just my mum had never been to one before and it ticked it off her ‘bucket list’. About half an hour in and my mobile phone started to buzz like crazy. Taking a quick glance the main reason was obvious of course. The other I will come to in a minute.

With Mr Wenger being in the latter stages of his long and illustrious managerial career we all knew it was coming sooner rather than later. But, in a way that is so typically and professionally Arsenal, it was an announcement that absolutely nobody expected or predicted.

My reaction lacked shock. But it felt weirdly full of emotion. Full of a heady mix of fear and anticipation looking ahead. And a combination of smiles and shivers as I looked back. Reality has kicked in. The man at the helm of our football club for an entire generation will be leaving.

A man who at his very best steered his squad to the double on 2 occasions and a whole league winning season unbeaten and if his last season can be described this way, to a domestic cup final and at least a European semi final at his worst, would no longer be our leader.

It meant heading up to London N5 on Sunday for the visit of West Ham also felt strange. We’re not a club with an uncertain future, hiring and firing manager after manager. We leave that to other clubs. But, whilst completely recognising the vast majority will admit we have reached a time where change is required, being completely unsure as to what happens next is as unnerving as it is exciting.

In glorious sunshine patience was the key on Sunday. Firstly because the big story from Friday had definitely taken centre stage ahead of the action out on the pitch. But secondly because when you play any team desperate for points they never simply just roll over.

As a result the first half was a fairly cagey affair with few chances for either side, a header from Laurent and a good save from David Ospina the main incidents.

We seemed to step it up a gear in the second period, only being guilty of not increasing our lead once going in front, something we were ultimately to pay for when our visitors equalised. What followed was probably West Ham’s best spell but we defended well and eventually tore into The Hammers in the latter stages to achieve a scoreline that whilst it arguably flattered us a little it could have ended up being 6 or 7.

So 4 goals and 3 points from a day that felt unsurprisingly different.

In my role as a supporters club secretary ticket sales for home games have been quite tricky of late. And for the first time in 20 years or more. If that doesn’t also demonstrate we are coming to the end of an era then nothing does.

Whatever my views are on people not turning up, if they do not want to go to games then so be it. But I would rather they just said that. I find it remarkable how many could not make the Burnley home game because they were ‘busy’ that day yet all of a sudden they can now attend. I can only assume whatever was making them ‘busy’ has been cancelled. Quite a coincidence that. And the other reason why my phone was buzzing away in my pocket in Friday morning’s auction.

Any thoughts and tributes to our manager I will make at the end of the season. There’s work still to do at the moment I feel.

And that starts with the first leg of our European semi final against Athletico Madrid on Thursday night. A big game of course.

And we can play our part.

Come on you mighty reds!

Frank
@stubbsy70