Sportsthoughts (117) – “The Wasteland”, West Ham style

So West Ham’s season has started in the expected grumpy mood. 1-0 home defeat to Tottenham, after playing against 10 men for much of the game. Big Sam lamented the missed chances, but having invested a lot of money in three new strikers he started with none of them. It doesn’t feel good. Reminds me of the last time we went down. Always unlucky, you know.

That was in 2011. As we went down in May that year, a few of my friends resorted to poetical form to commemorate the moment. Not quite sure why, but it was amusing. I responded by taking the only poem I really know well, T.S.Eliot’s “The Wasteland” – I studied it at A Level – and turning it into a lament for West Ham’s plight.

You may notice that my biggest fear was that we’d respond to relegation by appointing…. Big Sam.

As we did. He’s done a job for us, but we will never be happy while he is in charge, I fear.

Anyway, if you know T.S.Eliot’s masterpiece and know what was happening at West Ham I hope you will enjoy the spoof. If you don’t I hope you might see what I was getting at and enjoy the wordplay.  Which was just a bit of fun really, as I travelled down on the train to Cardiff, to watch Harlequins play Stade Francais in the final of the 2011 Amlin Cup – rugby’s equivalent of football’s Europa League. Quins won 19-18. Some compensation for the Irons’ decline.

So here is the the alternative, claret and very blue “Wasteland”…

April is the cruellest month,
Breeding losers from the dead land,
Four defeats from four,
Three scored, 12 against.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Gloom with the occasional win,
Feeding life with Demba Ba and Hitzlsperger.
May surprised us, coming over Upton Park first with hope then despair and resignation.
We stopped in the Queen’s
And drank lager and talked for an hour.
Er ist der Bomber, wir resten auf.
When we were children,
Watching Trev and Devo,
My cousin, he took me into the North Bank hardcore,
And I was frightened. He said,
Marie, hold on tight when Cottee scores. And down we went.
In the North Bank, there you felt free to abuse Tottenham or the Mancs.
I read most of the night and we will go south in August.

What are the roots that clutch, what branches will grow
Out of this stony rubbish? Scotty Parker, we cannot say, or guess if you will stay, for You know only
A heap of broken defenders, when the ball descends,
And Robert Green gives no shelter, Carlton Cole no relief…

I will show you fear in a handful of Hammers…
We gave you millions first a year ago;
You bought Barrera and Reid and Piquionne,
We called you the lugubrious loser,
Your eyes dead, your shirts black.
I could not speak as we lost to Wolves, West Brom, Blackpool.
You could not speak, you were neither living nor dead, and you knew
Looking into the heart of defeat, merely silence…

Unreal City,
Under the brown smog of a winter’s day
The crowd flowed down Green Sreet, so many,
I had not thought hope had deceived so many.
Chants, short and infrequent, were exhaled,
And each man crammed his burger down his throat,
Flowing up to the Boleyn Ground.
There I saw one I knew, and stopped him, crying: Paolo!
You who were with Harry when we were good,
Those UEFA coaching badges,
Have you got them yet?
Oh keep Big Sam far hence, that’s enemy to football,
Or with his tactics he’ll turn us into Blackburn, or Stoke.
You! Slaven! – mon sembable – mon frere!…

What is that sound high in the air?
Murmur of managerial lamentation,
Who are those hacking hordes swarming over endless plains:
Millwall, Coventry, Brighton, Forest.
What is the League over the mountains,
Cracks of shins, and burst lungs in the violent air,
The fleeing Hammers
Parker, Upson, Green
Keane, Cole, Ba, Obinna
Der Bomber

I sat upon the sofa
Watching Sky Sports Super Sunday, with relegation behind me.
Will Karen Brady set my team in order?
West Ham United is falling down falling down falling down…
Datta. Dayadhvam. Damyata.
O’Neill O’Neill O’Neill

We wanted Martin O’Neill then. Maybe we could have him now…

About John S

I'm blogging about the things I love: music, sport, culture, London, with some photos to illustrate aspects of our wonderful city. I’ve written a novel called “The Decision”, a futuristic political thriller, and first of a trilogy. I’m also the author of a book on music since the 1970s called “ I Was There - A Musical Journey” and a volume of poetry about youth, “Growin’ Up - Snapshots/ Fragments”. All available on Amazon and Kindle.
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5 Responses to Sportsthoughts (117) – “The Wasteland”, West Ham style

  1. “LOL” Happy to see you have a sense of humour!
    From lilacs to Hammers is a real nailer! Love it, John!

  2. Dood says:

    Well, J, I suppose you and I share the same bit of the Venn diagram where irony, Eng Lit, mediocre footballing achievement, and the perpetual disappointment of the fan meet – so this all chimes with me…..(Not that I’m suggesting I find you a publisher, mind you.)

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