West Ham preview

Round the corner from where my sister lived was a large but unremarkable Edwardian house. Unremarkable except for the bars on the windows, the black Land Rover Discovery, the monographed electric gates and the wrought iron fence with gold leaf. If it didn’t have gargoyles, they were probably on order.

Apparently the family entombed inside were related to the Krays and are under constant police and/or gangland protection. The house, nestling amongst an anonymous North London suburb, screams “LOOK AT ME, I AM RICH, RESPECT ME”.

It’s brash and ostentatious, tasteless and crass; it aims to impress through intimidation but serves only to make you snort through your nose at its ridiculousness; like the daft castle turrets that stand outside Upton Park.

This is what I like about W‘stam. In a world of foreign billionaire owners, global brand builders and supposed cosmopolitan sophisticates, they will always be the crass Englander.

The stadium is a classic English standard, whatever you say about the individuals they’ve produced in the last 15 years, they’re amongst the finest English footballers of their generation. They’re even owned by a couple of sleazy pornographers. I find myself warming to them all the time.

The start of the season has had a comforting and familiar timbre about it. The league has started with a gently positive air of expectation about it, a relief from the ulcer inducing gut wrenching desperation of recent seasons. The reward of the ‘ammers in the Rumbelows Cup 2nd Round is one of those early season treats that give you a satisfied glow of being back in your rightful homeland away from the ruffians and blaggers of the Conference. Like standing on a bus, looking down the blouse of a pretty commuter, a gentle thrill that you know isn’t going anywhere, but gives you a brief distraction from the greyness around you*.

We’ll enjoy it, whatever happens.

* not that I’d know, I’ve never commuted on a bus.

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Oxblogger is a blog about Oxford United.

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