Ok, so it doesn’t take a genius to decipher why us fans were so delirious after West Ham’s victory over Tottenham earlier this month. Beating a local rival, particularly in their own back yard is always a joyous occasion, but putting three goals past an in-form Spurs squad which cost well north of £100m to assemble was an outcome none of us would have dared to dream of before the game. Factor in a totally unexpected revelation of tactical brilliance from Big Sam and a bona-fide wonder goal from rising star Ravel Morrison and you’re left with a win that will be cherished by all for decades to come.
Recent results, both home and away leading up to the trip to White Hart Lane did a good job of cementing our fears that a heavy defeat was a crushing inevitability, and I defy anyone to claim that they were in any way prepared for what we’d go on to witness on that fateful Sunday afternoon. I’m not normally the sort the write off West Ham before the first kick of the ball, but that day I was convinced that our fate was already sealed, and I would argue that, all rivalry and history aside, it was simple astonishment that was responsible for my uncontrollable elation as I somersaulted across my front room, sending my laptop into orbit as I watched Morrison dink the ball over Hugo Lloris and put the game truly beyond the reach of a shellshocked Tottenham Hotspur. Every little aspect caught me totally off-guard: the inclusion of Vaz Te, the 4-6-0 formation, the fight shown by every West Ham player on the pitch, and most of all, the result. Nothing could have prepared me for what was to come, which made it all the more enjoyable watching the inconceivable unfold before me. This was more than you’re average triumph of the underdog, this was something truly special.
Having said that, none of the above can really be held entirely accountable for the joy I felt after Lee Probert blew the final whistle last Sunday. It all falls into obscurity for me when I really ask myself why wins like this matter as much as they do, as I believe there is something much deeper at play that can’t be explained by simple ‘football talk’, something engrained deep into the ethos of West Ham supporters. It’s that simple feeling that “we actually did it!”.
Supporting West Ham is never easy, and it can really take its toll on you when times are particularly bad. Football, being the cruel mistress that it is, endlessly finds new ways to hit us where it hurts, and there is a real, palpable sense amongst most of us that we’re the most unlucky club in the world. “Fortune’s always hiding”; a perfect summary of the West Ham philosophy and something we’ve all said a thousand times over, at every match, home and away, singing until we’re claret and blue in the face as the opposition burst our bubbles. And for me, it’s because of this that results like this mean so much.
All clubs have their big days, whether it’s lifting the FA Cup, or simply stunning Tottenham 3-0 away from home. Everything’s relative. And that’s why I say let bitter Spurs fans say what they like about that Sunday being our ‘cup final’, as they may never truly know the feeling we all had turning them over, against all odds at their own ground for the first time in almost 15 years. We have no delusions of grandeur. We know where we stand and we know when a result really matters, and that one REALLY mattered.
And who knows, maybe the football Gods will continue to shine on us this coming Saturday when Man City visit Upton Park!