West Ham United match preview

Ewood Park welcomes The “Official” Rovers Bogey Team – West Ham United

Throughout the history of football, in particular relating to West Ham and Rovers matches, there can be no other team that can be considered our “bogey team”. The team from East London take the honour by a legendary mile.

Saturday 11th March 1911 saw the first Rovers and Wham match up in East London. It was an FA Cup match which Rovers took the honours 3-2. It was a 4th round match and Rovers scorers were Latheron, Simpson and Davies and we won in front of a 20k crowd. For the record Rovers lost in the Semi Final at a neutral venue to Bradford City - game played at Bramhall Lane, Sheffield (maybe one or two of our senior statesmen were around !).

It wasn’t until 1924 that we played West Ham in the First Division. After such a long time we played them twice in a week. Drawing at home 0-0 in front of 5000 fans and then nipping down to the East End and winning 1-0 in front of 25000.

Right up until the late 1960’s, the current trend of results between these two teams was a reverse. Rover’s it was who were Wham’s nemesis. There were usually a lot of goals scored with Rovers recording wins like 8-2 and 5-2 away and at home results like 5-2 and 6-2.

Anyhow, my first experience of West Ham wasn’t until 1979. Our relegation season from Division 2. December 1978 couldn’t have gotten any worse when Rovers succumbed to the dingles 1-2 at Dingledome on Boxing Day. Over 23000 fans saw a Kevin Hird strike nullified by two scabby goals from our 6 fingered enemies. Although I was there at this game, I have only a recollection of the scorn poured at me and my dad as I wore my tracksuit, a blue and white number in the old Bee Hole End. On 30th December we travelled south and took a 4-0 whooping at the hands of a team that played football the proper way. Rovers were never to recover and even lost to Burnley 1-2 at Ewood and despite a final game 3 win streak we lost our place in the Division and suffered relegation.

Up and until the birth of the Premier League (1992/93 season), Rovers and Wham had several ding dong battles. The scores often went either way but one game stands out from the rest. Saturday 25th November 1989 – Rovers 5 Wham 4. A crowd of over 10000 saw goals from Scotty Sellars (2), Garner, Stapleton and Johnrose take the points. We drew the away game 1-1 with a goal from the magic left foot of Sellars. These games were played in the days of the Play Offs and we all know the heartbreak we Rovers fans suffered up until 1991/92.

The next game between us took place in the Premiership and is perhaps the start of the dominance they currently seem to have over us. Who can forget the red hot weather in a sun drenched Ewood Park that was then half way through its development into a modern day stadia ? That sunny September day in 1993 saw Wham record a 2-0 away win with a certain Lee Chapman amongst the scorers whilst we suffered a horror debut from a certain Paul Warhurst, who contrived to miss the goal from a yard out on more than 1 occasion.

That being that, we all know how that season progressed as Rovers cemented a place in the top 2 and as we did so I want to take you back to the away game at The Bolyn ground. Wednesday 27th April 1994 saw Rovers and Newcastle battling Man U for the runners up spot. Goals from Henning Berg and a young gangly centre back Ian Pearce saw Rovers record a 2-1 win on the same night Newcastle won 5-1 at home and Manure win 2-1 at Leeds. It guaranteed European football as well as seeing a club in progression make a statement of intent. It was also a club with Sir Jack Walker at the helm that would challenge the best and become the best, upsetting the football hierarchy to become the Peoples champions.

However despite all that has happened at Ewood we could never shake the Wham bogey. Since that game we have lost 14 games to Wham, have drawn 3 and won just 7. The most emphatic of those wins being a 7-1 stroll in the sun in October 2001. We just cannot seem to get any sort of result at West Ham away and this despite being the first goal scorers on many occasions.

Recently we have seen the likes of Tevez come and cheat 3 points from Ewood and that particular result still rankles in the throats of Rovers supporters. Even last season, Wham still managed to take a point despite the biggest battering I have witnessed to an away team for many a year when a single Keith Andrews strike equalised a quite brilliant strike from Mark Noble.

So, then and onto this seasons home game, what can we expect from Zola’s West Ham team ? I say this because all we ever hear about Wham is the link to England and 1966 and the football the then Wham players played to entertain football crowds oh as well as being the single English football club to personally win the World Cup for its country !

There is no doubt that Gianfranco Zola and Steve Clarke come with a fantastic football pedigree. They still have some quality players in their ranks. They will only bring a maximum of 3000 supporters and some of these still hang on to the tags created by the unlegendary Inter City Firm and the recent film Green Street. Whatever tag they do come with, they come North as a club in turmoil. Owned by Icelandic based businessmen and bankers, the club is heavily in debt. It is reported to have to sell players to balance their books although as yet there havent been any big name departures. There is no doubt they have a quality youth set up, Rovers being victim to young Sears scoring last season. There is NO Lucash Neill this season. out of contract he declined he offer of £50k a week from Zola and now finds himself UNEMPLOYED, oh how the mighty have fallen ! The off field problems have been exemplified this weeked as one of their players, Calum davenport, found himself and his mother victims of a knife attack. Lets hope BOTH make a full recovery.

In goal is Robbo’s opposition to the England number 1 slot. Bob Green is not the most sublime keeper but he is effective. The defence will more than likely be built around Upson, Collins, Spector and Gabbidon, Illunga is a quality full back and is dangerous.

The midfield is interesting. Noble and Kovac are the hub of operations. Parker, Dyer and Savio are all good players and support the forwards and defence alike very well. Up front they will have Cole, Faubert and no doubt an Italian superstar !

They do play good football and have already won away at Wolves very comfortably. I would expect them to come to Rovers and play good attractive football, they are not a team to sit back and counter attack they are built for speed and football through the middle.

Last season a young lad called Collison made a fantastic impression on football as he single-handedly kept Rovers at bay. I suspect this season Rovers are going to be a very effective force in the air due to the height factor and for me this is the reason why I expect Rovers to break the current Wham hoodoo.

It’s a simple must win game for me as we move into September.

2-1 Rovers.

Thanks to 1864roverite who kindly agreed to my reposting his match preview here, for all to see. The preview was originally written before the crowd trouble at Tuesday night’s game between West Ham & Millwall.

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