May I take this opportunity to wish everybody a very Happy New Year, and to thank you all for your support in 2005.
As I look back at the Coca Cola Championship League table from this time last year, and see us languishing out of the play off zone (and below Millwall), I realise what fantastic strides Alan Pardew and his players have taken over the last twelve months. I don't want to use the tired old cliché of the crowd being the twelfth man, but you, the Upton Park faithful, have, in the main, exceeded all expectations this season, and deserve the moderate success we are currently enjoying, and which we will continue to build upon. The home defeat against Wigan was a massive disappointment to players and fans alike, but with injuries to such crucial players, we feel this was a glitch. As Alan Pardew said in his post match interview, "I can't criticise the players on that one sub par performance".
When I first attended a game at the Boleyn Ground, more than half a century ago, I was amongst a crowd ready to 'support', and full of 'hope'. All too often at football grounds nowadays, the crowd 'expect' a victory; a trap that we have fallen into ourselves at times. However, since our return to the Premiership, the players have felt nothing but 'support', and how can they not give of their all with the crowd behind them?
A positive atmosphere is something Alan is keen to maintain and harness. The confidence that the players get from being cheered rather than jeered is incalculable. Would Bobby Zamora have scored that wonder goal at Birmingham if he was lacking in confidence? I doubt it. He hears his name being sung, and you can almost see him grow. Young Mark Noble clearly swells with pride when we sing 'he's better than Roy Keane', and how could he not win the next tackle after hearing that? Personally, I can't wait for him to score his first goal for us. I expect his celebration to be Anton-esque! (For those that witnessed his extraordinary dance on equalising at Tottenham.)
Although mid table is more than a lot of pundits expected of us, I know Alan has greater ambition for our Club. He is building a bright future for us, with good, young footballers being expertly coached, and of course he will be hoping to add exceptional players during the ensuing transfer window, to compliment our current squad.
I have read in some quarters, that we have been 'fortuitous' to have amassed the points we have thus far. But I would refute that and say every point has been earned by Alan and his squad. As Tony Jacklin once said, "the more I practice, the luckier I get." Alan isn't one of the most respected young managers in the country by fluke.
I'm sure I don't need to remind you, our next home game
is against Chelsea. The atmosphere should be cracking, and all of
us working within the Club realise what an important fixture it is
for our fans. We are all aware that Roman Abramovich has spent
hundreds of millions of pounds on Chelsea, but at 12.45 on Monday,
our players can pull on their shirts with pride, and I know, with
the crowd behind them, they will fully justify wearing our famous
claret and blue.
Finally, may I add my personal congratulations to Clyde Best, who was awarded an MBE in the New Years honours list. A man who suffered unacceptable abuse during certain away games, but was buoyed by the support he received at Upton Park. I am very proud of West Ham's Clyde Best.
Once again, have a glorious New Year. All of us working within the Club are striving to make it a memorable one.
To view past messages from the Chairman that have appeared in previous programmes click on the links below:
To read the Chairman's message from the Blackburn Rovers
matchday programme click here!
To read the Chairman's message from the Manchester United matchday programme click here!