Craig Dawson

Dawson: It’s a disappointing end to a good year

At half-time across the country on Sunday afternoon, West Ham United looked on course to nudge ahead in the race for sixth place in the Premier League.

With Manchester United trailing Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park, and the Irons a goal to the good against Brighton & Hove Albion at Amex Stadium thanks to Michail Antonio's brilliant snap-shot from outside the box, the Hammers looked set to overhaul the Red Devils, finish sixth and qualify for the UEFA Europa League again.

The magic of this 2021/22 West Ham team is that they have made us believe in the marginal moments - palpable, tangible, collective belief.

And although the Irons sadly faded in the face of an in-form Brighton side, who had much the better of the second half, it is that very belief which has characterised the progress of the Club over a memorable last two seasons.

Centre-back Craig Dawson was as disappointed as any with the final result – a final-day 3-1 loss on the south coast – but also recognised the Irons’ progress and achievements this year.

Seventh place means UEFA Conference League football next season and back-to-back European qualification through their league position for the first time in the Club’s history.

“It’s obviously a disappointing end and a disappointing result,” Dawson admitted. 

“The first half, we were the better team, but the second half, they made a few changes and came out on top. 

“They changed their shape and made a few substitutions. Fair play to them, Brighton were better than us in the second half.

“Of course, it’s been a good year, but you always want that little bit more. There’s a little bit of disappointment, but throughout the season, it’s been a good year, so there are a lot of positives to take.

“It’s been a great few years for myself and it’s been a good few years [for the Club] and hopefully we can improve on that.”

The match did, however, see the 550th and final West Ham United appearance for a true modern Club legend: Mr West Ham himself, Mark Noble.

The captain played the final ten minutes of the defeat, signing off an 18-year, two-time Hammer of the Year-winning – and exemplary in all its facets – playing career, one which was even recognised by the home team in a pre-match ceremony.

Dawson concluded: “He’s a top guy off the pitch and you saw what he brings on the pitch, so he’s a big miss, but fair play to Brighton to do what they did today [before the game for Noble], it was good.”