West Ham’s quest for bubble-blowing celebrations on the continent

<span>Photograph: James Manning/PA</span>
Photograph: James Manning/PA


On Monday afternoon, whoever is in charge of West Ham’s social media disgraces posted a photo of the team and backroom staff preparing to embark on their “flight to the final destination on our road to glory”. In it, posing all the way up the steps to their plane in the traditional style of a team heading off to do battle on foreign soil, stood 26 happy Hammers, with their manager David Moyes at the bottom, front and centre, flanked by his backroom staff. No longer part of the team, although he could almost certainly do a job if required, even Mark Noble was there, ostensibly in his role as sporting director, but no doubt brought along to ensure that whatever the outcome of Wednesday’s Tin Pot final between West Ham and Fiorentina, at least one of the dressing-rooms in Prague’s Fortuna Arena will be left spick and span with a floor clean enough to eat your pie, mash and jellied eels from.

Whether or not the fastidiously tidy and considerate Noble will be mopping up champagne or salty tears of pain remains to be seen, at an extremely open final the bookies cannot call. The last time West Ham won a trophy worth shouting about was 43 years ago, when they beat Arsenal in the FA Cup final thanks to a rare Trevor Brooking goal off his bonce. While Brooking didn’t mention it at the time or at any point in the subsequent four decades, it was quite a strange turn of events because he didn’t score with many headers, you know?

It could mark the final appearance in a West Ham shirt for skipper Declan Rice, a young man so charming and likable even our erstwhile Irish cousin couldn’t help but forgive him for swapping his allegiances to “them”, despite all the blarney, knobbly stick-waving and shamrock-kissing of his Republic O’Ireland youth, until his inevitable cross-over to the Dark Side. “It’s a chance to go out and create a legacy where every single player, the manager, everyone involved, will be remembered forever,” he cooed. “To win a trophy like this, a European trophy, with West Ham, I think it puts every player at a higher status within the club and, in terms of with the fans, how you’ll be remembered.”

Should West Ham triumph, there’s every chance much of their travelling support, estimated at north of 20,000 fans, will partake in so much of the excellent local hooch they’ll be unable – in the short term at least – to remember their own names, let alone those of the players who prompted the raucous bubble-blowing celebrations. In more #content posted on the club’s SMD Twitter feed, Tomas Soucek, one of two Czech Hammers along with Vladimir Coufal, recommended they line their stomachs with goulash, while helpfully advising them not to bother seeking out coleslaw because it’s usually only served at festive times. Of course, like summer ‘slaw in Prague, tickets for the final are also at a premium, what with each team only granted a 5,000 allocation in the 20,000-seater arena handpicked by Uefa to host it. Most travelling Hammers fans won’t even make it through the turnstiles, but in the event of glory they’ll still think all their Christmases have come at once.


Join Rob Smyth from 8pm BST for hot Tin Pot final MBM coverage of West Ham 1-2 Fiorentina.


5 June 2002: “I’m asking everyone who loves football and cares about the environment to raise Fifa’s Green Card for the planet. Fifa is playing its part, with our aim to make the [Human Rights] World Cup carbon neutral” – Gianni Infantino on World Environment Day last year.

7 June 2003: “All five claims were upheld … Fifa was not able to provide proof that the claims were accurate during the proceedings as required by the commission” – following five complaints from the Climate Alliance network, a Swiss regulator decides that Fifa made false and misleading statements about the reduced environmental impact of the HRWC.

Gianni Infantino at the HRWC.
Gianni Infantino at the HRWC.


Never mind the Saudis helping out Bury or Macclesfield (yesterday’s Football Daily), how about they add Al-Dershot to their current cluster of clubs?” – Morgan Armstrong.

The merger of the PGA and DP World golf tours with LIV could be analogous to the Premier League losing washed-up players to the Saudi Pro League and then agreeing to a merger, after the Saudis offered billions upon realising their league couldn’t compete. Football, of course, would never stoop so low” – John Weldon.

I was reading the Big Website piece on Inter Miami (yes, I know, but I’m bored of the lack of football already and technically the season hasn’t even finished yet) and I couldn’t help but notice that they have a player on what they refer to as their ‘roster’ as Drake Callender, which sounds more like something my niece wanted for her birthday than a football player whose footedness is apparently right” – Noble Francis.

Send your letters to Today’s winner of our letter o’ the day is … Morgan Armstrong, who wins a copy of The Three Lives of the Kaiser, a biography of Franz Beckenbauer by Uli Hesse.