The Tortugan Pirates

West Ham United

Long gone the days when a football team would be littered with boys from the local area and owned by fully committed likely lads. English teams flirted with overseas players with some exceptions to mostly dire performers who failed to hit the high note. Anyone remember Alberto Tarantini who signed for Birmingham City in the 1978 after winning the World Cup with Argentina? I do…barely! He was supposed to bring us football fans a taste of foreign flair but all we got was food poisoning…but it was Birmingham City, so who cared anyway?

Now skip forward a generation and a half, and it will be a trial to find a local boy in any starting line up, let alone English players dominating the starters for any of the top six teams. Whilst this has caused issues for the home nations, it has also seen many clubs favour foreign players over domestic and rarely can we say they are notably better.

Of course it is a global market now, with owners with worldly outlooks and we have to seek out the best talents for the best prices. Whilst English players have been criticised for overpricing themselves in an inflated marketplace, I do wonder if we should be putting our faith in any player that has not experienced the Premier League before…should it be wow by Joao or the plonker that is Dendoncker?

This isn’t a slur on any foreign player at all, rather an indictment of buying overpriced mediocrity from abroad, rather than British mediocrity, which we will pin our hopes on with little guarantee of success and even less hope of cashing in on them at a later date.

The game has moved on and I have moved along with it, although I loathe some of the distractions and personal attributes, it continues to be the fuel that lights my fire. However, I do feel that the game has been lost to plundering pirates who have sailed in, stolen the gold, pilfered the jewels and left a bloody mess in their wake…the stench of which lingers on.

I do raise an eyebrow at the prices we as West Ham or indeed any other team are paying for players these days, but more so the salaries we are paying. We pay an obscene amount of money for bench warmers or treatment table tantric titilators and we’re left scratching our heads trying to find value for money…let alone a string of performances that we can hang a hat or.

Whilst the West Ham fanbase have many issues with our current owners over the move to the London Stadium and failing to fulfil promises made, there are many hypocrisies that I simply cannot ignore either, hence why I support the principle of those who would question the owners’ modus operandi.

A section of fans have united to form the Real West Ham Fans Action Group and are gaining a ground swell of approval amongst other West Ham faithful, their plan is to enter discourse with the West Ham board and hold them accountable on all of the false promises made, the deficiencies of the London Stadium, the lack of tradition being displayed there or in the surrounding area, ticket pricing for all, especially children, access for the disabled and elderly and a failure to entice and welcome back old fans who will not go to the new abode anymore.

When David Sullivan and David Gold took over in 2010 we thought that finally we could get clear of the mess that the Icelandic consortium had got us into. We had players on over inflated contracts and ridiculous salaries, players who were constantly injured, a financial fog that was more reminiscent of Victorian London than 21st Century transparency…does this sound familiar to anyone?

As if I had just tuned in yesterday, I can remember David Sullivan ridiculing the player contracts he inherited and the farcical financial malaise that had invested, infected and infested the club. Although I wasn’t convinced by him and his demeanour, I believed he was giving a truthful appraisal of our situation back then. I knew we had to tighten our belts, get the club stabilised and needed to start again…and for a while I was content that we were on a tough road back to salvation but at least we were heading in the right direction…at least in terms of club stability.

However I look to where we are now and I wonder did anything really change or indeed wonder if  we’re worse off now than before? Many would scoff at this and question my thinking but let me entertain you with my rationale.

We have players who are on £50,000-£120,000 a week who have rarely played with any conviction or success since their arrival. We have players that mostly do not improve when they play at West Ham and their market worth is devalued. We have owners that have been lacklustre in the transfer market to pay market prices for quality and we have a fan base that is largely disillusioned and disenfranchised because of the club’s financial situation that is cloaked in mirrors.

We have a makeshift football stadium that is an athletics stadium…the look and feel of which is all wrong for most fans who value the proximity of conventional stadia and we wonder where is all the money going, that ordinary people are paying to be fed mediocrity. Nobody truthfully expects à la carte dining but we’re not even getting simple, delicious, basic 2 and 2 either.

The Premier League is a fleet of gleaming golden tall ships that could dominate the seas, with financial fortitude housing mammoth cannons to blow any armada away. This is the ‘Show’ that everyone wants to be part of, they aspire to join and will do everything they can to remain in…but is this a poison that we should have washed out of our chalice a long time ago?

Whilst the league has stood by, taken all the accolades and got toasty from the warmth of its own success…nobody was keeping an eye on the back door, nobody checked the names on the list and few got concerned about the skull and crossbones banner looming large on the horizon.

Those buccaneers upped anchor off the shores of their Tortugan stronghold and set sail for these shores…they drifted in under the cover of night and are now reaping their ill gotten gains. We’d all be mildly amused if Captain Jack Sparrow shared a bottle of rum with us but all we’ve ended up with is barnacle faced Barbossa and a slimey tentacled Davey Jones.

About the Author

Alf Gasparro
Life long West Ham United fan, football purist, love motorcycles & soaring with the birds, usually to be found with my head in the clouds...sometimes known as RevelatorAlf