The mould was broken after they made Noble as you will not get a player who will be as dedicated to a team as Mark has been to West Ham, a boyhood fan who grew up in Canning Town supporting the Hammers and living many youngster’s dream of playing for the club you watched as a child from the stands. It has been wonderful seeing so many young fans as well at the stadium and who knows which one those may grow up to play for the club and who have had Noble as their inspiration.
The pre-match rendition of ‘I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles’ and noise from the crowd could not lift the home side despite the fans continuing to sing their support throughout the match. The London Stadium has found its voice in this competition and it sends the hairs on the back of your neck tingling as the crowd stood throughout the match to cheer, chant and sing West Ham on, urging the team to find a goal.
Players and the club showed their support for their Ukrainian team mate Andriy Yarmolenko, whose family and community have been so deeply affected by the ongoing devastating military attacks and Russian invasion of their homeland. The team wore blue tops during the pre match warm up and club captain, Declan Rice, held up a West Ham shirt with Yarmolenko’s name and number on it as players lined up before the start of the match.
The Hammers have become adept at scoring from set pieces, so it was when Emil Krafth fouled Michail Antonio, Cresswell was set up in a dangerous position to deliver an excellent free kick for Dawson to dive a head of the Newcastle defence putting the home side in front. The atmosphere lit up and the crowd were in good form. Having rescued a draw for the Hammers last week, could Dawson’s goal push West Ham take control of the game?
But could the Hammers at least rescue a draw? With growing purpose the Hammers began to push further forward with Vlasic and Fornals making way for Masuaku and Yarmolenko to see out the final 20mins of what was becoming a more frantic encounter. So, it was a final chance falling to in form Bowen who could only chest over a cross that should have been headed firmly into the Leeds net to salvage something from a match that had 2 goals ruled out for offside, one for each team, that raised Leeds to 15th place, whilst the Hammers hang precariously in 4th anxiously watching results of those teams around us.
With chants of David Moyes Claret and Blue Army and West Ham Are Massive, Wherever We Go heard long after the match had ended and echoing around Westfield, we can finally put to bed the idea that we cannot compete with the top teams.
Do we need to get used to winning? For many years it seems we craved the idea of winning regularly and assumed we would, those bubbles flying so high only to fade and die on us time and again.
After last season this is our new normal – winning games we would have previously lost or struggled to hold on for a draw. The fight in the team is clear and stand out players for me were Johnson who is impressing in defence with pace and desire and confidence to go forward and Areola who I felt did an excellent job in goal and was quick off his line too.
With the backdrop of one of the largest fan protests against owners Gold, Sullivan and Brady before the match, a superb performance on the pitch and a first goal for new recruit Jarrod Bowen secured a well deserved win to lift the Hammers out of the drop zone into 16th spot, albeit on goal difference.