After a long history of flattering to deceive, West Ham United, doyens of London’s East End as the locally-famous ‘Appy ‘Ammers, are at last about to embark on a period of real achievement – by the simple expedient of switching their priorities away from the stony ground of league football, in which any seeds of success have stubbornly failed to flourish in the 119 year history of the club. It’s a bold move – but the feeling is that something has to be done, as football has never been a happy environment for the Hammers or for their long-suffering fans, many of whom would rather talk and write about true giants of the game, such as Leeds United – rather than waste any time on the Boleyn Boys.
In that long history, there has been the odd Cup success, including – as many Hammers fans would have you believe – the World Cup in 1966. But league success – that true indicator of a big and successful club – has eluded the East London hopefuls. Their best top-flight finish was third, 29 years ago. A symbol of the club has been the bubble, famously linked to West Ham by their “Forever Blowing Bubbles” theme song. Like the bubble, they can be pretty, and they can promise to fly high – but again, as with the delicate and fragile ephemeral phenomenon that is that glistening envelope of water, they tend to flourish only briefly before bursting abruptly and disappearing from view.
Now, the club’s owners, highly respectable porn barons Sullivan and Gold, have had enough of all that bubble stuff, and they intend to seek success where it might more feasibly be achieved. A source close to the two dirty old men was quoted as saying, “The guys see us as having more potential in the field of light entertainment, rather than plodding around a football field with a load of rough boys, getting kicked and invariably losing. So the plan is to switch targets for this coming season; we’ll be entering a team into Strictly Come Dancing, and we might possibly stick a couple of likely solo acts into BGT or maybe even the X-Factor. But all of that is just the beginning. If this goes as well as we think it might, we’ll be pulling out all the stops and giving it the full 150% for The Big One. Yes, folks – watch out. The Hammers are going all out to win Eurovision in 2015! We just have to do something – win something – to get our fans talking about us – instead of bloody Leeds United all the time. It’s humiliating…”
A source at the FA was cautious when asked for a reaction to this. “It’s quite unprecedented for a club to pull out of league competition and concentrate on light entertainment, dancing, crooning, acrobatics, prestidigitation – that sort of thing. We did have that time when Man U pulled out of the FA Cup to go poncing about on a beach in South America, but …” Our man scratched his head, bemused like. “We’ll have to see what the full committee make of it. I suppose if any club were to make this sort of switch, it’s more likely to be West Ham than anybody else.”
The mood at Upton Park, though, is one of grim determination. “By the time we switch to the Olympic Stadium, we want some silverware on the sideboard,” said our source. “Dancing, magic, tricks with dogs, anything. Singing, certainly. Look at the bearded lass who won Eurovision just the other week. Dead spit of Billy Bonds, she were – weren’t he?” When asked whether the Hammers would still be playing football at their new venue, our man was cagey. “There’s more to life than bleedin’ football, you know! There’s lots we could do there to make a crowd like ours happy. Dancing on ice, all sorts. Just watch us go, once we start winning stuff. You wait and see, mate, you just wait and see – starting with ‘Strictly‘.”
In related news, the club are expected to announce that the iconic “Forever Blowing Bubbles” song is to be dropped, with immediate effect, due – it is said – to those connotations of fragility and ultimate disappointment. Instead, and to signal an era of success unknown in the ‘Ammers’ ‘Istory, the club tune will be “Stranger in Paradise” from the start of the 2014/15 “Strictly Come Dancing” season. It is anticipated that new lyrics will be sung by the Upton Park crowd, beginning “Hail Fat Sam, He’s a Walrus Called Allardyce”.
The Hammers’ two surviving World Cup winners, Martin Peters and Sir Geoff Hurst, have issued a joint statement, reading simply: “It’s Bobby Moore that we feel for. If he was alive today, he’d be turning in his grave.”
Alf Garnett is 95 (and supports Spurs).