Having been away for a few months, and completely inactive on the TF platform, I thought I’d lead you in gently and write this inaugural ‘21/‘22 preev with a few stages. 

Firstly, I must stress that I’m going to veer towards circumlocution re tha tyek-owa (takeover – for any stray cock-er-nee types who may be checking in). I just can’t be arsed with that caper. 

18th July.  Seeing our august leader copiously sweating in the North Yorkshire sunshine; a curious cross between Mrs Doubtfire and Donald Trump, as his charges took on the Northern League Minstermen, really was an appalling kick in the nuts we could’ve lived without following the excitement/crushing disappointment of the Euros. As Jazzie B once (almost) musically mused, ‘Back to life, back to fucking reality.’ 

A few kick-abouts later, and here I am on August  2nd enduring another NUFC version of ‘Groundhog Day.’  There’s talk of little money from Gazillionaire, Mike, and Joe Willock remains a Gunners’ bench dweller. There’s been breathy chat from Bruce about waiting for the ‘big’ clubs to do their business before we strike (like an angry adder) into the market. Other thoughts; Telegraph Tweeter, Luke Edwards is really cross that NUFC Twitter folk are questioning his mate again. He would’ve made an excellent WW2 collaborator, (I’m thinking, the match commentator in ‘Escape to Victory’) and erm that’s about it. 

Put it this way, ‘Groundhog Day’s’ Bill Murray had a much easier ride than our rank and file. 

It’s now 10th August and like most Mags I’m on tenterhooks re JW returning. There’s also talk of French midfield prospect, Boubacar Kamara also looking possible. Hmm. I must admit to knowing the square root of eff all about him, but the Geordie Twitterati seem keen.  Are we finally moving in the market? And if so, why are we always last? It’s a rhetorical question btw; we all know the answer. 

Enough pre season guff, let’s move onto this weekend and our opponents, West Ham United. 

I’ve gotta be honest, I don’t mind the Irons.  As London clubs go etc etc.  There are a few parallels between us too these days.  For one, both clubs fans’ detest their owners. They have the ‘Dildo Dave’s’ whilst we eternally suffer the Kentish tat shop tycoon. 

I’d argue that the porn peddlers are still the slightly better of the two, but I think it’s fair to say, both of these famous footballing institutions are owned by chancers (hopefully) looking/praying for the next big dollar move. We’re truly blessed by such ‘fit and proper’ folk. 

Despite this, The Hammers did superbly well last season, finishing in a lofty 6th perch.  When David Moyes was appointed (firstly as a stop gap) there weren’t too many ‘pie, mash, jellied eels, uncut charlie’ fuelled street parties in the East End. Even I chuckled. Rare these days. But ‘fairs fair’, following the Manc/mackem ridicule he’s done a class job thus far. And whilst this may not sit well with some of our number, I’m actually rather pleased for him.  Is it a ‘Magpie Pardew 5th’ false dawn, or the start of something bigger?  I’d imagine a battle hardened Hammer would point to a paucity of transfer movement and plump for the former but I guess we’ll find out soon enough. 

Whilst talking about transfers, they can currently still boast the services of their most saleable asset, Declan Rice.  I’m gonna be honest, I initially never got the hype. My judgement was clouded by two things. One, absolutely justified; the second less so. Firstly, I’ve never been able to get his uproariously minty dance (having scored a regulation undefended header from a corner versus NUFC a couple of years back) out of my mind, and secondly my creeping lack of interest in the Prem, meant (hands up) I hadn’t seen enough of him play to warrant a proper opinion.  During the Euros, he changed my mind. I thought he was good to start with, culminating in an epic performance in the final v Italy. I still don’t understand why Southgate took him off. 

He’s not the only ‘jewel in their crown’ mind. Others to catch the attention are ‘Fantasy Footy fave’, Aaron Cresswell and the ever dangerous Michail Antonio up top. Their best other player (IMO) is Jarrod Bowen. He was heavily linked with a move to SJP before our visitors nipped in ahead of Mr Charnley (shock) to secure his services. A skilful left footer, he notched an impressive 52 in 124 games for previous club, Hull City. He has then followed that up with 9 in 52 for West Ham, plus a decent number of assists. I felt at the time we’d missed out (again) and nothing has dissuaded me since. 

On to Sunday…. 

Despite me blowing smoke up their backsides, the Eastenders have more often than not proved to be enjoyable opposition for the Mags over recent seasons. In last term’s largely turgid trudge, they provided us with a couple of ‘diamonds in the rough.’  Firstly, we turned them over 2-0 on the season opener at their place, then we bested them by the odd goal in five at SJP in a thrilling April encounter. 

Our ex number 13 and current number 9, Callum has a great record against them with 8 goals thus far and I’d imagine he’ll be the bookies fave to notch first this Sunday.  The season has crept up on me. I’ve felt a bit ‘meh’, but as the days close in I’m beginning to feel a stirring of the old anticipation, and belatedly getting to watch our class centre forward in the flesh is a huge plus point. 

Paranoid Prediction Prattle #1

So, what’s the craic this weekend? Despite talk of slow season ticket uptake, I reckon Sunday’s sunny forecast and the enforced shutdown of stadia will see a decent enough turn out. The Cockney boys usually fill out the away end, so I reckon we’ll still be looking at circa 45,000.  I think despite the stupid kick off time on the Lord’s day, it’ll be a decent atmosphere and a pretty open match. 

I watched the Hammers highlights of their recent 6-2 mauling of Celtic at Parkhead, and whilst taking into account it was a pre season kick-about, and the home side’s defending on a couple of the goals would’ve made a Pub side blush; it was nonetheless an impressive display.  Their hosts put in a decent second half stint v recently promoted Norwich whilst sticking three past them without reply. Probably not a great deal to go on, but I reckon both sides have enough to hurt the other and I’m plumping for Desmond’s favourite score line, 2-2. Here’s hoping we nick it and Howay the Lads…. 

Nick Clark

@Clark5Nick