Thursday, February 10, 2011

Stratford: White elephants on parade

White elephants. David Sullivan and David Gold are quite familiar with them. I understand they once published a magazine featuring ‘big beasts’ au naturelle if that’s your thing. So the Olympic Stadium seems a perfect fit for these former porn magnates turned protectors of Olympic values. But it won’t take long before West Ham discover that an athletics track is an impossibility in a football stadium and make moves to tear it down. It’s a white elephant waiting to happen. What price the precious legacy then? Sebastian Coe (Lord....of what exactly?) better start running.

A football stadium with a running track doesn’t work. I have sat in one and watched the colourful ants on the field perform wild zig-zagging patterns. When the ants move to the centre-circle, you know there’s been a goal. Despite our intense (er, and local!) rivalry, West Ham are a great club with traditions not unlike our own. The Hammers always play football the right way and have a passionate hardcore and legends like Bobby Moore and Geoff Hurst who we can all sit back and admire.

But the continual rants of Sullivan and Gold and their double-chinned puppet Karren Brady do these fans little credit. I went from being ambivalent about the stadium move to hoping Spurs would win the bid having been antagonised by the non-stop media diatribe from these unpleasant people and the recognition that a redeveloped White Hart Lane sadly isn’t going to happen. I reiterate, if a club fails to sell out a home cup semi-final with a 36,000 capacity what hope is there of them filling 60,000 seats? The London taxpayer will eventually bear the brunt of West Ham’s failure to make the Olympic Stadium a success. Keep Talksport on speed dial.

You know a sport has limited interest when Sky Sports haven’t bid for it and that’s athletics to a tee. It’s a sport that has historically attracted steroid users and drug cheats extraordinaire. If you’re fast enough...maybe they won’t test your piss. The Olympics is a supposedly noble four-year sporting event but invariably invites jingoism and foul play. It’s always been a filthy, political plaything and little has changed. Think Hitler saluting the crowds in Berlin 1938, the dreadful massacre of Israeli athletes in Munich 1972 to smaller but unpalatable wrongs like hometown boxer Park-Si Hun being awarded a farcical points victory over the mercurial Roy Jones in Seoul 1988. At least the South Korean had the decency to apologise to Jones afterwards.

The Anti-Stratford movement chose to use the ‘news’ (the now classic cut and paste ‘BBC has learned/Sky Sports understands’) to crow, but they need to understand that no-one who supports Spurs has won - the Northumberland Development Project won’t happen. Daniel Levy has said as much and, with the new financial rules relating to club turnover soon to be implemented, a Spurs selling 36,000 seats has a significant disadvantage compared to an Arsenal selling out 60,000 seats. Even a club like Sunderland boasts 49,000 bum spaces. We are falling behind – this is no time to rejoice. Certainly not for the meagre 7,635 ‘Spurs fans’ (including West Ham supporters and many anonymous agitators) who signed the high profile, low take-up ‘We are N17’ petition. Supposedly this is a majority, but I was under the illusion we had more fans? And am I the only one who finds the irony in those Spurs fans who don’t support their local team talking about roots, tradition and community?

What makes me sick about football today is not Spurs looking to move from White Hart Lane to Stratford to compete against the corporate juggernauts who one has to defeat in order to win’s the angry, rent-a-mouth fan, always agitated, wide-eyed with seething rage, but nothing constructive to offer. He can’t enjoy Spurs in the Champions League or the wonder of Bale, Modric and Van der Vaart. He’s on Twitter or Spurs messageboards perpetually unhappy and his sole purpose in life is to pass this negativity on like that swarm of black flies in ‘The Green Mile’.

This usually surreal, offbeat and light-hearted blog has always been intended as an antidote to the non-stop moaning on other blogs and messageboards by keyboard warriors and those who probably shrink in size when their wife or partner grabs the remote control. They scream so loudly and with such passion you might think they outnumber the sane ones among us, but they don’t. They merely have the time and inclination to shout. Following Spurs is supposed to be entertainment, not an endless source of misery and complaint. Try to enjoy it, please.

West Ham may win the Olympic Stadium bid tomorrow (subject to the inevitable legal challenge by Daniel Levy ;-)!!), but in four months the ‘winners’ may be toiling in the Championship and Spurs facing another decade in an ill-equipped, under capacity stadium with a restless 35,000 plus waiting list. That’s a victory for no-one.


Martin said...

Here Here Mark! A perfectly illustrated view! Exactly what I was thinking, but not having time to actually pen those realistic thoughts so colourfully in the manner you have done so! You should be the fans spokesman, better still you should be our leader! Well done bro!

Sid said...

Totally agree the anti Stratford muppets are binkered, the same muppets will be whinging at Levy in a couple of years for not spending the money on players, money that Levy will not have because we are still at WHL selling only 36.000 tickets for home games, some "Spurs" fans need a reality check....idiots!

Sid said...

West Ham cannot fill a stadium now, what chance has a Championship side got of filling 60000 seats for home games when they struggle whilst being a premiership club.

Anonymous said...

I remember when Chelsea had a running track, it was awful, you was so far away from the actual game it spoilt the atmosphere.
I think West Ham is jumping into this deal with there eye's shut, all they are thinking of, its a new Stadium,