Ham­mers sup­port­ers dump team

Sunday Tribune - - RACING - MATSHELANE MAMABOLO

LON­DON STA­DIUM: They came in their thou­sands, re­splen­dent in their claret and blue club replica jer­seys de­ter­mined to back their team to vic­tory over Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur.

But West Ham United fans are clearly not a faith­ful lot, for when their team con­ceded two goals within a space of four min­utes late in the first half, they started mak­ing their way out of the sta­dium.

Un­like lo­cal fans back home who would have en­thu­si­as­ti­cally ges­tic­u­lated with their hands to show that their team would stage a come­back or even call for the sub­sti­tu­tion of the player they felt was re­spon­si­ble for their team go­ing down, the Ham­mers sup­port­ers who streamed out of the sta­dium seemed to see no hope for their side.

A pretty strange re­ac­tion ac­tu­ally from a group that had dis­played such pas­sion for their team prior to kick off and even dur­ing the early ex­change of a match that seemed del­i­cately bal­anced un­til Harry Kane struck twice.

A cou­ple of hours be­fore the mid-day kick­off match, they had milled around this mag­nif­i­cent arena that hosted both the 2012 Olympics as well as this year’s IAAF World Cham­pi­onships.

And when they fi­nally got into the sta­dium, they sang heartily; cheered with gusto at the men­tion of each of their player’s name as the sta­dium an­nouncer read out the start­ing line-up while jeer­ing and boo­ing those of the op­po­si­tion. At­tempts by the Spurs fans make their voices heard they tried to sing proved vain as the home crowd to as in drowned them out in song.

De­ci­sions that went against their club were met with de­ri­sion while pos­i­tive moves from the likes of Chi­car­ito got them on their feet cheer­ing. And then it all went pear-shaped as Kane slot­ted home the opener.

While they sat stony si­lenced af­ter the first goal, the strike seemed to gal­vanise them to egging their play­ers on some more. The sec­ond, how­ever, proved too much to take for many as they stood up and headed for the exit.

One fa­ther pulled his re­luc­tant son by the hand down the stairs while a group of fans who had ear­lier chanted with pas­sion shouted un­print­a­bles as they made their exit.

The die-hard who re­mained did their all to en­cour­age their team to a come­back.

But it was all soon a no con­test as Chris­tian Erik­sen made it 3-0.

An­other ex­o­dus of the West Ham fans en­sued and the 3 000 or so Spurs fol­low­ers dom­i­nated the arena with song.

Those who stayed be­hind were given some­thing to cheer about though as Chi­car­ito headed in a con­so­la­tion goal, or was it the be­gin­ning of a great turn­about?

With about 25 min­utes still to play, hope sprang eter­nal among the Ham­mers faith­ful.

And then Spurs Serve Aurier gets sent off for a sec­ond book­able of­fence to raise that hope a notch fur­ther up.

That the sta­dium did not crum­ble when Cheikhou Kouy­ate scored four min­utes from time spoke vol­umes of the qual­ity of the ar­chi­tec­ture – the stomp­ing was that pow­er­ful.

In the end, those early Kane goals had done the trick for Spurs. Yet the West Ham faith­ful who stayed left proud of their team’s fighting spirit.

# Sun­day EPL Match Su­per­sport

Brighton v New­cas­tle SS3 on

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