“…then like my dreams they fade and die…”

18 05 2011

I’m forever blowing bubblespretty bubbles in the air.

They fly so high, nearly reach the sky,

Then like my dreams, they fade and die.

Fortune’s always hiding, I’ve looked everywhere.

I’m forever blowing bubbles, pretty bubbles in the air.” 

This 1920s music hall ditty is now far better known as the club anthem of West Ham United and will no doubt be sung, once more with feeling, at Upton Park on Saturday as they bid farewell to the Premier league, at least for the time being.   

There has been considerable conjecture as to when and why the wistful, some might say pessimistic song, was adopted by the ‘Hammers’ supporters. 

My preferred version of events, and the one most often referred to, concerns a youth team player, Billy J ‘Bubbles’ Murray, from the late ‘20s who some say bore an uncanny resemblance to the boy in the famous ‘Bubbles’ painting by Millais, used in a Pears’ soap advertisement of the time. 

Junior games were well attended in those days and fans were quick to make the connection between ‘Bubbles Murray’ and the lyrics of the popular song, singing it when the team did well. It caught on and it wasn’t long before the then West Ham manager requested it be played by the house band on first team match days.        

A lot of sports followers will have no problem empathising with the lyrics, not least those of my own teams: Forest and ‘Glawster’.

I’ve already stated my views on the now familiar end of season ‘play off lottery’ and my wafer thin optimism of a positive outcome for the ‘Tricky Trees’ & ‘Cherry & Whites’, like the bubbles, has blown away while my dreams have faded and died for another season.  

On Sunday ‘Glaws’ confronted the ‘men in black’, followed by ‘fez heads’ (Tommy Cooper wannabes), Saracens. It was a tense and error strewn occasion down in Watford but with Saracens’ former England captain Steve Borthwick (heaven knows how he ever managed that!) sin-binned, fly half Nicky Robinson, soon to depart for Wasps skated over to touch down the only try of the game. He added the conversion and with 10 minutes left on the clock ‘Glaws’ led for the first time in the game, 10-9.

It was then that the sixteenth ‘man in black’, referee Andrew Small, came into play, harshly penalising Gloucester at a ruck. Young fly half Owen Farrell held his nerve, slotting his fourth penalty kick and shattering ‘Glaws’ dreams as Saracens ran out 12-10 winners.  

Last Thursday at the City Ground, “mist rolling in from the Trent….” Forest took on the ‘Swans’ and fortune appeared to be on their side, after just 53 seconds, when Neil Taylor was shown a straight red card  for a recklessly high tackle on Lewis McGugan.

But as is so often the case in these situations, adversity merely served to strengthen Swansea’s resolve. They dug in and Forest had more difficulty prizing open a ten man team than might have been the case against eleven.     

They created chances, but nothing clear-cut and nowhere near enough, and had to settle for a disappointing goalless draw. 

In the return leg at the Liberty Stadium, on Monday, the ‘Tricky Trees’ acquitted themselves much better, striking the bar early on and more than holding their own until the 28th minute when little Leon Britton tormented them, twisting and turning before curling a left foot shot from 25 yards into the corner of the net. Forest keeper Camp, never moved. 

Five minutes later Forest appeared all but down and out as Stephen Dobbie tricked his way across the face of the penalty, ‘nutmegging’ ‘Reds’ player of the year Luke Chambers, before rifling the ball, left footed, across the keeper and into the bottom corner. 

At that point it might have been a rout. But the atmosphere was electric throughout and, with the travelling Forest support roaring them on, the ‘Tricky Trees’ lifted themselves for the second half. Marcus Tudgay fired over when it looked easier to score, McGugan rattled the bar with a ferocious free-kick and finally with ten minutes remaining, substitute Robbie Earnshaw latched on to a majestic Majewski through ball, lashing it into the net with his first touch of the game.

At that point I honestly believed we were going to get an equaliser, and go on to win during extra time. With the Forest pressure mounting, Swansea hanging on and 4 minutes added injury time being announced, the moment which should have turned the game Forest’s way duly arrived. ‘Earnie’ pounced once again, striking the ball sweetly past the Swansea keeper only for it to come back off the woodwork for the third time in the game. Fortune was well and truly hiding!

In a last-minute, last-ditch effort Forest keeper, Lee Camp, came up for a corner. I don’t know why keepers insist on doing this? The ball was hacked away and, with Camp stranded, Darren Pratley, a player Forest had supposedly been trying to sign all season, managed to find the empty net from the half way line, rubbing salt into ‘Reds’ wounds and producing a flattering 3-1 score-line. 

It was a tremendous game from both sides. Swansea are a quality Championship side and good luck to them in the play-off final. If they are successful it will be interesting to see how they fare in the Premiership next year.

Thank goodness it’s all over for another season. There’s always next year for the supporters but maybe not for some of the players and Forest boss, Billy Davies!

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2 responses

19 05 2011
Gerry

Cheer up Phil, there will soon be the Test Matches!!

20 05 2011
outofafrica2010

I can’t complain, it’s been a good season with both teams involved right until the death. Glaws exceeded all expectations and in truth Forest aren’t good enough for the Premiership at the moment.
Looking forward to the summer Tests. I’ve got a day in Cardiff next week for the 1st Test v Sri Lanka. Hope the weather holds!

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