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Get It Ready: Hammers nailed on to get the job done.

Byline: Richard Birch

AYOUNG boy was at the centre of a courtroom drama yesterday when he challenged a ruling over who should have custody over him. Beaten black and blue by his mother, father, aunt and grandparents, the boy demanded to choose where to live.

The judge agreed, and granted custody to West Ham United, who the boy believes aren't capable of beating anyone! Unfortunately for the luckless child, I think he's got it terribly wrong.

Today's home match against Wigan is a must-win for the club.

Just imagine the howls of derision from the stands if Alan Pardew presides over his eighth game without a victory.

Losing a three-goal lead against table-toppers West Brom - after Jermain Defoe got red-carded - was bad enough, but at least it showed the 'Ammers had the class to impose their early superiority.

Failure to beat Wigan - whom 75 per cent of West Ham's fans have probably never heard of - by two or three goals will be greeted with uproar.

Pardew knows it. The players know it. The directors know it. Journalists know it. This is D-day. Time for under-achieving

so-called stars David James, Michael Carrick, David Connolly (no Defoe to feud with), Don Hutchison, Brian Deane and new-boy Marlon Harewood to pull their fingers out.

William Hill offer even-money. Christopher Columbus - we've found something here! My stomach's been raging ever since I saw that price. Delirious with excitement. Twelve months ago, West Ham would have been 4-11 - and the gap hasn't narrowed as much as Hills believe.

Wigan haven't won in their last five away games, and evens is a gift. Pied piper-style, follow me in.

Champions-elect West Brom are masters of grinding out 1-0 away victories, and they can expose Nottingham Forest's threadbare squad at the City Ground.

Better and more relaxed away from The Hawthorns, West Brom face opponents whose record since September 16 reads: lost six, drawn six; won two (one of which was against bottom side Wimblegon!).

The 8-5 will do very nicely, thank you.

The Queen was at an official function this week to save the NHS. She was not amused when realising it was in aid of the National Health Service - not the National Hunt Season! Doubtless Her Majesty

will be watching Newcastle's long-distance chase (1.10) because

Hades de Sienne looks a moral.

Representing last year's winning connections, this stamina-packed

top-weight caught more eyes than rugby streaker Erica Roe all those years ago at Twickers when runner-up to Interdit (winner since) at Kelso.

Two of Hades de Sienne's five rivals will be 14 years old when the Queen announces the New Year's Honours. No dog bet this weekend, so double up on this beast.

Birchy's bets

West Ham to beat Wigan

(evens with Hills) HHHH

Hedgehunter

(2.35 Newbury each-way 10-1 with Ladbrokes, Chandler ) HHH

Hades de Sienne

(1.10 Newcastle) HH

West Brom to beat Nottingham Forest

(8-5 with Stan James) H
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Nov 29, 2003
Words:486
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Next Article:Get It Ready: Lay of the day Portsmouth (v Leicester).


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