Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Uncle Jeff Formula: A Retrospective

86-7My Uncle Jeff has been a West Ham season ticket holder since the 1950s. In the 1986, he started documenting West Ham’s results on sheets of paper in his garage, where he fixes TVs and video recorders. He’s been doing it ever since.

Recently, I found the full archive in one of his kitchen drawers. Above is the the list that kicked it all off, from the 86/87 season, when West Ham finished 15th in the old Division One.

Notable players: Tony Cottee, Paul Ince, Frank McAvennie, Alan Devonshire



Here’s the 91/92 list, when West Ham finished 22nd and were relegated. Notably, it’s the first – somewhat impromptu – appearance of Uncle Jeff’s game comments. The scores and scorers are written in neat fountain pen, until the scorers section rather dries up as West Ham drooped towards the end of the season.

At the bottom, capitalised and in biro: “CRAP TEAM DON’T DESERVE OUR LOYAL SUPPORT”.

Notable players: Mike Small, Julian Dicks, Trevor Morley



The 95/96 season, when West Ham finished a respectable 10th. The list now has a dedicated comments section, where Uncle Jeff lamented the team’s early season form.

After a 0-0 draw away at Southampton: “What a load of rubbish”.

After a 1-0 win away at Wimbledon: “This is an improvement”.

After a 4-1 home defeat to Aston Villa: “Back to normal (“Rubbish”)”.

Notable players: Danny Williamson, Iain Dowie, Ian Bishop



Into the 00s. This is from West Ham’s 01/02 season, when the team were relegated on the last day of the season. A bad year. Six games in, after a 3-2 home defeat to Tottenham Hotspur in September, Uncle Jeff vowed to give up the comments (“No more comments the writing is on the wall”), but returned two weeks later after a 3-2 defeat to Chelsea (“Oh what a surprise”).

After a 2-2 draw at home to Newcastle: “I could do serious injury to Brown [the then West Ham chairman] and his motley crew”.

After a 3-1 defeat to Arsenal the next week: “Roeder [then West Ham’s manager] can stick this result up his arse(nal)”.

The comments dry up at the tail end of the campaign, as West Ham slumped towards the bottom of the league.

At the end of the season, the capitalised biro has returned: “RELEGATED AS PREDICTED WILL HAPPEN AGAIN IF THEY STICK WITH RODENT”.

Notable players: Joe Cole, Michael Carrick, Jermain DeFoe



04/05: Our second year in the Championship. During a mid-season wobble, Uncle Jeff is on top form.

A 1-0 home defeat to Brighton: “The Pain continues it will be worse next week”.

The next week, after a 1-0 loss to Millwall: “It’s worse and will continue until Pardew goes”.

After a 1-1 draw with Leeds: “We’re crap and we know we are”.

A week later, after losing to Preston 2-1 “The pain goes on and Pardew is a prat”.

After a few good results, a 2-0 loss at home to Sheffield United: “Back to SQ1 or SQ0 or SQ-1”.

A week later, a 4-2 defeat at home to Wolves: “No comment don’t want to swear”

The next week, a 2-1 defeat to Derby: “Can’t comment *****”.

West Ham were eventually promoted.

Notable players: Marlon Harewood, Bobby Zamora, Matthew Etherington



The latest list: 2012/13. At some point in the late 00s, Uncle Jeff ditched the comments and injected a lorryload of stats into his yearly lists. The formula is simple – Uncle Jeff compares each result with the equivalent result the previous year (replacing relegated teams with promoted teams) and keeps a running total of the difference.

This has given birth to the Uncle Jeff Coefficient: +5 means West Ham are doing better than the previous year, -5 means worse. Last year was a good one – West Ham finished on +13.

Every few months I guest on the Stop Hammertime! (a popular, unofficial West Ham Podcast), listened to by thousands of fans around the world. The Uncle Jeff Formula is regularly discussed as an excellent barometer for how we’re doing. People on the podcast’s Facebook group often request a coefficient update. Uncle Jeff has gone global.

Last year, for the first time, I started my own Uncle Jeff list, and have a copy of the one above on the inside of my boiler cupboard. I plan to do so every year from now on. I’m thinking of re-instating the comments.

Notable players: Andy Carroll, Mohamed Diame, Winston Reid


uncle jeff

Despite threatening not to renew his season ticket every year for the last decade, Uncle Jeff has renewed for the 2013/14 season. Here he is in the car on the was to a game at West Brom last year. This year, he thinks we will be relegated.

Uncle Jeff Bonus: Hear the story of how he nearly got Stanley Matthews’ autograph once in the 1950s


West Ham: a minority of morons must not define us

I was with the West Ham fans at Spurs yesterday. I’ve been a West Ham season ticket holder for 20 years, and was sitting with my 70-year old uncle, an East End Jew who has been going to West Ham since the 1950s. At Upton Park we sit with my two cousins who have been season ticket holders since the 80s. My brother-in-law and niece and nephews have seats across the stadium, and their family have been season ticket holders for decades. As have thousands of other Jewish West Ham fans.

One of our chairmen is Jewish. The current captain of the Israeli national football team plays for West Ham.

There is a very clear line with antisemitic chanting aimed at Spurs. There’s a song that goes like so: “We’ll be running round Tottenham with our willies hanging out singing I’ve got a foreskin haven’t you….?” This is funny.

A very small minority of fans (and not just West Ham fans) choose to follow this with “….Fucking Jew!”. This isn’t. That’s the line. Needless to say, any chants referencing the Holocaust are light years beyond this line.

About a hundred or so West Ham fans were singing chants about Adolf Hitler in the lower tier yesterday, where we were sitting, for about two minutes towards the end of the game. My uncle wears earplugs to most games now. I hope this buffered it out. I turned around and voiced my disgust, and the blokes sitting behind me stopped. The blokes sitting behind them didn’t.

Aside from the obvious offence to Jews, this minority are also polluting the reputation of the club and its fans – of whom the vast, vast majority will be as sickened by the chants – and the hilarious Lazio stabbing songs – as I was. Sadly the thousands of fans who brilliantly represented our club yesterday won’t get written about, because of these idiots.

West Ham is not a racist club and never has been. I’ve heard numerous tales of National Front magazine sellers being chased away from Upton Park over the years. The club lies in the heart of one of the most dense Indian and Bengali neighbourhoods in London, and its Asian support is rising.

The moronic minority who chant the antisemitic songs are, quite possibly, not pathological racists. They are morons. As with every minority of morons, however, they shout loudly. We can all hear them. Every West Ham fan. And yesterday was certainly not the first time these morons have chanted like this. Every club has them, with their own unique vile chants, doing their own little bit to give football a bad name.­

We, the majority with sense, have a responsibility not to let the morons define us. We don’t need to apologise on their behalf, because they are nothing to do with us, but we do need to call it out. The club have responded strongly, and so will the police. The fans must too.

Don’t settle…

Vodpod videos no longer available.

“Don’t lose faith. You’ve got to find what you love, and that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work, and the only way to do great work is to love what you do.

If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking – and don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart – you’ll know when you find it. And as with any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking. Don’t settle.”

Joey Barton’s best tweets

Image: ilgiovaneWalter (Sobchak) on Flickr / Some rights reserved

A version of this post appears on the New York Times’ Goal blog, under the title Joey Barton’s Twitter Philosophizing.

There’s something about Joey Barton. There always has been. His career has been punctuated by disturbing outbursts of violence: as a 22-year old he stubbed out a cigar in a teammate’s eye at a Christmas party; in May 2007 he brutally attacked Ousmane Dabo, another teammate, until his ears bled and his eyesight was damaged; and six months later he punched a man 20 times in the head outside a Liverpool McDonalds – a crime for which he served 77 days in Strangeways prison.

And then there’s the peculiar, gnawingly likeable Joey Barton: the footballer who regularly – and admirably – pierces the dull fog of footballerisms that sterilises the vast majority of post-match interviews and press conferences. He criticised the England team for cashing in on dismal World Cup performances by publishing post-tournament books (“I played like shit, here’s my book”); he flashed his bum at Everton fans who had been taunting him about his incarcerated brother; and, of late, he has been become quite easily the most surprising footballer on Twitter, re-tweeting quotes by Nietzche, offering his opinion on the Labour Party leadership, and recommending Naomi Wolf novels to his followers.

Somewhat predictably, his boundless honesty has landed him in trouble – a flurry of barely-veiled tweets criticising the blundering board at Newcastle United proved the final straw, and Barton was transfer listed on Wednesday. Whoever his new employers prove to be, it’s likely that his online activities will be highly scrutinised. They’ll find some interesting reading… here’s my pick of his most intriguing tweets since he joined twitter. Any I’ve missed?

“There is a light that never goes out”………The Smiths! Best song ever written. Thanks marr / mozza for getting me through that drive….
May 26, 2011
“Freedom of thought is best promoted by the gradual illumination of men’s minds.” Charles Darwin 1809-1882
June 2, 2011

On getting refused entry to the US:

Totally hypocrisy considering what they get up to but rules are rules………
July 13, 2011
I’ve read the book “The End of America” by Naomi Wolf. There’s a DVD out has anyone seen it? Is it as good as the book?
July 19, 2011

On Rupert and James Murdoch’s appearance in front of the Select Committee: 

This is all a theatre show to keep the peasants jovial. Does anybody actually think justice will be served??????
July 19, 2011
Well I’d vote for David M over Ed M, everyday of the week. I can’t believe he’s the most appealing labour politician??? David for leader
July 20, 2011
Not be frowned upon by those not brave enough to walk against the crowd. There’s safety in the herd but never enlightenment or individualism
July 20, 2011
Am in Holland, so can’t read what the daily star (spits on to the floor!) has written today about me? Is it their typical shoddy journalism?
July 22, 2011
@piersmorgan well done on ur impeding millionth follower Piersy, pimms all round on the croquet lawn squire?
July 24, 2011
Why are British troops in conflict zones risking their lives, on America’s behalf? Supporting a fascist regimes ideologies? Bring them home.
July 30, 2011
“Land of the free, home of the brave” only George Bush and his idiotic subordinates believe that sh*te
July 30, 2011
If only we as players could tell the fans exactly how it is, without them above fining us lots of money. There will be a time and a place.
July 31, 2011
And again it would be left to those magnificent fans to pick up the remnants of their once great football club. #hadenoughofcertainpeople
July 31, 2011
Somewhere in those high echelons of NUFC, they have decided, I am persona non grata.
August 1, 2011
In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act. George Orwell
August 2, 2011
Made to train alone today, how predictable………
August 2, 2011

Chievo – Sampdoria fix?


As noted by @AlexWPoker on last week’s post on the possibly pre-ordained 1-1 draw between Padova and Atalanta, there have been some very odd odds available on today’s game between Chievo and Sampdoria in Serie A. A huge amount of money has been staked on the draw, with the price currently at a ridiculous 1.6.

@Bet72 sent me this interesting screengrab on the distribution of betting on the games, noting that by Thursday, £339K had already been placed on the draw. To put this into perspective, the West Ham – Man Utd game yesterday had just £2.8K matched at the same time.

There’s even been some pickup in the mainstream press on this one, with Goal reporting that a large number of bookmakers have suspended betting on the game, and the Guardian’s Football Weekly podcast discussing the issue on Thursday.

Let’s see what happens…

UPDATE: 6.30 pm

Well waddayaknow. A draw. Two weeks in a row, distinctively dodgy stuff in Italian football. See you next week, probably….

#2 in 2010

And lo, it seems that my Europe Without Hotels piece for the NYT was their second most read travel article in 2010. Chuffed.

The semantic web

As close as I’ve come to understanding it. And as close to philosophy as the internet gets. Props to Kate Ray for making it.

Vodpod videos no longer available.