Football / Ups and Downs: West Ham's joy pitches Portsmouth into the minefield

Click to follow
The Independent Online
West Ham United . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2

Cambridge United. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0

THE PITCH invasion preceded the ceremonial popping of champagne corks: in virtually every respect the Upton Park promotion party adhered to the ritual that follows one of the season's happiest finales.

Joy intertwined with relief to produce a passionate celebration. But an expression of optimism for the future this was not. Memories are not that short. Two years ago West Ham were in this same position and it all went horribly wrong. Their previous uprising became a nightmare of mounting relegation concern and rebellion on the terraces against the bonds scheme. In the middle, stood the other Bonds, Billy, and, once bitten twice shy, he now prepares for next season with a large helping of caution.

In fact he talked at first of finishing next year on a par with Crystal Palace before recalling that a few minutes earlier Palace had slipped through the exit door and into the First Division. 'There are three leagues in the Premier,' Bonds said. 'There's the three or four who can win it, the bulk who finish around the middle and the others at the bottom. Hopefully we'll be at the head of the bottom group along with the Southamptons.'

He is hardly reaching for the stars but you wish Bonds well because he is a decent man and his club means so much to so many East End lives. You do fear though that 1993-94 will be a marathon for them and not a sprint with all its aches and pains.

He badly needs to spend but money is scarce. He will lose David Speedie and Clive Allen will be 32 and it was their goals that ensured the wobbles were kept at arm's length and kept their side a step in front of Portsmouth. However Cambridge made them fight all they way before they were resigned to their relegation fate.

Goals: Speedie (47) 1-0; C Allen (90) 2-0.

West Ham United: Miklosko; Breacker, Dicks, Potts, Gale, Bishop, Robson (C Allen, 62), Butler, Speedie (M Allen, 89), Morley, Keen.

Cambridge United: Filan; Heathcote, Kimble (Fensome, 84), Raynor, Chapple, O'Shea, Dennis (Bartlett, 54), Claridge, Butler, Clayton, Leadbitter.

Referee: D Elleray (Middlesex).