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Beesotted contributor, Nemone Sariman, looks back at a magical Saturday night in West London that left Brentford fans celebrating and salty Tricky Trees fans seething all the way back to Nottingham. 

I have a West Ham-supporting friend (hear me out, please) who owns a pair of lucky West Ham socks. A couple of years ago she made an announcement on social media, with fanfare, flashing lights and everything, to announce that she would be wearing them on 30th December 2022, when West Ham played Brentford. 

Of course, we all know how that went.

My friend’s following social media post showed the lucky West Ham socks in the bin. And they have never been mentioned again. 

Most of us probably stopped believing in magic when we were about ten years old. I teach teenagers so I know what a cynical bunch they are, declaring everything to be Fake News or Photoshop or, like, “whatever”. Yet there is something about a lucky talisman or ritual that gives us a bit of oomph. Interestingly, even if we use them and things don’t go our way, unlike my Hammer friend, who saw sense and consigned those socks to the only place that they deserved to be, we don’t stop or change what we do. We still continue closing our eyes when that penalty is taken, saying that little prayer at kick-off or wearing those lucky socks (not West Ham ones, obviously). We seem to need the feeling of that external force giving us that extra, intangible SOMETHING.

Until last Saturday we had had a bad run of arguably winnable matches, and the number of points separating us from you-know-where seemed to be melting away like dreams upon waking. Not to mention the dark and the cold, with a good week until payday and even longer until the end of Dry January, when we can all start having neat vodka for breakfast again. (Or is that last one just me?) 

Even the husband, who is usually a glass-half-full person, said, “If we lose on Saturday, that’ll be it. We’ll be relegated.”


If anyone needed luck last weekend, it was us. 

Then our protagonist entered stage right (or, rather, FRONT). And suddenly everyone felt better. 

Something about Ivan Toney’s return just felt … well … magical. That’s not to say that we couldn’t hold our own without him – after all, our problems didn’t start when he left – but something about his presence lifts us. There is no doubting his goal-scoring prowess; anyone can see that. But his versatility, his work ethic, his relationship with his teammates and, dare I say it, his naughtiness at times … he is so much more than just a goal machine to us. He gives us that extra bit of sparkle, and he seems to make the rest of the team believe harder in THEIR sparkle, too. 

Admittedly, three minutes in, I did wonder whether we were in lucky West Ham socks territory. In the Championship we were the kings of coming back from losing positions, yet in the Premier League it seems to have been the opposite: we either lose leads, or concede first, and then it all continues to go downhill from there*.

*Based on my own hazy and unreliable recollections, not on any actual data or facts.

However, then there was That Free Kick. 

And, yes, I know all about FoamGate, but I don’t know enough about the rules to be able to state how naughty that was or whether, indeed, it was naughty at all. I believe Ivan was interviewed and said that the ball could be moved up to “a yard either way”, but I don’t even really know what a yard is so, I’m probably not best placed to comment. Even when my satnav says, “In 80 yards, turn left”, I have no idea what that looks like or means. 

It was an evenly matched fight, but we did it. During the 10 (ten!) minutes of added time, I could actually feel my heartbeat in my jaw. But we did it. 

It’s hard not to declare Ivan the Man of the Match, foam or no foam, although none of our players had an awful game. Mikkel Damsgaard sparkled, Vitaly Janelt answered the “What are we going to do without Nørgaard?” questions, and the connection between Ivan and Neal Maupay gave me high hopes for a impressive partnership.

It’s like the two naughty boys in the class becoming friends; you have to watch out because they’ll encourage each other to be even naughtier but, at the same time, you know that their antics will make life interesting. 

Thank you, Bees, for making us believe in magic again. And thank you, Ivan. You are our lucky socks. 

Nemone Sariman