Neil Howarth: Hammers oozed class but a bad Gigg left a sour taste
WHAT an experience we had at West Ham's Upton Park last week.
Sometimes you can go to Premier League clubs and you can feel slightly let down by how you are treated or a little bit disappointed by the reception you can receive.
However, in this instance, from the moment we arrived on the team coach an hour and a half before kick off via the infamous Green Street, until we left a few hours later after giving a very good account of ourselves, West Ham did everything they could to prove that they are every bit as classy as their history and tradition implies.
The stewards inside the stadium could not do enough to help our players, from escorting them to our dressing room to providing match programmes and envelopes for the players to leave their tickets for their families in.
Their kit men bent over backwards in doing their best to assist our players' requests for a souvenir shirt, and believe me there was plenty of requests.
However, when one of their kit men asked for a Cheltenham Town shirt in return there was a real look of panic on the faces of our staff.
Because of a clash of colours we had to order a brand new third strip that we will also probably use when we play Scunthorpe United later in the season.
However, due to the finances in the bottom tier of the professional league we could only order the absolute bare minimum needed for the squad.
So when we come to play Scunthorpe away later in the season don't be surprised if you see us playing in skins or bibs!
After the game I asked a few of the directors if they had been as well looked after as we had by their board and independently they all gave me the same answer.
"Karen Brady is beautiful!" they all replied.
They never told me if the boardroom was lovely or if the food they ate had been cooked to perfection, but I do know Karen Brady is beautiful!
We were also lucky enough to share a post-match drink with Big Sam and his staff and he was very friendly, full of stories and very complimentary about our team.
"Keep playing like that and you will have a good chance this season," he said.
That made Saturday's defeat to Bury all the more disappointing. Because we had already been up to Accrington and down to London in the past seven days the club was generous enough to allow us to travel up to Bury on the Friday afternoon.
The preparation was perfect, and for that we are really grateful to the chairman and his fellow directors. And when we scored inside the first couple of minutes I felt as though we were in for a good afternoon.
From that moment, however, everything went wrong. Three quick goals against us in a very short space of time, coupled with two serious injuries very early in the game, really knocked us sideways.
We were unable to respond to those setbacks as we should have done and the game from our point of view was as good as over. We had a few chances in the second half and were on top but we conceded a very soft fourth goal which ended any comeback hopes.
We have obviously not had the start to the season that we would have liked, but there is only one place we are going to improve our performance and that is on the training pitch.
Three big home matches coming up will give us all the incentive we need to start picking up more points.