It's Swansea City's centenary this year. So to celebrate their first appearance on the MBM in their milestone season, let's go back to the 1910s. What was the big sporting news in the Manchester Guardian a century ago today?
"Raining: no toss" was the text of nearly all the telegrams received form the conveyors in charge of Northern birds at South and West of England race points on Saturday. The races postponed include the big event of the Lancashire Combine from Swindon, affecting 17 federations, the East Lancashire race from the same town, the North Staffordshire flight from Bournemouth, and the South Cheshire convoy at Weymouth. Consequently all these races stand postponed until a more favourable day, Sundays excepted.
Stockport and District Federation, however, risked a race from Bath, with results anything but satisfactory. More than half the birds were absent when darkness set in on Saturday, and those which did struggle through must have had a tiring journey.
Results: Kineton and Thomas, Droylsden, 736 yards a minute; A Pickstone, Altrincham, 679; Smalley and Hopkins, Stockport, 676; A Lowe, Stockport, 661; Lingham, Ashton-under-Lyne, 660.
West Ham United, on the other hand, give us no such cheap excuse to trawl through ancient history and smile knowingly at old-fashioned attitudes and outmoded practices. So let's just concentrate on today's football, and how Sam Allardyce will set his team up today.
Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, try the chicken.
Swansea City: Vorm, Rangel, Chico, Williams, Taylor, Britton, de Guzman, Michu, Dyer, Routledge, Graham.
Subs: Tremmel, Tate, Moore, Dobbie, Agustien, Gower, Davies.
West Ham United: Jaaskelainen, Reid, Tomkins, Collins, McCartney, Jarvis, Nolan, Noble, Diame, Demel, Cole.
Subs: Henderson, Maynard, Maiga, Vaz Te, Taylor, O'Brien, Diarra.
The patsy for whatever manufactured controversy is whipped up today: Martin Atkinson (W Yorkshire)
So anyway, Allardyce may not quite make every aesthete's dream a reality, but by God does he get the job done. He got the Hammers up from the Championship at the first attempt last season - an impressive achievement that's gone relatively unheralded - and his side have already seen off Aston Villa in this campaign. Can they capitalise on their great start? They had the best away record in their division last time round, but they'll need all that on-the-road nous today, because Michael Laudrup's Swans are, yes, flying. A 5-0 rout at QPR last week represents their biggest-ever win in the top flight of English football. Brendan who? John What-ack?
The last time this league fixture was played: April 1983, West Ham winning 5-1 at the Vetch Field, with goals from Alan Devonshire, Alan Dickens and Geoff Pike. No Michu for Swansea that day, of course.
WILD ACCUSATIONS OF FLAGRANT GUARDIAN BIAS (pt XXXVIII in an ongoing series): "The classic reportage on the pigeons is fascinating," opines Allan Castle. "Can you also reprint the comments below the line? With the victory of birds from Greater Manchester I imagine there may have been numerous Liverpool pigeon fanciers bitterly alleging bias in reporting or refereeing. Or taunting Islington birds for having win nowt for several years." As you know full well, Allan, there was no internet back in 1912, electricity having only been invented in 1963 along with the Beatles and Philip Larkin. Rabid paranoid maniacs had to make do with green ink, quills, parchment, envelope, and the homing pigeon's fancy cousin, the Royal Mail Dove, when they wanted to send in their bomb threats. Sadly, green ink fades very quickly, so all that foaming jabber has been lost to the ether. Sad, really. It'd be a bit like if we ever accidentally pulled the plug on our internet server, and wiped out every single thing ever written below the... hold on, back in a minute, I've just thought of something.
Nope, couldn't find the socket. Probably just as well - because WE'RE OFF! Swansea set the ball rolling, with a great atmosphere at the Liberty Stadium from both sets of fans.
2 min: A misplaced pass by Chico - straight out of the Brendan Rodgers textbook if Liverpool's early-season form at the back is anything to go by - allows West Ham to start the game on the front foot. A bit of head tennis in the area, then Jarvis curls in a peachy cross from the left, the ball missing Nolan's head, six yards out, by millimetres. A great start by the visitors here.
5 min: A bit of a shapeless mess, now, this match. Speaking of which, here's a story from Philip Podolsky: "As borne out by this preamble, you're quite the history buff. I'm not. Back in the day, I used to be a research assistant for this medievalist, who organized an international conference in the course of which I had to accompany on a guided tour of Jerusalem's Old Citeh those participants who found the guide's pace too physically taxing. Poor unfit medievalists!!! It was expected by everyone, including my boss, that I could deliver a brief, mildly entertaining tour across those landmarks seeing which doesn't necessitate climbing too many stairs. I could not produce a single word and it was very embarrassing for all concerned. End of story." More of this, please, readers! This is what the kids want. They're at a loose end now Soccer AM's finished.
8 min: Michu tries to release Graham down the inside-right channel, but his pass is too strong and flies through to Jaaskelainen. Meanwhile, the early appearance in this MBM of Buddy Rich has reminded Graeme Arthur of this joke: "Tourist arrives in African country and immediately hears drumming. Thinks - hey cool this is the real Africa man. Drumming oontinues into the night. Thinks - wow, these dudes take it seriously. After a sleepless night drumming continues into the morning. Thinks - shit man, when's it gonna stop. At lunch, with drumming pounding through his sleep deprived brain, asks waiter same question. Waiter replies, 'The drumming can't stop, man - not ever.' 'Not ever? Why not?' 'Because, if the drumming stops, the bass solo begins...' " He's here all week, ladies and gentlemen, try the Memphis soul stew.
11 min: Dyer looks to Michu a pass down the same channel for Routledge, but McCartney is on hand to nip it in the bud. West Ham are looking slightly open at the back; Swansea have nearly cut them open twice down the middle. Let's see how this develops.
14 min: I was going to report the lovely, genteel atmosphere that's settled over the stadium as both teams ping the ball around in triangles in the middle of the park, while going absolutely nowhere. But the West Ham support have just started singing a number with a slanderous lyric featuring brazen accusations of onanism. So there goes that.
17 min: Both teams are throwing some progressive shapes, but nothing's really coming off for either of them yet. Swansea win a corner down the left through Routledge, but it's a total non-event. "Has Big Sam got tight to Michael Laudrup in the dugouts and booted him up the backside 'to let him know here's there'?" wonders Gary Naylor. No. But he's probably studying the great Dane's general demeanour, in case he's put his hands in his pockets to jiggle some loose change in a dismissive fashion, or is scratching his arse in a disrespectful manner, or starts combing his hair as part of a clear and blatant undermining gesture.
20 min: GOAL!!! Swansea City 1-0 West Ham United. The Swans made former Hammers stopper Rob Green look a bit daft last week, and now they've done for his successor. Rangel is sprung clear into the area down the inside-right channel. He hammers a low, high-speed cross through the six-yard area. Jaaskelainen drops onto the ball in order to smother it, but allows it to deflect under his body and into the net. That was going wide, and has to go down as an own goal.
22 min: West Ham respond well, winning a free kick down the left and whipping the ball into the area. Reid challenges for a header, eight yards out, but is absolutely clattered in a fair 50-50 challenge with Vorm. Reid springs up after a quick shake of the head to clear the cobwebs, and we move on. At least West Ham aren't sitting back feeling sorry for themselves. Although the same can't be said for Big Sam, who is sitting low in his chair with his arms tightly crossed, chewing furiously, with the funk on.
25 min: Michu takes a wild fresh-air swipe at the ball. He wasn't close from kicking Tomkins' kneecap clean off, sending it sailing like a discus towards Cardiff. Pretty glad there was no contact there, on the whole. The ref wags his finger at the clumsy Spaniard, then tells Tomkins to stop moaning, because that's exactly what he is - some would say understandably - doing.
27 min: This is beginning to heat up quite nicely. Nolan goes in hard on Michu. Retribution for the Tomkins swipe? Very possibly. Anyway, the crowd aren't happy, Michu isn't happy, Nolan isn't happy, several other players on both sides aren't happy, and referee Martin Atkinson looks oh so very tired. Grown men, and all. Sensible refereeing, he tells them all to stop fannying about, and the game continues.
29 min: GOAL!!! Swansea City 2-0 West Ham United. Two million pounds, Michu cost. He is fantastic. But West Ham are imploding too. Collins looks to play a backpass to his keeper down the Swansea inside-left channel. It's too short, and Michu nips in, flicking an instant finish past the advancing Jaaskeliainen and into the bottom-left corner. That was a delicious touch. He unwrapped that present with one flick of his boot. On the bench, Big Sam is now almost levitating.
31 min: Rangel is booked for a late lunge on McCartney down the left. Jarvis flicks the free kick into the centre, but Vorm flaps clear. Swansea aren't too far away from breaking free down the left, but a possibly embarrassed Collins comes across to snuff out the danger. West Ham are, rather like that pigeon in the bottom-left corner of the photograph inexplicably illustrating this Premier League football report, all over the show. "Spooky," begins David Evans. "No sooner had I read the drumming 'joke' that some African style beats started playing outside (and I'm in deepest, darkest south west Wales, so this isn't an everyday occurrence). No bass solos, sorry, but the beeps of an articulated vehicle reversing do bring something to the party."
34 min: They've just shown the first goal again. Angel Rangel's cross could have been a shot, and it could have been heading for the bottom-left corner. Possibly. One for the dubious goals panel. One for the dubious goalkeeping panel, certainly, and they say yes. Speaking of Mr Rangel, here's surname expert Cliff Yahoo: "From a Hammer, much respect to Swansea for honouring their visitors by inserting a player whose name is based on Cockney Rhyming Slang." But what's it slang for? The awful tangle West Ham have got themselves into? The mangle-d wreckage they're currently in? Spangles? (Does anybody remember etc., and what's the deal with airplane peanuts?)
35 min: Tomkins wins a header on the edge of the Swansea area. The ball flies towards the left-hand post, where Jarvis spins on a sixpence and hammers a shot goalwards. Vorm is on hand to parry and clear. That was a magnificent effort, and so unlucky for the visiting side.
37 min: Williams is found in space down the inside-left channel. This is total football. He pearls a shot straight at Jaaskelainen - hey, it worked well enough for Rangel - but the keeper tips over. The corner's a disgrace.
38 min: Cole is booked for pushing Chico's face through.
41 min: Swansea are knocking it around in the improvisational style. They're a very attractive side to watch, but I'm not telling you anything you don't know already. Anyway, while they play their jazz football, it's a perfect time for another drummer gag. "Wagon train circling round in wild west days around sunset and a sound of Indian drums wafts over from the hills. One of the wagoners says: Don't like the sound of those drums. A few moments later a voice is heard saying: He's not our regular drummer." Ladies and gentlemen, show your appreciation for Mr Chris Copping. It's unlikely to get simultaneously any better and worse than that.
45 min: A corner for West Ham on the right. They send it into the six-yard box, where Collins wins a flick on for Noble to hack goalwards at the far post. Vorm clears, and Swansea hack out for another corner. From which...
45 min +1: ... Swansea are forced to clear out for a third corner, Tomkins not quite getting enough purchase on a free header eight yards out. And it's nearly third time lucky for West Ham, who see Jarvis's shot towards the bottom-right-hand corner hacked off the line by Williams.
HALF TIME: Swansea City 2-0 West Ham United. Swansea deserve to be winning, the Hammers deserve to be losing. But the two-goal margin is probably a wee bit flattering to the home side, especially as West Ham really cranked up the pressure right at the end of the half. I'll be very surprised if Allardyce doesn't order his troops to stick the ball in the mixer, and with extreme prejudice, because Swansea don't look at all comfortable when it's lumped into the area. This could be a great second half, one way or the other. Don't go flicking!
HALF-TIME DRUM-BASED ENTERTAINMENT IN LIEU OF MORE DRUMMER JOKES:
Drums kick in around the 4m40s mark, but you may as well watch the whole thing, there's plenty time.
And we're off again! West Ham - who have exchanged Tomkins for Vaz Te - get the ball rolling. But to hell with that: we've got ourselves another drummer joke! Quiet, please, everyone, Di Acaster's speaking: "Quite reasonably a drummer got sick of all the drummer jokes. So he popped down to his favorite shop and said: 'I am a guitarist. I would like to purchase a Gibson Les Paul guitar and a Marshall amp please.' 'You're a drummer,' said the shopkeeper. After much protestation the drummer finally admitted it, and asked the shopkeeper how he knew. 'This is a greengrocers.'"
47 min: Vorm, under intense pressure from Cole, drops a shoulder and sprays a gorgeous 40-yard crossfield ball wide left, straight onto the toe of Britton. The goalkeeper! West Ham fans are momentarily excused, Cardiff supporters indefinitely, but you have got to love Swansea City.
49 min: Jarvis gets to the byline down the right, and clips a cross into the middle for Vaz Te, who shapes to scissor a Mark Hughes volley home, but is left hanging by Rangel, the defender nipping in to head clear. "I believe David Evans is in deep, dark south west Wales, but deepest, darkest? Unless he's on West Angle Bay, he's not," begins Matt Dony. "If he is there, though, African drumming would indeed be a surprise. I doubt any residents of Angle village have ever seen any drums that aren't British Military issue snares. Regarding the game, I've got both Rangel and Jaaskaliainen in my fantasy team. You win some, etc."
50 min: Space for Graham down the left. The striker checks inside, opens his body, and looks to thread a shot into the bottom-right corner. Jaaskelainen makes a five-course meal of getting down to push the ball round the post, but in the final analysis he's done his job there, so. The corner is an egregious waste of precious time.
51 min: Nothing's quite falling for the Hammers. Vaz Te makes a nuisance of himself at the right-hand post, and nearly finds Cole on the edge of the six-yard area, but as Cole shapes to hook home, the ball's hacked clear. Swansea don't look all too safe at the back.
52 min: Graham is set free down the middle by a lovely through ball from Routledge, but he's hauled back for offside. He was level with the last man; Swansea can feel heartily aggrieved at that decision.
53 min: It's all happening. Nolan is booked for clattering into Britton down the left. The ball's hoicked forward, and met on the edge of the area by Dyer, who heads past a flapping Jaaskelainen. The crowd cheer in expectation of the ball flying into the unguarded net, but Dyer's header is wide right, and he's been flagged for offside anyway. "What do you say to the drummer at your door?" I-say-I-say-I-says Scott Bassett. "Thanks for the pizza, buddy."
56 min: What a miss by Graham. This match should be over. Near the halfway line, Dyer drops a shoulder down the inside-right channel then cuts the West Ham defence apart with a diagonal through ball to Graham, cutting in from the left. The striker opens himself up, and looks to guide a shot into the bottom right corner, but gets too much on the effort and the ball flies wide. Not great. Meanwhile here's Matt Dony again, on the offbeat, striking back for the much-maligned sticksman: "A scientist invents a mind reading device. He takes it along to a gig, and points it at each member of the band. The drummer is thinking, 'Look at the size of the crowd. We're gonna make loads on the merch stand!' The guitarist thinks, 'I've got that solo coming up, they're gonna love it.' The singer thinks, 'Wow, these songs are going down well. They're listening to all my lyrics!' The bassist is thinking, 'E E E E A A A A E E E E D D D D.'"
59 min: Collins is booked for clattering into Britton down the left, near the West Ham area. De Guzman curls a dangerous free kick to the far post. Chico isn't far from getting his head to it, but the ball flies out for a goal kick, with Jaaskelainen flapping. The West Ham keeper, so dependable through the years, has cut a risible figure today.
61 min: Komik kutz in the West Ham area. Graham guides the ball towards the left-hand post, where Michu and Routledge take turns to take unsuccessful swipes at goal. They both have a couple of attempts from close range, the ball never quite falling in the right place for them, or at the required height. West Ham are in grave danger of conceding, they don't look certain of themselves at all.
62 min: Maiga comes on for Cole. "Has Sam Allardyce used his time in the Championship to become an even more outlandish caricature of his Bolton self?" wonders Allan Castle, possibly a Newcastle/Blackburn fan who has successfully locked a dark period of his life away in the vault. "He looks like a scary drunken uncle at a Mafia wedding."
64 min: GOAL! Swansea City 3-0 West Ham United. Dyer exchanges a one-two with Michu on the edge of the area, before setting Routledge free down the inside-right channel. He reaches the byline, then clips a ball into the centre, where Graham bundles a slightly fortunate sidefoot home. But that was richly deserved, because Swansea had spent the couple of minutes leading up to the goal by pinging several one-touch triangles from the back. They're a great side to watch, and as things stand, currently top of the league with a goal difference of +8 after roughly one and three-quarter games.
67 min: Chico is booked for sticking out a leg as Vaz Te looks to scamper past down the inside-left channel. He can have no complaints, but moans anyway, claiming the West Ham striker had handled earlier in the move.
68 min: Vaz Te lashes a low free kick goalwards, but Vorm is behind it all the way. West Ham look, to a man, pretty damn miserable, it has to be said.
70 min: Diarra replaces Diame, Big Sam's last roll of the dice. "What do you call those people who hang around with Musicians?" asks John Tumbridge. "Drummers. Thanks. I'll get my coat." You may as well stay. Someone had to crack that one, after all.
73 min: Routledge goes on a magnificent meander down the middle, gliding out slightly to the right as he reaches the West Ham area. For a second, it looks like he's going to go all the way, one of the great solo goals. But McCartney times his entrance brilliantly - something that couldn't be said during the Olympic opening ceremony, fans of Obvious Musical Patter - and pinches the ball with a sliding tackle at the death. Great play all round.
76 min: De Guzman is replaced by Agustien. Meanwhile here's Andy Underwood with a cavalcade of chiming, choral chat: "How do you know when a bassist is at your front door? They don't know when to come in. How many guitarists does it take to change a light bulb? 100: one to change the light bulb, 99 to stand around saying 'I could do that'. How many lead singers does it take to change a light bulb? None: they just hold the bulb and the rest of the world revolves around them. And finally one for the crew: why do Sound Engineers say one-two, one-two? Because you have to lift on three."
79 min: This is over. Swansea are stroking it around simply to run down the clock. "What's the difference between a drum machine and a drummer?" parps Eamon McManus. "You only have to punch the information into a drum machine once... honk?" Hmm, not sure about that last honk, great joke, but it loses something in 5/4 time.
81 min: Routledge goes off to warm applause, and no wonder, he's been magnificent. Moore comes on to replace him.
83 min: Williams creams a long pass downfield - how very un-Swansesque - but with players lurking on the right, Reid is forced into a ridiculous handball save. He's booked for that. "I'm surprised that nobody's cracked the Dave Grohl fave: What do you call a drummer who breaks up with his girlfriend? Homeless," writes Ryan Dunne. "I do hope it's not because your average stereotypical MBM reader can neither grasp nor relate to the concept of a 'girlfriend'."
84 min: Another change for Swansea, Michael Laudrup whittling away the minutes. Davies comes on for Taylor. "Funny you should be making all these drummer jokes on what is a sad day for me," sobs Mark Ritson. "It's the anniversary of when I had to sack our first drummer. Poor lad wasn't very good but he took it really badly. Ended up throwing himself behind a bus."
87 min: Dyer has a rake from distance, but it's not on target. Like so many of his team-mates, he's had a very fine match. Meanwhile, here's what may well be the final muso gag of the afternoon, from the appropriately named Simon Says: "Jazz musician goes to the doctor. Doctor says: bad news, you've only got two months to live. Jazz musician responds: OK. But what on?"
89 min: You'll notice I haven't mentioned many West Ham players during this second half. Well, there's a reason for that.
90 min: Sam Allardyce is sat slumped in his dugout chair. He's past anger, past caring. He's almost horizontal, with both hands firmly thrust into his pockets, his chin pressed firmly into his chest. What a journey home awaits the professional football stars of West Ham United.
90 min +1: There will be three additional minutes of this. It'll seem like three hours to poor Big Sam. I wonder if he's got enough chewing gum left?
90 min +2: Moore bustles down the inside-left channel and gets a shot away, but it's nothing to write home about. It's not particularly worthy of any space here, either, but with nothing much else to say, it'll have to do.
FULL TIME: Swansea City 3-0 West Ham United. And that's that! West Ham had a few moments in the first half, but were well beaten overall. Swansea were magnificent, and move to the top of the Premier League: two games played, two wins, eight goals scored, none conceded. They're wonderful to watch, too. "How much would it have cost Liverpool to buy the entire first-team squad instead of just the manager?" wonders Peter Roy. No need for a drum roll after that one, it's a nice gentle payoff that works just fine as it is.