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Who wins the real battle of the superheroes?

WELCOME EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: David Blackmore MANAGING EDITOR: Simon Osborn SOCIAL MEDIA EDITOR: Lucy Woolford CONTRIBUTORS: David Bowden, Marcus Johns, Geoff Hillyer, James Jones, George Parris, Stuart Plant, Emily Pulham, Danny Rust, Julian Shea, Bianca Westwood, Brian Williams. CHIEF PHOTOGRAPHER: Nicky Hayes EDITORIAL ENQUIRIES: editor@blowing- ADVERTISING ENQUIRIES: WHERE YOU CAN READ IT: Blowing Bubbles is available to buy and is also available to read on your PC, Mac, Tablet or Mobile. Blowing Bubbles is published by Fanatic Media. Blowing Bubbles is a completely independent publication. The views expressed within Blowing Bubbles are not necessarily those of the publishers. Opinions expressed by companies and individuals appearing within the magazine are not that of Blowing Bubbles or the publisher. The publisher accepts no liability from any action raised in response to any such opinions. Readers are strongly advised that although we take every care to ensure prices and content, etc, are up to date, it is the responsibility to check with the advertiser before purchasing or travelling to view products. No reproduction, either in part or whole of the magazine is allowed unless written consent is obtained from the publisher. The publisher accepts no responsibility for any actions arising from articles or features or advertisements within this magazine. Readers are advised to pay by credit card when ordering goods as these are regulated under the Consumer Act 1974. Debit and charge cards are not. (c) Blowing Bubbles

The final few miles are always the most gruelling of them all... W est Ham and I have something in common - we’re both working towards an end goal that will arrive next month. When May 10 arrives to herald the final game at the Boleyn, I hope to be celebrating raising a substantial amount for the Bobby Moore Fund having completed the Grand East Anglia Run on May 1. I’ve been a keen supporter of the charity for the past seven years and with it being 50 years since Bobby captained England to World Cup glory, I thought it would be nice to mark this an-

niversary by taking part in this popular annual event in Norfolk. As well as the fundraising element of this 10km run, I’m also hoping to smash my personal best of 46 minutes 12 seconds. Granted it’s not the quickest time, but I’m determined to prove I am fitter than I was four years ago! Read more inside about how you can help me raise money for the Bobby Moore Fund by blowing bubbles, as well as an update by Julian Shea on the movie about the footballing legend. Also in this issue, we’ve got an interesting inter-

view with Barry Fry who gives us a good insight into our two chairmen. He also believes Peterborough are helping to make West Ham loanee Martin Samuelsen into a £20million player. Brian Williams gives his view on a question that I’ve heard on numerous occasions recently: Who’s better Payet or Di Canio? It’s a difficult one to answer from my point of view. Perhaps when Payet has spent four seasons at the club we’ll be in a better position to judge.


The big interview - Barry Fry

‘Samuelsen is a genius and is starting to do it on the pitch’ David Bowden hears Peterborough United’s director of football talk Gold and Sullivan, the West Ham way and a very special young talent


arry Fry believes West Ham are in for a very bright future on and off the pitch as the Hammers prepare for their big summer move to Stratford. Fry, who spent two-and-a-half years with West Ham’s joint chairmen David Gold and David Sullivan at Birmingham, feels the club is in safe hands with the pair at the helm. In a wide-ranging interview for Blowing Bubbles Monthly, Peterborough United’s Director of Football also feels the claret and blue faithful should be delighted with where the owners have taken the Irons. ‘All the West Ham supporters must be absolutely delighted Gold and Sullivan saved their club and have taken it a stage further than anyone could ever dream. Their business expertise, their passion and commitment for football, and the recruitment they achieved last summer is second-to-none.’ Fry said. A West Ham player Fry is particularly

Talented: Martin Samuelsen looked good in pre-season for the Hammers before going on loan impressed with is Martin Samuelsen. The Norwegian scored against the Posh in pre-season and caught the eye of the former Birmingham boss immediately. The youngster then joined the London Road club on loan after Fry called in a favour from Sullivan and Gold, and Fry believes the former Manchester City acade-

my graduate could make the vital difference in sealing promotion to the Championship. ‘He has come in and made a real impact, on the training ground he excites everybody, all our players look up to him. He is a genius on the training ground and he takes that onto the field of play and we are delighted to have Martin

for the rest of the season,’ Fry continued. ‘I think he is so good, he will be the difference between us getting promotion or not or winning the league or not.’ Fry hopes Peterborough can seal promotion with the Norwegian pulling the strings and believes his impact will help the free-scoring Posh to continue to find the back of the net. He hopes that the Irons will allow the tricky midfielder to continue his development in the Championship, should Graham Westley’s men seal promotion. ‘He is only 18, and he is such a lovely young man, we have a very young team, [and an] exciting team who play football, we are the country’s leading goal-scorers and we’ll get more and more with him in the side. ‘I am hoping he helps us gain promotion, and I can say to David Gold and Sullivan, “let’s have him for another year in the Championship and he’ll be worth £20 million when he gets

Fan: Barry Fry says he has been impressed with the way West Ham have improved this season

back to you,” Fry joked. ‘He has got to develop and we will help that development because he is playing week in and week out. ‘No disrespect to West Ham under 21s but nobody ever tackles. ‘He won’t learn anything playing for the under 21s, people will kick him at our level, they’ll push him about and that will help him become a man. Playing at this level, and League One is a good level, will help him both as a man and as a player no end.’ Off the pitch, Fry feels the Hammers are set for an equally enjoyable time, with the club set to move to the Olympic Stadium and with ‘brilliant’ businessmen in Gold and Sullivan, the former Birmingham manager believes the sky’s the limit for the Hammers. Having spent two-anda-half successful seasons with the Blues under the two Davids, Fry claims that they are the best in business. ‘They are absolutely brilliant, and they back their managers; I don’t think any manager who has ever worked under Gold, Sullivan and [Karren] Brady couldn’t say they didn’t have their total support,’ he explained. The Hammers are set for a busy summer as they prepare to move to Stratford and spending big in the summer with marquee signings rumoured to be arriving.

Progress: Barry Fry says David Gold and David Sullivan have turned West Ham’s fortunes around

‘They’re very passionate people but above all they’re very knowledgeable about the game. They can also back their opinion up with statistics, so they really are brilliant; they are football lovers but primarily West Ham lovers.’ The arrival of Hammers star man Dimitri Payet backs this up and to get the Frenchman for £10 million sums

up their business nous. The signing of the West Ham number 27 has also brought a change in style at the club, and was something that Fry was left impressed by on a recent visit to the Boleyn. The Hammers now play a brand of football likened to ‘the West Ham way’ and Bilic’s fine free-flowing football left the former Peterborough

chairman on the edge of his seat. ‘I know a lot of West Ham fans, and they want to see their team play the right [style of] football and be entertained and they’ve done that. ‘I have been fortunate enough to go to two or three games this season and it’s totally different to last year, it’s very exciting and it gets you on the edge of your seat,’

It is time to join a winning team for the 2016/17 season! WWW.BLOWING-BUBBLES.CO.UK BY FANS, FOR FANS




Star: Barry Fry says West Ham’s Dimitri Payet has been one of the signings of the season Fry explained. Ahead of the move to the Olympic Stadium in August this year, Fry has assured the Hammers faithful that they will soon be able to watch their heroes on the cheap claiming Gold, Sullivan and Brady are football people and will want to bring football to the masses in east London. ‘They’ve got a new stadium, which everyone

is excited about, nobody likes change, but West Ham fans will be able to go to football on a Saturday and believe me they’ll make it affordable.’ He concluded. BBM * Barry Fry was speaking to Claret and Hugh on Moore than just a podcast. Listen to more from the team on www. moorethanjustapodcast.

Our team is expanding and we are on the lookout for talented writers, designers, photographers, advertising sales representatives, sellers, social media experts and cartoonists. If you think you have what it takes to join West Ham’s premier magazine email

Your shout


Clattenburg’s display makes case for the use of technology I ’m writing this after watching yet another West Ham game be ruined by a referee. Mark Clattenburg’s horrendous display in the Hammers’ 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace was the latest in a long line of poor displays by officials this season. How on earth he thought Cheikhou Kouyaté deserved a straight red is a mystery to me. However, I was just as angry at his manner – he couldn’t wait to get the card out of his pocket and is clearly someone who revels in being the centre of attention. When you consider the penalty decision at Chelsea, Mark Noble’s red card at Liverpool and Kouyate’s dismissal at

Blackburn Rovers – both were later rescinded – and it is clear the standard of our supposed top officials is simply not good enough. I’ve been generally against the use of tech-

The news West Ham have made Manuel Lanzini’s loan deal permanent is great news. The Argentinian has been great for us this season and, if it wasn’t for the sensational form of Dimitri Payet, would have had a lot more attention. It’s no coincidence that our worst run of form of the year coincided with his injury and I’m excit-

ed to think how good he could become over the next few seasons. The reported fee of £7million is chicken feed in today’s money and could well be one of the biggest bargains the club have ever had. Lanzini is exactly the type of player West Ham should be signing – young, hungry and with plenty of re-sale value. Sophie Judge


All smiles: Mark Clattenburg had a dire game when West Ham hosted Palace nology in football as I’ve feared it would slow the game down too much. But when you see such basic errors being made week in week out it is time to reconsider. Rob Pelling

Lanzini deal is a step in right direction

Deal: Manuel Lanzini

Noble has done his family proud One of the reasons why I became a West Ham United fan towards the end of the 1970s was my uncle, Jim Jackson, my mother’s brother. He had emigrated to east London in the late-50s and settled there becoming a cab driver. Imagine my amazement when I learned that his grandson, Mark Noble, was to sign for the Hammers and the pride I feel now that he is our captain. I think it’s wonderful that Mark has given his all for the club over the years and deserved his testimonial. While I will be sending my best wishes from Drogheda, Ireland, I’m sure Jim will be looking down from heaven with a great big smile on his face. Paddy Campbell

Stadium boost shows our size

The fact West Ham are going to extend the capacity of the Olympic Stadium to 60,000 next season shows what a massive club we can become. When we were awarded the stadium there were plenty of people lining up to say that we’d never fill it. Who is laughing now? David Paul




It is time to be greedy

Happy day: Mark Noble has been a great servant to West Ham and was rightly honoured by the club


Mark Noble deserved his big day in the spotlight

t’s a great honour to be awarded a testimonial. I was fortunate to have one at West Ham, but over the years there haven’t been a huge amount of testimonials at the Boleyn Ground. To play for a club for as long as Mark Noble has is a massive achievement, especially in this day and age. There are one or two players at other clubs, like Wayne Rooney, who have either been granted a testimonial in the near future or are nearing 10

years at their club, but I think testimonials will soon become a thing of the past. One of the highlights from Noble’s testimonial game was Dean Ashton’s goal. If you had been flicking through the sport channels on Easter Monday, came across the game, and didn’t know it was a testimonial, you’d have thought that was a fantastic goal. As the saying goes, class is permanent and I’m sure there were a lot

of West Ham fans wondering what could have been for Ashton in east London had he not have had to cut his career short through injury.. We will, of course, never know, but when he was called up to the England squad he was scoring goals quite regularly and he fully deserved to get the call up and join the England squad. What happened was just one of those things and it was just so unfortunate to go away and that happen.

There has been a lot of talk recently about West Ham going for both the FA Cup and a place in the Champions League. Despite our draws against Crystal Palace and Chelsea, which we could arguably have won had it not been for poor decisions going against us, we are very much still in the hunt for both. All it’ll need is for those above us to lose one or two games, and we will be firmly knocking on the door. at the end of the season. If anyone asks me what I’d rather go for, my answer to them is both. Why not? Let’s be greedy. I think from the point of view of the players, it’s always good to get medals and win something. It gives you something to show people at the end of the career. It shows that you played in big games.

Pub talk

The Blowing Bubbles team settle down to put the world to rights... The two things are obviously not mutually exclusive, but would you rather finish in the top four or win the FA Cup? Brian Williams: FA Cup for me. You can’t beat a Wembley final – and I’d like all the younger fans who’ve been so loyal through thick and thin to experience the thrill of seeing the old trophy being hoisted aloft by a West Ham captain. They deserve it. Emily Pulham: Win the FA Cup for sure. I’m the same as Slaven; I want to see the players lifting a trophy. Plus, both things lead to the same result European football - but only one does so with a trophy in the closet. We need the trophy. Stuart Plant: It has to be the FA Cup! Doesn’t it?! I’m also very glad to

Historic: West Ham have not lifted the FA Cup since Billy Bonds’ side won it in 1980 see the players, manager, and board echo that sentiment rather than eyeing the obvious instant rewards of entering a competition like the Champions League.

Despite recent set-backs, both are horribly realistic achievements! Danny Rust: I would prefer us to win the FA Cup. We haven’t won the world’s most famous cup

competition in 36 years and getting our hands on the FA Cup would be a fitting way to leave the Boleyn Ground. Also, if we finish fourth we would be unseeded and have to go through the Champions League qualifiers and face a tough opponent. So getting into the Champions League would not be a given. West Ham have been linked with a number of big-money strikers in recent weeks, which forward would you like to see West Ham sign this summer? BW: It hasn’t worked for Christian Benteke at Liverpool, but he was awesome in a very poor Villa side. If he could recapture that form with the creative players we have he’d score a hatful. The man I’d really like to sign is Romelu Lukaku

– if only to stop him scoring against us every time he lines up for the opposition. EP: I just want them to sign a new server for their website. It shouldn’t take a season ticket holder over five hours to buy their own seat for a cup game. Otherwise, Zlatan Ibramovic. SP: I don’t know much of the French targets; Lacazette and Batshuayi. I think Zlatan would be a sensational move if his heart is in it while he waits for a move to the MLS. Otherwise, I don’t think there’s many Premier League strikers I’d want, barring the obvious. I fully put my faith in our scouting system and manager here to find a 15 to 20 goal a season striker! DR: Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been linked with a move but I don’t see how we could possibly afford his wages. I think Christian Benteke has been poor this season for Liverpool and I’m unsure as to whether he could adapt to Slaven Bilic’s style of play. Out of the strikers who have been mentioned, I’d probably go for Wilfried Bony. It looks as though Newcastle, Sunderland and Aston Villa may all be relegated this summer. Are there any players from those teams you’d like us to sign? BW: Villa are terrible – I reckon I could select 11 lads from the Bobby Moore Lower and they’d

Target: Could Newcastle’s Georginio Wijnaldum do a job for West Ham United?

beat this present lot of Villains. And there’s no one in the Newcastle or Sunderland sides that could expect to start for us. If I had to take anyone it would probably be Daryl Janmaat ­– he’d be useful cover for Sam Byram at right back. EP: I feel like this could be an unpopular choice but Newcastle’s Georginio Wijnaldum and Jonjo Shelvey. I don’t see Shelvey starting

regularly, but he’s got potential and he’s never really played for the right team. We could be the right team for him. SP: I don’t think so to be honest. For me all of the players from those clubs had turned their backs on trying to save their respective clubs long before relegation was a forgone conclusion. So for that reason alone, count me out of wanting any of them.

Micah Richards could have been one if he’d even looked half decent for Villa this season. DR: The Aston Villa players have no passion or determination so I don’t think I’d bother going for anyone at Villa Park at the moment. Newcastle midfielder Moussa Sissoko would add a bit of strength but is possibly too similar to some players we already have. Tim Krul is a good

goalkeeper though, and he would be a good signing. Wahbi Khazri has looked good since joining Sunderland so he could be a decent addition. Dean Ashton rolled back the years in Mark Noble’s testimonial with a spectacular overhead kick. What’s your favourite ever West Ham goal? BW: It has to be Ronnie Boyce in the 1964 FA Cup final against Preston North End. I had taken the life-changing decision to support West Ham in the run-up to the game. Ticker had scored twice in the semi-final to get us to Wembley, and his last-minute winner against Preston cemented that decision. However, this was three weeks before my eighth birthday and boys that age have been known to change their minds. Who knows if I would be a Hammer today if he hadn’t put away Peter Brabrook’s cross and West Ham had lost in extra time? Sorry. Did someone just call me a glory-hunter? EP: The Carlos Tevez goal against Manchester United in May 2007 that sunk Sheffield United and kept us in the Premier League. It was £30 million well spent. SP: Deano’s overhead at Old Trafford, Carlton Cole’s brilliant team goal against Wigan, and Di Canio’s volleys against Chelsea and Wimbledon. Spoilt for

Star: Zlatan Ibrahimovic has said he would like to move to the Premier League

choice! I think I’ll have to take a spin and land on Ashton’s quarter-final goal against Manchester City in that FA Cup run. Sensational play and finish. Or quite a few of Bobby Zamora’s? We’ve scored some crackers.. DR: My favourite West Ham goal would have to be Paolo Di Canio’s superb volley against Wimbledon. The way he ran on to Trevor Sin-

clair’s cross and volleyed it into the far corner was fantastic. It won Sky Sports’ Premiership Goal of the Decade and it was well deserved. But Dimitri Payet’s free kicks against Manchester United and Crystal Palace have been my favourite goals this season. Dimitri Payet or Paolo Di Canio? EP: This is like asking

if I prefer oxygen or water - you need both to survive. We know what Paolo has done for us, but we don’t know yet what Dimitri will do for us in the future. So for now, Di Canio for me but Payet certainly has the potential to change this over the years. SP: Until he has been here and done it for a longer period of time, Paolo. Payet is genuinely

How one text can help the Bobby Moore fund’s aims

Icon: Carlos Tevez scored one of the most important goals in West Ham’s history world class and will surpass him though, I’m just not a big fan of labelling players as ‘legends’ for no more than a brief stint, ala, Carlos Tevez. Paolo produced over several years, and I’m sure Dimitri will too! DR: It’s so difficult to choose between them but I’d probably go for Paolo Di Canio just because of his passion. He always wore his heart

on his sleeve and the reception he received at Mark Noble’s testimonial shows how much he means to Hammers fans. Dimitri Payet has only been a Hammer for less than a year so over time he could become as much of a cult hero as the Italian. * Brian Williams has discussed this question in detail. Please see page 17. BBM

Blowing Bubbles Monthly Editor David Blackmore is gearing up to take on another challenge to raise money for the Bobby Moore Fund. David will take part in the 10km Grand East Anglia Run (GEAR) on May 1, and is training hard to make sure he beats his previous best time of 46 minutes and 12 seconds. GEAR organisers decided to award David the race number 1966 after hearing he wanted to run it in memory of Bobby Moore, and to mark the 50th anniversary of the footballing legend holding aloft the World Cup. David’s connection to the cause is not just the obvious claret and blue one – he has previously fundraised and volunteered for the Bobby Moore Fund on school building projects in South Africa (2010) and Namibia (2011). With it being five decades since England beat Germany to win the World Cup for the first time, David hopes to raise £1,966 for the charity. Blowing Bubbles Monthly readers can make a financial pledge by texting BBFB66 £3 (or

any amount they wish) to 70070. David would also like people to help raise more awareness and cash for the Bobby Moore Fund by showing their support for our Blowing Bubbles for Bobby campaign, which has received the backing of internationally acclaimed writer Irvine Welsh, actress Danniella Westbrook, TV presenter Matthew Wright, and model Nikki Lee. All you need to do is film yourself blowing bubbles in an imaginative and unlikely place, call out five friends to do the same, explain how people can donate by texting BBFB66 £3 to 70070, and upload it to your Facebook, Twitter, YouTube account and help spread the news about this fundraising drive. ‘I’ve got first-hand experience of the work the Bobby Moore Fund does, and how it can utterly transform people’s lives, and give them an opportunity which they might never get otherwise,’ David explained. ‘Bobby left an unparalleled legacy at West Ham, and also with England. By taking part in Blowing Bubbles for Bobby, this is your chance to leave a lasting legacy too.’

Cockney Noble is an example to all professional footballers


orget the international break, Mark Noble’s testimonial was all a lot of us were thinking about over Easter. In the build-up to the game, all the coverage and videos of Nobes’ career got me thinking about the very first time I met him at Chadwell Heath back in 2007. He had returned from a loan spell at Ipswich a couple of months earlier and had just scored the opening goal, his first in the Premier League, against Tottenham. Perhaps typically, although not so much anymore, we ended up losing the game 4-3 but that moment finally secured him a place in the side. He hasn’t looked back since. Suddenly all eyes were on this kid from Canning Town and I was sent to find out what all the fuss was about. That day at the training ground was one of my first interviews for

Legend: Mark Noble has never let West Ham down Soccer Saturday and his first big sit down for Sky Sports, although you’d never know it such was his easy manner and confidence. He was the last one on the training pitch and, as this was back in the days when we could film whatever we liked, I told the cameraman to switch the camera on him. We watched him

kicking balls left, right and centre, working on different techniques, lobs, chips, curling the ball inside the post and penalty kicks. He was all over the field, long after everyone else had gone in. After about 20 minutes he went to collect the balls one by one and knocked them all into the basket with precision. He was

so focused and driven he was completely unaware we were there. His dedication was obvious and thankfully it has never left him. It is what has made him the player he is today. As for the interview he was cheeky and engaging. A typical Cockney, he chatted freely about being a fan and he had an infectious excitement about going from singing in the stands with his mates to playing on the hallowed turf of Upton Park. At that moment neither of us could have predicted how long his time with us would last but he is still living the dream and the remarkable thing about it is he has never taken that for granted. He knows how privileged he is to be the man to lead our team out. He has been our one true constant during some pretty lean years! We’ve had our high and

low spells but he’s never let us down. He has always given his all. He’s a dyed in the wool Hammer and it shows. Our Mr Consistent. He is West Ham. He’s one of our own. Since those early days we’ve watched him develop into not only a fine footballer but a decent human being. He has always been mature beyond his years but he has grown into a terrific ambassador and a consummate captain for our beloved football club. He leads by example on and off the pitch. His commitment to the West Ham cause is obvious but his charitable efforts behind the scenes, donating all proceeds from his testimonial to

Richard House Hospice, Help For Heroes and the DT38 Foundation show what a credit he is. He is now at his peak and Slaven Bilic has helped his game reach new heights. We are all enjoying some incredible moments this season thanks to everyone involved at West Ham United but undoubtedly Mark’s attitude, work ethic and leadership encourages every team mate to give their best for the shirt. Sadly he hasn’t served his country at the highest level but he’s certainly served his club and that’s good enough for us. I’m so pleased that he had this special day at a very special time for all the supporters at the Boleyn Ground. BBM

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Captain: Mark Noble leads West Ham against Wolves

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The Payet v Di Canio debate

Two West Ham icons battle across the generation game

Di Canio and Payet have both brightened up the Hammers universe Skill: Dimitri Payet lights up Upton Park with the ball at his feet




ou know that something out of the ordinary is happening when the normally reserved ladies and gentlemen of the East Stand Upper begin to sing. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that we don’t care. Our reticence to follow the enthusiastic lead of the Bobby Moore Lower in claiming to be a big boy who comes from near Moscow, or suggesting that Wayne Rooney is (a) stout and (b) has a preference for older women, has more to do with age than apathy. But we do know when we are witnessing a genius at work and are more than happy to lend our collective voice to the hymn of praise that echoes around the ground with increasing regularity these days. We realise that Dimitri Payet is Super Slav’s

man, and we agree that he is better than Zidane. However, what has yet to be determined is whether or not he is on a par with the last true superstar who put a song in the heart of all of us in claret and blue. That man, of course, was Paolo Di Canio. So, in the immortal words of my old music teacher, let us compare and contrast. If Payet is Bilic’s

protégé, PDC was very much Harry Redknapp’s man. Say what you like about H, he was prepared to take a punt on players who were somewhat out of the ordinary. On the minus side of the equation we had Marco Boogers, Joey Beauchamp and Florin ‘Two Bob’ Raducioiu. On the positive side

there were the likes of Marc-Vivien Foe, Trevor Sinclair and Eyal Berkovic. And there was certainly no bigger plus than Di Canio. Quite simply, he is one of the best players we’ve ever had. Anyone who has ever seen his astonishing goal against Wimbledon when he defied gravity to volley home Sinclair’s cross will know instantly what I’m talking about. Goal of the season? That was the goal of a lifetime. There are so many Di Canio memories: the fantastic moment of sportsmanship that won him the Fifa fair play award when, rather than head home into an empty net, he caught the cross and demanded that play be stopped until the prostrate Everton keeper was restored to full health; the time he wrestled Frank Lampard Jnr for the ball when we were awarded a penalty in the amazing comeback game against Bradford City in which we turned a 2–4 deficit into a 5–4 victory; the way he had pleaded with Redknapp to substitute him only minutes before

in the same game. Had there ever been any doubt the man is a West Ham legend it would have been dispelled by the reception he received when he turned out (for both sides!) in Mark Noble’s testimonial last month. The only twinge of regret that anyone can have about that fabulous day was that Payet couldn’t be there as well, having gone and got himself picked for France after years in the international wilderness. Seeing those two on the same pitch really would have been something to tell the grandchildren about. It is no secret that Di Canio came with some pretty heavy baggage. But while the Italian maestro specialised in falling out with referees – not least Paul Alcock, who did fall over after that infamous push – Payet has had public disagreements with team-mates. While playing for Saint-Étienne in 2010 he was berated on the pitch by his captain for not getting stuck in. So Dimi lamped him. Rather than being

Talisman: Paolo Di Canio was the shining light in Harry Redknapp’s West Ham team

thanked for showing the extra aggression required, his manager promptly substituted him and the club president imposed a heavy fine. Ain’t no pleasing some people! It’s hard to believe now, but football hasn’t always come easy to Payet. When he returned home to the Indian Ocean island of Reunion

Emotional: Paolo was never slow to show how he felt

as a 16-year-old after failing to make the grade at Le Havre in the French second division it seemed his career was over before it had begun. Two years later, after starring in his local league, he was given the opportunity to return to France with Nantes – and nearly turned it down. ‘I didn’t even want to hear talk about me ever going back to France,’ he told the Daily Mail. ‘I was traumatised by the experience and the decision by Le Havre not to keep me. I felt I hadn’t been seen in my best light. So when a second chance came along I argued about it with my dad and my uncle. They

convinced me I should try my luck again, and they were right. But I didn’t want to go.’ Hardened both physically and mentally by his experience of playing as a boy against men on Reunion, he went from strength to strength – first earning himself a transfer to Saint-Étienne and then on to Lille, where he played with Joe Cole, before ending up in Marseille. By the time he joined West Ham at the beginning of this season it looked like his time as an international player had come and gone, but his performances in claret and blue clearly did not go unnoticed and French manager Didier

Deschamps recalled him for friendlies against the Netherlands – hailing him as man of the match – and then Russia, in which he scored a trademark free kick from so far out he and the keeper were actually in a different arrondissements. It was that surprise call-up which kept him out of Nobes’ testimonial. One man who did play, albeit briefly, was the mighty Julian Dicks – someone who knows both Payet and PDC well. And has no doubt who is the better player. He told the Daily Star: ‘There are similarities. But Dimitri’s work rate is fantastic. He’s running back to defend in the 90th minute. It rubs off – you take your teammates with you.’ The statistics, such as they are, suggest that Payet is more influential than Di Canio. With the mercurial Italian in the side we won almost 40% of our games; without him that win rate dropped to 22%. Payet, of course, has yet to complete a full season, while PDC was at the club for four years. But when Dimi has played we’ve won more than 50% of our games. Without him, it’s a very different story. In the seven games he missed as a result of an ankle injury we drew five, lost one and won one. That works at a win rate of just over 14% –

Wonderful: Dimitri Payet, who was the cover star on our August issue, has been a revelation for West Ham this season far lower than when Di Canio was missing. However, numbers don’t tell the full story. Payet has brought a sense of joy back to Upton Park. His touch is exquisite; his passing is sublime and some of his goals have been breathtaking. Yet my everlasting memory will be of one of the rare free kicks that didn’t end up in the back of the net. It was only prevented from doing so by Joe

Hart’s astonishing save. Payet’s reaction? At half-time he waited by the tunnel with a broad smile for the Man City keeper and congratulated him as if he were a team-mate. That’s class. One of the joys of sport is comparing the great players of different generations, knowing full well opposite opinions can never be proved right or wrong. PDC or Payet? You pays yer money and you takes yer choice, as my

old Mum used to say. Di Canio was brilliant in his day, but too often he appeared to play for us, the supporters, and himself. Payet, on the other hand, plays for us and the team as a whole. That’s why I sing just a little bit louder when Dimitri is on the ball. I’m sure you understand. BBM * Brian Williams is the author of Nearly Reach The Sky – A Farewell to Upton Park

FROZEN IN TIME Saturday, April 2, 2016: Dimitri Payet bends the ball around the Crystal Palace wall to score yet another spectacular free-kick. The Hammers were eventually held to a 2-2 draw, a blow to their hopes of a top four finish.

The loan rangers

Can this fab four force their way into Slaven Bilic’s plans? Burke, Samuelsen, Poyet and Lee have all been off getting game time




hile we all eagerly anticipate the final stretch in what has been a wonderful Farewell Boleyn season, we mustn’t forget that there are a number of academy players currently out on loan learning their trade and hoping to eventually play a big part in West Ham’s bright new era in the Olympic Stadium. The foundations that our great club have been founded, and subsequently grown upon, rely heavily on the calibre of our youth prospects and there is currently no shortage of exciting talent waiting in the wings, ready to make their mark in claret and blue. So just weeks after our most recent academy success story celebrated 12 years of service at the club with a hugely deserved testimonial, let’s update you on a

Talented: Reece Burke has enjoyed a fantastic season at Bradford City number of youngsters currently plying their trade on loan at lower division clubs ahead of what could be the start of something equally as impressive as Noble’s West Ham career. Reece Burke Having made his first team debut under Sam Allardyce last season, it was no surprise to see Burke sent out on loan to gain first team experience at the

beginning of the season. Bradford City jumped at the chance to take our promising centre-half for the season and both parties haven’t looked back, with the Bantams pushing for a League One play-off spot this season. Burke has made 23 appearances for Bradford this season, scoring one goal, and has become something of a fans’ favourite down at Valley Parade.

Following a recent 1-0 victory over Southend, Bradford fans took to Twitter to wax lyrical about the young Hammer, with one fan saying: ‘Reece Burke is going to be a superstar, hands down our player of the season so far.’ While another joked: “Can we keep you for another year?!” It’s a refreshing sight to see a youngster going on loan and becoming such an important member of a lower league side. If he can make that step up to the Premier League then I think we should all expect Burke to really become a superstar for us in the future. Martin Samuelsen While Burke has got the whole of Bradford drooling over his performances this season, Samuelsen had the entire country in awe at one point this season. The 18-year-old Justin Bieber look-a-like was the star of the show as Peterborough United took Premier League West Brom to a penalty shoot-out in a televised FA Cup tie earlier this year, which they

eventually lost. But the Norwegian youngster showcased his skills, tricks and ability to play with ease against topflight opposition. There is no doubt Samuelsen has a bright future ahead of him and if he continues to improve then he’ll soon be an important member of our first team. Diego Poyet Diego Poyet was in and out of the first team under Allardyce last season but this season he’s been sent out on loan to earn some more first team experience, which is understandable given the high level of competition for places in our first team’s midfield. So he’s back at Charlton, where he played before signing for us two summers ago. Since arriving he has made just six appearances, and it must be difficult for him to play for a club currently staring relegation to League One in the face and with supporter protests going on almost every week. However, he showed glimpses of talent when given the chance last season and if he can come back in the summer and impress Bilic in pre-season then it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him given another chance in the first team. Of course, he was one of a number of youngsters given a chance by Bilic in the Europa League earlier in the campaign, and he did

Highly rated: Martin Samuelsen is expected to be in the first team plans next season enough then to warrant the belief that he can become a regular for us in the future. Elliot Lee Elliot Lee has been the subject of many a cry from Hammers fans to be given a chance in the first team, particularly through a number of striker shortages during Allardyce’s latter years at the club. Lee impressed during our short-lived Europa

League campaign last summer, scoring the only goal in our 1-0 away victory of FC Lusitanos at the beginning of July. Now the 21-year-old is battling it out with Colchester United at the bottom of League One, netting his second goal for the club in sublime fashion as the U’s beat Doncaster Rovers 4-1 on Good Friday – a wonderful curling finish in to the top corner

from 20 yards out. But having previously enjoyed loan spells with the likes of Southend, Luton and Blackpool, netting a combined six goals in 31 appearances in the lower leagues, you have to wonder whether he really will be able to eventually make that step up to first-team duties. We all want Lee to succeed at the club, but will he ever get the chance? BBM

Arsene Wenger

The confessions of a closet Arsene Wenger supporter...

Why I just can not help but like Arsenal’s long-serving manager

LUCY WOOLFORD @lucy_whufc


’m going to put a statement out there: I like Arsène Wenger. I’m going to put a second statement out there: I like Arsenal. Judge me on that basis if you like, but it’s just one of those things that I could never explain. Of course, West Ham is my ultimate love, nothing will change that, but when Super Sunday shows West Brom V Arsenal, for example, I generally want the reds to win - unless it affects the fortunes of my beloved Hammers in any way. I’ve always had a great respect for Wenger. I generally look up to his composure, his values and his loyalty, and I do sometimes question what life would be like if the Frenchman was managing West Ham. How suited is he to the ‘West Ham way’?

Integrity: Arsene Wenger would have been a great West Ham manager On the surface, all signs point to the idea that Wenger would have been an ideal candidate for the West Ham hot seat many years ago, post Harry Redknapp. To look at some of his credentials, we have to start with his longevity. West Ham is a proud club with a prominent history, and there was a huge sense of pride in the fact that ‘Arry was

just the eighth manager since its formation. After that, the club fell in to the trap of modern football – managers were given less and less time to prove themselves and build a team. Although, it has to be said that West Ham were still not as dismissive as many Premier League and Football League teams. There is no doubt that Wenger is a loyal man-

ager with the footballing brain to keep him impressing his bosses for nearly 20 years. Chairmen and fans alike would love that stability in theory, but it doesn’t come without its pitfalls. Despite the setbacks, what Wenger has done is injected the Premier League with some style over the years, even if substance has been hard to come by for the Gunners. Watching ‘The Invincibles’ in 2003/04 was pure joy as a football fan. It was a strong team sheet: Henry, Vieira, Cole, Pires, Bergkamp, Toure all played their part and made football in England sexy. When a team gels and succeeds like that, you have to look to the manager and give a massive amount of credit for training, tactics, team spirit and signings. West Ham fans know that our players over the years have been more than capable of pulling off eye-pleasing football, but that just doesn’t seem to have come together in recent seasons. Of course, that has all changed – while we used

to blame the likes of Sam Allardyce, Avram Grant and Glenn Roeder for lack of imagination on the pitch, we now bask in the delight of Slaven Bilic’s style injection. But who knows for how many years we could have been enjoying such luxuries with the talent and flair that was available to us. Would a manager such as Wenger extract that in anyone willing to work for the cause? It can’t be ignored that Arsenal is a hugely under-achieving club. As previously mentioned, successes can be pinned to great management, but in the interest of balance here, it also can be said for relative failure. Therefore, with the constant pressure that Wenger seems to be under, it’s vital that he holds himself well. He is someone who would have suited the integrity of a club like ours. As fans, we love a bit of honesty and intelligence, something that Wenger has to show on a regular basis. He is so often under scrutiny, especially in post-match interviews and press conferences, and yet rarely loses his rag. I find him refreshing, which as the longest reigning manager and at the age of 66 seems strange to say. If only every manager was as considered and intellectual. This all goes without saying that with the way things are at the mo-

Invincible: At times Arsenal have played some fabulous football

ment, I wouldn’t want to have changed the West Ham path for anything. As a firm believer in ‘everything happening for a reason’, all the rough times that the Hammers have battled with over the last few years have given us a greater feeling while things are looking up. No one’s perfect, and although Wenger would have been a great fit in East London, who knows what way the

stars would have aligned for him should he have been at the head of the Hammers. In light of the situation Wenger finds himself in now, it’s something that he appears to be able to deal with on a media level. The calls for his head have been simmering for a few seasons and Arsenal fans still battle between themselves arguing for and against sacking the Frenchman.

I find it very hard to see managers under such pressure. It’s a near thankless job these days and I’d love to see Wenger stay for as long as it takes to win that elusive Champions League trophy. Without a doubt, whenever Wenger’s reign comes to an end, the Gunners can look back on their years with a great and memorable Premier League manager. BBM

Leicester City

What can Slaven Bilic’s boys learn from the mighty Foxes? Leicester City have upset the odds and are closing in on the title




n any other season, West Ham’s thrilling performances and results this season would have earnt them the title of ‘surprise package’. Not this time around, though. There’s another team who’ve, as painful as it is to admit, had even more impressive results - and that’s Leicester City. They are currently clear at the top of the Premier League, with just six games to play. And even if they ultimately fall short as many pundits are predicting - they are 99.9 per cent certain to be playing Champions League football next season. Given that they were fighting against relegation last term, the turnaround in form has been nothing short of remarkable and dramatic, and they could

On fire: Jamie Vardy has been having a party this season yet be the first non-Big Four club to win the title since Blackburn Rovers in 1995. Leicester City have truly shown what is possible in the Premier League. For many years, it’s been considered that breaking into that Champions League pack and fighting for the title has been restricted to a handful of highly-financed, big-name teams.

Not any more, as Leicester and we at West Ham are demonstrating. So what can we learn from Leicester City this season, and is it possible for us to replicate their success next time around? One reason why Leicester have been so consistent with their results has been their injury record - or, more specifically, lack of it.

They’re officially the least-injured squad in the Premier League, and despite the fact that Jamie Vardy has had six reported injuries this season (including a broken wrist, groin surgery and an Achilles injury) he’s actually started every Premier League game. West Ham, by comparison, lost Dimitri Payet and Manuel Lanzini to injuries for a time, and whilst the overall injury record isn’t too bad, the loss of the team’s most creative players led to a period of being unable to win games. Had even a couple of the draws turned into wins, we’d be sitting in third right about now. Leicester also work hard, no matter who the opponent, running further on the pitch than many of their Premier League rivals. They are rarely, if ever guilty of underestimating the opposition. This is an accusation that you might level at us, unfortunately. Fantastic wins at Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool have been matched by disappointing results against

What can West Ham’s team learn from Adam Johnson? BY MARCUS JOHNS

Class act: Claudio Ranieri has done a great job for the Foxes Norwich City (home and away), Sunderland, and away at Aston Villa and Newcastle United. For Leicester, well, Jamie Vardy is having a party, as the Premier League’s top scorer while Riyad Mahrez is the first player in the Premier League to reach double figures for both goals and assists, and Christian Fuchs and Wes Morgan are top of the

table for tackles won and blocks made. Whatever the outcome, though, West Ham fans can take heart: our team really isn’t far off. Above all, Leicester have shown that money doesn’t always count for everything – good management and hard work can get you success. It’s a recipe that we have most of the ingredients for. BBM

The shocking sequence of events that hit the news recently regarding Adam Johnson being found guilty of sexual activity with a child has sent waves throughout society. Many social commentators have branded this typical of ‘footballers who believe themselves to be above the law’. Absolute rubbish. How can an entire industry be to blame for one individual’s actions? Having said that, there are lessons that footballers can learn from this unsavoury incident. The last thing we want is a personal scandal to rock what seems to be a steady and happy environment within the Upton Park dressing room. One would hope that the club would have seen what happened up at Sunderland, and have similarly drawn the conclusion that footballers need to be better educated. The fact Johnson Googled the legal age of consent showed not every footballer has intelligence north of their feet, and perhaps need reminding of what is, and isn’t legal. Not just with matters such as this,

but with all laws that it is possible for your modern day footballer to fall foul of – driving, drinking etc. It’s a cliché that footballers aren’t the most educated of men, but the clubs owe it to the players to ensure they’re running in-house courses to reflect laws and social acceptances. From the outside looking in, it seems as though West Ham’s togetherness within the dressing room should prevent any one individual to adopting a mindset that sees them thinking they are above the others. Strong characters such as Mark Noble and James Collins will see to that. Above all though, a key lesson is to ensure that players keep within strict guidelines in their use of social media. There is no such thing as privacy in the modern era when it comes to online communications, so they must be strict on themselves about what they send. If they wouldn’t want it in the public eye, don’t run that risk. Hopefully, the case of Adam Johnson is an isolated one. But let his downfall be the warning to others.

Mark Noble testimonial

Dean Ashton rolled back the years with this spectacular overhead kick

Stars come out for Noble as the Blowing Bubbles Monthly’s top photographer Nicky Hayes captured Taylor Tombides scored in his brother’s memory

Chris Powell ended up in the stands

Mark Noble and Trevor Sinclair are all smiles

Jimmy Walker rides Ludek Miklosko The first team squad all turned out

Ian Bishop ran the midfield

West Ham family enjoys a party all the action from a wonderful celebration of our captain’s career X Factor winner Louisa Johnson sang

Paolo Di Canio played for both sides during the game

Keeper Adrian ran the length of the pitch to score a wondergoal

Bobby Moore film

West Ham’s finest is ready to waltz across the silver screen Matthew Lorenzo on his journey to discover the real Bobby Moore Finished: Matthew Lorenzo says finishing the film is a dream come true for him

JULIAN SHEA @juliansheasport


ports fans, by their nature, are people whose lives are defined by the fixtures calendar. But in the case of former BBC and Sky Sports presenter Matthew Lorenzo, the biggest date of this summer is one when there isn’t even a match on. On May 25th, Wembley Stadium will play host to the world premiere of Bo66y, his labour of love documentary about West Ham and England’s finest, Bobby Moore, who Lorenzo grew up knowing through his father, fellow broadcaster and Moore’s close friend, Peter. Speaking exclusively to Blowing Bubbles, Lorenzo – the first-ever sports presenter on Sky - revealed it was an incident there nearly 25 years ago that inspired

him to make the film. ‘They were looking for someone to preview the weekend’s fixtures, and I suggested Bobby,’ he said. ‘My producer’s reply was “Bobby Moore – he’s a bit old hat, isn’t he?” My anger at that injustice made me want to redress the balance. Now I have.’ Talking to MA Sports journalism students at St Mary’s University

Twickenham, Lorenzo revealed more about the process of how the film came about. ‘We were discussing a film about the East End’s finest footballers but I didn’t think it’d work, then I thought Bobby on his own might,’ he said. ‘From there the idea just grew, everyone wanted to be involved, and within two weeks, we had Pele agreeing to speak to

us for free – so there was no turning back.’ The film reveals some of the reasons for Moore’s shunning by the football establishment – and also helps redress the balance when it comes to the Football Association. ‘Although he was always very well presented in public, Bobby was a very private man, which didn’t help, nor did things like the Bogota bracelet incident [when he was arrested on a theft charge before the 1970 World Cup] or some of the colourful East End company he kept, but the real problem was the FA,’ Lorenzo explained. ‘The blazer brigade who ran the game didn’t like the fact that when Bobby came into the room, there was someone more important than them there. Also, even though he had great success with West Ham, he had a difficult relationship with manager Ron Greenwood, who went on to become England manager, reinforcing that feeling in the establishment. ‘That’s why it’s so

refreshing that we’ve got FA chief Greg Dyke in the film, acknowledging how poorly he was treated. Hopefully we’ll have the premiere at Wembley and being a central part of the 1966 50th anniversary celebrations really helps.’ The only two people Moore really opened up to were his two wives, Tina and Stephanie, both of whom get to have their say in the film. ‘It wouldn’t have worked without them,’ said Lorenzo. ‘They’re very different characters, with very different stories to tell about the two halves of his life, but I know them both, and they trusted me to tell their tales. ‘It’s very serious – we’re talking about the person they buried. They’ve both seen the film and said “You didn’t let me down”, which is very important.’ Lorenzo cites award-winning documentary Senna as a major influence – ‘that wasn’t a Formula 1 film, it was about an amazing charismatic individual who happened to be a driver, so it had much broader appeal’ – and says the fact everyone knows how Moore’s story ends makes it all the more important that it is presented as engagingly as possible. ‘The film is my baby, but after putting so much work into it, you have to trust a director to do your vision justice, and I’m very lucky I

Legend: Bobby Moore is West Ham’s most famous player in their history

found one [Ron Scalpello] who really does that,’ he explained. Making Bo66y has clearly been a learning experience but it is an experience that has been utterly worthwhile. ‘I’d never made a business deal in my life until I had to call Fifa to haggle with them over the cost of World Cup archive footage, and I managed to get them down to nearly a third of the original price. I think they were good enough

to recognise that part of the proceeds are going to the Bobby Moore Fund,’ Lorenzo said. After giving so much of his life to the project, Lorenzo is clearly proud of the film he has made, and the story he has depicted. ‘Other people have tried to tell Bobby’s tale before, and I’m sure will again, but you’ll get more from this than from anyone else,’ he said. ‘If when it all began,

I’d looked at a diagram like I was putting Lego together and said “I’ll make the film like this”, where would the creative satisfaction be? What I’ve ended up with is a totally different Bobby Moore story to the one I had in mind at the start, and that’s far more satisfying.’ *Bo66y will be released in cinemas across the country on May 27 and available on DVD, Blu Ray and digital download from May 30. BBM

Valon Behrami

Did West Ham make a massive mistake letting Behrami go? The Swiss international has enjoyed a fine career since leaving us Strong: Valon Behrami was popular with the club’s fans




’m always a little bit disappointed when I see a former West Ham player who I liked popping up playing for another Premier League club after leaving us. Whilst I’m pleased that Valon Behrami is still enjoying a successful career, I’m mildly disappointed it’s with another club, and one that’s had the better of us once already this season. The Switzerland international initially played for us from July 2008 and left after January 2011. He subsequently played for Fiorentina, Napoli and Hamburg and impressed internationally in Switzerland’s run in the 2014 World Cup. The talented midfielder then joined Watford in July 2015 as part of manager Quique Sanchez Flores’s impressive reviv-

al of the Hornets. Since swapping Hammers for Watford, Behrami has done well on the pitch. So did West Ham make a mistake in not retaining the services of Behrami? Could he have become a life-long hero for the Hammers? He was a good solid player for West Ham but he was one whose career with us was dramatically affected by injury. Whilst beating Manchester City at home in

March 2009 he injured his anterior cruciate ligament in his knee, which ended his season. He returned to playing in September 2009, but was injured again soon after for over a month. The following season, 2010-11 he featured in just seven games before he moved to Fiorentina in January 2011. It seems rather out of character for West Ham to have shipped someone off after a string of injuries as we tend to love

players whose careers are blighted by injury, but there you have it. Behrami was liked at the club when he played and it’s likely he would have continued to be liked should he have stayed, but it is admittedly hard to see how he would have fit into subsequent sides. There’s no way he’d have gotten playing time over Sam Allardyce’s favourite player ever, Kevin Nolan, who joined the club in summer 2011. Similarly, where would we even put him in our current midfield when Barcelona loanee Alex Song can’t even get a game. The bar has been raised so high for West Ham United after the signings of Dimitri Payet, Michail Antonio, Cheikhou Kouyate and Manuel Lanzini. I’m not too destroyed that we won’t see a tower block of flats in east London named after Behrami, but while I like him and wish him well. Whenever we do get around to playing Watford again this season, he’s already dead to me. Especially if he keeps another clean sheet. BBM

West Ham Ladies

The Upton Park roar puts fresh wind into the Hammers’ sails David Blackmore reports on the Ladies’ night at the Boleyn Ground


est Ham Ladies enjoyed one of the greatest nights in their history with a bumper crowd flocking to Upton Park to see the Hammers take on fierce rivals Tottenham Hotspur. The record crowd of 1,741 at the Boleyn Ground helped to cheer the Ladies on to a famous 1-0 victory that, in turn, helped to boost confidence after a run of three heavy defeats to Charlton Athletic, Coventry United and Portsmouth. They followed up their impressive win under the lights with a hardfought 2-2 draw against Cardiff City – a side very much in the fight for second place along with Charlton, Coventry and Pompey – and a disappointing reverse against the Welsh side the week after. Their final game of the season is scheduled for April 10 at home to Queens Park Rangers. Both sides find themselves at the wrong end of the table, in their own mini-league with Lewes that has seen the sides cut adrift from the relegation scrap and the push for a top half finish

Goal: West Ham’s Ladies celebrate their goal against Tottenham at Upton Park

for some time. At best the Ladies can now hope to finish eighth, if they beat QPR and hope both the Hoops and Lewes don’t pick up points in their remaining few games. Whether the Hammers finish eighth, ninth, or tenth, the season has been extremely eventful – both on and off the field – but their game at Upton Park is one joint chairman Stephen

Hunt hopes will be a springboard to a brighter future. ‘This game had always been talked about from the moment I was appointed this time last year and once we got to meet the club in the summer, it was obviously something on the table,’ Hunt said in an interview for Blowing Bubbles. ‘And really since August we’ve been talking

about doing it and thinking about the issues a game like this brings. ‘It was a big task for a small club, which is essentially voluntary based, to take over the running of a world-famous stadium for the night. ‘Both sides wanted to do it, but just logistics were the problem, and we were pleased in January, where we got the go ahead to put it on.

We all had to scramble like crazy to make that happen.’ As for the short and long-term future of the Ladies, to quote the Jessie J song, it’s all about the ‘money, money, money’. Hunt continued: ‘The funding is very tight in women’s football, it does take a lot of money to get yourself into quite a successful financial situation. ‘My focus has been on balancing the background of the club, so we could push onto the Super League, because essentially without the money, you can’t really build anything. ‘Your players can be nicked far more easily than they can in the men’s game because contracts are generally much shorter. ‘For example, we lost one of our best players who went to join the reserves of another team because they were paid more money. ‘The position really is that I’m trying to put the club in a position where it’s stable enough to have investment put into it and it can become a vehicle to build so very

Winning feeling: Stephen Hunt celebrates with Danni Ritson much we’re looking at the long term, and the long term is being in the Super League.’ As for the cost of breaking into the Super League, Hunt continued: ‘The difference between us and a Super League 2 team is not a lot financially, except that they get a lot more league money. ‘To some extent, the difference is like the Championship

On the ball: The Ladies go on the attack against Spurs

compared to the Premier League. The hardest thing is to get into the Super League and there are four or five teams at the top of our league who are more like a mini-league in themselves. ‘Clubs like Brighton, Charlton, Cardiff, Coventry and Portsmouth have had longer term investment, they turn up with all kinds of gadgets, support teams and strength in depth at every possible level, video equipment, data analysis that we simply can’t compete with yet. ‘Some of that is voluntary, some of that is funded by the main club and at this sort of level, it’s not profitable for the main club to invest in it yet, but it will be as the money and attendances

grows. We’ve tried to build a strategy where we are meeting the club halfway. ‘If we can build a solid backbone, good support and a regular attendance and slowly become a viable club on its own two feet, it’s something which an investor, be it an outside person such as myself or the main club, could look to invest in and build something that’s viable.’ BBM * West Ham Ladies play their home games at AFC Hornchurch’s stadium in Bridge Avenue, Upminster, RM14 2LX. For more information about the club visit You can also follow them on Twitter @WestHamLadies

Supporters’ club of the month

#13: Perth Hammers Brian Riddle gives us an insight into the history of the now defunct West Ham United Supporters Club Australia and the birth of the Perth Hammers

Gathering: The Perth Hammers watch West Ham in action


t was in 1989 where the foundations of the West Ham United Supporters Club Australia – and in effect the Perth Hammers - were set with Robert Clements and I coming together to start the group. After flicking through the supporters’ section of British Soccer Weekly, where groups were starting up by advertising in the paper, we agreed to place an advert, and we immediately started getting calls. The first WHUSCA meeting was in Churchill’s Tavern in Perth in the October 1989 and I was nominated Chair-

man and Robert was nominated Secretary. One of the main reasons for setting up the club was to give fans emigrating over here a chance to meet up with fellow fans and watch the games together. Eventually, people touring Australia started popping up at

Historic: An early photo of the group

various meetings and it wasn’t long before the calls started coming in from other states, with branches in Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane set up. At the time, the only way we could get to see games was by ordering videos from the club and we had a game sent over every month which we all chipped in for. We took turns in the beginning having the meetings in one another’s houses until the numbers got too big, and we eventually found a pub that was willing to show our games. Regarding promoting

the club here in Perth, we had a radio station called 6NR which covered British football on a Saturday night. It had a phone-in segment so fans from various clubs could phone and chat about their teams which helped their supporters’ clubs. It also had a live game which was another great feature. We developed a very good social side of the club, we used to organise barbecues on the South Perth foreshore and we would meet up for birthdays and at Christmas. We also played football in South Perth on

Sunday mornings and entered a couple of fivea-side events organised by 6NR and British Soccer Weekly. Eventually the club fell apart nationally after I entrusted it to another person from another state and all the other state branches broke away and changed their name. We called ours West Ham Supporters Club Western Australia. From the time of the WHUSCA inception the game and life in general has moved on with the Premier League, Sky, Fox and the internet having taken everything to a different level. We now have various social media outlets that makes information available immediately online. No one is waiting for a paper or a newsletter to appear in their letterbox. Our club has moved on here in Perth. We now have a new chairman, Max Nosworthy, and co-chairman, Janine Hamersley, with the club now called Perth Hammers. We have confidence in Max and Janine taking the club further. The support here in

Tasty: The fans enjoy a meal together Perth is phenomenal. There were over 400 Hammers at the Charles Hotel for the last playoff final against Blackpool. The support base is still growing and that is a reflection of the success the club is enjoying. The supporters’ club has regular meets to watch live games at various locations around Perth and has started an annu-

al five-a-side day. The last event was in aid of the Dylan Tombides DT38 Foundation (Dylan came from Perth) and we raised over $1000 for the charity. We recently raised $1000 for a stone to be placed at the Olympic Stadium when it opens in August as West Ham’s new ground. The funds

were raised through the sale of Perth Hammers ‘Proud Member’ car stickers. We are proud of our stone, which is testament to those who have pledged support over the years and to those who have led our supporters’ club to become the great group it is today. BBM *Follow them on Twitter @PerthHammers.

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The last word

Why England may have just done West Ham a big favour

Leaving Noble out is a joke, but Julian Shea says it has some benefits


ust as the Premier League run-in was building up momentum, along came the international friendly window to put all the real business on hold in favour of non-competitive matches. At the turn of the month, West Ham fans could have been expected to have spent the last fortnight kicking their heels out of boredom – but at least they had Mark Noble’s testimonial to occupy them. Amidst all the feather-spitting about Noble’s exclusion from the England squad, at least that meant he was available to play in his own tribute game, which turned out to be something very special. Noble’s testimonial gave many of the club’s biggest names of recent years a chance for one last run-out at a packed Boleyn. Ian Bishop, Paolo Di Canio, Rio Ferdinand, Dean Ashton – they and many more have played a part over the last generation in building up West Ham to the point where they are now; ready for the most momentous, potentially

Proud: Mark Noble and his family had a day to remember at Easter history-changing move, and with the FA Cup and (whisper it) Champions League qualification still very realistic possibilities this season. If the class of 2016 do achieve success on either of those fronts, the Noble testimonial may have helped play a part. Not just in terms of

being a perfectly-timed letting off of steam, but also practically. Amid the multiple substitutions and on-pitch clowning, it was noticeable that the hugely important Diafra Sakho, newly returned from injury, had an extended run-out. Similarly, Alex Song,

whose lack of recent first-team appearances has been linked to a reported loan contract clause saying a certain number of starts would trigger a permanent move, also played a large part of the game – handy for keeping him in shape just in case his big match experience is needed in an end of season run-in. ‘Too good for England’ was the chant that rang around the ground for Noble, but the sight of Ashton – forced to quit aged 26 after an injury picked up on international duty – reminded West Ham fans that sometimes call-ups come at a heavy price. Had he been away with England, Mr West Ham would have missed being guest of honour at a wonderful, uplifting celebration. As it was, he got to be at the centre of it all. Whilst other teams may be running out of steam, Mark Noble’s testimonial could just have given West Ham’s spirits the biggest possible boost at the perfect time. So come to think of it – thanks England, good call. BBM

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