The word ‘Legend’ gets used all too much in Football nowadays.
The dictionary meaning of legend is; a superstar, icon, genius or a phenomenon. Ex-West Ham players worthy of such a status, in my humble opinion, would be the likes of Sir Bobby Moore, Sir Geoff Hurst, Martin Peters, Sir Trevor Brooking and Billy Bonds.
People that gave their all for the club. Played for the badge and not the wage packet or the adulation from the stands. Players who bled claret and blue whether they are playing front of a packed Boleyn ground or two dozen die hard fans on a cold wet rainy evening away to Scunthorpe.
Players such as Julian Dicks, Tony Cottee, Frank McAvennie, Alvin Martin and Steve Potts, to name a few, have all been labelled a legend at some point, rightly or wrongly, but only one current player warrants such an appellation. Mark Noble.
A local lad, born a stones throw from Upton Park in Canning Town, he is West Ham through and through. He used to sneak into Upton Park as a kid to watch the team play and it seems a fitting tribute to him that so many kids look up to him now.
You never see him falling out of night clubs at 5am with half a dozen girls on his arm. He comes to work, does his job, and he goes home. The consummate professional.
He made his debut in 2004 and has gone on to make almost 350 appearances for the club in that time, with many more to come no doubt. The tears that he shed during the Great Escape year of 06/07 were evident for all to see.
That’s why I think it’s fitting that the club have granted him a testimonial, and it’s also felicitous that the game will be held at The Boleyn ground. Our final year in such an iconic stadium, with our passionate, loyal fanbase, for such a loyal, hardworking and dedicated professional.
The last testimonial ever to be held at Upton Park will no doubt be an emotional event. Not just for those who are pulling on their boots to play in the game, but also to the thousands of fans who will be paying their hard earned money to go and watch the game.
At the time of writing, the players who are confirmed as playing are Jimmy Walker, Rio Ferdinand, Anton Ferdinand, Carlton Cole, Ravel Morrison, Jack Collison, Joe Cole, Danny Gabbidon, Dean Ashton, Gary O’Neil and Trevor Sinclair.
I fully expect to see a few of the current squad making an appearance, as well as a few ex-players who are still playing, such as Michael Carrick and Robert Green.
The two people I would sell my kidneys on e-bay to see in a claret and blue shirt again are Carlos Tevez and Paolo Di Canio.
Will they be asked? Without a doubt. Will they play? Fingers and toes crossed they do.
Either way it will be a fitting tribute to a fantastic and loyal player, and a great way to say thank you to what always has been, for a West Ham fan, our second home.
We have so many memories in that stadium. Some great, some not so great. Whether we’ve just witnessed a much needed win over our hated rivals or a dire 0-0 draw on a cold Monday night against a team from two leagues below us, it will all be about the man, and the stadium.
Upton Park has moulded me into the person I am today, and it’s taken a young lad from Canning Town and turned him into a West Ham ‘Legend’.
I, for one, cannot wait to get my ticket. Provided anyone wants a second-hand kidney…