Wednesday, March 30
Mark Noble: he's West Ham through and through…
Despite the best efforts of Tfl closing Upton Park, 35,000 fans made it to Mark Noble's Testimonial and were rewarded with West Ham beating West Ham All-Stars 6-5. First it was a long walk from West Ham station and then a swift trip to Ken's Cafe where Michael, Matt and Lisa were in attendance. Great atmosphere in the ground and a bewildering array of old faces. Craig Bellamy still looked fit and scored the opener for the All-Stars. "Come on, we can't lose to a team like West Ham!" was my quip. Mark Noble got the first for West Ham and Adrian ran the length of the field to bag one as well.
Anton and Rio Ferdinand played together in defence; Dean Ashton was a few stones above his playing weight but scored a cracking overhead kick; Paolo Di Canio still had a great touch and feigned a dodgy back in one touchline run; Carlton Cole still suffered from dodgy control; an early cameo from Dicksy got a lot of cheers and Trevor Sinclair needed some extra large shorts for his presenter's posterior. "Oh Christian Dailly you are the love of my life!" greeted the legendary football genius and he still looked match-fit too as he strolled through the game like a latter-day Beckenbauer.
Twelve-year-old Freddie Sears had a lot of energy from his Easter Eggs and a bulkier Marlon Harewood celebrated a goal (subsequently disallowed) by reprising his short-off semi-final celebration. John Moncur made some typically late tackles. We also got to see the return of Jimmy Walker, though sadly no return of Walker's World in the programme, where Lisa predicted he would be writing about, "Alex Song having himself with his dodgy gear." Ludek Miklosko came on to the obligatory song from the Bobby Moore Stand and kept a clean sheet. Another highlight was Diafra Sakho groping down his shorts to find a phone and take a selfie after scoring. So the game may not have been entirely serious.
It all ended in a penalty shoot-out which West Ham both won and lost. Adrian managed to shoot over the bar but still slid on his knees to celebrate as he did against Everton.
Our walk to West Ham tube afterwards was mitigated by a stop at the Black Lion, where the Old Bob was particularly fine and Michael confessed that he's planning on dying his hair claret and blue for the final home match at the Boleyn.
Not often you get to see a stress-free West Ham game — even Matt didn't get too cross with the ref — and a lot of money was raised for three charities. Well done Nobes and thanks for being such a stalwart Hammer.