In sport there is a finite line between hero and villain and in football that line is even thinner. One minute you are idolized the next you are the pantomime villain. Take Frank Lampard and Jermain Defoe. Both were adored during their days at West Ham because they were academy boys that came good but in a matter of months Lampard had turned into Fat Frank, and Defoe turned into Judas Jermain.
Defoe left in a cloud after requesting a transfer just days after the Hammers were relegated in 2003. Naturally a young boy would want to further his career in the Premier League but after a word in the ear from his agent, Defoe sulked and fouled his way through the early stages of his debut Championship campaign with West Ham. Suddenly he had turned from hero to villain in moments.
Now the Irons have a number of ‘cult heroes’ in this current set up – Adrian, Kouyate, Sakho to name a few but perhaps the most obvious is none other than Carlton Cole. A player perhaps not blessed with the most talent in the world but what he lacks in natural ability he more than makes up with in passion and heart for the east end club. When Alan Pardew signed the big man, there wasn’t much anticipation on the former Chelsea man but within minutes of his debut he burst through on goal and smashed home with his first touch. The whole of Upton Park stood to attention for this new man.
One of the longest serving members of the current squad, Carlton has turned into one of the most loved characters in the squad both on and off the pitch. His tweets at times are of the ilk of a typical Hammers fans. Having heated exchanges with Tottenham fans as well as conversing with West Ham fans on a regular basis. On the pitch he works his socks off, as I said he isn’t the most technical player in the world, but I think he is fully aware of that fact. He is your typical West Ham United cult hero.
In the mould of Christian Daily, Thomas Repka, and Marlon Harewood, the West Ham number 24 is the latest in line for unlikely hero status. Goal-scorer 9 seasons spent at the club COLE Always believe: Carlton Cole is popular with West Ham’s fans in the play-off final and bagging 15 goals in that campaign Cole helped the Hammers to regain their Premier League status. He always carries that infectious smile on his face as he plays and you can just tell that he genuinely loves playing for the club.
When I attended the away game at St Mary’s I was genuinely shocked when I heard the abuse in the concourse for Carlton Cole when he was announced as a starter. A man who is one of the most loyal players amongst the squad still receiving grief despite all his effort over the years, sums up some of our ‘fans’. The outpour of emotion when it was announced that Coley was on his way to the West Brom training ground on deadline day con – firmed to me that he has well and truly secured cult hero status.
Carlton may well have been treated poorly by the Hammers board and management over the years having been released then resigned, then allowed to travel up to the Midlands only for a chance of first team football to be snatched from him just as the pen was handed to him. Despite all this he maintains a strong affinity for the club and that’s all we want as fans, honest hard working in – dividuals who obviously bleed claret and blue. Coley, I salute you, and I will always believe in you.