Football heaven comes to the Boleyn later this month as Hammers heroes past and present combine to celebrate Mark Noble’s testimonial. Such is the admiration the Canning Town man holds amongst the West Ham faithful, this ‘friendly’ is the first of its kind to sell-out. It goes to show that when these types of matches are done right they can really prove profitable for the chosen charities.
Noble, who played his 350th game earlier this year, is enjoying a renaissance of form under Slaven Bilic, and this match represents a chance for him to play with some old friends at the Boleyn for one last time before the Irons move to pastures new in August. While the sceptics will tell you that many in attendance are there to see players like Paolo Di Canio, Ian Bishop and Trevor Sinclair, it goes to show just how highly regarded Mark is amongst his fellow peers. These are players the 28-year-old would’ve looked up to as a kid whilst he was running around the Chadwell Heath training ground as a baby-faced academy product.
Now years on, he is giving those stars of yester-year one last chance to play on the hallowed turf, and one last time for us fans to purr over Di Canio’s step-overs and wonder what might have been had Dean Ashton not had his leg snapped in half by Shaun Wright-Phillips. Joining those two striking sensations are some old faces that are sure to whet the appetite. It will be particularly great to watch Ludek Miklosko between the sticks again alongside Julian Dicks’ hard-hitting free-kicks and Ian Bishop’s luscious locks running down the wing. Personally, I cannot wait to see my boyhood heroes Matthew Etherington and Trevor Sinclair in claret and blue again.
It makes me go all misty-eyed thinking back to the tricky wingers marauding down the flanks whipping inch-perfect balls into the box for the likes of Carlton Cole and Freddie Kanoute to tap home goal after goal. The only thing that could make this match better is the return of King Carlos Tevez, if Marky Nobes can pull that off it really would be football heaven for the West Ham faithful. So what can we expect from the game?
I suspect it will be a slow-paced encounter as these kinds of matches so often are, packed with humour. It’s not very often that ‘testimonials’ are given out to players these days but the fact the board have realised this and given Noble reward for this shows just how appreciated the Hammers skipper is.
To be able to go to a game at the Boleyn this season without any nerves gives fans the chance to soak in everything that our ground has to offer. And another sell-out enables Noble to share the wealth with his three chosen charities, Richard House Children’s Hospice, DT38 foundation and last but not least the Help for Heroes fund.