West Ham heiress Jacqueline Gold says she can’t wait to see the Hammers step out for the first time in the Olympic Stadium. Co-owner David Gold’s daughter, who was made a CBE in the January honours list, has inherited he father’s love of the club and is confident the Irons will be in safe hands for years to come.
In an exclusive joint interview with her sister Vanessa, the 55-yearold, who turned the Ann Summers family business into a major high-street brand, also heaped praise on captain Mark Noble. Kicking off our chat I ask the pair about when they were told their father was going to be the co-owner of West Ham.
Jacqueline said: ‘The three of us have dinner together every single week, and have done for the past 25 years, and it was over dinner one evening that Dad told us that he had completed the deal that day and was now the proud owner of West Ham United, along with David Sullivan.’ Her sister, who is the managing director of Ann Summers, added: ‘I remember feeling extremely happy but I can’t say that either Jacqueline or I were too surprised.
‘We always knew it was his dream to own West Ham one day and knowing how passionate he is, I think we both knew he would achieve it one day.’ Jacqueline, who was honoured for her services to entrepreneurship, women in business and social enterprise, recalled her first memories of growing up in a Hammers supporting household.
‘Our earliest memories of West Ham were going to our Grandma Rosie’s house, which was almost directly opposite Upton Park at 442 Green Street. ‘I remember Dad dropping us off to go and watch the game and we would help Rosie sell West Ham souvenirs to all the supporters from the front steps of her house.’ And her favourite player? ‘Sir Trevor Brooking – a wonderful player and now a regular in the Boardroom,’ she replied. ‘He is a great ambassador for the club.’
The conversation turns to today’s squad and when asked for their current favourite players both Jacqueline and Vanessa were quick to point to Mr West Ham himself. ‘We have some fantastic players in today’s squad but Mark Noble really stands out,’ Vanessa said. ‘He has such a fantastic work ethic, is right at the heart of the team and we love his loyalty to the club.’ Nodding, Jacqueline added: ‘We also really like Adrian. I follow him on Twitter and he is so passionate about the game and the club.’
As for their feelings towards leaving Upton Park, Jacqueline continued: ‘Of course we’ll be sad, because we grew up around the ground, it’s our second home. ‘But if we want to progress as a club then where better to go than the iconic Olympic Stadium? I think it might feel a bit strange at first but the opportunity to watch our team play there, will be phenomenal.’ The vice-president of the Children’s Trust and supporter of both the National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC) and the Retail Trust said West Ham have had a huge impact on her life.
‘I go to every home game, my six-year old daughter has been a mascot, it’s my second home,’ she explained. ‘It has been a very positive influence for me and my family. ‘I like nothing more than sharing my passion for the game with friends – particularly if I get to tease them after a victory against their team.’ Vanessa added: ‘I have always loved football since I was very little, but being a West Ham fan feels like being part of a football family.
‘I like the fact that when we win, we all win together and well, when we lose, best not to talk to us for a few hours.’ Turning to their father, both Jacqueline and Vanessa describe West Ham’s co-owner as their best friend. ‘He is caring, charming and he always has time for everyone. We love his company, he really does light up a room with his stories, pearls of wisdom and his wit, which if you follow him on Twitter you will have seen for yourself,’ Jacqueline said. ‘As a businessman he has incredibly energy and a real zest for new ideas and opportunities.
‘He always asks the question no one else thinks to ask and he instinctively knows the good ideas from the bad. ‘We admire him immensely; he has been a great mentor to us both, as well as inspiring many more.’ But what about Mr Gold, the West Ham fan? Vanessa replied: ‘As a fan, well, he barely eats on match day.
‘We sit next to him in the boardroom and he is so busy and involved but still has time to chat with fans on the way into the ground. I would say he is optimistically nervous at most games and whilst he gets excited every time we score, he doesn’t usually relax until we have two in the bag.’ Last month heralded the six-year anniversary since Gold and David Sullivan took over the club and both explain how ‘extremely proud’ they are for what the duo have achieved for the club. ‘They have great track records as businessmen and as football club owners and really have the club’s best interests at heart. To have secured the Olympic Stadium is an incredible achievement.’