‘I’ll never forgive the club for the way they’ve handled Reid’s inevitable exit’

There have been many unforgettable and memorable moments since Moyes transformed us from a relegation-bound side to chasing European football. And whilst there has been plenty to feel positive about, I want every West Ham fan to never forget how the club treated Winston Reid as we continue to ride the crest of a seemingly never-ending wave.

For a man whose name will forever be etched in the history of West Ham, he deserved so much more from a club he proudly served for over a decade. He did not deserve to be ushered through the back door and asked to leave quietly.

His winner in that thrilling 3-2 Farewell Boleyn game against Manchester United will be a moment that I will never forget. As will his goal against Millwall. To say his career at West Ham didn’t get off to the greatest start would be an understatement.

He signed in August 2010 from FC Midtjylland and whilst he wore the number two shirt, Auckland-born Reid wasn’t a right back. The now 33-year-old clocked up 12 appearances in what the club described as a ‘challenging season’.

But he wasn’t the only player to perform poorly that campaign as we slumped to relegation under Avram Grant and entered the Championship. But it was under Sam Allardyce where he started to impress and he helped us get back into the Premier League at the first time of asking via the Championship play-offs.

He formed a really strong partnership with a succession of partners including James Collins as he helped us establish ourselves in the top flight – who can forget his goal in our 3-0 win at Spurs in October 2013?
In his prime, for me, he was one of the first names on the team sheet. There were games where it felt like Reid was the only one keeping the opposition at bay.

It was the combination of his longevity, his loyalty – remember he reportedly turned down a move to Spurs – and his uncompromising defending that saw him become a fans’ favourite. It was no surprise that he won Hammer of the Year in 2013. Little did we know that his career effectively ended in March 2018 when knee injuries effectively ruled him out until October 2019 and he missed the best part of 70 games.

He was never the same player after that, and was first shipped out to Kansas City in February 2020 before joining the then promotion-chasing Brentford in February 2021, and played a role at getting the Bees to the promised land. I did wonder if the west London side might snap him up but he returned to the Hammers this summer. Could we see one final hurrah from our New Zealand international?

The answer was a heartbreaking no. I heard the news about Reid and the club agreeing to end his contract via a notification on Facebook. It was a video posted by the club. If you haven’t seen it, it’s worth a watch for just how painful it is.

To me, it’s like he’s just agreed to leave the club and having moments earlier shaken hands with Moyes, he’s been ushered into the next room and discovered the media team are there ready to speak to him. You can tell he is hurting. You can see in his answers, in his mannerisms and in his eyes that he doesn’t want to be there.

He should’ve been able to say goodbye on his own terms. For a player who proudly wore the captain’s armband on several occasions, he should’ve been given a testimonial. We should’ve been given the chance to say goodbye. But after 11 years, it ended with this: ‘The club can confirm it has reached an agreement with Reid for the New Zealand international to depart and allow him to pursue first-team football elsewhere. The 33-year-old has been a loyal and dependable servant ever since signing in the summer of 2010, and paid tribute to his time in east London and his relationship with the Claret and Blue Army upon his departure.’

I know the writing has been on the wall for some time and that some of you reading this might say his departure was long overdue having not played a competitive game for us for years. And don’t get me wrong, I totally hear what you’re saying. He had two years left on his contract and that’s money that could be used elsewhere – like on a player who can still compete at Premier League level.

But that statement – and subsequent Facebook video – is an absolute disgrace for a player who was a worthy Hammer of the Year winner and an absolute rock in the heart of our defence for so many years. Winston, rest assured, we are not all as cold as the club we support. I want to thank you for all the memories, your service, and commitment.

It was utterly heartbreaking watching you navigate your way through that ‘exit interview’. One day I would love to sit down and chat to you about your time at West Ham and learn more about what happened with your injury, and why you never made it back into the starting line-up.

I am gutted that it ended like this. You are a modern West Ham great and I would still love to see a prime Winston Reid playing today.

I have a lot of respect for the club, and we’ve found an agreement that’s good for everyone involved. I’ve enjoyed my time here. It’s been a long time so I’m just grateful. The club’s been great to me over not only this but over the years as well. The club’s full of good people behind the scenes; players, coaches, staff.

I wouldn’t say it’s a sad day as people come and go in clubs but I have enjoyed my time here. I have fond memories. I came here in 2010, and I’ve just enjoyed playing for the club so much. It’s been a special time. Obviously my kids were born here as well.

I’ve enjoyed playing for the club in front of the fans and with teammates, coaches and the rest of the staff.
The Farewell Boleyn game was a special occasion for everyone, the last game, and it’ll be something I’ll always remember. I think going up in the play-off final was a huge moment for the club, and just in general, going out and playing week in, week out with teammates I’ve enjoyed it.

The club are moving forward in a good direction, the stadium’s bigger and better. As a player when you’re out for a long time, you have to go through stuff, a lot of it you have to go through by yourself. But especially the people that I worked with behind the scenes here during my rehab, they’ve always helped me out and if I ever needed anything when I was away, they were always there to help me out.

When you’re out for a certain period of time, you know it’s tough but that’s part of the job and you learn to get through. I’ve always tried to do my best. The fans are there to back the players up, and the players are there to give something back to the fans as well.

At the end of the day when you’re a footballer, that’s what you enjoy the most, going out there playing for your fans, for your teammates, for your coaches and for your family. I just want to say thank you and wish you all the best for the future.

Winston’s exit interview: In his own words

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