The day has almost come to say goodbye to our captain, our leader, and Mr West Ham Mark Noble. Players come and go and some you obviously feel more sad about leaving than others. There are some you are relieved to see go but I don’t think there is a single West Ham fan that will not be sad that his legacy is coming to an end.
Mark is a one club man – bar two loan spells as a youngster – and he is a dying breed. Despite relegations, multiple changes in manager and even ownership he has never once considered leaving this club. To put into words the importance this man has had over the years is nigh impossible and it really cannot be underestimated both on and off the pitch.
As many of you know we interview ex players each week for our podcast and if they have played with Mark, we ask what he is like and there has never been a bad word. Whether it be players who were older than him at the time, considerably in Teddy Sheringham’s case, or younger than him, all players speak positively. They say he was the first to welcome them, the first to make them feel part of the squad and the player they looked up to – even when he was a youngster in the squad.
How to win over fans
Foreign players such as Faubert, Piquionne, Diamanti and Demel spoke about how he taught them the importance of the club, how to win over the fans and why the east end and its people are special.
This is why you cannot put a price on his contribution over the years.
When he first broke into the squad with his mate Chris Cohen, it was initially Cohen that stood out slightly more. Left footed, creative, worked hard and was tipped to be a West Ham legend. It was Mark, however, that went on to achieve that. In his earlier days he was used more as an attacking midfielder getting important goals in his first real season for us when he was a key contributor in our great escape.
Tevez, Zamora and Rob Green often get the praise but Noble was just as influential. A goal in our 3-4 defeat to Spurs, which kickstarted the recovery, and a great goal against Bolton showed the quality he had. Cool, calm and collected from the penalty spot has also been a trait that has served us so well.
Too good for England
Whilst a regular at England under 21 level, despite many calls to be on the main squad, he never quite made it. West Ham fans sung “too good for England” as a result and whilst this may be tongue in cheek, he has to rank as one of the best non capped players in recent years.
Noble is the last link to my youth at the club. He was playing when I was a young man in my early twenties. I feel incredibly old now and when he does leave at the end of the season this will be compounded further.
Mark Noble may not be remembered in the same breath as the likes of Moore, Hurst, Brooking and Bonds but his overall contribution to West Ham, the club he supported as a boy, is on equal measure to these legends.
On our patreon we will be doing our own little tribute to Mark, as well as all the other features. This month we had a live Q and A with John Hartson where our patreons asked the questions. We also interviewed: Richard Garcia, Keith Rowland, Wally Downes, Alessandro Diamanti and our regular weekly podcast with Martin Allen.
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For £5 a month you really should give it a go.