Posted by Marketing, 28th March 2016
Later on today, legends of old along with some of the current crop of players at West Ham United will come together to pay tribute to Mark Noble in his testimonial at the Boleyn Ground, Upton Park. Familiar faces will return to pay homage to the magic of the old ground one more time in what will, most likely, be the final testimonial game to be played at this iconic East London stadium before the move to the Olympic Stadium at the end of the season. The proceeds of the event will be donated to Help for Heroes, the Dylan Tombides Foundation and Richard House Children’s Hospice.
Amongst the returning names to appear in front of a sell-out crowd of 35,000 will be Rio Ferdinand and Paolo di Canio – who will feature in a West Ham All-Stars team against the first team squad. Also making a return to the Boleyn Ground will be Jack Collison (recently partnered with GIS and who played over 100 games for the Hammers) and Ian Bishop (former captain of West Ham United who played over 250 games). Both Jack and Ian will feature at the GIS series of National Camps in 2016 and many of our players and families will recognise them from recent trips or previous camps (some will have even briefly played against them in a training session!)
We caught up with Ian Bishop before the game to ask him about playing in Noble’s testimonial.
Hi Ian, how does it feel ahead of making one final appearance at the Boleyn Ground?
It’ll be fantastic –a great occasion for everyone, especially for Mark. I’ll be buzzing at the game but looking at the list of players I’m going to be playing alongside…I think I’ll be happy if I can get through 10 minutes without spraying footballs all over the place and making any mistakes! There are some players there today who I didn’t get to play with and a lot of big names so it will be very exciting. I think I’ll be sticking to 10 yard passes to start off with!
What are some of your fond memories from the Boleyn Ground from your time as a player and captain?
I always used to enjoy the night games. The atmosphere under the floodlights was electric and I always used to look forward to those games the most. One of my favourite memories was beating Everton in an FA Cup replay at the Boleyn Ground in front of the fans. I’d been let go by Everton prior to this a few seasons before so to captain the team in front of the supporters and win the game at night was a special memory.
You must be looking forward to playing alongside former team-mates today then?
Of course! It will be good to see Slav (Slaven Bilic – now the current manager of the first team) who I played alongside with before and also Julian Dicks who is now part of the coaching team. I wasn’t expecting to play against the first team though so I’ve had to work on my fitness ahead of the game!
Jack Collison will also be there today who has recently partnered with us at GIS – do you remember him from your time at the club?
I remember Jack as a younger player – he was always a very good young player and model for the other kids. He typified what it meant to be a West Ham player and was always going to be successful so I’ll look forward to playing alongside him (hopefully!) today.
If we look ahead into 2016 – we’ll be seeing you at this year’s National Camp series for GIS as part of the West Ham Coaching Staff?
Definitely – that’s one of the best times of the year for me. I’m really excited for that – not only because we get to work alongside the best coaches in the business and are around the football people who typify West Ham but also because we get to work with the players and help them to develop and show them the things we were taught back in the day. I’m sure it will be another excellent week for all involved. I believe Jack Collison will be out there this year so it’ll be great to have his experience adding to the players.
Lastly – what are your thoughts on the man at the centre of the testimonial today – Mark Noble? Will you be sticking around after the game to see everyone?
Mark is a superb midfield player who has just been getting better year-on-year. He is always consistent and for me, that’s his greatest asset – that he always consistently performs at a great level. When you can do that – it is the sign of a special player and nothing beats a testimonial at the Boleyn Ground. I’ll definitely be sticking around after the game – it’ll be a great occasion. The testimonial itself is a dying breed in the modern game so to be able to do this in front of the West Ham faithful will be a memory worth having!
Mark Noble here pictured with our recently visited West Ham United U1816 Elite Trip and with Paul Heffer, his former coach and Assistant Academy Director