Saturday, 17 March 2007

Crying Game

As a counter point to the Carlos Tevez article from yesterday, The Mirror carries an interview with West Ham's other ascendent star, Mark Noble.

Crying Game
By Darren Lewis

Mark Noble: 'I Wept at the end of the Spurs game because I know how the fans feel... I was in the crowd the last time we went down.'

His tears at the end of West Ham's last-gasp defeat to Spurs epitomised the anguish of every true Upton Park fan in what has been a nightmare season. But Mark Noble's heartbreak that day also brought renewed hope that there are still players at the club that care at a time when their commitment to the cause is being questioned.

So far this season the 19-year-old local hero has been denied a place in the first team because boss Alan Curbishley has stuck with experience during the club's relegation battle. But Noble's only two senior appearances this season - against Brighton in the FA Cup and Spurs in the Premiership last week - have both yielded goals and convinced his boss that his hunger is more valuable than the underachievement of better known players. As a result the Canning Town teenager is set to play again today at Blackburn and Hammers fans - who have called for him to be put into the team all season - will be delighted. Noble said:

"I cried in that Tottenham game because I don't want to see this club go down again. I know what it's like because I was in the crowd when we went down four years ago. My emotions were just everywhere and the only way they were coming out was through my eyes. It was a gutting feeling for me. I have had a lot of stick for crying as you can imagine from friends and stuff. But I couldn't help it at the time. There was nothing I could do about it and I just have to take it on the chin!"

"This is my job. This is all I know. I can't do anything else because I am no good at anything else. So when you can't get what you want it's hard. Some people take it in different ways. For me it's a massive thing when I lose. I don't like losing no matter what I do. Even when I am on the computer at home with mates if I lose I still get the hump. That's healthy, I think, because I never want to be in that position."

Born on May 8 1987, Mark Noble began his footballing career as a trainee at West Ham before loan spells took him to Hull and Ipswich. He could easily have stayed away from the car crash that has been the Hammers' season. Instead, he is desperate to help dig them out of trouble. He added: "In a way you have to be brought up round here to know what it is like for the fans. For some geezers it's their life. A lot of them just wait for the next Saturday for the game to come around. I feel so much of that through the people I know so it's hard when we get a result like we did against Spurs."

"I've lived near Upton Park for about 17 years. Places like Canning Town, East Ham and all around there. I have been going to the games since I was a small boy so it's great to play for the club but when we lose it is so hard. The up side, though, is that if you work hard and you lose, the fans back you. Just like they did in the Spurs game when they applauded us off the pitch. That's what we have got to do for the last 10 games - work hard, dig deep and try and create a miracle."

"When I was younger my hero was Bobby Moore because my dad always told me about him. He told me that Bobby was just magnificent, that he was so calm and that he had an aura about him that some players get and some players never do. He told me that he had that respect as a World Cup winner and its a pleasure to be associated with a club that has had a player like that. It's even better to play in the same stadium that he did. Other heroes are players who have gone the same path as me, like Joey Cole and Michael Carrick and Frank Lampard. They have gone through the youth cup and the first team and I am still looking up to them. Glenn Roeder gave me the chance to come in when I was a kid and train with players like them and John Moncur who was a West Ham top boy. So now it means so much to me now to follow them."

Noble is determined to make the most of the chance he has been given. He went on: "When I first broke through in the Championship two years ago it was the same then as it is now. The fans just love homegrown players coming through. With the amount of foreigners coming in it is hard for the youngsters because they just get sent out on loan to lower league clubs and some of them really don't get a chance. But I was determined this year to make my mark. So although I enjoyed my loan spell at Ipswich I came back and told Alan Pardew - who was our manager at the time - that I wanted to get into this team. When Curbs came in I finally got my chance. Now I just want to grab hold of it. I was gutted after the Brighton game to lose my place. I wanted to stay in the side but the manager told me that he wanted to go with experience to get us out of this mess."

"Now he has clearly thought: 'I am just going to put him in'. So hopefully my hard training has paid off and I want to stay even if we go down. There will obviously be some changes and the majority of players will want to stay in the Premiership. But I am sure there will be a few staying with me and if we can make a core around them then hopefully we can come straight back up. Having said all that I don't want to talk too much about relegation. Until it is mathematically impossible I want to focus on staying up."

Elsewhere, The Independent report that West Ham United have submitted their appeal to the Premier League after being charged for a breach of rules over the signing of Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano. The Argentine pair were signed in August and under scrutiny is whether the involvement of Media Sports Investment was against regulations.

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