Monday, 18 February 2008

The Golden Thread

You see stars that clear have been dead for years
But the idea just lives on
In our wheels that roll around
As we move over the ground
And all day it seems we’ve been in between the past and future town

She was the golden thread that united him to a Past beyond his misery, and to a Present beyond his misery: and the sound of her voice, the light of her face, the touch of her hand, had a strong beneficial influence with him almost always...

Next Sunday will be 15 years to the day that Bobby Moore passed away and the man currently wearing his number has revealed what it means to him to have the shirt. "It's a big honour," reflects Matthew Upson. "Sometimes I do sit at home and think about it and I get a little buzz because it's a big honour. I didn't actually specifically ask for it. I was given it and it's a real honour to wear that shirt." With the team not playing this weekend ahead of the trip to Fulham, fittingly a club also served by the legendary Moore, next Saturday, Upson has relished the chance of an extended break. "It has been a crazy couple of weeks. I have had six games in two weeks, so the body and mind could do with a rest." That said, he is not going to stop putting in the work on the practice pitches - with a refreshing philosophy about life at the training ground. "Never waste a day," he said. "Turn up to work every morning and improve at something, even if it's learning how to do something really miniscule, it doesn't matter. Take something out of the day which has made you a better player. If you do that throughout your career, you can only get better."

Having played every minute of this season's league campaign after the "dreadful" events of last year when injury cost him the chance to help in the fight for survival, Upson said: "It's only just beginning at West Ham. I want to give some very good years in my career to West Ham and I feel I am coming into my prime." His current partner Anton Ferdinand is still only 22 himself and, having played alongside his brother Rio for England earlier this month, Upson can see that his young colleague has a bright future ahead. "They are quite different. Rio is a more polished version at the moment his stature, career and experience is at a greater level but Anton has some every good aspects and if he keeps working and improving I am sure that he will do very well." He also sees plenty of competition coming up through the ranks with the likes of England youth internationals Jordan Spence and James Tomkins set to stake a claim in future. "Tomka's showed some real talent and understanding of the position. Jordan looks very good too. He's trained with us a few times and he looks a really good athlete. He's got a good athletic build. There are some good young prospects coming through."

Also waiting in the wings is Bondz N'Gala. The imposing young defender is developing fast and enjoying life at reserve-team level alongside England Under-19 defender Tomkins. The pair first came together for Kevin Keen's side at home to Chelsea on 10 December with N'Gala turning in a man of the match display in the goalless draw. They then reunited last week for the visit of Birmingham City and again were imperious in a 4-1 success. "My aim is to be a regular for the reserves now and try to push on from there," the 18-year-old, who is nicknamed Bonzo, told WHUTV. "The next step is to make my mark for the reserve team. Hopefully, the manager is watching and I will do all I can to impress."

He could get another chance to do just that on Wednesday night when Fulham arrive at Bishop's Stortford looking to fare better than Birmingham. "It was a very good win," N'Gala said of last week's success. "We worked hard at them and got the result in the end. We had a good team out so we believed in our ability and got back in the game, and in the end we got four." As well as Tomkins, the back line featured the highly rated Spence, who is still only 17, at right-back and Jonathan Spector, a veteran by comparison at 21, at left-back. Having the chance to play alongside the likes of established US international Spector and returning hat-trick hero Bobby Zamora further forward is something that N'Gala is looking to use to his advantage. "I am always listening to what they have got to say and take it on. They have been there and are willing to help. It is good to see Bob back out there. Hopefully we will see him out there soon for the first team doing the same."

In between those Chelsea and Birmingham reserve fixtures, N'Gala went off to Weymouth on a work experience arrangement last month only to be recalled after a change of management at the Conference club. Despite that aborted spell he did get the chance to taste the top level of non-league football and found it as useful an experience as playing alongside Zamora and Co.
"It has helped me playing competitive football elsewhere," the homegrown talent from Forest Gate said. "I have grown up a bit more. I had to grow up quick in that league. It is a bit different to being here - they play the ball a bit long more, you have got to get used to it. There was more heading for me. It was good." N'Gala's first game upon his return to West Ham United was helping the Under-18s to a 2-0 win at Arsenal on 2 February and he was back in action again for Tony Carr's in-form Academy side at the weekend as they won 1-0 away to Southampton. "It is good to be back and to see the lads again. It is good to be playing in the West Ham shirt again as well."

Following that victory against Southampton, Tony Carr was effusive in paying tribute to his young team. "We just deserved to win it on the day," he said. "I thought we carried the bigger threat going forward. They defended resolutely and restricted us to a few efforts at goal but we got there in the end. It is a good time at the moment and hopefully we can carry on and remain unbeaten for as long as possible." Aware his team had previously lost 6-1 and 3-2 to Arsenal and Southampton respectively inside a fortnight at the end of October and start of November, Carr explained his satisfaction at seeing things go his side's way. "It is always nice to make amends for an earlier defeat. Three or four months down the road, the teams are slightly different and it is a different game but it is always nice to get one back if you get beaten by a team. Southampton are at the top and Arsenal are second. We have beaten them both and kept a clean sheet."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Bright Eyes! I love spotting the cultural references in your blog but I don't think I get all of them.


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