Sam Allardyce, Kevin Nolan and Nicky Maynard have paid tribute to West Ham United’s dedicated fanbase ahead of Saturday’s big London derby with Crystal Palace.
The West Ham United manager, his captain and new striker are keen to remind the club’s most committed and loyal fans that their unrivalled support does not go unnoticed as the season enters the home straight. Following a series of bumper crowds over the past two months, the trio wanted to place on record their gratitude to those who turn out to support the team every week.
“I think it’s brilliant that the club are offering up a variety of initiatives to bring in new supporters to West Ham United as they will be essential to us growing as a club,” Big Sam said. “These kind of offers have given us packed houses for many of the important matches we’ve already played this season and will help to fill the Boleyn Ground for the big games we’ve got over the next few weeks.
“However, I’d like to re-emphasise that our season ticket holders are, and should always remain, our top priority. They are the lifeblood of the club and will never be taken for granted. I speak regularly with the Chairmen and we all agree that their continued support is essential to the ongoing development of this club.”
Big Sam was certainly aware of the importance of the club’s fans during the Hammers’ most recent two home games, when West Ham impressively secured four points despite being reduced to ten men for over 70 minutes on each occasion.
“I’m lucky that our technical area is right in front of the biggest stand at the Boleyn Ground and you can feel the power of the crowd behind you during the game.
“People often ask me if the crowd make a difference but I can honestly say that the backing of the guys in the Alpari Stand and the rest of the stadium – the majority of whom are season ticket holders – during the Southampton game was absolutely vital to us getting a point from that match.”
Nolan enjoyed many years of playing in some of the most impressive stadiums in the country when plying his trade in the Premier League. He can recall several games when playing as an opponent at the Boleyn Ground and knows that the east London stadium is renowned among opposing players for its intimidating atmosphere.
Nolan said: “When you’re out on the pitch and your backs are against the wall, having the support of the West Ham crowd behind you, particularly in those areas with a high concentration of season ticket holders, is absolutely vital.
“The fact that we are still pulling in sell-out crowds in the Championship shows the level of support this club has. We are regularly in the top ten most watched games in the country and we must make sure we continue to draw in the crowds over the next ten weeks.”
Nolan had to sit out the Southampton match and the majority of the Millwall game following an early red card against the Lions. Although frustrated not to be playing, the break did give him a chance to appreciate the Boleyn Ground atmosphere even more.
“I’ve obviously been gutted to not be out on the pitch following my recent red card, but one of the few plus points is that I’ve been able to be among the crowd for the last couple of games and the atmosphere they created has been absolutely incredible.
“I know how hard the boys found it with ten men but the noise emanating from the Bobby Moore Stand, particularly in the second half against Millwall, helped see the team home and was out of this world.”
New signing Nicky Maynard has also been blown away by the backing of the Boleyn Ground since his arrival from Bristol City.
The striker made his debut in front of 32,000 fans during the match with Southampton, where he got a rousing reception upon his introduction as a late substitute.
“I remember when I was warming up there’s a section of the crowd down by the corner flag that were clapping me and cheering for me every time I came down.
“I understand the majority of those guys are season ticket holders who are there every week so I’m looking forward to scoring a few goals in front of them.”