Lawrie: I have always respected West Ham legend Mark Noble

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West Ham United's Mark Noble on the pitch following a presentation to mark his final home game for the club at the end of the Premier League match at London Stadium, London. Picture date: Sunday May 15, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story SOCCER West Ham.
West Ham United's Mark Noble on the pitch following a presentation to mark his final home game for the club at the end of the Premier League match at London Stadium, London. Picture date: Sunday May 15, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story SOCCER West Ham.

FOOTBALL is, of course, all about teams and crowds, but every now and again, individuals crop up, and there has been one or two recently that have caught my eye.

I think the first one interests me, because I signed him up as a schoolboy for Southampton, but, he became more famous for his exploits at his hometown club Newcastle – I’m on about Alan Shearer.

The thing that drew my attention was the picture of a 10-foot bronze sculpture statue of him being lifted into position, right next to the entrance steps on one of the corners of the ground at St James’ Park.

It was actually erected about six years ago, nearby but outside the grounds of the stadium. It was said that it was something to do with former chairman Mike Ashley, who had refused to have the statue within the boundaries of the stadium.

But the new owners pledged to relocate it and the club have released a picture of it saying: “Where he belongs”.

The Newcastle supporters will be delighted with that. Ironically, another statue was unveiled at Manchester City, in tribute to Sergio Aguero.

The Argentine will never be forgotten, because he scored what they call their most historical goal, a dramatic winner against QPR which won them the Premier League for the first time.

In addition to that, I was interested last week, like all supporters were, in the FA Cup final.

It was a surprise to read the Chelsea player, Andreas Christensen, had withdrawn from the team on the day of the game. I assumed he must have had a fall in the hotel or something like that. But apparently he said to the manager that he was not ready to play and he had his own reasons.

I don't suppose we will ever hear what his reasons were. But from a manager's point of view, for any game, you work out what the team will be days before. You practice certain movements, and for a player to drop out of the morning of the game does not help at all.

Of course, Chelsea went on to lose to Liverpool on penalties – talking of which, another individual that caught my eye was to do with penalties.

Aaron Ramsey, playing for Rangers against Frankfurt in the Europa League final, had to walk up all the way from the halfway line, which I always think is the toughest bit connected with these situations.

With the score then at 4-3 in favour of Frankfurt, the keeper saved his penalty.

Bearing in mind that one of the headlines on the day of the game was that there were 100 to 150,000 supporters that had travelled, mainly without tickets, just to be there. I don't suppose Ramsey will ever forget that day, or any of the supporters either.

On the brighter side, another individual who I have respected for many years, was Mark Noble, a West Ham legend who is ending his career.

He will always be a legend there, amongst the likes of Bobby Moore, Trevor Brooking, and Billy Bonds.

He will retire now as a 35-year-old, having played more than 500 games.

The coach made sure, even though he was not in the first team on the day, he was on the bench and when he came on for his final home game, the reception he got from the crowd, which of course is a ground with near about 60,000, would be amazing.

He was shedding tears as he walked off after the wonderful message he got from them. West Ham intend to keep him involved with the club and full marks to them, because he would be a great example to young players to give 100 per cent at all times.

Whilst I wish Saints good luck as they are playing their last game on Sunday away at Leicester, there is still somewhere for local supporters to enjoy a day out with the game I mentioned last week – Saturday’s game at Eastleigh, in aid of the wonderful NHS.

Unfortunately, I will not be in attendance but there's legends such as Jim Steele, Ian Turner, Hugh Fisher and some other ex-players in attendance.

There will also be the original open bus from the FA Cup final, as well as Saints Brass, who provide a fabulous atmosphere ahead of Saints’ home games. With burgers and hot dogs also available, it will be a great day for all.

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