David Cracknell is Political Editor of the Sunday Times. He is shortly leaving the paper to take charge of the political lobbying company, LLM.
How did you become a Hammer?
My mum and dad are from East London so it was a natural thing. There are four season tickets in the family, although as I’ve worked on Saturdays for the past ten years I haven’t had one. But in my new job I get my weekends back, so if anyone knows a mate of a mate who’s got one, please get in touch!
Your first game?
Must have been sometime in 1974, aged six, because I was a mad fan by the time we won the FA Cup the following year. My dad took me to the Chicken Run, so that always feels like home. I remember Frank Lampard, Trevor Brooking always with his tongue in his cheek, looking to make the perfect pass.
How many games do you get to?
Not enough at the moment as I have to rely on someone pulling out, and its had to be on Sundays or mid-week. I went a lot more when we were in the Championship a few years ago because you could just turn up. I went to Cardiff though, three times in a row.
Most memorable moment?
Probably that play-off semi-final at Upton Park where we beat Ipswich. I’ve never experienced an atmosphere like it. Deafening as well. Pards dancing around like a lunatic in that “Moore than a football club” T-shirt. Then we lost to Crystal Palace in Cardiff …
Have you met any Hammers players?
I’ve met Brooking, but only a couple of years ago. He’s very passionate about sport in schools these days. My dad always said: “Now there’s a footballer with O levels!” My GP is one of the West Ham doctors – my mum ran his surgery practice for years – does that count?. I bumped into Bob Zamora straight after we lost to Liverpool at Cardiff – I was lucky enough to be invited into the WAGs area after the game. As you can imagine, it wasn’t a happy occasion after getting so close to victory!
I’m most proud of having played on the hallowed Boleyn turf though. It was a charity match against MPs a couple of years ago. We used the home dressing room, which was an honour. I didn’t play very well though – I think I was a bit overawed by the whole thing!
Favourite current player?
We all have to love Robert Green at the moment, don’t we. Should be England’s No1. But am a fan of a good East London Academy boy like Mark Noble – although, like a lot of its graduates (Lampard, Carrick, Joe Cole etc) I reckon he probably needs to move on to blossom. (Sorry!)
What’s the football banter like in the bars of the House of Commons?
Non-stop. As you probably know, the Labour MP Jim Fitzpatrick is a Hammer, and the minister Tony McNulty. Ahead of the party conference games, when our Lobby team plays the MPs, there’s always a lot of joshing with Labour’s frontmen Ed Balls and Andy Burnham.
Describe last season. How did it affect you?
Emotional, wasn’t it?! A Shakespearian almost-tragedy.The whole Argentinian fiasco unsettling the team and then at the end of it Tevez (and Green, of course) rescue us from demotion.
What are your hopes for this season?
Well we’re going to stay up for sure. Ideally finish well inside the top half. If we put on a spurt after Christmas I’d hope we’d make Europe. I’d like to see Deano have a purple patch and for Freddie to show us a bit of that old Highbury skill.
Choose your all time Hammers Eleven
1. Robert Green
2. Billy Bonds
3. Frank Lampard
4. Julian Dicks
5. Alvin Martin
6. Bobby Moore
7. Frank McAvennie
8. Paulo Di Canio
9. ‘Pop’ Robson
10. Trevor Brooking
11. Alan Devonshire
What do your colleagues make of your support for West Ham
They often pity me …
COMING SOON: Labour MP Tony McNulty…