Mark Sandell is producer of WORLD HAVE YOUR SAY on the BBC World Service. Before that he was a producer on various 5 Live programmes including Nicky Campbell’s show. He is married to 5 Live presenter Victoria Derbyshire, a Bolton Wanderers fanatic.
How did you become a Hammer?
My dad and his dad and his dad being Hammers definitely helped but growing up in Essex clinched it.
Your first game?
1965, West Ham 1 Sunderland 1. I may be imagining this but I’ve always believed our goal was an overhead kick from Martin Peters. I was standing on a beer crate and when we scored the bloke the other side of me elbowed me in the eye accidentally. When my dad looked down on me he saw I was crying and he alleges he told me to “get used to it son ” .
How many games do you get to?
All the home games as I’m an East Upper season ticket holder. Usually do a few away games as well, mainly in London, and Newcastle and Bolton as I have friends/family there.
Most memorable moment?
Really hard this one. Trevor’s farewell game ? Paolo against Bradford ? The play-off semi v Ipswich when I’d never heard such a brilliant noise at Upton Park ? I might go for Paolo’s winner against Chelsea in his last game at our place even if that feeling of hope didn’t last long. But that’s supporting West Ham isn’t it ? I also remember the end of the 1980 Cup Final and holding on to the fence at the end. I saw Billy start walking up the steps and after that, I couldn’t see a lot because….ahem….there must have been a lot of dust in the air.
Have you met any Hammers players?
Yes, Paolo on a couple of occasions. My eldest son’s middle name is Paolo (he was named after the great man) so we had something to talk about. He came in to do a radio programme I was working on when his book came out and I’d never seen so many grown men behaving like kids. Having said that, I got my shirt signed and the signed picture of me with him is on permanent display at home. I also have a picture of me shaking hands with Sir Trevor- embarrassingly I am clearly holding my stomach in.
I got to know Iain Dowie through 5 Live (a really nice bloke and a real thinker about the game) and when I was at Capital Gold, Phil Parkes, Alan Devonshire and Paul Ince who then, despite being a hate figure now, was a very charming bloke. I was working at Radio 1 when I met Lee Chapman who was in to do an interview at a time when he was getting a bit of stick from our fans. I got on well with him until he told me that Hammers legends like Billy Bonds and Bobby Moore had got some stick too – I told him in no uncertain terms that was bollocks, to put it bluntly and I was annoyed at the implication that he was up there with them. Also while at Capital I was told by my then boss – Richard Park – to “get an interview with Frankie Mac” on his return to West Ham, even though he wasn’t talking to anyone. “Mention my name” was the extra bit of helpful advice from the Fame Academy judge. As Mr McAvennie left the dressing room, I broke free of all the rest of the hacks and suggested to Frankie that “Richard Park says you might want to have a quick chat for Capital Gold” – “Fuck off” was the Scottish international’s witty reply – “and Richard Park can fuck off too”, he added for good measure. The walk back to the rest of the reporters was a long one.
Favourite current player?
Johnny Pantsil is rightly becoming a cult hero (and we like to think we led this from the East Upper), and Nobby Solano has bags of skill for a bloke who looks 48 years old. George McCartney would be my early vote for Hammer of the Year for the way he’s come on, but I’ll be predictable and say Deano, even if he looks like he could lose a pound or two, which is rich coming from me..
Describe last season. How did it affect you?
I veered from anger at the baby Bentleys (and Nigel cupping his ear at our stand after he scored against Man Utd nearly took the magic out of the moment) and the lack of application to tremendous pride in the way they pulled together at the end. Everyone praises Carlos – and rightly so – but Lucas Neill, Mark Noble and Robert Green can take a bow too. Watching the last game on my own in front of a split screen was agony too. In the end I felt a bit flat. It was the fourth season where we’d gone right down to the wire, and I might settle for a season that’s over in say, March, this year. That’s not to say I wouldn’t take another cup run.
What are your hopes for this season?
Tenth and 5th round of the cup. Maybe – just maybe – with more than 12 fit players we could try for UEFA spot next year.
Choose your all time Hammers Eleven
Phil Parkes, Ray Stewart, Julian Dicks, Billy Bonds, Bobby Moore, Trevor Brooking , Stuart Slater, Alan Devonshire, Carlos Tevez and Paolo and Sir Geoff up front. We’d entertain at least and for once there’d be competition for free kicks.
What do your colleagues make of your support for West Ham?
They indulge me,and like most people they take the mick when things are bad and text me in numbers when we’ve had the odd good result. With the possible exception of last year and the Carlos business, I find very few people who really dislike us.