My West Ham: Mark Sandell

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.

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11 Responses to My West Ham: Mark Sandell

  1. WHU Kim says:

    Couldn’t agree more with your feelings about last season and great anecdote about Frankie! P.S Fingers crossed that Bolton go down, like they should have in 2003.

  2. paul says:

    wot was Trevor brooking farewell game

  3. mark sandell says:

    It was the last day of the season he retired (84 but I may well be wrong).we lost 1- 0 to Everton but Trev looked the best ayer on the park. At the end of the game he came back out for a lap of honour (wearing what looked suspiciously like a pair of Dunlop Green Flash) and there was a feeling that it was the end of an era.

  4. paul says:

    thanks for that

  5. Simon P says:

    You’re correct Mark. Trev’s last game was a midweek game in May ’84 against an Everton side due to play Watford in the Cup Final the following Saturday. We lost 1-0 but hardly seemed to care as the crowd cheered Trev’s every touch and sang ‘One Trevor Brooking’ almost constantly (or so it seemed!). There were 25,000 there in the days when our average was in the mid to high teens. I was 14 years old and watched from the chicken run with my big sister.
    Trev came out for his lap of honour to find that nobody had left the ground and received a standing ovation from every corner, including the Everton fans. He was carried shoulder high back to the tunnel. A very emotional evening and one I’ll always remember as Trev is my all-time hero

  6. Jaime says:

    Brilliant read.

  7. Hinsdale Hammer says:

    Great read but Stuart Slater in his all time 11???? He wouldn’t make my all time squad let alone the starting 11.

  8. Howard says:

    It’s really interesting how many people remember the home tie against Ipswich in the play-off semis as being a great night (I am assuming he means the first time round on the Monday night) – I remember how amazing the atmosphere was and feeling strange watching a game at UP in the middle of May and it not getting dark until 10pm!

  9. DevoDevo says:

    Remember the Brooking farewell very well – also in the Chicken Run that night!

    Gutted that Devo never got the chance to say goodbye. IMHO, the most consistent and effective player that has ever pulled on a West Ham shirt.

  10. marksandell says:

    Dear Hinsdale Hammer, i know Stuart Slater may not qualify as a legend but i have fond memories of his time at Upton Park- he seemed like a youngster who was going to go all the way. The cup tie against Everton and a 5-0 stuffing of Sunderland stick in the mind. He was exciting to watch and i remember hiow pissed off people were when we sold him- for good money- to Celtic. I don’t suppose many would have him in their all-time eleven but on his day he was great to watch.

  11. Izumi says:

    Brilliant read, I enjoyed it really.
    Thank you!

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