A group of young West Ham United fans enjoyed a fantastic day out at the 1-0 Barclays Premier League victory at Stoke City.

Fifty boys and girls from The Palmer Catholic Academy in Seven Kings travelled to the Britannia Stadium for Saturday's game as part of a special matchday experience.

The pupils, aged from eleven to 16, boarded coaches at 7.30am for the trip to the Potteries. On their arrival, the youngsters were treated to a stadium tour that saw them visit the dressing rooms, tunnel and pitchside area.

After lunch, the group changed into football kit for training sessions led by qualified coaches from Stoke's Community Trust on nearby all-weather pitches. Following a quick change, it was then time for the youngsters to head back to the Britannia Stadium to take their seats in the West Stand to watch West Ham achieve a fine away win.

Palmer Catholic Academy learning mentor and West Ham fan James Datson said the youngsters - and staff - had thoroughly enjoyed their trip to Stoke.

"We are always looking for ways to engage our young students in sport," said Datson, who is also the Soccer Sight commentator for blind and partially-sighted supporters at the Boleyn Ground.

"Stoke are one of a number of clubs who offer matchday experiences like this. They give the kids a chance to travel and see behind the scenes at the ground, get a bit of coaching, have their lunch and see a Premier League football match - something many of them would not normally have the opportunity to do.

"We took about 40 boys and eight girls to Stoke and they all really enjoyed themselves. It was a long day, but it was bright and sunny when they got their coaching and they also got to see West Ham win, so it was perfect!"

Palmer Catholic Academy

James Datson with students from Palmer Catholic Academy

The students, many of whom are West Ham supporters themselves, also relished the opportunity to see their heroes in action in the flesh.

Boleyn Ground Season Ticket Holder Sean Power, 16, said: "It was a good day. The training session was a hard workout! This was the first away game I had ever been to so it was a nice opportunity for me to watch the Hammers play away - and win too!"

Academy member Jordan Beckers, 14, added: "It was a really fun day coming up to Stoke with all my friends from school. The training was fun, too, as we did some passing drills and some small-sided games."

The Palmer Catholic Academy's trip to Stoke City was organised by specialist sports tour operators Sports Travel International.

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