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2013-05-24T11:00:00 Updated 2015-02-19T00:38:13

Jussi takes Scandinavian acclaim

Jussi Jaaskelainen took the acclaim of the Scandinavian Hammers by being named as their Player of the Year.

The 600-strong Supporters' Club is the largest of all those groups affiliated to West Ham United, with more than 70 Danes, Finns, Norwegians and Swedes flying in for Sunday's 4-2 Barclays Premier League win over Reading.

On the day before the match, the Scandinavian Hammers were invited to watch the first-team squad in training at the Boleyn Ground before spending the evening having dinner with Academy Director Tony Carr MBE.

After training, the group presented their Player of the Year award to Jaaskelainen - the man who finished as runner-up in the main Hammer of the Year poll.

Scandinavian Hammers leader Gjermund Holt explained that the former Finland international goalkeeper had won the award ahead of Hammer of the Year Winston Reid.


"The members have sent in their votes and it was just the other way around from the Hammer of the Year vote - Jussi just edged it ahead of Winston Reid in our poll," he said. "Jussi is a well-deserved winner.

"He has been consistently good and he might have got one or two votes because he is Scandinavian as well!

"I was a little bit sad at the end of last season because Robert Green was one of my favourites. I was at the Play-Off final and you could see he was waving 'Goodbye' to the fans and I was sad, but Jussi has really done the business."

Holt said the group were delighted to be back at their home from home at the Boleyn Ground.

"We brought more than 70 members over for the game and we really love to be at West Ham, so it's been good," said Holt, who is a regular visitor to east London from his home in Norway.

"We are close to 800 members now, most of them from Norway but some from Sweden and Denmark as well, and this is our third group trip of the season. Some members travel to every game, but the final game is always a good one to pick out early because we know the game won't be moved and we can plan and buy plane tickets. We always come to the last game of the season.

"English football is very popular in Scandinavia and we are probably the eighth or ninth biggest supporters' club in the region. The Manchester Uniteds and Liverpools are even bigger with up to 30,000 members.

"We will celebrate 25 years in the autumn. We were formed in 1988 and have had more than 600 members for the last ten years, so it's been good."


While Jaaskelainen scooped the Player of the Year award this season, Holt said the Scandinavian Hammers were not fussy when it came to cheering on their heroes in claret and blue.

"We are West Ham supporters and we like to be here and pretend to be British and be part of the Club," he explained.

"We can see most of the games on television and on the computer as well when we're at home, but Sunday was my eighth game of the season and quite a few of the members travel over often because the plane tickets cost next to nothing.

"When I started following West Ham, you had to save for a year to go for one trip, but now it's a lot easier."

Holt and his fellow Scandinavian Hammers are already planning further trips to the Boleyn Ground next season, and the leader has endorsed the Club's decision to agree a new contract with manager Sam Allardyce and is excited about moving to the Olympic Stadium in 2016.

"When you look at the results, we finished in the top-half and that's as good as we can do at the moment. We can get better too, so we're pleased with that of course.

"It depends what happens during the transfer window and I know the Club will probably say tenth is good, but I hope we can push on and be in the chase for a European place. Maybe next season is too early, but in the future sometime.

"We have a forum on our website and there have been more than 10,000 postings about moving since the rumours started. At the beginning, people were worried about the running track, but since the last drawings were published everyone is happy.

"Of course it will sad, but it will be so good to go up there to Stratford. We will be there, for sure."

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