A host of sports stars and celebrities number themselves as members of the Claret and Blue Army.

One such star is Olympic rowing champion and lifelong West Ham United supporter Mark Hunter MBE, who won Gold at Beijing 2008 and Silver at London 2012 in the lightweight double sculls.

Hunter recently swapped his boat for boots as he took part in Hammers great Alan Devonshire's charity match at the Boleyn Ground, during which he found time to chat to West Ham TV on a wide variety of subjects.

Mark, what brings you to the Boleyn Ground?

MH: "We're here for Alan Devonshire's charity day and it's a chance for corporate guests to come along and play with the West Ham greats. Back in the day, I used to watch these guys and I was fortunate enough to be invited along as one of their guest players.

"It's great fun to have banter with the guys. They've still got the moves and, although they obviously aren't as mobile or as quick as they used to be, you can still see the skills are there. As a fan, it's a dream to play with the players who you used to watch as a kid.

"I love coming to the Boleyn Ground. I watched games here as a kid and to have the opportunity to run around on the grass and play is every fan's dream. I love these sort of days where I get the opportunity to do that."

You are also a regular visitor to east London as part of a new rowing venture you are part of. What can you tell us about that?

MH: "I've come back to the East End, to my roots, where I first started rowing. I'm working for a charity called London Youth Rowing, trying to get more young kids involved in the sport, get them more active and just to help them develop as young people. You want to help them move on in their careers, go to university, start apprenticeships or whatever it may be, so it's nice to give back where I started in the East End."

The Player Awards were held earlier this month, where you drew the raffle. How did you enjoy that evening?

MH: "It's a great evening. It gives fans a chance to come along, buy their tickets, sit at their tables, get amongst the players and chat with them. To actually get to know them as people is something you don't get every week, so that's a special occasion. It's always good fun, fortunately I got to do the raffle at the end although I didn't get to say much it's nice to be asked to do that. It's always a fun evening."


Goalkeeper Adrian cleaned up on the night, winning three awards - Signing of the Season, Save of the Season and Individual Performance of the Season - while Mark Noble was crowned Hammer of the Year and Players' Player of the Season. What did you make of their performances last season?

MH: "Adrian was incredible. Some of the saves I've seen this year were amazing to watch. He's one of those players that you enjoy watching because you can see how much passion he has and how much he loves playing the game.

"Nobes was definitely the clear winner of Players' Player of the Season, because he's that rock in the middle who does everything. He never stops running and he's home grown as well, so I think that's even more special for him. Obviously, when he was growing up he'd have loved to be in the position that he's in and he's living that dream now, which is great to see."

What did you make of the 2013/14 season as a whole?

MH: "It's been a tough season. We've had a lot of injuries and it's always easy to jump on their backs. But if we'd have had the season we had last year when we were clear [of the relegation zone] for a long time, we could relax and play football. It's been a tough battle but the team have done what they had to do.

"I'm sure they're disappointed at certain things, but they're not far off where they were last year and, if you think about the injuries we had, there was a big hole in the middle of the season. I'm sure they'll evaluate that, maybe strengthen the squad and we'll see what happens next year."

We are now just two years away from moving to a venue you know well - the London 2012 Olympic Stadium...

MH: "It's going to be massive. The Olympic Stadium is an iconic location and for the Club to play football there every week is going to be huge. It's about supporting the Club in the move there and seeing how it progresses. We want to be in that Premier League, having a packed house and that's a dream and desire of the Club now. The other thing is, being in the Olympic Park there's more to it than just football, there are surrounding sports that they have to develop and support and I'm sure they will.

"Any athlete wants to see the stadium used in the right way after the Olympics have finished. You look at past Olympic Games and those stadiums are just written off and left for nothing, so to have the team that I support move into there is extra special to me. I'm probably being a bit selfish in that, but it's nice to see it being used in the right way."

Finally, the FIFA World Cup kicks-off in a couple of weeks. How well can England do in Brazil?

MH: "I think we need to take it a step at a time. The problem is that we get so hyped up when the World Cup comes around that we think miracles are going to happen. You need to look at the form guide of where we are and whether we can move on through each round. We need to take it one step at a time.

"I'm sure, if you speak to the players, they'll be thinking about the first game and that will set the tone for the tournament. Let's get the gup stage sorted first and see what happens there before we start worrying about trying to win it!"