The Academy of Football

As part of the Club’s season-long Farewell Boleyn celebrations, West Ham United honoured the Academy of Football at Tuesday night’s Barclays Premier League meeting with Aston Villa.  

A host of familiar faces from the Academy’s long and illustrious history were welcomed back to the Boleyn Ground, including former Academy Director and current Club Ambassador Tony Carr MBE, former player and coach and long-serving Assistant Academy Director Paul Heffer, U18s coach and Hammer of the Year Steve Potts. 

On the playing side, some of the finest graduates in the Academy’s history were with us, including 1975 FA Cup winner Kevin Lock, 1980 FA Cup winners Paul Allen and 1981 FA Youth Cup winners Everald La Ronde, Keith McPherson and Bobby Barnes.  

Carr, who played host to the returning Academy graduates and coaches, paid tribute to the Hammers’ world-renowned football institution. 

“There's a uniqueness of the people and the environment that the Club created, the homeliness of it, the friendliness, it didn't seem like coming into work,” he told West Ham TV.

“We instilled good habits and we good disciplines throughout the Club and their upbringings as young players.

“I'm representing the past and celebrating what’s gone before, and we've got a new Academy Manager in Terry Westley and he's the future, to bring the next generation of players through.” 

Winger Barnes, meanwhile, made a total of 54 appearances during his six seasons at the Boleyn Ground and spoke of his enduring affection for the Club and the Hammers’ home of 112 years, where it all began for him.   

He explained: “There are parts of this ground that I've painted, there are sections of this pitch that I've dug up, we trained over at the old East Stand, running up and down, so there's very much a part of this Club that does stay in the blood and we do move off to Stratford next season, there will still be a lot of affection for this place. 

“I remember, going back a few years, when we got to the Cup final in 1980. I was a young apprentice, in actual fact, at the time we had a much smaller staff and I ended up working in the Club Shop selling souvenirs building up to the game, so one way or another I've had an affinity with this Club most of my life.”  

FA Cup winner and local boy Lock counts himself lucky to have fulfilled his ambitions in representing the Club he loved growing up.           

“I think it's every boy's dream to play for your local club, to win the FA Cup,” he confirmed. “I always remember when I was eight my teacher asked what I was going to do and I said I was going to play for West Ham. A lot of kids say that, I was just one of the lucky ones that managed to do it.”