Masterful Vets

West Ham have collected their first trophy six weeks before the start of the new Premiership season after hitting five goals past London rivals Arsenal!

The result of last night's Southern Masters six-a-side tournament probably won't cause Arsene Wenger or the Highbury hierarchy too many sleepless nights, but we're not too proud to celebrate the winning of any silverware.

Hammers' veterans will now go forward to the British Masters final in September after beating Arsenal 5-4 in the final at London Arena in Docklands.

Despite a hat-trick from Ian Wright and another goal from fellow ex-Hammer Liam Brady, last year's Southern winners Arsenal could not contain Frank Lampard's side who were never behind.

Steve Whitton opened the scoring and Wright, who retired from playing just 15 months ago, equalised on the stroke of half-time. George Parris restored Hammers' lead after the break and though Wright netted a second equaliser, Parris put West Ham in front for the third time.

Mark Bowen made it 4-2 and despite Brady pulling a goal back for Gunners, Paul Goddard sealed victory by scoring just 30 seconds from the end.

Wright completed his hat-trick with the last kick of the game, which earned him the Most Valuable Player award but couldn't stop Hammers collecting the trophy.

The competitiveness of the evening was underlined by the fact that Martin Allen and Bowen of West Ham, and Brady of Arsenal, were all sent off to cool down in the 'sin bin' for two minutes.

The tournament featured six teams split into two groups. West Ham topped group A after victories over Chelsea (2-1) and Charlton Athletic (3-2), while Arsenal won group B after 2-1 wins over both Southampton and arch rivals Spurs, who had drawn 2-2 with the Saints in their first game.

'Mad Dog' Allen was the hero of our win over Chelsea, scoring both goals in the opening match.

After Charllton beat Chelsea 3-1, Hammers went into their last group game against the Addicks knowing that they needed to win to go through to the final, because a draw would have sent the South Londoners through on goal difference.

It looked good for the vet's in claret and blue when Iain Dowie and Bowen put us 2-0 ahead but Charlton hit back with two in a minute through Alan Pardew and Steve Gritt to set up a thrilling finale.

The decisive goal came from a Whitton long-range effort that fooled keeper Tony Lange as Hammers won 3-2 to book their place in the final.

The West Ham squad:

John Vaughan, Ray Stewart, Steve Whitton, Martin Allen, Mark Bowen, George Parris, Frank McAvennie, Jimmy Quinn, Paul Goddard, Iain Dowie.

Scorers: Allen (2), Whitton (2), Parris (2), Bowen (2), Dowie (1), Goddard (1).

West Ham will now return to London Arena on Sunday, September 2 to contest the British Masters final against the other regional winners - Hearts, Leeds United, Bradford City, Coventry City, plus the winners of Sunday's North-West final between Manchester United, Manchester City, Everton and Liverpool.