Pre-season Begins

West Ham will be taking the first team squad to Bishops Stortford on Friday night while a Hammers XI will travel to Purfleet as the pre season campaign gets underway.

Bishops' boss Martin Hayes, the former Arsenal striker, says: "It is an honour to have West Ham bringing a very strong squad down and hopefully everybody will have a good evening."

For his own Ryman Division One side, what is he hoping for?

"A goal? A couple of shots! It is part of our pre-season and I just want the players to enjoy playing against Premiership players as they look to get fit.

"I still play a little bit so I'll probably have a half myself."

The ground will comfortably be able to accommodate a large crowd as the pre-season games commence, and Martin says: "The ticket sales have been steady and fingers crossed we are looking at around the 2,000 mark.

"Spurs helped us open the stadium three years ago and we had 5,000 there so there is standing room for plenty - and kids are more than welcome."

Of his memories of playing against West Ham he says: "It was always hard work and I remember getting kicked by Billy Bonds after 5 minutes once as if to say 'you aren't going to run around any more'.

"It was always entertaining because West Ham always knock it around and were far more entertaining than us at Arsenal.

"I think we played two days after we won the Littlewoods cup and I missed a penalty but then took it again at the North Bank end at Upton Park - which upset a few people!"

The club's average gate is around 250 but secretary Martin Stone says: "The season ticket sales are up 70% and are at their highest for seven years."

Glenn Roeder and MD Paul Aldridge have inspected the facilities there and are impressed.

Hayes adds: "It is a new stadium, the pitch has just had another £20,000 spent on it which brings it up to at least Conference standard, and we have a good side.

"We threw it away a little bit because we didn't get off to a good start last year but we are looking to go up this time.

"It's a famous old club and we'd like to get it close to what we were achieving a few years ago."