No Stand-ing Still!

While many Hammers fans may be under the impression that the fantastic new Dr Martens stand at Upton Park is fully completed, club director Chris Manhire has revealed that there are still some finishing touches to be added that will enhance the appearance of the stadium even further.

Chris, who has overseen the redevelopment work at the Boleyn Ground since it started almost two years ago, is looking forward to the conclusion of what has been a lengthy and arduous process, although certainly a worthwhile one.

"I'm pleased to be able to say that the stand is almost fully completed," says Chris. "It's been a very long process, with some hiccups along the way, but I'm sure that the majority of supporters will agree it has all been worthwhile.

"Construction wise, there is just some roof cladding to be completed now. In fact, I must apologise to those supporters who were unfortunate enough to be rained on at the last game against Manchester United because of the leaky roof.

"That is the first game this season where it has rained heavily, but at least now we know exactly where the problems are and can ensure there are no repeats of that.

"Now it just a case of adding the finishing touches, really. There has been a delay with the main entrance because of a BT manhole on the forecourt that seems to provide half of the lines in east London!

"However, we hope to have that solved soon and will then be able to put the main gates in place, aswell as adding some badges and signs to the towers that will finish the job off."

While the stand itself may be close to completion, there is still the small matter of moving the pitch to be undertaken, and Chris is happy to confirm that the club will indeed be 'moving the goalposts' this summer.

"The moving of the pitch will take place in the close season and will definitely be ready in time for the start of the 2002-03 campaign," he says.

"There have been many different debates on the move, but it has been decided that the pitch will now move closer to the Dr Martens stand rather than sitting dead central between the east and the west sides.

"That is for construction reasons and it really is a big job. The playing surface has been fantastic this season - despite all the rain on Saturday it didn't cut up once - and it's a shame we've got to do it really.

"It has got to be done, though, and we have great faith in John Hewitt, the man who is organising the whole operation. I'm sure the players and supporters will be able to enjoy an identical playing surface next season."

However, the job doesn't end there, with plans for more rebuilding already underway.

"We will be busy on other redevelopments in the close season," says Chris. "At the Chadwell Heath training ground we are building a new large indoor sports hall that will be a huge boost to the Academy system, and we will also be starting work on the museum at Upton Park, which I'm sure will be a fantastic interest to all Hammers fans.

"So there is still plenty of work in the pipeline and I'm looking forward to the day that we can stop building and take pride in the completed redevelopment!"

Finally, has Chris been happy with the response from supporters towards the new stand?

"You can't satisfy everyone, and there have been some criticisms of certain areas, such as the towers for example," he admits.

"One thing I will say, though, is that anyone who visits Upton Park now will always remember it. The new Dr Martens stand is unique and it really is a statement about West Ham United's history and tradition."