Dev's Wish

Alan Devonshire is hoping that West Ham get their first home win of the season on Monday night - even though he won't be there to see it.

In fact, when Alan came along to Upton park to see us play Manchester United recently, it was the FIRST time he had seen the Hammers in action since he stopped playing 12 years ago.

"I was at the ground for a reunion last year but it was the first game I have been at Upton Park for a game since I stopped playing - it was strange going back, it has changed a lot, but I enjoyed it, it was nice to see some old faces, and it was a fair result," he says.

"I have great memories and the supporters at West Ham are the best in the country as far as I am concerned.

"To see the lads struggling at the moment is hard, and it is even worse because there are so many good players there and it is just not happening for them - they need to get back to basics.

"I've heard the dressing rooms are plush but I would rather they were squinty and dirty if it made them play better on the pitch."

Dev is manager of Ryman League Maidenhead United and he adds: "I have been at Maidenhead for seven seasons and I am quite happy with that - we have done quite well so it is going okay.

"Football is football and you have just got to ask yourself at whatever level 'are you getting the best out of the players you have got?'

"To be fair I have done that, dragging them all from lower leagues and park football, so I am quite pleased.

"They are only one league now from the Conference, which isn't bad, but we haven't got the ground so we can't go through to it.

"They need to sell the ground if they want to move on, plus they aren't good enough, but we got promoted a couple of years ago and we are holding our own.

"I love it. It is in your blood, I am very passionate about it, and as long as they give me everything every game that's all I can ask for."

Dev, who retired in 1990 but whose career was effectively curtailed when he suffered a serious  knee ligament injury against Wigan in an FA Cup tie in 1984, can't even kick a ball around nowadays and he says: "I haven't played for 10 years now as I suffer quite badly with my knee.

"I don't look on it with bitterness but I just think it stopped me achieving what I could have achieved - and that is the disappointing thing.

"Some of the tackles going round today, going in to hurt people, are disrespectful and I'd like to think in our day it wasn't like that.

"There were hard tackles, and there were bad ones, but the over the top stuff now is getting too nasty. They think they are clever but with the television they are not going to get away with it, and the disrespect for your fellow professionals is the thing I don't like about it."

Of course, when Dev watched the Hammers draw with Manchester United recently there was no Roy Keane in the line up, but he admits that he cannot understand why he made his row with Alf Inge Haaland public, and says: "I don't know what went on with him, but if he had a gripe with a certain player then why can't he keep it to himself?

"I'd like to think, and the way I was brought up, was that a fellow professional wouldn't want to hurt you - I don't think anyone would want to maim anyone else when I played."

Another thing Alan doesn't like about the modern game is players - and it is fair to say West Ham's are exempted from this - who say they are overworked.

"Professional footballers can play two games a week, especially on today's pitches. We had to play, sometimes not fully fit, on mudbaths, and that took more out of you than today," he insists.

"The wages have escalated now and good luck to them, but I can't see why they are moaning about too many games - I can't get my head round that one."

*Alan, along with the rest of the 1985/86 squad which finished third, has signed a print commemorating their achievements.

If you would like to buy one, or for more information, please call 0870 174 1986.