Frank: Don't Go, Joe

Frank McAvennie believes Joe Cole should stay with the Hammers next season - and is convinced he is the man to lead the Hammers back into the Premiership at the first attempt.

"I am hoping Joe Cole, Michael Carrick, Trevor Sinclair, people like that will stay," says Frank.

"Joe is a great player, the captain, and he has shown loyalty to this club. He deserves the Premiership, I have no qualms about that, but I would say 'give us a year to get us back up.'

"It won't stop him playing for England, and I think he will sort that out."

He also believes that Jermain Defoe has had a rough ride in the media because of his transfer request the day after relegation, and he adds: "It was his agent, and maybe we are all being hard on the kid, but you have to get the right advisors."

Frank is convinced that West Ham will be well supported even in the first division, and adds: "There will always be West Ham fans everywhere. There are only two clubs that have such good fans and that is West Ham and Celtic - they are unbelievable.

"They want to see a bit of effort, though, and if they don't see that they won't come, and I wouldn't blame them.

"They mustn't get off to a bad start like last year, if they start well it will be okay.

"I feel sorry for the fans. When I came back from Celtic to West Ham we got relegated but to be honest we didn't have a team like there is there now.

"It is ridiculous and the manager has had a rough ride but the players didn't play as they should have for their own pride.

"We got relegated with the most points ever but didn't win a home game until January and Upton Park used to be a fortress when I was here, even when it was a bad team.

"The fans knew they were getting 110% from the players when I played and that is all they ask for - they will not complain if they see that."

Frank is confident of a quick return, though, and adds: "This is the best ever team to go down but if they keep the nucleus of the side they will go straight back up, I have no doubt whatsoever about that.

"The club and the stadium needs Premiership football so we will wait and see. What they have got to do, big time players or not, is get their sleeves up, buckle down for one season, and they will come straight back up.

"The grass is still green, you have to get out there and play. It is not very nice but it is something you have just got to do."

Frank has an autobiography coming out in August, and says: "I have always been lazy so I have got a professional writer to do it so it's only half the money!

"But it is not all about money, it is about putting a few wrongs right and settling a few old scores.

"I am fed up, even in this day and age, when I am going through life, it is the same old thing - people say to me 'you are not who I expected' when I go into company I don't know.

"People believe what they read in the papers but it is about time I brought my own version out.

"I like life, I like enjoying myself, but I have never hurt anyone in my life - not intentionally anyway, but maybe a few husbands!

"I didn't speak to the papers, they never asked me things, they just put me in anyway."

It is often overlooked that Frank's rise to the top started comparatively late for a professional footballer, and it is certainly a colourful story.

He first played football at St Augustines Primary School in the Milton area of Glasgow but, with no ambitions to be a footballer, spent his Saturdays at Parkhead watching Celtic with his dad Bernard - who died only a couple of years ago -and his uncle.

At the age of 19, however, a game at Celtic Park was called off and Frank met up with friends who asked him to go with them to Kirkintilloch to play for a team called the 200 Club, which was a good amateur side.

Frank was directly up against a midfielder who was being watched by five scouts - and with his first touch put the ball through his legs!

From then on he attracted scouts and joined junior side Johnstone Burgh, who gave him a £500 signing on fee - and a job tarring the roads with the council.

He then went on trial with Partick Thistle, whose manager was Bertie Auld. He promptly put him on as a sub one day before taking him off in the same match, advising Frank he would never make it.

Frank returned to Johnstone Burgh before, in 1980, being spotted by St Mirren's goalkeeper Campbell Money who recommended him to his manager Jim Clunie after a derby against Renfrew.

In his third game on trial, against Morton, he was sent off just days before his 21st birthday.

That, however, had no adverse bearing on his career, though Clunie was sacked shortly after signing Frank permanently and succeeded by Ricky McFarlane who felt he was not ready for first team football.

But he had also given Frank his Scotland under-21 debut in Italy for the quarter finals of the European championships - with Frank scoring the only goal of the game.

But when Alex Miller replaced McFarlane, Frank sensed he would be moving on, and, in 1985, he joined West Ham for £340,000.

He was moved up front in his first game against QPR, scoring twice in a 3-1 win, with Tony Cottee scoring the other goal.

The 1985-86 season saw West Ham finish a best ever third, but, after a couple of seasons, then manager John Lyall told him that Celtic had made an approach - and if he would like to go there in their centenary year, he could.

So Billy McNeill signed him for £750,000, where he eventually partnered Charlie Nicholas up front.

But after 19 months at Parkhead he returned to Upton Park after Lou Macari came in as manager at Celtic. His fee had risen to £1.3million, and he turned down Arsenal to go back to east London.

But the Hammers were relegated, John Lyall left - and Lou Macari took over.

Four years later, under Billy Bonds, he left after coming on at half time in his last game for the club and scoring a hat trick.

"I'd have liked to have seen Paolo score a hat trick against Chelsea at Upton Park as I did in my last game against Nottingham Forest, but it wouldn't have made any difference in the end," he says.

He then played in Ireland and Hong Kong before he signed for ex-Hammer Liam Brady for six months back at Celtic, moving on to a year's contract after scoring nine goals in 11 games.

Then Lou Macari came back to Celtic - and that was the end of his spell at Celtic.

He went to one of Lou's former clubs, Swindon, on loan for a short time before a brief spell with Ron Atkinson at Aston Villa, before ending at his first professional club, St. Mirren.

Though, as he is wont to say when asked, his favourite club was: "Stringfellows!"