Matthew's Homecoming

Matthew Etherington is looking forward to seeing old friends, and family, when West Ham go on the long trip to Plymouth at the weekend.

"I used to go and watch them when I was young so I still have fond memories of the place," says Mattie, who was born in Truro and brought up in Falmouth, where his father had a butcher's business.

He signed as a 12-year-old for Peterborough, making regular journeys from Cornwall to Cambridgeshire before his family moved nearer the town to help him - and Barry Fry gave him a debut as a 15-year-old schoolboy.

Having gone on to represent England at U16, U18 and U21 levels he has hardly looked back since and is looking forward to getting back into league action.

"There are a couple of tough away games coming up but hopefully we will pick up the points there and stay near the top of the table," he says.

"Saturday will be a big day for Plymouth and I am sure it will be tough.

"But we are playing all right at the minute and we are in a fairly good position in the league.

"We can't let Wigan get too far away from us, though."

Mattie, the first player to achieve Hammer Of The Year in his debut season since the goalkeeper Lawrie Leslie 42 years ago, has had groin and - more recently - ankle problems and he concludes:

"When you get an injury you always get a couple more afterwards - but I am getting there."