JAMES Tomkins gave a captain's performance for Hammers in the FA Youth Cup Third Round win over Luton Town, scoring the opening goal and putting in a commanding display in the centre of defence.
A First Year player, who appeared in the FA Youth Cup as a schoolboy last season, gave his first interview after the 2-1 win over Luton.
"We all know that we can perform better than we did tonight," said James. "But I'm sure we'll be able to raise our game as the compeition progresses. The main thing against Luton was that we won and went through to the next round.
"I was very pleased to be captain of the side. I have been captaining the youth team recently and have really enjoyed it. I love being captain and I am determined to keep working hard so that I keep the armband.
"Scoring the goal was a great feeling as well. I've managed to score a few goals for the youth team this season. Most of them have come when I've gone forward for set-pieces."
Now approaching the half-way stage of his first year on the staff, James admits that it's been a different experience going full-time at the Club.
"It's very different to being a schoolboy," he explained, "because now everything is based around football. It isn't an easy transition to be honest, but I think I've coped with it pretty well.
"Having a good spirit amongst the youth team has helped the younger boys settle in.
"Football is definitely in the family for me. All of my brothers have played football and my family is football mad really.
"My younger brother has started playing on Sundays and he's really enjoying it. He's quite talented as well and it would be great to see him progress. But he's only young at the moment, so we'll just have to wait and see."
But for the moment it is James making his way in the West Ham United Academy. And he can't wait for the next round of the competition.
"We're not that worried who we get in the next round," he said, "because on its day I think this team can beat anyone.
"Tony Carr was a bit disappointed in the dressing room afterwards because he knows that we can do a lot better. But the target was for us to go through to the next round and we've done that.
"Tony has set us a target to get through until Christmas unbeaten and we are still on target to achieve that."
Captain's Cup Joy