Allen's Approach

WEST Ham United's new Head Physio, Steve Allen, may have joined the Club from Cardiff, but he has the Hammers in his blood.

Born in Forest Gate hospital, just down the road from the Boleyn Ground, Steve attended Upton Park as a youngster before pursuing his own playing dreams and subsequently a successful career as a physiotherapy, which has take in FA Cup triumph and a Play-off Final success against the Hammers.

Steve has now come full-circle, joining Alan Pardew's restructured backroom team to head up the Physiotherapy department.

"It's an exciting opportunity to come to a Club with the potential and fan base of West Ham United," he explained.

"I was born in Forest Gate and my Mum and Dad were both West Ham fans. My Dad would often take me to Upton Park when I was younger, in the days when Bryan 'Pop' Robson played up front. "When I was 16 I went to join Colchester United as a player, but I picked up a knee injury that kept me out for a year and that's when I got interested in physiotherapy and I started to train one day a week.

"I took the FA treatment courses and trained as a physio at the same time as I did my coaching qualifications."

But it was physiotherapy that interested Steve the most, and his first assignment was certainly not for the faint hearted. "In 1987 I joined Wimbledon," he explained. "They won the FA Cup in my first year, beating Liverpool at Wembley in one of the biggest upsets in the competition.

"In all I spent 14 very interesting years at Wimbleon. Those were the real Crazy Gang days with the likes of John Fashanu, Vinnie Jones and Dennis Wise!
"During my time at Wimbledon I studied part-time to earn my UEFA A Coaching Licence, and then I went on to complete degrees in Sports Science and Physiotherapy to become a Chartered Physiotherapist."

With Wimbledon's well-documented off-field problems coming to a head in 2003, Steve left the Club to join Crystal Palace. Yet again, the newly arrived Physio had an immediate impact on the team's fortunes, much to West Ham's disappointment.

"I joined Crystal Palace in 2003, just before Iain Dowie arrived at the club as manager," he said. "The team had a fantastic end to the season, and of course won promotion to the Premiership by beating the Hammers in the Play-off Final.

"It was terrific for the club, and it does seem that every time I arrived at a club they do well in the first year. Hopefully, the run keeps going at West Ham!"
But despite his success at Palace, Steve could not refuse when his old boss Sam Haman came calling from Cardiff.

"The reason I left Palace was to join up with Sam, who had been my Chairman at Wimbledon," he said. "I had a good season there, but when the opportunity to join West Ham United came up it was difficult to turn down.

"Sam told me about the interest, but wasn't too keen on me leaving. My family live in Epsom though and were still up here while I was in Cardiff, so that made the decision easier because it would save the long commute to Cardiff each week, where I had a flat.

"I have a wife, Alison, and two boys, Oliver and Thomas, so that was a big factor. But it's a fantastic opportunity to come to a great club. "The manager is very forward thinking. He did fantastically well to get the Club promoted last season, and when I heard how he wanted to create a department incorporating the physiotherapy and sports science areas I thought it was a really exciting opportunity.

"My predecessor John Green was an excellent physio and I have tremendous respect for his work. "Really my first aim here will be to revamp the facilities to improve the treatment area.

"Then it will be to build more of a physio department, so instead of just me as Head Physio, there will be a strong team in place, incorporating Paul Hunter, Andy Walker and our masseur Vass Petrou.

"I first worked with Paul at Wimbledon, and he's come with me to Palace, Cardiff and now West Ham.  "Our aim is to open up the department and make it a place for the safe treatment of players at all levels in the Club."

Steve has plenty of Premier League experience to his name from his time with the Dons, and he is backing Alan Pardew's men to make quite an impact on the top-flight this season.

"I look at the quality already in the squad and the players that have been added and I don't see why we can't finish in the top 10," he exclaimed. "That's my target and I think it's achievable. Obviously, it's vitally important that the Club stays in the Premiership this season, but with the incredible fan base behind West Ham United I think it is ready to kick on in the Premier League."