Eddie Is Kitted Out For Final

IT'S not only the players and coaching staff who have been working hard to prepare for Monday's Play-Off Final - there has been plenty of toil going on behind the scenes, too.

While Alan Pardew and his team finalise their game plan on the training field, the various club departments at Upton Park are busy handling all the vital issues that surround the showpiece event at the Millennium Stadium.

The ticket office and commercial department have been working round the clock to ensure that as many Hammers fans as possible make it to Cardiff, the press office have been dealing with the countless media requests and interviews, while the stadium store staff have been constantly re-stocking shelves as supporters snap up their claret and blue merchandise.

Down at the Chadwell Heath training ground, staff have also been putting the effort in - planning the squad's trip to Wales and ensuring that the players are free to concentrate on one thing only - the football.

One man who has certainly had his work cut out this past week is kit manager Eddie Gillam who, along with his assistant Pete Williams, will be responsible for ensuring that the players look their best when they step out in front of 70,000 fans on Monday.

With a brand new kit launched last week, there has been plenty for Eddie to get on with and here he talks us through his role leading up to the final…

"Things have been slightly more hectic this year because of the changeover to the new kit, which has created a couple of different issues to be dealt with.

"Because we are wearing next season's kit, the Football League have insisted that we wear next season's style of names and numbers on the back. They have all had to be ordered in at short notice and applied to the new shirts this week.

"Of course, the hope is that next season we will have Premiership-style names and numbers on the back, so this particular strip will, fingers crossed, be worn only the once!

"It's certainly been a busy few days, though. The kit came in from Reebok, the names and numbers from Matchro and the shop put it all together. We collected it on Thursday morning, ready to be packed on Friday.

"We will be taking two shirts and two pairs of shorts for each player and they will all be wearing short sleeves, with one exception - Chris Powell, who only wears long-sleeved shirts.

"New travel kit also arrived this week, so we will able to wear the new tracksuits for the Final, and the team are travelling to Cardiff the day before the game this year, which means they won't need training kit down there - we'll just take the usual warm-up and bench kit.

"I'll load the coach up on Saturday night and then fly to Cardiff with the team on Sunday afternoon. I'll be up early on Monday morning, have breakfast and then go down to the Millennium Stadium for 9.00am to lay the kit out and ensure that the dressing-room is ready for the players.

"After that I'll come back to the hotel and get ready to travel with the team to the stadium again. I'm then on hand for anything they need during the afternoon and will be the last one out of the dressing-room at the end of the day, making sure everything is on board the coach again.

"It wasn't a very nice experience to be in the dressing-room after last year's Final and I'm sure everyone is determined to make sure we are celebrating in there this time around."