A Christmas message from West Ham United

West Ham United would like to wish all of our supporters a Merry Christmas, and to thank you for your support in 2006.

The following is a message from our Club Chaplain, Rev. Elwin Cockett...

Hammers Family Values

Boxing Day and New Year's Day games are special. At a time when most sensible people are sleeping off the previous day's celebrations, football fans everywhere are setting out to travel hundreds of miles to watch their teams. All this happens on a day when public transport is less-than-perfect and the weather can be tricky, to say the least. No wonder such fixtures live long in the memories of fans everywhere - even if the games and perhaps the memories suffer from what we might call the excesses of the season.

West Ham United's fixtures against Blackburn Rovers in 1963, are the stuff of legend, of course. We lost 8-2 at home on Boxing Day, only to win 3-1 away two days later. Equally memorable for those who were there was our first game in January 1983, which saw 17-year-old Tony Cottee score on his debut in a 3-0 victory over Spurs. Last season, West Ham and Portsmouth shared the points on Boxing Day, and both sides will be aspiring to improve on that result.

A Family Club
We like to think that this is a 'family club', with members all around the globe. For that family, the 12 months since that game have seen some remarkable highs and lows, summed-up perhaps by the FA Cup Final. To have got to Cardiff for the third year running was a great achievement in itself, and to contribute to one of the great cup finals of all time was very special. But to come so close to winning the cup, only to have it snatched away by THAT goal, was sheer agony. To qualify for Europe was the icing on the cake, but the trip to Palermo is one that most of us will want to forget.

Absent Friends
Families are often at their best at times of sadness. Everyone at this club was shocked by the untimely death in January of Ian Jackson, head groundsman at the training facilities at Chadwell Heath. Ian was one of the nicest people you could meet, and the large congregation at his funeral included many current and former players and staff, including John Lyall and Glenn Roeder. Little did we know then that Ian's funeral would soon be followed by those of Ron Greenwood and John Lyall.

Family Values

The passing of those two great managers from our past made many of us stop and think about the values that they stood for, and for which this club became known. Happily, those values have been passed on, and continue to be passed on from generation to generation by those who played under Ron Greenwood or John Lyall including, of course, Alan Curbishley and Harry Redknapp, along with our Academy Director, Tony Carr, and many others at this club and elsewhere.
Apart from 'playing football the West Ham way', those values include a generosity of spirit that is seen in the support that many fans give to all sorts of organisations. Both the Richard House Children's Hospice and the Bobby Moore Fund for Cancer Research have benefited greatly from the efforts of West Ham fans, players and staff this year, and they're not alone.

Reflecting Together
None of us knows what 2007 will bring, of course. But as we enjoy the Christmas festivities, we do well to reflect on the things that really matter in life. As someone once said, "God gave us people to love and things to use, but sometimes we end up loving things and using people". All of us would do well to check, from time to time, that we're getting the order right, and that we're treasuring the people around us and not getting wrapped up in our material possessions.

That applies to people of all faiths and none, of course. Whatever your faith, and whatever the next year holds for us, I pray that you will enjoy the peace that the angels told the shepherd about in the Nativity story, the real, inner peace that enables ordinary people to do heroic things.

God bless - now and in the year to come...