Villarreal weekend preview

Bobby Moore Cup
Boleyn Ground
Saturday 9 August 2008
Referee: Rob Styles

West Ham United return to action at the Boleyn Ground this Saturday afternoon with the visit of Spanish side Villarreal for the high-profile Bobby Moore Cup.

It promises to be a momentous day in the club's history as the No6 shirt made famous by the club legend will be retired in recognition of the 50th anniversary of his West Ham United debut. When the game gets under way at 3pm, Matthew Upson will therefore become the last person to wear the No6, which Bobby Moore wore when he made his first appearance back on 8 September 1958.

That ceremony will take place just before the second half. Upson, wearing his new No15 shirt, will hand over the No6 shirt he wore in the first half to Bobby's widow Stephanie Moore MBE. She is the founder of the Bobby Moore Fund for Cancer Research with whom the club is proud to have signed a new partnership after a long-standing relationship.

To commemorate this, £1 from the sale of every match ticket will go to the Fund (Registered Charity No. 1089464), to help tackle bowel cancer. In addition, West Ham United will match each £1 raised to double the total amount donated to the charity. The winners of the game will be awarded the Bobby Moore Cup and, if the score is level at full time, the trophy will be shared between the two teams.


Alan Curbishley has Luis Boa Morte, Lee Bowyer, Julien Faubert, Carlton Cole and Freddie Sears back in contention after all missed Monday's 5-3 win at Ipswich Town. Anton Ferdinand is out though - but it is hoped he will be back to face Wigan Athletic next week after picking up a hamstring problem at Ipswich. Kieron Dyer and Craig Bellamy are also absent although the latter has had positive news from a scan on his hamstring and could be back in a month.

Curbishley may also give another run-out to free agent Ben Thatcher, who appeared in Tuesday night's reserve-team game at Bishop's Stortford. "Ben Thatcher is a vastly experienced full-back and is keen to offer us cover with George McCartney and Jonathan Spector unavailable," the manager said. "George is ill, he has caught a virus and hasn't trained all week." Spector is due back from the US next month and is said to be making good progress after hip surgery.

Valon Behrami will also get his first taste of the Boleyn Ground, with the high-profile summer signing having settled in well to his career in the claret and blue. It promises to be a tough opening test ahead of a competitive new Barclays Premier League season. "We are facing top-class opposition in Villarreal," Curbishley said. "They have finished fourth and second in the Liga in the last two seasons and it will be a stern test but I am sure the players are looking forward to it."