'A dream come true'

When England take on Andorra this Wednesday night, there will be one fan who will particularly willing that Carlton Cole gets a chance to shine.

When it was confirmed Cole had overwhelmingly won the club's Goal of the Season competition as voted by whufc.com users, it was decided to let one of 7,500-odd who had voted for the strike to have the honour of presenting the award. Step forward Kate Mammone who was picked out at random and contacted by the club to see if she would like to come to the final game of the season and hand over the award.

"I got an email from the club which said please call me on the number below about your nomination of the goal of the season," said Kate, who lives in Bethnal Green and is a lifelong Hammers fan. "My jaw dropped. I couldn't believe it and I had to take a deep breath before I called back. I was asked if I wanted to come to the game and present the trophy.

"I said 'Of course I do' and it was absolutely brilliant. We were given four tickets and the first person I thought of was my mum Di Forrest. She is a big fan and often can't watch the matches on telly because it means so much. I thought it was a bit of a windup actually but it ended up being like a dream come true."

As well as her mum, Kate arrived with her eleven-year-old son Sunny and husband Mark. "Everybody was so kind to me and so nice," she explained. "After the game I got to go down to the pitch and see the players close-up and it was absolutely great. I do follow the team when I can and it was very special."

Nothing was more special than meeting Cole. "He is one of my favourite players," he said. "I think he has come on in leaps and bounds over the last year. I don't know what's happened but obviously it must be Zola's coaching. I tell you who really stood out for me though - Junior Stanislas. He hit the crossbar and scored the winner. He looks a really good player for the future."

Thinking back to the Cole goal that made it all possible, Kate said: "It was a no-brainer choosing that one. I thought it was a really good team effort and it summed up the way we play. When I saw it it took my breath away, it was great."

Such was the experience of the day, she is planning on becoming a more regular visitor to the Boleyn Ground. "I haven't been for a long time because of my family commitments but we will be coming again now. We have joined the Supporters' Club as well. They were also wonderful to us, really hospitable and it will be nice to go in there for a drink. Everything was great. We won and Carlton scored another goal."

"My mum particularly had a wonderful day. She said she was treated like the Queen. It is good to see the club is still like that. You hear all these negative things and that football has changed but it was a great day. We are going to go to the kids for a quid games and come along and meet more of the supporters. You have to say there an awful lot of happy Hammers around still."