We will remember them

Football was put into perspective by the presence of members of the 1st Battalion, Royal Anglian Regiment at Saturday's goalless draw with Blackpool.

The soldiers joined representatives from the other Armed Forces and Royal British Legion in marking Remembrance Day at the Boleyn Ground, with an impeccable minute's silence held before kick-off.

The day was particularly poignant for West Ham fans Cpl Ben Lake and Cpl Scott Turner, both of whom have recently returned from a six-month tour in Afghanistan.

The pair, who are based at Pirbright Barracks in Surrey, said keeping up to date with the Hammers' results was difficult.

"To be fair, the welfare services are getting a lot better so every now and then you can use your phone," said Cpl Turner. "You can also write letters and use snail mail and the internet if you're lucky. It is difficult, but we try to keep abreast of it as much as possible.

"It depends where you are, but you might get Sky Sports with the BFBS (British Forces Broadcasting Service) which is the Forces telly service and shows the odd match, but we're usually too busy to keep up with it anyway, so we just use the phone or internet," Cpl Lake confirmed

Cpl Turner, who is from Grays, explained the 1st Battalion, Royal Anglian Regiment's role in Afghanistan, and the importance of honouring the lives that have been lost on Remembrance Day.

"We're basically infantry, so the Ross Kemp in Afghanistan bit is our bag, really! Obviously it's a poignant day for us because we lost members of our Battalion out there, so it's good to be here and represent our Battalion."

L/Cpl Scott Hardy, Pte James Grigg, Capt Martin Driver, Pte Robert Hayes and L/Cpl Adam Drane were killed during the Battalion's recent six-month tour in Afghanistan.

Cpl Lake explained that Remembrance Day gives people the chance to pay their respects to those lost in every conflict around the world.

"Before I joined the Army, it was always World War Two and World War One that I thought about, but now I'm in the Army and have a brother in the Army too, all my family know it's also about Afghanistan, where we've lost quite a few people. This day is a chance to have a minute's silence and think about them."

Cpl Turner said the experience of marching around the Boleyn Ground pitch, visiting the dressing room and meeting Hammer Mark Noble made their visit extra special.

"It's a dream. You can't buy that. Sometimes being in the Army is good and on other days it's not good. This is good! To go down the tunnel and walk around there is a bit like Jim'll Fix It for me. It's fantastic. I shook hands with Kevin Keen and that was brilliant."

Cpl Lake revealed that the support given to the soldiers on matchday had given him and his colleagues a real boost.

"Before this we have done a lot of Freedom Parades - we did one in Barking - and marching through there and having the people clapping us was really good. Being a West Ham supporter, it was magnificent."