'It's hard to take'

For Jordan Spence, Sunday's Barclays Premier League trip to Wigan Athletic was one of the proudest moments of his young career.

Six years after joining West Ham United, the England Under-21 defender made his full debut at the DW Stadium, showing his promise and composure during arguably the Hammers' biggest league match in five seasons.

A week short of his 21st birthday, Spence should have been celebrating, but instead he was left shattered by the unwelcome spectre of relegation.

Typical of his mature and positive approach to both football and life in general, the defender is already targeting a promotion push in the Championship next term.

"The over-riding emotion at the moment is just huge disappointment," he said. "I don't actually have words to articulate how disappointed I am.

"It was my full debut on Sunday, but throughout the season, when I've been at West Ham I've been part of the squad. I've been part of the squad from the first day of the season to the last and it's hard to take.

"I joined the club when we were in the Championship and I've played in the Championship this year [for Bristol City on loan] and it certainly wasn't the direction I wanted West Ham to take so, yes, it's disappointing.

"I'm immensely proud to represent this football club and it means so much to myself and my family. I also want to thank God because I've had some ups and downs throughout my short career, so to pull on a West Ham jersey and to start a game of this importance was fantastic for me.

"It's a proud moment and I'm sure, when the dust settles, it's a start for me that I can build on."

While Spence spent much of the spring at Bristol City, he has been a regular member of the first-team squad for the majority of the campaign, captaining the reserves and training daily alongside the likes of Scott Parker and Robert Green.

Having been with the club since the age of 15, the Essex-born player knows just how much West Ham means to its supporters and has vowed to do everything he can to put smiles back on their faces.

"The message to the fans is 'Thanks for your support'. You saw the support on Sunday and that's not the support of a Championship side. The reality is that we've been relegated and there will be plenty of people who will pick the bones out of every single thing that has occurred.

"We have been relegated and we can't underestimate the Championship is a difficult league, but I can say that I and whoever else is out there will do everything we can to bring us back to where we deserve to be.

"We're a big club in the Premier League so we're an even bigger club in the Championship."

Before embarking on a 2011/12 campaign in the Championship, Spence and his team-mates must raise themselves for one final top-flight challenge in the shape of a home game against Sunderland on Sunday.

While a victory will not lift them off the bottom, the No27 insisted that the players will be doing all they can to sign-off a difficult season with a victory.

"I think from me making my debut on Sunday to the most senior player, this is our trade and we certainly don't like losing. Everybody who plays next weekend will not be going out there to lose.

"We'll be wearing a West Ham shirt and we see the supporters and what it means to them and I can only reiterate, from the personal point of view of a player who has been at this football club for a number of years, how this is something that hurts."