Coaches triumph at golf day

The staff left the players well and truly bunkered with a thrilling comeback victory at West Ham United's club Golf Day.

Thanks to midfielder Gary O'Neil, the players and staff were able to do battle in the lavish surroundings of the London Golf Club - a PGA European Tour venue located just south of the M25 in the Kent countryside.

With four singles matches left on the course, the players looked odds-on to prevail, only for the staff to hit back by winning all four to take the 36-hole competition by seven points to five.

O'Neil, a scratch handicapper and London Golf Club member, and Mark Noble led the players' challenge, while the staff team was spearheaded by manager Sam Allardyce and assistant manager Neil McDonald.

Joint-chairman David Gold was a welcome arrival late in the afternoon, presenting a beautiful crystal jug to winning captain McDonald. Meanwhile, O'Neil presented a signed West Ham shirt to the club to mark the occasion.

James Tomkins, Matt Taylor and Dylan Tombides were late withdrawals, giving three of the club's young student interns a chance to take to the course too.

The morning foursomes were played in changeable weather, to say the least, with sun, rain and hailstones all appearing at one stage or another.

Despite the wet conditions, all four matches produced some fine golf, with the teams ending the opening round tied at two points apiece.

Allardyce and McDonald were pushed all the way by Noble and sport science intern Josh Bowen, but their experience shone through on the 18th as a missed putt saw the management team triumph 2up.

O'Neil overcame the burden of playing alongside fitness support intern Matt Evans to defeat first-team coach Wally Downes and groundstaff six-handicapper Ian Denny 1up on the final green.

The players took the lead when four-handicapper George Moncur and sport science intern Jamie Goldsmith beat sports psychologist Lee Richardson and head of player recruitment Martyn Glover four and three, only for development coach Ian Hendon and head of performance analysis David Woodfine to hit back with a 2 and 1 victory over Jack Collison and Freddie Sears.

Golf Day

After a lunch of soup and sandwiches, it was back out into the rain for the afternoon singles - with the draw being made by Allardyce before he left the course to get back to the task of leading West Ham to promotion.

With head of sport science and sport medicine Andy Rolls taking the manager's place, it was all to play for as the clouds finally parted for good in mid-afternoon.

The pick of the ties saw Hendon take on Noble, while the final pairing of the afternoon pitted the experience of McDonald against the promise of Moncur.

The afternoon singles lived up to expectations and, despite the threat of darkness, all eight matches were completed.

Downes put the staff in front with a crushing 10 and 8 win over Bowen, only for O'Neil, Sears and Goldsmith put the players 5-3 up with victories over Woodfine, Richardson and Rolls respectively.

With the sun setting, Denny pulled another point back with a 1up win over Collison before Hendon, Glover and McDonald completed a memorable comeback by defeating team captain Noble, Evans and Moncur.