'I'd be all for a badge change'

Tony Cottee has West Ham inked on his birth certificate and etched in his heart.

The Forest Gate-born Hammers legend grew up in east London on a diet of Moore, Hurst and Peters, absorbed by imagery of the famous crossed hammers on the equally famous claret and blue.

Now 48, very little has changed for Cottee in that regard, with those staples of Hammers heritage still the be all and end all. But as West Ham United march toward an exciting future at the Olympic Stadium, Cottee concurs that the time is probably nigh to evolve the Club crest.

"I'd be all for a change of badge," Cottee confirmed. "I don't think the Club has changed it for quite a while now. When we go to the new Stadium, we're hopefully starting a new era in terms of competing on and off the pitch, and looking at the Club badge, I think, would be a good idea.

"You look at that badge, you look at those hammers and as long as you've got the hammers, you've got West Ham. That's all we need. I'm a West Ham fan and I will always be a West Ham fan.

"I've got a birth certificate which says 'birthplace: West Ham.' I'm very proud of that and I love showing it to people.

"I grew up in a great era to be a West Ham fan. Then, of course, I played for the Club and now I'm back to being a supporter. You have what goes on in your personal life but I would say West Ham as a Club runs very near to my heart."

Though Cottee was but a toddler when Bobby Moore lifted the World Cup, his West Ham associations extend beyond his own memories. Where the crest is concerned, Cottee calls upon Hammers greats of the 50s, no less, for his first point of reference.

He continued: "The likes of Malcolm Allison, John Bond and Noel Cantwell, wonderful players, and the badge was just simply crossed hammers. I grew up looking at all those images.

"Of course, the badge has developed over the years and with progress, coming into the 21st century, you accept that the badges change a little bit, but I think those iconic hammers are the things as a kid that stood out for me."

Cottee reckons that his affinity with the crossed hammers is one shared by Hammers fans the world over. And if the hammers are sacred, Cottee concedes that the Boleyn Castle's relevance will surely be diminished by the switch to Stratford.

"Looking at the current badge, you've obviously got the castle on there, which probably goes back to the times of Anne Boleyn and then the Boleyn Ground. If we're moving to Stratford, which we are, there could be a case for maybe dropping the Castle. That's only me, personally, saying that.

"But the one thing that must stay is the crossed hammers. All our fans, I think there a million across the world, and if you spoke to them all, nearly all of them would say we have to keep the hammers. You've got to keep the wording, West Ham, in some form or another in the badge too, but the crossed hammers for me are the real important thing."

Above all else, however, Cottee is adamant that Hammers fans be given the opportunity to have their say on the matter, with online consultation live as of Monday morning.

"What I do hope the Club do is take in the considerations of the supporters because without the supporters you don't have a football club. Let's speak to as many fans as possible, maybe have an online campaign, or whatever it may be. I think it's always nice when the supporters are asked their opinion. I'm a supporter and I'd like to keep the hammers!"

Supporters are also invited to explore the Club's plans during the next two open consultation sessions at the Boleyn Ground, scheduled for Thursday 19 and Monday 23 June.