It's a long way from Tipperary!

Forty-five years ago, Joe White travelled to London from his native County Tipperary in the Republic of Ireland.

It was March 1969 and White was sent to east London by his employers for a week. During his stay, a colleague asked him to attend West Ham United's Division One fixture with European champions Manchester United.

The match featured a host of the biggest stars of the day, including FIFA World Cup winners Bobby Moore, Martin Peters, Geoff Hurst and Bobby Charlton as well as Geoff Hurst and Denis Law. The game finished goalless but, no matter, White was hooked!

Now, White is group recruitment manager at Imtech, the company which employs a number of the apprentices working to convert the Olympic Stadium into West Ham's new 54,000-capacity home. Fittingly, he donned a claret scarf and tie when he welcomed James Tomkins and George McCartney to the Stadium during the recent National Apprenticeship Week.

"I'm a lifelong West Ham fan," he confirmed. "It's strange, people always ask me how an Irish guy ends up being a West Ham fan because we're usually either Manchester United or Liverpool!

"Back in 1969, I worked for a company over in Ireland who had a sister company in Leyton, and I was sent over for a week, during which a weekend was included. The guy I was with said to me 'Do you fancy going to a game?' and I said 'Yes, who is playing?'.

"He said West Ham were at home to Manchester United. I didn't really have any affiliations because I was a hurling man, supporting Tipp and Cork in the Gaelic games. I said 'Yes' and I went along and saw Geoff, Martin, Bobby and a young Billy Bonds and Trevor Brooking playing against George Best, Denis Law and Bobby Charlton.

"I spent five hours on the terraces singing 'I'm forever blowing bubbles' and I became a West Ham fan for life!"

Forty-five years on, White could not be happier to be playing his part in the conversion of West Ham's new home.

"It's absolutely fantastic," he confirmed. "It gives me particular pleasure to do that. It's very simple. As a group, Imtech has eight companies in the UK and through all of those, we go through a process of looking for people [to work as apprentices on schemes like the Olympic Stadium].

"We very much focus on the local people and giving opportunities to them. We did the Stadium and the Velodrome for the Olympics and we brought young people in at that time. In fact, our lead man on the conversion of the Stadium now was actually an apprentice when he started our working on the Stadium five years ago!

"That's how we do things. We believe in giving young people a chance and developing them, much like West Ham do with the Academy."

Tomkins and McCartney had the pleasure of meeting two of Imtech's apprentices during their recent visit to Stratford, even finding time to give George Skuce and Mohamed Mohamed a helping hand with their work on the Stadium's lighting.

"The apprentices are doing anything to do with the electrical installation in the Stadium. We also do the mechanical installation, which is all the heating and air conditioning and water supply and things like that - piping, cable-pulling and cable-jointing - anything that involves the mechanical and electrical systems falls under our remit."

While there is still more work to be done in Stratford, White would love nothing more than to be there when his West Ham heroes run out for their first game at the Olympic Stadium in 2016.

All being well, White will be there with two other generations of the White family, too!

"I will be here! I also dragged my son, who is now in his late thirties, along to a game as soon as I could as well, and he has recently had my first grandchild two months ago. I've had him photographed in his first West Ham kit and I asked James and George to sign it to hang in his nursery!

"The three generations of us will be here in 2016, God willing."