'There's nothing like being here'

West Ham United's dedicated foreign legion go to great lengths to watch the Hammers, not least those from the United States of America.

So it was to the despair of many an overseas Hammer to discover that the visit of Hull City had been rearranged owing to the Tigers' FA Cup progress.

Postponement or not, for Andrew Goldberg and Jackson Cooper rescheduling was hardly an option. With flights and accommodation already booked, all that remained was to fathom how to mark a first trip to the Boleyn Ground, without any football that is.

As Goldberg of New York explained: "Alas, when we made our plans and convinced the wives to let us have a boys' weekend, we didn't realise it was Cup quarter-final weekend, and we are now coming nearly 7,000 miles roundtrip to sit in the pub!"

Goldberg, who had hoped to surprise best mate Joel Zuercher for his 40th birthday, came knocking at the Club's door, keen to revive their east London knees up. Ironically, so did fellow American Cooper, having already garnered support and sympathy on Hammers fansites.

The Club, of course, were delighted to oblige, with Hammers historian John Helliar stepping in to conduct a private Boleyn Ground tour. Birthday boy Zuercher and Cooper were presented with shirts for their troubles, before soaking in the sights behind the scenes.

Zuercher, who spent five years of his youth in London, first watched the Hammers down Arsenal in the 1980 FA Cup final and has been hooked ever since.

"It has been great and I really appreciate the Club doing this," he confirmed. "It was totally not what I was expecting but this has been fantastic.

"Getting a chance to hear all the history, to actually see a pitch that I've seen so many times on TV. To see all the stands that the supporters talk about, the Sir Trevor Brooking Stand, the Bobby Moore Stand, it's just awesome to be here in person.

"Back in the States it's great now because you can watch just about every game on television, which makes it easy to follow, but there's nothing like being here.

"I have a very patient wife and two children and I hope I get another chance to come back!"

Compatriot Goldberg, meanwhile, was amazed at the Club's response, admitting he had made contact in hope rather than expectation.

"Honestly, I didn't expect much," he told West Ham TV. "If you did this in the States, you would probably hear back in about a year from the Club, saying thanks and no! But I just threw it out there and West Ham got back two days later. I couldn't have been more excited then and I can't be more excited now. It has been fantastic. It makes up [for the postponement] and more."

Jackson Cooper

Cooper takes in the view from the Directors' Box

Cooper, sporting two Hammers shirts no less, was every bit as impressed by the Hammers' hospitality, hailing his once-in-a-lifetime experience.

He said: "I'm feeling great. This is unbelievable, I had no idea this was going to happen. I came in and I got a shirt right away with my name on the back. It has just been a phenomenal trip.

"I'm not saying it's better than seeing a match but I'll be back, I can see a match another time, but this will probably never happen again. An unbelievable experience, I mean we went through every stand, every crevice of the Stadium.

"At first, it was actually kind of heart breaking, I was like how could this happen but then the chain of events that happened - once in a lifetime. Going from there to actually being by the pitch, having my name on a jersey, being in the stands, everything has just been wonderful.

"I watch every game and sometimes even, being on the west coast, we have matches that will be about four in the morning. I just remember waking up, or staying up the whole night. Just great memories, the Championship Play-Off final was unbelievable. So it kind of built upon itself and I fell in love with the Club like everyone probably does."