'We all follow the West Ham'

Norwegian West Ham United fans Lorents Oystein Ostvold and his son Jan Tore visited the Boleyn Ground ahead of the Hammers' 0-0 Barclays Premier League draw with Aston Villa.

The pair have been ardent fans for a number of years, having first watched the Irons in action in 2003.

As semi-professional footballer Jan explained, it was the presence of a certain diminutive and prolific striker in Claret and Blue that persuaded him to become a Hammer.

"I first saw a West Ham match back in 2003, I was a big fan of Jermaine Defoe upfront so that's why I started supporting him," explained Jan, who has recently completed the 2014 season in Norway's Fourth Division with Bergen-based SK Djerv. "I'm a midfielder myself, but I also like going forward. I'd say I'm like an attacking version of Alex Song!"

Lorents has another special connection to West Ham in the figure of long-serving Club Chaplain Revd Alan Boulding, whom he has worked alongside in the oil business for a number of years. Indeed, it was Revd Bolding who showed the Scandinavian father and son around the Boleyn Ground on a recent visit to east London.

"Alan is a colleague of mine," he said. "We work at Old Street together in an engineering company. I've known him for a very long time, and he's a solid man."

Speaking about the popularity of West Ham in their native Norway, Lorents confirmed that the Hammers are one of the best-supported Barclays Premier League clubs in the country - a fact illustrated by the size of the Scandinavian Hammers Supporters' Club.

"West Ham are well known," he stated. "We have about 800 members across Norway in our supporters' group. It's easy to support teams like Real Madrid, but my son has said he likes West Ham because of their youth system and Academy."

Two Norwegians have worn the iconic Claret and Blue - Ragnvald Soma made seven appearances in the 2001/02 season, including the famous 1-0 FA Cup win at Manchester United, while towering striker John Carew featured during the 2011/12 Championship promotion season.

The former Rosenborg, Valencia, Aston Villa and Norway forward netted twice in 19 appearances for the Club, unfortunately failing to reach the same heights he achieved during his pomp.

"I remember watching John Carew play for West Ham a few years ago in 2012," recalled Jan. "At that point, he had quite a lot of injures and wasn't the player he once was."

Fast forward to the present day and West Ham do not currently possess any Norwegian players, but that has not affected their popularity in the Ostvold family. The Hammers have started the season in impressive form, currently sitting fourth in the Premier League, and the pair both believe their team's form is set to continue.

"It depends on injuries but I think a sixth to eighth-place finish is a realistic target. I think Europe is a possibility which would be great to see," said Jan.  "I've got Andy Carroll on the back of my shirt, so I'm delighted to see him back and it's a big boost for the team for him to be back. He's a great header of the ball and a very good striker."