Backroom Blog - Tony Carr

Club Ambassador Tony Carr MBE has had an illustrious and successful career at West Ham United, helping to nurture some of the best Academy graduates the Club has ever produced.

Reflecting on his 42 years at the Club for an upcoming Premier League World documentary due to air this summer, Carr reminisced about his life from an emerging prospect himself in the 1960s to his current role as Club Ambassador.

Speaking after the end of filming, on a gloriously sunny day at the Boleyn Ground, Carr spoke to  

The documentary came about after I was approached by Premier League Productions and Premier League World to do a piece about my 40 odd years at West Ham United. I was delighted to have the opportunity to celebrate what we’ve achieved over the years.

They’ve contacted some of the old players who came through the youth system here, the likes of Frank Lampard, Rio Ferdinand and Joe Cole. Hopefully when it comes out, the fans will enjoy it because these were some incredible years for the club.

Looking back, 42 years is a long time and there are a lot of memories so you can’t cover everything, I hoped I haven’t missed anyone out – if I have I apologise!

It’s nice to look back, but at the same time I’m really enjoying my new role as Club Ambassador.

Obviously I’m still keeping my finger on the pulse on what’s going on at the Academy. I still love watching the youth team play and it’s great to see so many young coaches as well as players involved with the Academy.

Since he’s come in, Terry Westley has done a fantastic job, he’s trying to implement new ideas which is great for everyone because I think the Academy needed a new impetus and fresh eyes and Terry has done that.

Nothing stays the same, especially in football, and we need to evolve. Hopefully he can get some of our promising young players across that line and into the first team because we’ve struggled to do that over the last few years.

Currently, we’ve got some outstanding young players in our Academy, Reece Oxford, Vashon Neufville and Anthony Scully are all internationals who are doing very well.

In the U21s, Josh Cullen is a great talent, and on the fringes of getting an opportunity for the first team. He was Academy player of the year last season after having an outstanding year. He’s in the Mark Noble mould, he’s got great character and desire and he’s West Ham through and through. He just needs an opportunity and I’m sure he’ll get it soon.

The production line may not be as fast as it once was but I think we’re getting there. We’ve had a number of youth players on the first team bench who have not quite made it onto the pitch yet. Reece Burke played in the League Cup and a few pre-season games which was fantastic for him.

It’s incredibly tough to blood you talent, tougher than I was doing it and it’s getting tougher. Now, you get more than a million pounds per place in Premier League prize money so it’s a big incentive to fight for every place.

It used to be the case that if you were safe from relegation with a few games to go you’d give the younger places a go but it’s very hard to do that now.

On another note, I’m delighted that Mark Noble and James Tomkins have signed new long-term contracts. It is fantastic for the club and the fans and it just shows how the club is growing. Not long ago we were producing the players but finding it hard to keep them so it’s great to see them commit their futures to the club.

Tony Carr