Cork Hammers chairman Stephen McCarthy was one of several interested observers as West Ham United trained on Saturday during their pre-season training camp in Ireland.
West Ham and the largest city in Munster have a strong connection, due to the presence of Ford Motor plants in both Cork and Dagenham in the 20th century.
Many workers in the Cork factory later found employment in Dagenham, taking their support of the Hammers back home and passing it onto the generations to come.
Now, McCarthy leads a well-established supporters’ club, whose members were only too glad to discover Slaven Bilic’s men would be beginning their preparations for the new campaign close to home.
He explained: “We were very excited when we found out West Ham were coming back to Cork. It was only on Monday night that I saw on the internet that they were coming and I had to check it wasn’t the story on two years ago!
“It wasn’t, they were coming here again this week and the Cork Hammers are delighted to have you back. It’s a privilege.
“The Cork Hammers group was formed in 1994. We’ve had hundreds of members over the years and make regular trips to the Boleyn.
“Our biggest trip was when we took 64 over for a Man U game in 2010. We’re regular travellers every year and this year we’re looking forward to going back to say goodbye to the Boleyn.
“There’s a big connection between West Ham and Cork. Ford was a manufacturer of cars here, as they were in Dagenham, so I think that’s the history of it. There’s a huge following for the Club here.”
McCarthy is excited by the appointment of Slaven Bilic as manager and is looking forward to seeing the impact of the new signings.
He added: “For me, Slaven is a Hammer and he’s passionate more than anything else. That’s what I love to see in a manager and a player so I’m absolutely looking forward to the season and I hope he does well with the Club.
“The squad is shaping up well too. There’s been a bit of money spent and it’s great to see these guys coming in with the quality added to the squad.
“It’s good for the Club to be back in Europe. It’s a different experience for us and an early start for the guys. That’s why we get them over as a result so that’s even better!
“Hopefully the run will be good and won’t distract too much from the Premier League.”