Tonks' delight for 'top man' Mark

James Tomkins says long-time friend and West Ham United teammate Mark Noble thoroughly deserves his Testimonial
James Tomkins followed Mark Noble through the Academy of Football and has played first-team football with his friend for the past eight years…

It is brilliant for Mark to get the recognition he deserves for his time playing for the Club.

The years he’s been at the Club and the commitment he’s shown, with the number of games that he’s played, are there for everyone to see so he’s done very well for himself.

He’s been through ups and downs with the team but this season he’s progressed even further. I know he looks old, but he is still actually quite young, so he’s getting better as he’s getting older!

I remember as a kid playing in the FA Youth Cup scoring an own goal at Gillingham, putting it right in the top corner of my own net. But Mark bailed me out from nowhere, as we were going to lose that game until he scored a screamer from about 25 yards. It went to extra-time and he scored again I think, so he bailed me out big time. I’ve bailed him out ever since!

He helped me grow up when I first came into the team and he was a big reason why I settled there.

Nobes loves a joke around the place – that’s him all over – and he’s not happy unless he’s bantering someone. He’s good like that and he’s excellent with the youngsters coming through. Everyone looks up to him as they have all seen him do it before.

Not only all that, but he’s a superb footballer. He’s knocking on that England door at the moment and, like I said, he might look about 45 but he is still young! He’s got years of learning left in him.

Mark’s a proud Dad and he’s always been very mature in that way, too.

The ground is sold out and that shows that he’s held in high esteem by everyone involved with West Ham. His Testimonial couldn’t have worked out in a better way for him I don’t think, so he’ll love that he’s saying farewell to the Boleyn with today’s game too.

We’ve had our highlights, and us arguing on the pitch at Everton was one of those for me! Also the Play-Off final was brilliant, and the next day I went on his stag-do, which was a great time for us.

Mark – you’re a top man and you fully deserve this.