Nolan: Joining West Ham was a decision I never regretted

Kevin Nolan


West Ham United made a signing that helped alter the course of the Club’s recent history on 16 June 2011.

Just a few weeks on from suffering the shock of relegation, the Hammers had appointed Sam Allardyce as manager, hoping the former Bolton Wanderers and Newcastle United boss would use his nous and experience to lead the Club back to the Premier League.

Big Sam knew a squad low on morale needed to be revamped if West Ham were to turn things around in the space of a summer and central to that was the signing of a player and captain who helped lift the gloom hanging over east London.

Kevin Nolan had led Newcastle to promotion in 2010 and scored 12 Premier League goals the previous season, but the Liverpool-born midfielder did not think twice about reuniting with his old Bolton manager Allardyce and taking on the job of changing West Ham’s fortunes for the better.

Eleven months later, Nolan led his team up the steps to Wembley Stadium’s Royal Box to raise the Championship Play-Off trophy. The job he had been recruited to do had been completed. West Ham were back where they belonged.

“When I signed for West Ham in the summer of 2011, the Club was in a real transitional phase,” Nolan recalled.

 “Sam Allardyce had just been appointed as manager and he brought me in to help us recover from the shock of relegation the previous season.

“The squad which had been relegated had a lot of fantastic players in it, but it hadn’t really gelled. Some of the players who were left over from the previous season didn’t want to be there, so it was a case of the gaffer, the staff and myself having to sort things out.

“We knew that, if the Club was going to move on and get back to where it belonged, we needed to bring in some new players and work as a team.

“Sam also brought in some other players he knew well like Joey O’Brien, Matty Taylor and Abdoulaye Faye and, although we lost the first game at home to Cardiff, we soon found our feet and started to win a lot of games.”

We knew that, if the Club was going to move on and get back to where it belonged, we needed to bring in some new players and work as a team

Kevin Nolan

Nolan not only led on and off the pitch, but he also netted 12 goals, many of them vital, as West Ham finished third before beating Blackpool at Wembley to secure promotion.

“I scored quite a few goals that season,” he recalled. “My favourite was probably I scored against Burnley at Upton Park. We lost the game, but it was just after my good friend Gary Speed had passed away, so that goal meant a lot to me personally.

“My best goal was probably the volley I got against Derby, again at home. I ended the season with 13 in all, the second-best haul of my career.

“I knew I had made the right decision to join West Ham, as it is a massive Club with a great fanbase. It was a decision I never regretted.”