West Ham United Under-23s were presented with the 2019/20 Premier League 2 Division 2 trophy at Chadwell Heath on Wednesday afternoon.
Having concluded their 2019/20 league season on Monday 2 March with a 4-0 win over Norwich U23s, the Irons’ unbeaten campaign was cut short by the global pandemic and subsequent curtailment of the Academy Games Programme.
Leading second-placed Manchester United U23s by three points at the time of football’s suspension, the West Ham development squad were later confirmed as champions of Division 2 for the 2019/20 season on a points-per-game basis.
With a staggering 14 wins and 58 goals scored from just 18 league games – with four draws and zero defeats – the Hammers were worthy winners in clinching the title.
The U23s therefore attended a short ceremony at Chadwell Heath on Wednesday afternoon, led by the Premier League and Academy of Football graduate Anton Ferdinand, during which they were presented with their winners’ medals and the trophy.
Conor Coventry, who captained the side until his loan move to Lincoln City in January, told whufc.com: “From the very start of the season, we set out to try and win the league. We had that focus going into every game, so to actually achieve it was great.
“As captain, I think this group has great character. Within games, there were times when we were in tough moments – we were losing or only just holding onto wins – and we managed to get ourselves out of them when we needed to.
“It’s a great side with a lot of talent and we’ve all sort of grown up with each other, to an extent. The staff are the same – they’ve all looked after us and helped us grow. There’s a great unit in the group and it’s great to be a part of.
“You can see that a couple of us have got a chance recently and hopefully there’s more of that to come. There’s a lot of talent here so we’ll all keep working hard, and hopefully those opportunities will arrive.”
Asked whether the trophy would be the first of many, Coventry laughed: “I’d hope so – I’d like to think so! It’s tough to get silverware at any level, so to go and win it was a great feeling, and we’ll enjoy it!”
U23s lead coach Dmitri Halajko, who achieved the title success in his first season at the Club, added: “The lads deserved recognition for last season – it was a great season for them collectively – and it was nice for them to get that.
“The players and coaches had a meeting right at the start of the season about how we wanted to play, what we wanted to achieve and what we wanted to be about, and we stuck to that every single game.
“West Ham have had great success in the past, and more recently, of getting players through the pathway into the first team, and I think there’s going to be more to come.
“There are more players there who are capable of doing it, and we’ve a first-team manager who’s watching pretty much every single one of our games and giving them the opportunities they need.”