Smiles and selfies were the order of the day as West Ham United hosted an open training session for 2,600 supporters in Perth on Thursday.
The Hammers opened the doors of their adopted home at Macedonia Park in the city’s northern suburb of Stirling – home of the late Dylan Tombides’s first club, Stirling Lions – just 16 hours after David Moyes and his squad had landed in Western Australia.
Fans lined the touchlines to catch a glimpse of Jarrod Bowen, Aaron Cresswell, Kurt Zouma, Emerson and their fellow UEFA Europa Conference League winners as they were put through their paces by Moyes and coaches Billy McKinlay, Kevin Nolan and Xavi Valero.
The players honoured Tombides’ memory by wearing t-shirts with his name and retired squad number, 38, on the back, and the logo of the male cancer awareness charity founded in his memory, DT38 Foundation, on the front.
After their training session, the players and staff spent an hour or more signing autographs, posing for selfies, handing out goodie bags and free gifts and chatting to supporters elated to welcome their heroes in Claret and Blue to Perth.
In addition to meeting their many supporters Down Under, West Ham will also contest two pre-season matches during their week-long stay at Perth’s 60,000-capacity Optus Stadium, facing A-League side Perth Glory (Saturday 15 July, 6pm AWST) and Premier League rivals Tottenham Hotspur (Tuesday 18 July, 6pm AWST).
“We’ve really enjoyed it, seeing all the kids and the older fans and meeting them,” said midfielder Flynn Downes. “I’ve never been to Australia before and although it’s a long journey it’s great to be here and see somewhere new and see how much support we have here.
“I’m looking forward to this week. Hopefully we’ll get the opportunity to see the sights a little bit and that will be enjoyable.
“We’re playing Perth on Saturday and then we’ve got a nice little London derby here with Tottenham. It’s a friendly, but it’s not a friendly, and there will be a big crowd there, so hopefully we can put in a good performance and get a good result.”
The Hammers will train at Macedonia Park again on Friday, but the sessions will not be open to the public, ahead of Saturday’s opening tour game with Perth Glory at Optus Stadium.