Jack Collison’s Exclusive Column: Mark Noble Testimonial with exclusive pictures (including a selfie)
Author: Brian Knox. Published: 2 April 2016 at 9:35am
The dust may have settled, but the memories will be forever engrained, from what can only be described as a truly incredible day.
It really was a memorable and fitting occasion, to honour Mr West Ham himself, Mark Noble.
I arrived around 11 o clock and there was a real buzz and energy around the stadium already. People had been counting down the days for this game ever since it was announced, including me.
The excitement amongst the old boys was evident, as we sat there cramming down some pre match as a last minute thought, whilst reminiscing about the good old days.
It was as if nothing had changed, the same people working, the layout was the same, except I was in the away changing room today. My pre match rub stayed the same as Will the Masseur set to work with his bionic thumb to try and loosen off the knee.
Celebrating the first goal – The welsh connection
Everyone on that pitch and in the stadium was there to honour Nobes, to say thank you and give something back to a man who has dedicated his entire life to his boyhood club, the same club we had all grown to love.
Nobes is someone who really stood out to me from day one. Not just for his wonderful football ability, But for his love of life in general and his enormous impact on the club from the bottom up. If you ask Shirley the tea lady, Pete the Kit man or Karen Brady the boss, I’m sure not one would have a bad word to say about the man.
Always up for a laugh, at the bottom off all the mischief and happy to take the mick no matter how long you have been in his presence, Nobes is truly a one off. His quick wit and sharp tongue often had me in stitches and even when it was aimed at me, I couldn’t help but laugh.
I feel fortunate that I not only got to play alongside Nobes, but got to see him up close and personal on the training pitch, day in day out. Often first out there, he plays like a kid in the playground and for a youngster making his way in the game he really paved the way for us all.
Fearless, tenacious and technically top notch he really is a fantastic player and West Ham are lucky to have him leading out the team. But more than that he is a great Person. The sort of person you would take to war with you, the sort of person who would go out of their way to help you out.
I never forget the day he drove to lakeside to help me bring my new TV home as I couldn’t fit it in my car. He is the sort of person who is always giving and I’m not sure if he knows, but asking me to play in his testimonial he gave me the greatest gift of all.
From a personal point of view it was the perfect way to say goodbye to the Boleyn and thank you to all those who stood by me through some amazing and some testing experiences throughout my career. It really was emotional walking off the pitch to a wonderful reception on 50 minutes and I tried to take my time and remember every last moment.
But it wasn’t just me, it felt like every ‘legend’ was there for a reason and the game followed the script perfectly.
Taylor Tombides scoring with his brothers number 38 on his back. Dean Ashton scoring an overhead kick. Nobes’ mate Robert saving 3 penalties, Adrian scoring and a recently retired 27 year old footballer having one last taste of what it felt like to be a footballer in the famous claret and blue.