New West Ham chairman commits to family legacy

3 Aug, 2023
written by Sean Whetstone
West Ham’s newly appointed Joint Chairman has penned an open letter in the London Evening Standard
“Claret and Blue are in my blood — they always have been. My sister, Jacqueline, and I grew up with West Ham United woven into the very fibre of our childhood. I still vividly remember our first visit to a home game — my Dad, DG, holding our hands, walking us through the gates at Upton Park, the roar of the crowd and the edge-of-your-seat excitement of the game. That was it for me. The love affair began that day, and has grown stronger with every match, the good and the bad. To be a Gold is to be a Hammer.

West Ham were always our team, our great love, but to become joint-chair of the club? Well, that wasn’t a position I ever expected to be talking to you about today. That was my Dad’s role, the one both my sister and I watched him do with pride. I loved seeing the happiness it brought him, the endless hours he’d spend on the terraces, in the changing rooms, and on the pitch if they’d have him. Family first for my Dad, always, but

It is now almost seven months since my beloved father passed away at the age of 86, having devoted his time to leading the football club that he had loved unconditionally throughout his life.

Soon after saying goodbye to DG, I tragically and suddenly lost my sister, Jacqueline — my best friend, my soul mate, my inspiration. So far, 2023 has been a year of indescribable pain for our family. So, you can understand that, while taking on the role of joint-chair is one I’m honoured to fulfil, it’s also one that comes with a huge sadness, too.

In his eyes, the role was a privilege, one that came with great responsibility and a duty of care. He regarded West Ham United as a labour of love. An institution of more than 125 years, borne from the working-class shipyards of London’s East End — his very own backyard, roots he held so close to his heart.

He was always aware that, to the supporters, West Ham United is more than just a football club. It is an identity, a way of life. And most importantly, it is a family. That meant more to him than anything. He always believed that investing time and loyalty in people was the most important factor in any organisation. Whether chatting with supporters, popping into the training grounds to check in on the players, manager and coaches, or visiting the offices to greet and welcome new staff members — he cherished those family values of loyalty, good communication and personal support through good times and the more challenging times.

Those traditions of his, these are things I will continue in his memory, along with ideas and principles of my own. I plan to offer my full backing and encouragement to the West Ham United Foundation and the magnificent work they do to help the local community, particularly when it comes to opportunities for young people. I am keen to support all of our teams, including our Women’s team and the boys and girls coming through the academy — all of which are the reason we are here today.

I’m lucky in that there are a team of directors who I know and respect — David Sullivan, Daniel Kretinsky, Karren Brady, Tripp Smith — and I’m hoping my own experience can support and strengthen the club, and help us to keep on aiming higher.

We’ve got so much to look forward to, and much to celebrate, too. A 62,500-capacity stadium sold out for every match, one of the highest average attendances in the Premier League, some unforgettable European nights in the past two seasons. Combined with impressive international growth across the globe and a flourishing academy producing some of the most exciting young talent in English football. I’m sure it’s no surprise we often talk about how positively bursting with pride both DG and JG would be.

I know just how happy DG was to see our team finish in the top seven for two successive seasons, and just what it would have meant to him to see David Moyes and his players lift a European trophy in Prague and our Under-18s conquer all before them at academy level this year.

I will always feel sad that Dad didn’t get to witness those unforgettable moments, but I’m proud to follow in his footsteps and continue the legacy that he created, and of course he’ll be in my heart every step of the way.

Most of all, I am truly grateful that he taught me just how much it means to be a part of the West Ham family, a privilege I will always cherish. COYI”.


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