West Ham: An Unabashed Love Letter to Kevin Nolan and Mark Noble

Max TowleAnalyst IOctober 25, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 24:  Mark Noble (L) of West Ham celebrates scoring the first goal of the game from the penalty spot with team mate Kevin Nolan during the npower Championship match between West Ham United and Peterborough United at Boleyn Ground on September 24, 2011 in London, England.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Dear Kevin Nolan and Mark Noble,

Thank you for justifying my faith in the uncompromising beauty of English football.

Though neither of you has ever played for what most would consider a "top British club," you have both been reliable mainstays in the most captivating league on the planet.

As well as being equally dogged and determined, your skill and technical ability is often vastly underappreciated.

Oh, and you both possess eerily similar surnames.

So much so in fact, that in a completely absent-minded moment the other day, I tried to Google "Kevin Noble," and for a while couldn't work out why only male body builders and corporate lawyers were the results showing.

Maybe it's because you have both seemed destined to play in the same XI from birth; in the same midfield, complementing each other perfectly.


But Mark, if I may call you Mark, let me address you first.

The one club player is as rare as a decent Gervinho first touch in today's game. In that sense, you are a dying breed deserving of far more love than I could possibly give you.

Of course my love is a manly respect type of love. Not at at all like the more romantic type that say, Nani has for Cristiano Ronaldo.

If we passed each other in the street I would do my best "Fistful of Dollars" Clint Eastwood impression and tip my invisible Cowboy hat in your direction and say "good on y'lad."

Yes, you played out part of your youth at Highbury tutored by Arsenal's finest coaches, and yes, you have spent brief but influential spells at Hull City and Ipswich Town, but your loyalty to the Hammers has been proven staunch through an Avram Grant-tenure and even relegation.

Your breakthrough campaign at West Ham saw the drama of the club's famous Great Escape. Though if you'd featured in all 38 games, I'm sure the team would never have had to win at Old Trafford on the final day to remain in the top flight.

Carlos Tevez may have stole the headlines that season, but to you that was just fine. Let him dominate the ink, you'll just dominate the middle of the park next season.

In 2007, you won the fans' Young Player of the Year award with 99% of the vote; and you deserved it—I'm sure even runner-up Jonathan Spector's mom voted for you.

In explaining the remaining 1%, I like to think that a tipsy Hammers fan's hand slipped when they came to cast their vote in the booth, or perhaps it was just a cheeky Milwall fan having a laugh.

Who cares if you've never been capped at the highest level by England—that black hole of a national team isn't deserving of your tenacity.

In September this year, you signed a new three year contract extension with West Ham, though I sincerely hope your wage packet was dramatically increased, because I doubt very much you'd have asked the suits for more money yourself.

On the pitch your unassuming nature flies out the window—every moment your team is in possession you roam the pitch desperate for a touch of the ball like Luis Suarez needs a Zimmer frame.

You are able to turn on a dime in an instant, dishing the ball off to a teammate in the next.

Your endless energy and drive makes it easier for West Ham fans to forget that someone by the name of Scott Parker ever played at Upton Park.

The big bullies of the Premier League—the Yaya Toure's and Marouane Fellaini's—may try to push and shove you off the park, but rest assured, you give as good as you get.

Noble vs. Fellaini at Madison Square Garden? I'd think twice before having a flutter on that David vs. Goliath showdown.


Now to you Kevin, please don't think I'd forgotten about you.

Let me briefly address a very important reason for my love for you before going on to wax lyrical like I have for Mark.

Picture this: It's Saturday morning, the Premier League's weekend games are only a few hours away and I'm in a real bind—who do I transfer into my Fantasy Football team?

August had been a good month for me and I then sat close to the top 50 on the ESPN leaderboard. All I needed was a contributing midfielder to consolidate my position.

I took a punt on you—why not? Winners aren't afraid to gamble in the face of severe pressure and stress.

Less than 60 seconds into West Ham's clash with Fulham, you scored a cracking volley to give your side a lead that was never relinquished.

My love for you was born in that instant, I think.

I'll admit, I had never been a fan of you from your days at Newcastle, though that was not for the way you played, but your absolutely horrifying "Chicken Wings" celebration you made sure to do every time you scored.

Was that an in-joke inspired by a particularly raucous night (that for some reason included poultry?) out drinking with Andy Carroll? Or was it just a "come and get me" plea to the Venky's?

Not that I really dislike the Toon, but now that you're at the far more palatable West Ham, I can just about stomach this unique way of showing your delight whenever you score.

And you score often.

You attack the box like a deranged madman, with a "chuck it against the wall and see what happens" look in your eye that can't be tamed.

Beastly in the air, you can score with your head and with your feet and with just about every other part of your anatomy, I'm sure.

When you announced that you were leaving the safe comfort of the Premier League for the harsh rigours of the Championship in 2011, my eyes naturally skimmed over the headline.

But as the cold months wore on last season, I began to pine for you, praying that West Ham would be one of the lucky three teams promoted from the relative wilderness just so I could see yours and Mark Noble's faces one more time.

Though I'm not particularly keen on referencing a Joni Mitchell song, it's true, you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone.


Because you are both treasures of the English game.

I've little doubt there are few in Spain who have ever heard of you, and if they have, their impression is probably something like "typical English players who try to kick our poor little Juan Mata."

Which is why I, and I like to think many other fans, love you both. You are ours—quintessentially English.

Every week you bring a "play hard or go home" mentality to the field that should be a model of professionalism to the youngsters whose idols are the tricky wingers and flash Harry's of the game.

Let them love Cristiano Ronaldo, I'll go on loving you.

Yours sincerely,

an unabashed fan.


Follow @MaxTowle 


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