West Ham bring Christmas cheer
WEST HAM fans and players may be a little bit gloomy this Christmas when they look at the Premier League table, but the trials and tribulations of football were put firmly into perspective last week, writes DAVE EVANS. Hammers stars made their way to the
WEST HAM fans and players may be a little bit gloomy this Christmas when they look at the Premier League table, but the trials and tribulations of football were put firmly into perspective last week, writes DAVE EVANS.
Hammers stars made their way to the Children's Ward at King George Hospital in Goodmayes and down to the Richard House Hospice in Beckton last Thursday and their appearance was as if Father Christmas himself had arrived.
West Ham star Danny Gabbidon was one of those who went down to King George and he was moved by what he saw there.
"When you think about Christmas, you think about everyone being happy, but when you come here, you realise that is not the case everywhere," he said.
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"For us to put a smile on the kiddies' faces, it puts a smile on our faces as well, so it is a good thing all round. Hopefully we can cheer each other up.
"We are struggling a little bit at the moment, so it is good to get away from things, do something a little bit different and focus your mind on something else."
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Gabbidon was joined by Scott Parker, Mark Noble and Radoslav Kovac at King George's and the quartet spent over an hour chatting to the youngsters who were unfortunate to be stuck in hospital in the run-up to Christmas.
Three-year-old James Martin from Upminster had a kick around with Parker on the ward, and everyone received a goodie bag packed with West Ham merchandise.
So were they all West Ham fans at the hospital?
"The ones I've spoken to are yeah," confirmed Gabbidon. "I gave a goodie bag to one of the boys, but I had to ask him because I wasn't sure. Hopefully he won't swap them for some Manchester United stuff! The West Ham fanbase is massive around here, so I think I believe him."
The Welshman has had his fair share of hospital treatment in the last year or so, and in fact Sunday's game against Chelsea saw him hobble off with a hamstring injury, so he knows only too well what it is like to be out of action.
"I can relate to it a little bit," he explained. "In the last couple of years I've had a lot of injuries and a couple of operations. It is not nice being stuck in a bed and not being able to do anything. It is tough so I can relate to that.
"Hopefully some of them will be able to get out soon and enjoy their Christmas."
For footballers, Christmas is not a time to relax.
"It is a busy period, where we are playing a lot of games so we don't get a lot of time to socialise," said Gabbidon.
"We will train on Christmas Day, that's just the way it is. You get your few weeks off in the summer so it sort of levels itself off a little bit.
"But when you put it into perspective and see some of the problems these kids have got, we've got it really easy, so we shouldn't complain too much."
The players certainly didn't begrudge an hour of their time to make the youngsters happy, whatever may be happening down at the football club.
"Results haven't been going too well, but when you come to a hospital and see these kids, some of whom might not be going home for Christmas, it really puts it all into perspective," said Gabbidon.
King George Hospital were delighted with the Christmas visit.
A spokesman for Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust said: "The players spent a long time chatting to the children and their families, who were over the moon at the star-studded arrival."
Over at the Richard House Hospice in Beckton, the residents were treated not only to West Ham boss Gianfranco Zola and five of his players, but also to Miss Galaxy International Haley Mac who hails from just up the road in Grays.
Robert Green, Jonathan Spector, Luis Jimenez, Herita Ilunga nd Fabio Daprela were on hand to dish out the goodies and residents, their families and the hard-working staff were delighted to see them.
The Richard House Hospice looks after sick and terminally ill youngsters as well as supporting their families.