Mark Noble can remember the days when the FA Cup was a seriously important competition.
But he goes back even further, having grown up in a Hammers home and heard all the stories about the team of the sixties and a game which produced my personal favourite Hammers match ever against Manchester United in the 64 final before going onto beat Preston North End in the Final.
The Irons were of course led by Bobby Moore and the Final sides sides had two of the youngest ever players at the time to be involved in such a game – Johnny Sissons for us, Howard Kendall for them.
He was also reminded of the 80s victory via a Trevor Brooking header and would clearly love nothing more than to make it to Wembley for the game in his last season as a player for his beloved club.
He looks certain to be involved in the first step towards it and told Sunday’s official programme: “This competition has been important to me throughout my whole life.
“As a boy living in a house full of West Ham fans, I was told all the stories of how Bobby Moore and Billy Bonds lifted the FA Cup at Wembley, about Ronnie Boyce, Alan Taylor and Trevor Brooking scoring the winning goals and dreaming of one day playing for the Club in an FA Cup final.
“While I’ve not done that yet, I still have that dream and, who knows, maybe it can come true in my final season as a West Ham player!
“That would certainly be a memorable end to an unforgettable career, and a special moment not just for me but for everyone associated with our great Football Club.
“We’ve got a tough tie to win first, though, to get us moving down the road to Wembley. Leeds are a Premier League team with really good players and a great manager, so we’ll need to be at our best and give everything to beat them.
“If we could win, it would be another fantastic memory and another really good moment for us this season.”
Sunday’s tie will see another bumper crowd at London Stadium, with Season Ticket Holders, Claret Members and loyal supporters being joined by thousands of young fans and first-time visitors. With Kids For A Quid tickets still available, you can join them!
As someone who grew up sneaking into the Boleyn Ground to watch his beloved Hammers in action as a boy, Noble knows just how special the feeling is of attending a live football match.
“I am told there will be thousands of thousands of young fans here on Sunday and, whether you’re a Junior Season Ticket Holder or Claret Member, attending your first game at London Stadium, or are a young Leeds supporter cheering your team on, I hope you really enjoy the day,” he enthused.
“There is nothing better than going to the football with your family and friends, so give your team a cheer, join in the songs and have a fantastic time.
“We’ll do our very best to get through to the fourth round and I know the lads are determined to go on another long cup run.”