APRIL 2015 BLOWING-BUBBLES.CO.UK BY FANS, FOR FANS #47
TV star Matt Lorenzo on his big plan
How Rob Green did West Ham a massive favour
Sky man in bid for Moore film
Former goalkeeper is still an Irons legend..
d of t
Big John on that great escape, kicking out at Eyal Berkovic and
his battle with cancer
Big John on that great escape, kicking out at Eyal Berkovic and
his battle with cancer
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Weve been par-ticularly blessed with the interviews weve had this season but this months chat with John Hartson ranks as one of the best weve ever had in this magazine.
You sometimes find that even after retire-ment, footballers con-tinue to tread the club line and avoid saying what they want to say but Hartson is brutally honest and his interview with Julian Shea is a pleasure to read.
He appreciated and understood why we were asking the questions we did and his answers were considered and well-
thought out - Ive seen him in a whole new light and Ive got more respect for him now.
I wish him every success in the future and well look to support his foundation as much as we can.
Turning to the rest of this months issue and weve got an excellent in-terview with sports pre-senter Matthew Lorenzo and his documentary about Bobby Moore. I was delighted to read funding for the project has been secured and its fitting that its scheduled to be released in time for the 50th anniversary of the 1966 World Cup win.
Kwame Boakye has written a fantastic piece focusing on Rob Green. It left me wondering what could have been for West Ham, Green and of course, Adrian.
Its strange to think if Green had signed a new contract, the Spanish shot stopper may have gone elsewhere.
Who would I prefer to have? I honestly dont know. As Kwame rightly points out, Green singlehandedly kept us in more games than I can remember and people shouldnt forget this when comparing the two.
Big John says it as he sees it and you have to admire that
The big interview - John Hartson
I played the best football of my career while at West Ham Former Hammers striker John Hartson on that great escape, kicking out at Eyal Berkovic and how cancer turned his world upside down
If life does indeed be-gin at 40, then clearly someone forgot to tell John Hartson.
The former West Ham striker celebrated his 40th birthday on April 5, having already managed to cram in more than many people do in twice that time.
Record-breaking striker, hero, villain, public enemy, father of five, cancer survivor and now charity fundrais-er Hartson has lived through it all, and has the scars (literally) to prove it.
Arsenal made him British footballs most expensive teenager when they paid Luton 2.5m for him in January 1995, and learning his craft alongside Dennis Berg-kamp and Ian Wright, it was clear the youngster from Swansea was
destined for great things. But as he told Blowing Bubbles in an exclusive interview, despite Arsene Wengers desire to keep him at Highbury, Hart-sons future lay further east than that.
Wenger had offered me a new four-year deal he wanted me to stay and learn from two of the best strikers in the world, but West Ham were really in trouble
at that time, and I had Harry Redknapp in my ear, explained Hartson.
Hes persistent, and when he wants some-thing, he goes all out to get it. Arsenal had broken a record to sign me, and then he did the same thats how much he wanted me.
When Hartson arrived at West Ham in January 1997, all hopes were pinned on him and
fellow new signing Paul Kitson to drag the team out of a serious relega-tion struggle not that Hartson was daunted by the prospect.
I was 21, and totally fearless at that age you can achieve anything you want, you think you can run through walls, he said.
Harry made Kits and I play together as much as possible in training to build an understanding and then put us straight into the first team.
Fortunately, we just clicked. We both scored on our home debuts, a 4-3 win over Spurs, and went on to produce 13 goals between us.
The way the team turned things round and managed to stay up after the position they had been in before we arrived was a miracle.
But if fans thought Hartsons first half-sea-son in claret and blue was something to get ex-cited about, they hadnt seen anything yet.
Ive got friends from back home whove been at every single match of my career, from my de-but for Luton to playing
Impressive: John Hartson hit 24 goals in the 1997/98 season
for Celtic at Barcelona these guys have known me since I was a kid, so I can trust them more than anyone else, and they say that without a doubt, the 1997-98 season at West Ham was the best football Ive ever played, said Hartson.
I was absolutely un-playable that season I scored 24 goals, which was my best ever total in the Premier League, I finished just one behind Michael Owen for the Golden Boot, and I was only 22. West Ham fans really got to see the best of me that year.
It wasnt just Upton Park regulars who were impressed by Hartsons achievements that season.
In the build-up to the campaign where his side would go on to win the treble, Sir Alex Ferguson came close to signing the Welsh international striker for Manchester United. Not that Hartson knew anything about it, though.
I only found this out after Id retired, when I read Fergies book, he said. It was complete news to me, but that shows you how well I was playing.
Pride comes before a fall, though, and Hart-sons descent from such giddy heights to rock bottom and the exit door was as shocking as it was unpredictable.
Id have loved to stay at West Ham, he said. I was only two years into a seven-year deal and I had a fantastic rapport
with the fans, then the Berkovic incident hap-pened, and it absolutely killed me at the club.
The incident in question was a training ground bust-up with Israeli team-mate Eyal Berkovic, which culmi-nated in Hartson kicking the midfielder in the face as he knelt on the ground all of it, caught on camera.
What I did was terrible its undoubt-
edly the biggest regret of my career, and it soured everything that Id been building up at West Ham, Hartson explained.
Why I reacted as I did, I really dont know it wasnt anything personal, we got on perfectly well, he set up loads of my goals and he certainly didnt deserve anything like that.
Things just werent go-ing right that season I
wasnt moving as well or scoring as much, I was a boisterous, angry young man and something snapped.
It was horrible for everyone it brought shame on me and my family. I was told dont worry, the pictures will never see the light of day and then there it was, the lead story on the News at Ten, getting coverage all around the world. It was a real
Today: John Hartson is doing well after being told he had cancer
HARTSON33goals in 73 games for West Ham
eye-opener of an experi-ence for me.
An eye-opener and a door-shutter; inevitably after such an incident, Hartsons West Ham days were numbered.
Of all the places in the world, my last game for West Ham was an FA Cup defeat away at Swansea my home town, where I live again now, and the team I have season tickets for, he said.
Things were in a very bad way, so when Harry got the call from Wim-bledon about signing me, he must have bitten their hands off down the phone.
Two years after his arrival as a gamble signing, Hartson left West Ham again, for a record fee the tried and tested article, albeit with questions about his temperament.
Obviously how it happened is a huge regret, but I had to leave West Ham to save my career, and I think the fans could see that too, he said.
But if there was any sugg