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The Footballers" Football Column – Martin Allen: Balotelli is detrimental, disrespectful and unsettling, Fergie wouldn"t tolerate him……

MARTIN ALLEN: I can't believe people pay 70 for Premier League football, it's like watching chess… Balotelli is detrimental, disrespectful and unsettling, Fergie wouldn't tolerate him… Diving I did it all the time, 'course I did

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Martin Allen is the second in a series of new columns for Sportsmail titled The Footballers' Football Column. They're columns
about the game by people involved in the game. A manager of eight professional clubs, Allen, who follows Edgar Davids' column yesterday, made almost 200 appearances for West Ham and well over 100 for QPR in a marauding career which saw him earn the nickname 'Mad Dog'. He never once shied away from a tackle and here, in his first column, he doesn't shirk an issue…

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MEET THE MAN…

Name: Martin 'Mad Dog' Allen

Age: 47

Current job: Gillingham manager

Former clubs:

Player – QPR, West Ham, Portsmouth, Southend

Manager – Barnet, Brentford, MK Dons, Leicester, Cheltenham, Notts County.

International honours: England Under 19, 20, 21

You're probably wondering why I'm called Mad Dog. It goes back to when I was at West Ham. My central midfield partner was a guy called Ian Bishop. He was very calm, relaxed and enjoyed playing nice football. I was uptight, intimidating, I had a skinhead haircut. When I played next to him it was my job to get the ball back.

We were playing at Upton Park in front of the Chicken Run and he once looked at me and said 'you've got all froth round your mouth', this is while the game was going on. He laughed. I just looked at him with those horrible eyes I've got. It was around the time when it was all over the news that these dogs bred in America to fight were being imported over here. He laughed and said: 'you look like a mad dog'.

And that's how it happened. Instead of wiping the froth from mouth I just left it on.

Since I became a manager I'm usually brought in as a firefighter to save clubs from relegation. But at Gillingham it's the first time I've taken over a club in the right position.

I've been employed at most clubs when they've been near the bottom in trouble. They've got me in to turn things around. It's always been having to fight to stave off relegation.

I've had one play-off final at Cardiff, play-off semi-finals with Reading, a play-off semi-final with MK Dons, play-off semi-finals twice with Brentford. So we've always been there or there abouts, but haven't managed to quite get up. That's through having clubs that in the previous season had been in the relegation zone.

People would say 'why haven't you managed to do it' You could turn around and say a year ago you were fighting relegation and now you're fighting for promotion. Well since I took over Gillingham in the summer we're top by five points, been there for five months.

I've never been top of the league and the only thing I want is one promotion. I can't even imagine what it'll be like if we do it. Then from that the dream is to take a team from the Championship to the Premier League. I know I can do it, I know I can.

Still growling: Allen has lost none of his trademark bite

Still growling: Allen has lost none of his trademark bite

Premier class Watching top-flight football is like watching chess!

Premier class Watching top-flight football is like watching chess!

But you know what The Premier League ain't all it's cracked up to be. I've been to some Premier League games and sat there bored. No shots or crosses. Everyone backs off to play the counter attack.

I know friends with season tickets for Premier League clubs and they find it boring. Bloody well right they do.

They come and watch Gillingham and say what a good football match that was. They love coming here. We don't make 20 passes on the half-way line. They see our football a bit more how it used to be.

The game's changed. In the old days we lined up 4-4-2 and smashed each other to bits, go hell for leather. It ain't like that now. Now everyone drops off and it's chess football. You pay 70 quid for a ticket for that – and I ain't doing it.

The game has changed in other ways, too, players are on massive wages now. Some people moan but I think they deserve it.

I don't think players are on insane wages. I've just been to a hospital in Gillingham to see a lot of sick children who have nurses to look after them.

There was one called Anna, from Liverpool, she spoke with such enthusiasm and love for the children. The remarkable job that lady does she would probably not be earning too much money.

But footballers are entertainers. The ones at the top of the game it's not just in England they're watched, like it used to be in the old days. Everyone in Asia wants to watch the Premier League. It is growing in India and Africa.

When I was a boy my dad used to take summer schools in America and I'd go along with him. You wouldn't see a football goal anywhere, now you go there and they're everywhere.

Oh my god can you imagine what it's going to be like in another 20 years It's just going to get bigger. Do footballers earn too much money Compared to that nurse Anna in Gillingham – yes they do. But people want to watch it and pay for it and I think they should get their fair share.

He's not for me: Allen wouldn't toerate Mario Balotelli's antics - and neither would Sir Alex Ferguson, he reckons

He's not for me: Allen wouldn't toerate Mario Balotelli's antics – and neither would Sir Alex Ferguson, he reckons

I say footballers are entertainers but one of them who's taken it too far is Mario Balotelli – he's not for me. He's got amazing talent, but I'm with the Jose Mourninho school of thought who had him but washed his hands with him pretty quick. You wouldn't see him playing for Sir Alex Ferguson.

I think he'd be detrimental, disrespectful, unsettling. I saw him play at West Ham 18 months ago, he got subbed in 55th minute, hardly broke a sweat the whole game.

When he came off he walked from the centre circle down the tunnel. Never acknowledged the Man City supporters, and that's disrespectful, I don't like that.

The way he walked off the pitch was disrespectful to his team-mates, the sub coming on, the manager. I wouldn't tolerate it.

He needs to come and watch my development squad train and play. Sundays and Mondays they do team work, pattern of play, technical work.

Then Thursdays and Fridays they do three sessions a day, first session 9.30am in the gym with their core work, stability and weights. Second session 10.30am a working football session.

Then after lunch they go back to the training ground to do fitness work without footballs. Same again on Fridays but they go to the local parks where there are lots of hills. It's hard work.

Away win: Allen's Gillingham continue to set the pace at the top of League Two thanks to Chris Whelpdale's winning goal at Southend on New Year's Day

Away win: Allen's Gillingham continue to set the pace at the top of League Two thanks to Chris Whelpdale's winning goal at Southend on New Year's Day

We had a reserve match against Millwall recently and one of my players ended up with seven stitches and a fractured cheekbone. That was not nice. The lad's only 19. Pure accident the Millwall player headed his face instead of the ball.

It brought back horrible memories for me when I was 19 playing for QPR and had exactly the same thing, spookily the same.

I glanced a header and the Millwall centre-back headed my cheekbone and I had a depressed fracture. George Graham was my youth-team manager.

When I saw it I half-knew what to expect. The blood was just gushing from his head – that's fine but I could see the cheekbone depressed.

I rang his dad to let him know he was going to hospital but was OK.

Hammer time: Allen is a West Ham legend

Hammer time: Allen is a West Ham legend

That's all part of the game – but I'll tell you what's never going to be part of the game with my teams.

I watched Spurs play Swansea last weekend and Chico Flores went down like he'd broken his ankle or ruptured a ligament. He squealed like a pig, I could hear him from where I was.

Then he gets up two minutes later. I thought that was diabolical. I wouldn't at all be happy if one of my players had done that. I would definitely not be happy with that.

I don't like any players to feign injury. If they get tackled take it like a man and get on with it. Give it and take it the same.

I hate blatant cheating but I think that's different to diving. People complain about it but it's a skill – and I did it all the time.

From my experience of the last few years there's no diving in the lower levels.

That cements my view that the introduction of continental and South American players has changed it. It's just normal there.

Jose Mourinho's Porto played at Celtic a few years ago and Martin O'Neill refused to shake his hand.

Said
he would never want a team to play that way. It was like Swan Lake they
were diving everywhere. But it's part of the game. You play for fouls
and penalties. It's in their culture and it's now come to our country.

Schoolboys
and youth players on the continent get taught how to win fouls. It's
part of training. They teach them how to win fouls at Barcelona's
academy.

If you're
good technically, players want to tackle you, to destroy you and destroy
your skill. You run into a player's pathway so they foul you. That's
skilful play.

Gareth Bale
is being accused a lot – the one against Fulham was
theatrical. Then again I wouldn't know what it's like to be that fast
and to be tackled at that speed,

I
was certainly not like that. It's part of the change. You bring in
talented players like Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez, David Silva, Juan
Mata, Oscar.

In the red: Gillingham manager Martin Allen is a new hard-hitting columnist for Sportsmail

In the red: Gillingham manager Martin Allen is a new hard-hitting columnist for Sportsmail

More from The Footballers Column…

The Footballers Football Column – Edgar Davids: Players are predators that's why Benitez may struggle at Chelsea… And sometimes the best players are not the most talented – just look at Roy Keane
20/12/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

You bring them in, technically top drawer, they play for fouls. Get used to it 'cos it ain't going away.

I dived all
the time anyway. 'Course I did. Any opportunity to win a foul I made
sure I put my body between the ball and the player. To give us
possession.

If I could
give us a foul for a penalty I would do, definitely. I was more unique
back then, I was a bit different to everyone else. I'd do anything I
could to win.

What do I tell my players at Gillingham I don't encourage it. I don't say to them 'go into the penalty area and dive to win us a penalty'.

But
what happens if see player running really fast into box and if you run
in their path they're going to push you over and you'll win a penalty

I
don't encourage my players to dive but drawing fouls and penalties is a
skill and I don't think there's a manager in the country wouldn't want
them to do it.

Bradford City reinstated to FA Cup

Bradford bonus No 2! City reinstated to FA Cup after successful appeal hours after knocking Arsenal out of League Cup

|

UPDATED:

17:57 GMT, 12 December 2012


Reinstated: Bradford had been banned for fielding Curtis Good (pictured) in their FA Cup tie with Brentford - but the decision was overturned on appeal today

Reinstated: Bradford had been banned for fielding Curtis Good (pictured) in their FA Cup tie with Brentford – but the decision was overturned on appeal today

Bradford City have today successfully appealed their expulsion from the FA Cup and remain in all three cup competitions.

They had been removed after fielding an ineligible player in their second round tie with Brentford at Valley Parade.

But a Football Association appeals panel decided to reinstate them, issuing a 1,000 fine instead.

It means the scheduled replay at Griffin Park will now go ahead as planned on December 18.

The fixture will be added to a crowded fixture schedule for the Bantams, who are through to the semi-finals of the Capital One Cup and are also still in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy.

Bradford played Newcastle United loanee Curtis Good in the 1-1 draw with Brentford on November 30, breaching the competition's rules.

But the decision to expel them has now been overturned on appeal. A club statement read: 'We can confirm that on appeal the club has now been reinstated back into the F.A Cup competition and has been fined for its actions.

'We deeply regret our breach of the rules and are currently reviewing our procedures to ensure no repeat of this situation.

'Therefore the original replay of the club's F.A Cup Second Round tie at Brentford FC scheduled for Tuesday 18 December 2012 will now take place at the Bees' Griffin Park stadium.

'The club would like to go on record and express gratitude to our legal partners who represented us before the tribunal.

'The club also wishes to extend its gratitude to The FA Appeals Committee for dealing with this matter expeditiously, justly and mercifully.'

Brentford or Bradford will play Southend United in the third round.

The Bantams recorded a memorable penalty shoot-out victory over Arsenal in the Capital One Cup last night. They are still in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy too, having beaten Port Vale last week.

That's magic! Bradford celebrate dramatic victory over Arsenal in the Capital One Cup last night

That's magic! Bradford celebrate dramatic victory over Arsenal in the Capital One Cup last night

Kaid Mohamed steers Cheltenham past Hereford and into Everton third round FA Cup tie

Mohamed's strike books Everton into trip to Cheltenham for third round FA Cup tie

|

UPDATED:

00:55 GMT, 12 December 2012

Kaid Mohamed earned League Two high-flyers Cheltenham a bumper pay-day against Everton after edging a tense FA Cup second-round replay at Hereford 2-1 after extra time.

The substitute flicked home a header from Billy Jones’s cross after 114 minutes to deny their Blue Square Premier hosts a 160,000 windfall.

Mohamed’s finish booked a televised home tie against David Moyes’s men on Monday, January 7.

Hitting the winner: Kaid Mohamed (right) is the toast of Cheltenham

Hitting the winner: Kaid Mohamed (right) is the toast of Cheltenham

Hereford fell behind to a disputed Shaun Harrad penalty in first-half injury time.

The forward profited after Jermaine McGlashan was deemed to have been fouled by right back Andy Gallinagh.

Harrad thumped home but winger Sam Clucas forced an additional half-hour.

Elsewhere, League Two Southend pulled off a minor upset to beat League One strugglers Bury 3-2 on penalties at Roots Hall after a 1-1 draw after extra-time. Zac Thompson's opener was quickly cancelled out by Gavin Tomlin for the Shrimpers.

David Worrall, Troy Hewitt and Mark Hughes all missed spot-kicks for Bury, meaning Southend go through to a third round home tie against Brentford, pending an appeal by Bradford City over their expulsion.

Bradford City to appeal expulsion from FA Cup for fielding ineligible player

Bradford to appeal expulsion from FA Cup for fielding ineligible player

|

UPDATED:

16:28 GMT, 7 December 2012

Bradford City have been expelled from the FA Cup after fielding an ineligible player in their second round tie with Brentford.

The Bantams did not gain the necessary written permission to play Newcastle United loanee Curtis Good before the 12pm deadline on Friday November 30, the day before the 1-1 draw at Valley Parade.

Bradford are appealing the decision but if the FA reject their arguments, Brentford will advance to a third round tie with either Southend United or Bury.

Ineligible: Newcastle loanee Curtis Good should not have been started against Brentford in the FA Cup second round tie last weekend

Ineligible: Newcastle loanee Curtis Good should not have been started against Brentford in the FA Cup second round tie last weekend

Australian defender Good, 19, was on loan at the club until January 2. The match with Brentford was his debut appearance.

A Bradford City statement read: 'Bradford City Football Club were charged by the FA of rule 15 (j) (i) on Monday 3 December 2012 in relation to their F.A Cup with Budweiser Second Round encounter with Brentford on the 30 November 2012.

'The nature of the charge is the playing of one of our loan players deemed ineligible due to the late submission for permission for him to play.

'Bradford City Football Club is very sorry to have to report such a matter and apologies to our fans.

Cup progress: James Hanson had scored the goal that earned Bradford a replay in the 1-1 draw with League One Brentford

Cup progress: James Hanson had scored the goal that earned Bradford a replay in the 1-1 draw with League One Brentford

'The error was of an administrative technical nature and not one to intentionally break competition rules.

'We presented a case of mitigation to the FA on Thursday 6 December, however the FA panel chose to enforce the full powers of its jurisdiction and have removed the club from the FA Cup competition.

'We are clearly disappointed by this decision and cannot comment further on this matter as the club is still actively conducting a full investigation.

'The club has until 5:00pm today (Friday) to lodge an appeal with the FA and we are currently reviewing our position in relation to this.'

Cup interest: Bradford still retain interest in the League Cup and Johnstone's Paint Trophy, but won't have a shot at Southend or Bury in the FA Cup third round now

Cup interest: Bradford still retain interest in the League Cup and Johnstone's Paint Trophy, but won't have a shot at Southend or Bury in the FA Cup third round now

Brentford chief executive Mark Devlin admitted he had sympathy with Bradford and would have preferred to have advanced in the competition another way.

He told Sky Sports News: 'It is not a satisfactory way to progress, we would much rather prefer to progress by winning a match but the FA have made their decision and that's it really.

'The first we heard of anything was on Monday afternoon and internally we just held off before putting tickets out for sale for the replay and just waited for the FA's decision from yesterday's committee hearing.

'It is the FA's competition, the FA make the rules which we all know about. Whether we feel sympathetic or not does not come into play really. It is the FA's decision. I do have some sympathies with Bradford.

'It is entirely a matter for the FA and Bradford City Football Club. I don't think we will be asked to get involved any further at this stage.'

Bradford remain in the Capital One Cup, where they will play Arsenal next week, and the Johnstone's Paint Trophy.

Bradford City kicked out of the FA Cup for fielding ineligible player

Bradford kicked out of the FA Cup for fielding ineligible player

|

UPDATED:

12:20 GMT, 7 December 2012

Bradford City have been expelled from the FA Cup after fielding an ineligible player in their second round tie with Brentford.

The Bantams did not gain the necessary written permission to play Newcastle United loanee Curtis Good before the 12pm deadline on Friday November 30, the day before the 1-1 draw at Valley Parade.

Bradford have until 5pm today to appeal the decision, otherwise Brentford will advance to a third round tie with either Southend United or Bury. The replay, scheduled for December 18, will now be cancelled.

Ineligible: Newcastle loanee Curtis Good should not have been started against Brentford in the FA Cup second round tie last weekend

Ineligible: Newcastle loanee Curtis Good should not have been started against Brentford in the FA Cup second round tie last weekend

Australian defender Good, 19, was on loan at the club until January 2. The match with Brentford was his debut appearance.

A Bradford City statement read: 'Bradford City Football Club were charged by the FA of rule 15 (j) (i) on Monday 3 December 2012 in relation to their F.A Cup with Budweiser Second Round encounter with Brentford on the 30 November 2012.

'The nature of the charge is the playing of one of our loan players deemed ineligible due to the late submission for permission for him to play.

'Bradford City Football Club is very sorry to have to report such a matter and apologies to our fans.

Cup progress: James Hanson had scored the goal that earned Bradford a replay in the 1-1 draw with League One Brentford

Cup progress: James Hanson had scored the goal that earned Bradford a replay in the 1-1 draw with League One Brentford

'The error was of an administrative technical nature and not one to intentionally break competition rules.

'We presented a case of mitigation to the FA on Thursday 6 December, however the FA panel chose to enforce the full powers of its jurisdiction and have removed the club from the FA Cup competition.

'We are clearly disappointed by this decision and cannot comment further on this matter as the club is still actively conducting a full investigation.

'The club has until 5:00pm today (Friday) to lodge an appeal with the FA and we are currently reviewing our position in relation to this.'

Cup interest: Bradford still retain interest in the League Cup and Johnstone's Paint Trophy, but won't have a shot at Southend or Bury in the FA Cup third round now

Cup interest: Bradford still retain interest in the League Cup and Johnstone's Paint Trophy, but won't have a shot at Southend or Bury in the FA Cup third round now

Brentford chief executive Mark Devlin admitted he had sympathy with Bradford and would have preferred to have advanced in the competition another way.

He told Sky Sports News: 'It is not a satisfactory way to progress, we would much rather prefer to progress by winning a match but the FA have made their decision and that's it really.

'The first we heard of anything was on Monday afternoon and internally we just held off before putting tickets out for sale for the replay and just waited for the FA's decision from yesterday's committee hearing.

'It is the FA's competition, the FA make the rules which we all know about. Whether we feel sympathetic or not does not come into play really. It is the FA's decision. I do have some sympathies with Bradford.

'It is entirely a matter for the FA and Bradford City Football Club. I don't think we will be asked to get involved any further at this stage.'

Bradford remain in the Capital One Cup, where they will play Arsenal next week, and the Johnstone's Paint Trophy.

Bobby Moore 100 cap schoolboys remember England icon

If the caps fit: Three schoolboys share their memories of awe-inspiring Moore

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UPDATED:

00:16 GMT, 12 October 2012

Three of the 99 schoolboys who posed with Bobby Moore to celebrate his 100 England caps have come forward to tell their stories after seeing the photograph in Sportsmail.

Graham Moxom, Paul Roberts and Martin Smith — all 10 years old at the time — queued up with other children at St Edward’s Roman Catholic School near Upton Park on that day in 1973, not knowing they were all going to wear an England cap.

When news filtered back from the front of the queue, they were all keen to make the final cut.

Enlarge

Cap that: The three boys ringed are (from left) Graham Moxom, Martin Smith and Paul Roberts

Cap that: The three boys ringed are (from left) Graham Moxom, Martin Smith and Paul Roberts

Professional career: Roberts

Professional career: Roberts

Moxom, still living in east London,
was put on the end at the back of the group. But that was the last place
he wanted to be. He said: ‘I was tall so they stuck me at the back.
Everyone wanted to be as close to Moore as possible.

‘When
he came through dressed in his England kit, it was incredible. We were
hoping to get to keep the caps, we didn’t know they weren’t all
Bobby’s.’ (Some of the caps were borrowed because Moore was not given a
cap for every game).

‘The
head — the late Mr Challoner — was terrified one would go missing and
was running around trying to keep control, but it was impossible.

‘There
are a few stories from that picture. Paul Roberts went on to play for
Millwall and I know a couple of them have been in prison for attempted
murder!’

Roberts got to stand directly behind Moore in the picture and something clearly rubbed off on him. He went on to play more than 400 League games as a defender for, among others, Millwall, Brentford, Southend and Colchester.

The 50-year-old, now living in north London, said: ‘The truth is I was captain of the school football team, which is why I might have got to sit there. No-one took any notice, we were just pleased to be in a picture with him.’

Smith, who played for the West Ham youth team through his teens, is ringed in the photo in the second row from the front.

He said: ‘I was in awe of Bobby — he seemed like such a big guy at the time.

‘One of the things that sticks out is that he wasn’t wearing football boots, he just walked around in his socks. It was a real honour to be included and to wear one of his caps.’

The trio were no strangers to the West Ham players. They recall making any excuse to get over the school fence at lunchtime to meet them when they arrived at the ground, and Roberts and Smith got in trouble for their escapades.

Moxom, 49, said: ‘As soon as Bobby arrived in his white Jaguar about 20 balls would go over the fence. We’d run and ask the teacher if we could go and get them. He always stopped to talk to us. He was an absolute gentleman.’

Helmut Haller, scorer of the opening goal for West Germany in the 1966 World Cup final, has died in Augsburg aged 73 after a long battle against
Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

WERE YOU ONE OF THE CHILDREN IN THIS PICTURE

If so, share your memories with Sportsmail. Contact us on 0203 6151202

Carlton Cole racist Twitter abuse: Police make arrest

Police make arrest following racist Twitter abuse of West Ham striker Cole

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UPDATED:

14:02 GMT, 26 August 2012

Fantasy football 2012

A 22-year-old man has been arrested in connection with racist twitter messages aimed at West Ham striker Carlton Cole, police said.

The man, from Southend in Essex, was arrested on suspicion of a racially aggravated public order offence, the county's force said.

The footballer highlighted the
messages on the social networking site, which he received following his
side's defeat at Swansea.

Target: Carlton Cole (left) received racist abuse on Twitter

Target: Carlton Cole (left) received racist abuse on Twitter

The 28-year-old player was targeted by
the supposed Hammers' fan in two foul-mouthed postings after the side
lost 3-0 in south Wales.

The comments, which the player
retweeted from his @CarltonCole1 account, questioned his performance and
used a racist term to describe him.

An Essex Police spokeswoman said:
'Police have arrested a 22-year-old man from Southend on suspicion of a
racially aggravated public order offence following tweets sent to
@Carltoncole1 (West Ham player Carlton Cole) on Saturday, August 25.

'Investigations are ongoing.'

Following the postings Cole took to the social networking site himself to criticise his aggressor.

He said: 'Listen, I take racism a lot
lighter than others and I do understand the banter that comes along with
it to get under people's skin, but it can sometimes be hurtful and
insulting.

Target: Kevin Nolan was also abused

Target: Kevin Nolan was also abused

'I don't mind when people criticise me for having a bad game or they think I'm crap at football but just say that.

'Whether I am crap or had a bad game has nothing to with my race, creed or religion. lets just keep it FOOTBALL. Kapeesh'

Fellow West Ham players Matt Jarvis, Kevin Nolan, and Guy Demel were also subjected to abuse.

Daily Telegraph football correspondent Henry Winter called for police to investigate the racist rant.

He posted on his Twitter account: 'I
hope the police take action over the racist abuse aimed at @CarltonCole1
on twitter tonight.'

In 2009 Cole was also the subject of
racist abuse when Millwall fans at Upton Park aimed monkey chants at him
during a Carling Cup clash.

London 2012 Olympics: Tom Daley says village is awesome

Awesome! Diver Daley gives his verdict on Olympic Village

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UPDATED:

09:44 GMT, 19 July 2012

Diving medal hopeful Tom Daley has given his approval to the athletes' village at London 2012.

Daley and the Team GB diving squad stayed at the Olympic Park on Monday night after completing a practice session at the aquatic centre.

They have since returned to their pre-camp base in Southend where they are putting the finishing touches to preparations for the Games.

Backing: Tom Daley likes the Olympic Village

Backing: Tom Daley likes the Olympic Village

'The athletes' village is awesome, it really is. I didn't want to come back to Southend because we were immersed in the atmosphere!' Daley said.

'It was very different to 2008 because Beijing was a lot bigger, but London's a lot more compact, which makes it easier to get around.

'We've been running around like headless chickens trying to see and do everything. It's an awesome place.

'We were the first British team to enter the Olympic village so it was really exciting.

'We wanted to stay there and get into the competition spirit, but we've been brought away from it so that we don't get pumped up too early.

'You don't want to be in the competition atmosphere for too long because it can be quite draining, so we were taken away so that we come back fresh on the 25th.

Draining: Daley says too much of a good thing can hurt

Draining: Daley says too much of a good thing can hurt

'The rooms are very nice. Really clean and modern. I've decorated mine with good luck cards and balloons.'

Daley is competing in two events, starting with the men's 10m synchronised platform alongside partner Peter Waterfield on July 30.

Nearly two weeks later, on the penultimate day of the Games, he will aim for gold in the individual 10m platform – a standard he reached in the European championships in May.

'For me it's about doing the best six dives that I possibly can,' the 18-year-old said.

Dream: Daley is aiming for gold

Dream: Daley is aiming for gold

'My dream is to win an Olympic gold medal, or any Olympic medal, but dreams and reality are two different things.

'Diving is such an on-the-day sport that no one knows what will happen because there are so many divers who can win.

'For me it's about focusing on the process of each individual dive rather than the outcome.'

Southend 0 West Ham 3: Sam Baldock run continues as Hammers smash Shrimpers at Roots Hall

Baldock continues his fine pre-season as West Ham smash Southend at Roots Hall

|

UPDATED:

17:26 GMT, 14 July 2012

West Ham warmed up for their Premier League campaign with a convincing 3-0 win at Southend, a performance that saw Sam Baldock score his third goal in successive matches.

The Roots Hall faithful saw a strong West Ham side make a dominant start, testing Shrimpers trialist keeper Rhys Taylor from the off.

Solo effort: Kevin Nolan congratulates Jordan Spence (left) on his goal

Solo effort: Kevin Nolan congratulates Jordan Spence (left) on his goal

Hammers captain Kevin Nolan had a goal
ruled out for offside after just two minutes, before Matthew Taylor and
Ricardo Vaz Te went close.

The Hammers were in control, and their efforts were rewarded after 20 minutes when Nicky Maynard headed home a pinpoint Taylor corner.

Jordan Spence doubled the lead in the 34th minute with a fine solo strike, running from the halfway line before unleashing a powerful shot that beat Taylor at his far post.

After you: West Ham's George McCartney (right) challenges Southend's Neil Harris

After you: West Ham's George McCartney (right) challenges Southend's Neil Harris

It was a goal of some class, though Southend boss Paul Sturrock will surely have been disappointed by the defending, or lack of it.

Indeed, Sturrock made 10 changes at half time to help stem the flow.

It seemed to have the desired effect, as the Hammers struggled to re-assert themselves after the interval.

Worrying: West Ham's Dan Potts is stretchered off

Worrying: West Ham's Dan Potts is stretchered off

But such respite as there was proved short-lived, with Baldock grabbing the third after substitute keeper Paul Smith failed to hold on to an Elliot Lee shot.

Form then on, the Hammers were comfortable, though boss Sam Allardyce will have been concerned to see Dan Potts stretchered off after a nasty clash of heads with Southend's Mark Phillips.