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Q: 2021/22 What competition should we prioritise this season?
a. The league is our bread & butter, so this year let's have a club sandwich
27%
  
b. We're owed an FA Cup after Gerrard nicked our last one in 06, our name's on it in 22
11%
  
c. A bye to the League Cup 3rd round gives us a good start, let's make it count
6%
  
d. The Europa is our best ticket to the Champions League, this is the one
35%
  
e. What's wrong with you, let's do the lot, has the quadruple ever been done
21%
  



Irish Hammer 5:15 Fri Aug 13
Article on the other Freddie
Have a great weekend all ! Come on you rip roaring goal scoring IRONS !!

‘I’m sitting star-struck in Teddy’s Bentley thinking, “I hope someone sees me!’”

Sitting relaxed in his Ipswich Town tracksuit, hands behind his head, Freddie Sears is full of smiles as he reflects on a day that will always live long in the memory.

It is 12 years this week since the now 30-year-old scored on his Premier League debut for West Ham United.

In a March 15 2008 home game against Blackburn Rovers, Alan Curbishley brought on Sears for Nolberto Solano in the 75th minute. West Ham had lost their previous three games to Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool and Chelsea, all by the same 4-0 scoreline. Curbishley needed points.

Within six minutes, Sears became an Upton Park hero, scoring the winner past Brad Friedel. He collected a backheel from Dean Ashton in the box, shot and then sent the rebound into the back of the net with a diving header. The teenager peeled away to celebrate with the traditional crossed-arms ‘Hammers’ salute and life since has never quite been the same.

“It was the Saturday morning and I was sitting at home watching Soccer AM and Chris Kamara was in the West Ham dressing room, he tells The Athletic at Ipswich’s training ground. “They had all the shirts up and my shirt wasn’t there. So now I’m devastated, thinking I’m not in the squad. Kamara’s going round the changing room and I’m just trying to find my shirt and it’s not there. When I got to the ground, my kit wasn’t out. Then the kit man came up to me and said he was just keeping it out of the way and I found out I was on the bench.

“A lot of people forget that me and Mark Noble came on together when I made my debut. When I joined the game I smashed Robbie Savage, and that got the crowd going. I don’t even tackle so that’s how much of a buzz I was on.

“I still have the shirt and ball from the match. I remember driving to the game in a Volkswagen Polo and no one knew who I was. After the game, I couldn’t get out the car park. It was manic. I went out partying that night at Time & Envy in Romford and the floodgates opened. I got drunk and had a great night.”

Sears, born in the West Ham heartland of Hornchurch in Essex, is the eldest of three brothers. While nurturing his skills on the fields of the club’s famed Little Heath academy, one senior player took Sears under his wing. The striker was impressing academy coach Tony Carr with his performances in the youth team but had things been different, he could have joined one of their biggest rivals.

“I actually got scouted for Millwall,” he says. “Not a lot of people know this story. I was three weeks into a six-week trial and I was ready to sign. Then I got a call from West Ham. As a West Ham fan it was an easy decision, but not many people know that I played a few games for Millwall.

“I rose through the ranks and Tony Carr was definitely a big influence on my time at the club. Before I scored against Blackburn, now and again I was getting taken over to the first team and training with Teddy Sheringham, Carlos Tevez, Javier Mascherano… it was crazy. If I scored I would be buzzing. On my first day with the first team I put one in the top corner and people looked at me like, ‘Jesus, who’s this kid?’

“Tevez was the worst player ever in training. He would wear a snood, trousers, jackets, everything. Mascherano was unbelievable in training and it was crazy because he wouldn’t even play in matches.

“Teddy was great with me. He was about 40 and I was 17 at the time. I was going to get the bus home after training and he’s pulled up in his Bentley and said, ‘Jump in, I’ll drop you to Romford station.’ So I’m in his car, star-struck, and he’s giving me advice and as we approach the station I’m just thinking to myself, ‘I hope someone sees me get out of this car!’

“When I signed my new deal at West Ham I got myself an Audi TT and got a bit of stick for it from the lads,” he says. “I remember James Tomkins showed up one day with a BMW X5 and it got egged. It reached a point where I started parking my car far from the entrance, so none of the first team players could see it.”

Eight months after that debut goal, Sears signed a five-year contract meant to keep him at West Ham until the summer of 2013.

It was supposed to be a happy time in his life but a lack of first team chances, with Ashton and Craig Bellamy leading the attack, meant he was loaned to Crystal Palace, Coventry City, Scunthorpe United and Colchester United over the three years from July 2009. Early in his spell at Palace in the first half of the 2009-10 season, Sears was involved in a particularly bizarre incident, scoring a perfectly-good goal against Bristol City which the match officials failed to see and did not give.


“Everyone knew it was a goal,” he explains. “I celebrated, the Bristol City boys were on their knees and the ref just played on. Neil Warnock [Palace’s manager] was raging. It probably killed me a little bit confidence wise because I scored loads of goals during pre-season and it would’ve been big for me to get off the mark early as a striker. Three weeks later I injured my ankle and I was out of action for six weeks and my loan was cut short.

“Scunthorpe was good because that move helped me back into the first team at West Ham. Players at West Ham were on great money, had great cars and houses, and then you go to Scunthorpe and the boys are in different cars and life isn’t that great. At West Ham, you would train, eat lunch and go home. At Scunthorpe, you would be at the training ground at 4pm. I remember once thinking, ‘Lads, this is great but when are we heading home?’”

Sears made 15 appearances, mainly as a right midfielder, under Avram Grant in 2010-11. But West Ham finished last, six points adrift, to drop into the Championship, and he soon sensed his days at Upton Park were as good as over.

“I was sad we got relegated but I thought that meant I was going to play more games,” he says. “That’s what most of the young lads thought. Avram Grant left and Big Sam [Sam Allardyce] came in and he had other ideas. We signed Papa Diop, John Carew and Abdoulaye Faye — big, strong boys. Soon as he got the job, I knew I was approaching the end of my time at the club. I had a very good pre-season, made a few appearances and then it reached a point where I wasn’t making the squad.

“It got to January and they wanted me to go to Crawley on loan. I didn’t want to go to League Two and it felt like I was being forced out a little bit. When I refused to go, I started training on my own or with the kids, which was frustrating at the time. [Sears spent the final three months of that 2011-12 season on loan to third tier Colchester United instead.]

“So the day after West Ham won the play-off final, all the boys out of contract had a meeting with Big Sam. I had a good chat with him. We were both on the same page and he said I probably wasn’t going to play. It was a mutual decision to leave because I still had a year on my contract. I still remember the last time I drove out of the gates. It was upsetting, a few tears. I remember driving out the gates, a right turn down Chadwell Heath High Road and that was it. Start of a new chapter.”

Sears joined Colchester permanently and had a good three years there, scoring 29 league goals in 91 appearances, and has been at Ipswich since January 2015. The Suffolk club are trying to return to the Championship at the first attempt after relegation last season following 17 years in the second tier, but a run of just one win in nine has seen them slide from first place in late January to 10th — seven points adrift of the play-offs.

The 30-year-old is happy just to be back on the pitch as there was a time around a year ago when he doubted whether he would be able to play football again. In February 2019, just before half-time in an East Anglian derby against Norwich City, Sears suffered a serious knee injury and was carried off the field.

“I ran into someone and couldn’t stop and my knee hyperextended back,” he recalls. “It was weird at the time because I thought I heard a crack. The physio came on and had a look at it. I’ve got up and played on for about two minutes and felt my knee buckling a little bit. I sort of knew it.

“I expected to be out for about six to eight weeks. The physio was acting a bit weird. The next morning I had a scan but I was walking so I kept thinking I was going to be fine. I had a scan at nine in the morning and the physio was there before me. All the signs were adding up and the scan was sent to London and we had to wait for two hours.

“I was having breakfast, eating scrambled eggs, and the physio found me and said I’d damaged my ACL. He was still talking to me but I was just not saying anything because in my head I’m thinking, ‘I’m fucked’ simply because it’s my ACL. I didn’t want to listen to the physio, I was trying to block out what he was saying.

“After, I took about five minutes to myself and I was walking around the training pitch, crying. I just wanted to go home. I didn’t want to be around anyone. It was tough telling my missus and my dad and agent. When I got home, the news broke on Sky Sports News — I had just got home and put it to one side and now I had to relive it all over again. The response I had from managers, former team-mates and family was great. Mark Noble texted me and a lot of the backroom staff at West Ham, which was a special feeling because they didn’t have to do that.

“I’m not an emotional guy but I would just be on the bed and start crying. It was a real tough time. The main thing is I wasn’t going to be playing football for nine months. But then I started looking at the positives. I suffered the injury in January so I knew straightaway I would be back for the following season. Then there’s the surgery. They take your left hamstring and put it in your right knee. Then it’s a healing process. I couldn’t get out of bed for four days but I got through it in the end.”

He returned on Boxing Day and has now made 12 appearances, nine from the bench, scoring against Blackpool at the end of last month.

Now, Sears is still sitting, relaxed, only this time with his hands on his knees. He remains full of smiles and is just grateful that he’s able to continue playing the game he loves.

Replies - Newest Posts First (Show In Chronological Order)

Mex Martillo 9:44 Sat Aug 14
Re: Article on the other Freddie
I blame BFS, I guess odds are he won’t have made it, but BFS was a dark time in our history. Great tactic, let’s sign big blokes.

Thanks Irish, I’d have nothing to read here over the summer if you didn’t post. Perhaps I should chip in for your athletic subscription?

willswishwellingtons 3:13 Sat Aug 14
Re: Article on the other Freddie
Thanks Irish, enjoyed reading that. Was there for his debut and went mental when he scored. Had such high hopes for him and have always wanted him to do well after he left.

Now he plays up front with Frank Nouble, in a really 'what could have been' front 2.

I'm the same age as Sears, I remember going on a lads holiday (Ayia Napa) the year after he scored that goal and seeing him with mates at the airport.
They got on the same flight as us and we ended up around them quite a bit over the next few weeks. He always had his hand in his wallet and was happy taking photos/chatting with anyone who asked.

chim chim cha boo 2:03 Sat Aug 14
Re: Article on the other Freddie
A great read Irish, as usual.

I remember that Blackburn goal like it was yesterday.

terry-h 12:39 Sat Aug 14
Re: Article on the other Freddie
Thanks Irish, very good article on a player whose career I have followed ever since his debut goal for West Ham. Such an accomplished footballer.

To bring the story up to date, Freddie left Ipswich at the end of last season and signed a two year contract at Colchester United.
Good luck Freddie,I will look out for you in the EFL highlights on Saturday and mid-week nights on the Quest channel.

13 Brentford Rd 12:06 Sat Aug 14
Re: Article on the other Freddie
Was at that Blackburn game and was one of the West Ham fans on Soccer Am that morning.
We got chauffeur driven to the game for being on the show.

mallard 11:52 Fri Aug 13
Re: Article on the other Freddie
Remember watching a game where he started up front with Bellamy - never seen a West Ham front 2 with such combined pace.

Cheers Irish

jakehammer 11:47 Fri Aug 13
Re: Article on the other Freddie
another good read. thanks Irish.

Thanks Irish 6:46 Fri Aug 13
Re: Article on the other Freddie
Thanks Irish





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