Mark Noble was filled with pride and relief after the West Ham United captain secured an important 3-1 victory over Watford in the Premier League.
The skipper was in typical London stadium condition in a game that Hammers had to win to put himself on the brink of mathematical security.
Noble loved to see Michail Antonio and Thomas Soucek continue their recent scoring form, with West Ham scoring two goals in ten minutes before adding help to outstanding third player Declan Rice.
As always, #16 asked more of his teammates, and he admitted that he was not happy with the Hammers second half showing, which included a goal for his friend and co-worker Troy Deeney, but he told West Ham TV that the overall feeling was positive.
“I’m just gutted the fans weren’t here because it would have been electric,” he began. “I know they were at home watching and you can feel [their support]… I obviously got a load of text messages today for a couple of reasons.
“To be 3-0 up at half-time, in this case it made it harder for us because, with the amount of pressure we’ve been under, to go 3-0 up at half-time you can’t help but sit back and try to protect that lead because you know what’s at stake.
“We knew that three points tonight would probably make us safe so, yeah, when the final whistle went it was a massive relief!”
For Noble, West Ham is his life, and since his first-team debut against Southend United when he was 17 in August 2004, 500 games ago.
“I care about it so much,” he confirmed. “It’s a hard one, because unless you sit in my shoes for a day, you don’t see how I care about the players, every staff member and the way the Club does.
“I’m at the age now where as long as the Club is winning, it makes me happy. I just want us to win.
“I train every day and I’m fit for 90 to 95% of the games so to win like that, having won another massive game at Norwich, after the COVID-19 lockdown and going through our wage deferrals to make sure all the staff got paid, it’s just a relief for me.”
Focusing on the game itself, Noble felt it was one of two separate halves: West Ham controlled and clinically finished their chances in the first, then leaned back and had to absorb Watford’s pressure in the second, especially after Deeney had scored a goal. back four minutes after the break.
“Listen, we were playing a team in exactly the same situation as us,” he observed. “They’re fighting a relegation battle and if they’d won, they were probably safe, so they were going to have a go.
“To be honest, I hated the way we played the second half. I didn’t enjoy it at all, but what we did do was we dug in, stuck at it, didn’t play well, but it really didn’t matter.
“All that mattered was getting the three points and I’m pretty sure all our fans at home were absolutely buzzing and the news was out today that they might be coming back in October and that would be lovely.”
Finally, Noble was asked to consider becoming only the tenth Hammer to reach the milestone of 500 games.
“It’s incredible,” he said. “I don’t think I’ll appreciate it until I finish playing and I can sit up there and watch the team play, because when you’re involved in it so much, you care about everything and you don’t appreciate it.
“Seventeen or 18 years ago I was standing outside Upton Park, trying to sneak in and asking for players’ shirts and here I am playing 500 games, Club captain and I’ve been part of this Club for many years. I’ll never forget it.”[1-click-image-ranker]