‘Wannabe hooligan’ Mark Noble almost blew West Ham career with Millwall scrap

West Ham legend Mark Noble confessed he almost scuppered his football career – after a dust-up as a “wannabe hooligan”.

The Hammers hero was on the books at the club as a teen when he got involved in a confrontation with a Millwall mob.

Mark, 35, admitted: “Trouble was waiting if you wanted to find it, and our group found that out when I went to Upton Park with a big group of lads for a game against Millwall in 2003, only to end up standing in the doorway of a shop and wondering if I’d made the biggest mistake of my life.

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“What was I thinking? I certainly wasn’t feeling particularly brave as a group of Millwall fans marched down the street and I saw this big West Ham fan turn round and shout, ‘No one go anywhere, no one walk away, stand firm!’

“It was a big reality check. You think you’re a hard man at that age, you think you can take on the world, but to be honest I just felt like a little boy as I looked at my mate and thought, ‘Oh my God, we’re going to get killed here.’

“Luckily I lived to tell the tale and the club never found out about my days as a wannabe hooligan. It was pretty stupid behaviour. I didn’t need to get involved with that stuff. Going to the football should have been enough of a thrill for me.”

Mark spent his entire footballing life with West Ham and has revealed his highs and lows in his new book Boleyn Boy, starting with his time as a youth player.

He added: “They were great times. I loved going to Upton Park and hearing ‘I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles’ strike up when the teams walked out before kick-off. It was a special place, although it did have an edge. The atmosphere was intimidating when certain teams came to town, and being in the academy did not stop me from occasionally getting a bit carried away.

“I was a fan when I was with my mates, and although it’s not like we were auditioning for parts in Green Street, I do look back and laugh at how we behaved as teenagers.”

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