West Ham take on trialist

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Mitchell DukeWith talk of Australian striker Mitchell Duke travelling to the UK to have a week-long trial with West Ham, it sparks a debate around whether a young player can make the adjustment from A-League obscurity to the English Premiership stardom.

The 22-year-old played 28 times for the Central Coast Mariners last season, netting eight goals. He has also scored twice in three appearances for the Australian national team.

Strangely, he is also keeping up our recent link with signing players from Liverpool – although on this occasion, his birthplace is listed as Liverpool, NSW.

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The scouts at West Ham must have spotted something promising in the player, and he will be hoping to secure a move that could see him follow in the footsteps of the likes of Stan Lazaridis, Lucas Neill, and Dylan Tombides.

But whether he is successful in the UK or not, a point rarely questioned is how easy it is for us as fans to move in the opposite direction, and acclimatise to A-league football.

When Saturday comes, most of us have missed live football at a reasonable hour. An 11.45pm kick-off in Australia is now considered a bonus, and a great time to start enjoying the beautiful game.

Missing match days at Upton Park is definitely one of the most frustrating things about being away from home. So to fill the void, we as a supporters group have been known to wander down to watch Sydney FC take on the rest of the best that the A-League has to offer.

The matches usually come just hours before a Hammers’ game, and it got me thinking whether there were any real similarities between the two clubs.

A season of frustrations and shocking results often prompt a sobering trudge out of the ground that is all too reminiscent of bygone Boleyn Ground visits.

Another thing sprang to mind was the frustrating lack of finishing ability. Too many times we’ve watched un-prolific strikers at West Ham spurn chances, and a lack of clinical ability is again evident when watching this level.

Despite the often uninspiring performances, the crowd behind the goal at the Sydney Football ground never stops singing and supporting the cause. It does bear similarities to those in the Bobby Moore Lower. The Aussie fans however are somewhat more understanding at the end of a defeat than the vast majority of Hammers’ supporters.

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Since its formation in 2004, Sydney FC has also flirted with success without dominating, had plenty of ups and downs, and remained regularly inconsistent. Those qualities certainly ring a few similarity bells.

But in truth, I can’t say I think there is too much in common. A less than a decade old club cannot compete with more than 100 years of tradition.

I for one though, am fairly content to accept the differences and continue to lend a cursory glance towards Sydney FC. The fact they’ll be forever frustrating I suppose ensures the supporter experience will be near enough identical.

And I guess as the Sydney Hammers, we really wouldn’t want to follow too much success – we wouldn’t know how to handle it.

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The Sydney Hammers supporters club is the officially endorsed supporters club for West Ham United fans living in and around Sydney, Australia.

We are the fastest growing and most passionate football fans group in the city, and are committed to following the Hammers through highs and lows from Down Under.