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West Ham news: Bonds comes home
19th August 2013 3:59pm BST
West Ham United legend Billy Bonds received a rapturous four minute ovation from the fans as he collected the club's Lifetime Achievement Award before Saturday's game against Cardiff City.
After 663 games over 21 years and four years as manager, 'Bonzo' was back where he belonged parading in front of the Boleyn Ground hoardes, amongst highly emotional scenes.
Speaking exclusively to SportsDirect News - Bonds spoke of "the wonderful return to the club he served with such distinction for such a large part of his life.
He said: "Saturday as one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. I was truly moved. Those incredible fans are something else.
"They have always been the same to me. When I see them out and about they always come over and thanked me for what I've done for the club.
"To receive the award in front of a full Upton Park was so emotional. It was so good to experience the warmth of the crowd.
"I'm also grateful to the new owners who have done everything they can to welcome me back into the club. I want to thank them.
"It was an amazing day for myself and my family. I wanted to take my grandchildren out there. Honestly, I could have stayed out there all afternoon
"I'll remember those moments for the rest of my life."
Co-owner David Gold was thrilled to be a part of bringing the Hammers hero back home.
He said: "He was a legend to me and every West Ham supporter but he left this club under a cloud. He felt bitter at some things that had happened when he was succeeded by his number two - Harry Redknapp - as manager.
"I and David Sullivan were determined to put things right because he was an incredible servant, hero and probably most of all - a great man.
"It was wonderful to see him in the boardroom afterwards talking about the old days with Trevor Brooking. He also spent around an hour with my schoolboy pal who goes to every match with me.
"He didn't know him when they first met but he was so generous with his time. He's a man of whom we should all be very proud."
Gold explained that plans were in place to make sure that Bonds' name becomes immortal when the Hammers move to the Olympic Stadium.
He said: "There will be a Bobby Moore statue but we need to name stands, walkways and various other places after our legends. The Billy Bonds Way has a ring to it, doesn't it.
"That's all in the hands of the fans who will be voting but I'd be utterly stunned if Bill doesn't have a permanent presence at the new ground.
He is an honoured guest here, and there, along with his family whenever they want to come to a game."
Tomorrow Bill talks exclusively to Sports Direct News about Sam Allardyce's team and his hopes for their season