Horlock out to make a point

Horlock out to make a pointAS much as Kevin Horlock has tried not to make it so - he is taking today's return to West Ham personally. After twice leaving the east London club that he supported as a lad, Horlock is looking to wreak revenge this afternoon.

By Derek Davis

AS much as Kevin Horlock has tried not to make it so - he is taking today's return to West Ham personally.

After twice leaving the east London club that he supported as a lad, Horlock is looking to wreak revenge this afternoon.

The 31-year-old joined the Blues during the summer after being told he was not going to be part of Alan Pardew's plans at Upton Park and he has already proved to be a hit at Portman Road.

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The left-footed, holding midfielder, has added more stability to the spine of the team and helps secure the centre of the park.

Something he feels he could have done for the Hammers.

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He said: “I would like to say it is not personal but there is always something in the back of your mind. In truth I would love to go back there and for us to win and for me to have a great game. Then perhaps it would be a little pointer saying I was worth keeping.

“I'm not bitter though. Alan Pardew was honest with me and told me I would not be playing regularly which I appreciate him telling it straight. Football is about opinion and that is his.”

July's exit was the second time he has left Upton Park, the last time was after he played in the same youth team as Matt Holland, who also left without playing a first-team game but managed to go on to much greater heights.

Horlock recalls: “I was only offered a one-year extension which I was disappointed with. Also I was a left back and there was Julian Dicks, George Parris and Chris Hughton among others at the club so I felt I needed to get away to find first-team football. Luckily Glenn Hoddle and John Gorman came in for me and I went to Swindon.

“I don't regret leaving although it was difficult as they were the team I supported as a kid and I was desperate to play there. Looking back it was the right decision.”

The south London boy was then signed by Manchester City and after a couple of years met Joe Royle and when Kevin Keegan replaced him, Horlock was converted to central midfield where he was a roaring success.

The Northern Ireland international was in no hurry to leave Maine Road until the Hammers came calling again.

He said: “I had a great time at Manchester City. I was there seven years and still had two years on my contract so could see myself staying there.

“At that time of my career West Ham were probably the only team I would have left City for as my kids were settled there and we enjoyed it.

“But when West Ham showed the interest I thought it was probably the only chance I was going to get to pull on the claret and blue shirt in the first team so when I told my wife she realised I had my heart set on going.

“They say you should never go back and now looking at it, I realise I should not have.

“It was one of those things and now I have been given a great opportunity at Ipswich.”

The Blues pounced when they heard Pardew didn't rate Horlock and picked him up from the Hammers in the summer after his remaining two-year contract was cancelled and he became a free agent.

Horlock said: “I see it as a massive pat on the back that Joe (Royle) took me on again. There is nothing better than a manager with a great reputation in the game taking you on again. It is a terrific compliment and that gave me a lot of confidence and I hope that I can repay Joe by playing well and for us to get promotion.”

The golf-lover has settled in well at Portman Road and was a factor in Town going top of the table this month and while he believes they can return to the top is not one to tempt fate.

He said: “Promotion is a long way off because we have shown just as we are capable of beating anyone in this division, we are just as capable of losing to anyone too. We are lacking consistency.”

They could go back to the top if they can use the crowd's passion against the Hammers this afternoon, and other results go their way.

Horlock knows exactly what the fanatical Hammers supporters are like.

He said: “The passion is immense at West Ham but it can also work against them. They just automatically expect you to win games and we have found out here at Ipswich it doesn't work out like that because when you are a big fish in a little pond then teams want to beat you even more.

“The supporters there can be a hindrance at Upton Park and we have to go there and be brave, get the ball and play and the fans will get on the players' backs.”

Horlock has shaken off an injury to be fit for today and it's a game he would not miss for anything - after all it's personal.

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