The Rush Green Effect: Was There Ever A Need To Move Training Grounds?

West Ham Opinion

Many will remember the rather sudden and intriguing decision made by Slaven Bilic midway through last season to relocate Training Bases from Chadwell Heath to Rush Green in Romford, but has the move really had its desired impact on The Squad?

Upon visiting the cosy Facility every Thursday for Bilic’s Press Conferences and various other Media events, I found myself pondering this question like many other Journalists.

The original reason for Bilic and his Coaching Staff deciding to make the 1.7-mile move was believed to be because of the sheer amount of injuries that players were sustaining on the former’s dated pitches.

But, why such a sudden switch that rather slipped under the radar from a Base that had been home to West Ham United since long before the days of Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst, and Martin Peters?

The intention was first stated back in winter of 2015, just months into the Croat’s reign, amid a midseason injury crisis where no fewer than six players picked up severe knocks in the space of a couple of weeks, many of them in routine training.

The likes of Winston Reid, Manuel Lanzini, and Dimitri Payet were among them and faced weeks watching from the sidelines, Bilic had had enough and a decision to up sticks was made months ahead of schedule in December.

At this point, Rush Green was yet to be fully redeveloped after years of serving as the Club’s second-string Facility, hosting training and matches of the Development Squad, lower Youth levels, and West Ham United Ladies occasionally.

While the surfaces may have been of a higher standard, the facilities weren’t, while Chadwell Heath had indoor pitches and larger Dressing rooms and Offices, Rush Green didn’t.

What it did possess was a smaller Players Area and limited Office space, not to mention no Media Centre, to combat this, Portacabins were built to house Press Conferences and The Media, opposite The Players Car Park.

However, at the time, many questioned this due to the fact that the Base at Chadwell had just been renovated itself to the tune of millions, but The Boss was firm, and a swift switch was made.

It is now quickly coming up to two years since and a Rocket Scientist is not needed to notice that our injury situation has improved very little, if not worsened since the winter of 2015.

Meanwhile, the more modern Chadwell Heath is being utilised as the permanent base of The Development Squads and other Youth Teams.

In the World of the first-team, injury crisis’s have hit season upon season, most prominent at the end of the last campaign, when we ended in May with just under ten casualties.

Nowadays, after starting the season without the bulk of the Squad, things were looking a tad better heading into last weekend’s Premier League clash at Selhurst Park, with only James Collins and Diafra Sakho out injured.

Since then, Sam Byram and Jose Fonte have both been injured, while Michail Antonio’s rib knock has worsened in addition to a hamstring injury keeping him out and Collins remains sidelined.

Three of those knocks were believed to be aggravated in training at Rush Green, calling more pondering over the switch of Bases, which is yet to yield any of the apparent desired results, will that change in the future?