Ferne scores a winner from West Ham United

17:00, Jul 27 2014
Ferne McKinley
GENERATION GAME: Football fan Ferne McKinley made her dad’s boyhood wish come true by getting three current West Ham players to sign his 1975 fan shirt.

If there was one thing West Ham United players were not expecting to see halfway around the world from home it would be a four-decade-old team supporter shirt.

But at the team's pre-game function before taking on Sydney FC, Wainuiomata teenager Ferne McKinley handed three of the squad the piece of kit, from the team's 1975 FA Cup-winning season.

It belonged to her father, Paul McKinley, who was given it as a nine-year-old boy in the UK from a family friend.

Ferne said the players, James Collins, Stewart Downing and Mark Noble, were pretty surprised and keen to put their signatures on the memorial shirt, which had sat in the closet for years after the McKinley family moved to New Zealand.

"It was really cool just seeing them because I know how much it meant to my dad - he was pretty jealous.

"He never usually shows much emotion when I tell him things - when I told him this his eyes lit up. I've never seen him so excited for anything."

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The shirt would now be framed, with the hope it might gather one or two more West Ham scrawls in the future, Ferne said.

It was another stroke of luck the Wainuiomata High School pupil made it to the British High Commission function, which invited the captain of the girls' and boys' first XI from Wellington schools.

But luckily for Ferne, her team captain could not make it.

"We put the rest of the team's names into a hat, and I really, really wanted to go. I think it was fixed, but my name got pulled out."

The Dominion Post