Peter Storrie

Darron Kirkby profiles one of the Hammers' boardroom members

Distinguishing features: Looks like the Fat Controller on Thomas The Tank Engine. 

Habitat: As West Ham’s most accomplished PR man, on matchdays he no doubt flits from executive suite to corporate hospitality lounge, wining and dining very important people (with the emphasis on dining). Has yet to be seen having a quick one in The Boleyn Tavern or in the local pie & mash shop, but we live in hope. When he’s not at the club, he’s busy as MD of a company which imports Swedish office furniture. He was clearly born to be a managing director.

What use is he?
When Storrie became West Ham’s first managing director in November 1991, the club was on the verge of the worst few months in its history. His appointment coincided with the launch of The Hammers Bond scheme (whereby the fans were asked to finance the rebuilding of the Boleyn Ground by forking out between £500 and £975 for the right to buy a match ticket for the next 50 years), pitch protests, home draws with Farnborough and Wrexham, and relegation following only nine wins all season. Nobody would have blamed him for walking away, as the relationship between the fans and the board hit rock bottom. But he gradually turned things around and has been a major factor in the reasonably healthy position the club is in today.

Do you remember his birthday?
I don’t think the Upton Park postman will be getting a hernia on Storrie’s big day, but he ranks well above Keith Hackett and Paul Ince in the popularity stakes. Within weeks of taking over he invited three fanzine editors to the boardroom for a discussion about all aspects of the club’s predicament, and he still answers every supporters’ letter personally, whilst those particularly aggrieved are asked up for tea and biscuits and a dose of PR. At a club where previous board members acted as if they had signed The Official Secrets Act, Storrie’s accountability has earned him a lot of respect, even if some of his arguments are a little questionable.

Which international celebrity would he get on best with?
Bob Monkhouse (if you can call him an international celebrity) would be a suitable soulmate, as the two of them could compare the latest in techniques in smarming.

Quote, unquote:
“The Hammers Bond is the only practical way forward” (November 1991). A slight miscalculation, considering that out of the 19,301 bonds on offer, less than 1,000 have been sold. It’s just as well he was wrong, though, otherwise West Ham would be looking forward to derbies with Leyton Orient.

Other offences to be taken into consideration:
He must take some of the blame for the board’s recent resolution that future share purchases will be limited to a minimum of 100. With each one almost £300, they are effectively slamming the door in the fans’ faces. Costcutting is the excuse – the administrative costs of the smaller shareholders (ie sending them an annual report) is held to be an unnecessary expense. Given that there are only 250 shareholders, and that five years ago the board wasted £1.3 million promoting the bond scheme, their logic seems slightly twisted.

From WSC 119 January 1997. What was happening this month