With news that Ricardo Gardner may be about to join the Bolton émigrés at Upton Park, 88 year old tea lady Doris Garnett was found in floods of tears yesterday morning after discovering that Allardyce is thinking of bringing in Nora Bates from Bolton as her replacement.
Husband Reg, 93, a life long West Ham fan, told reporters: "Doris was inconsolable went she got home yesterday afternoon. She arrived at work to find a strange woman with a strange urn next to her kettle and teapot. The manager, Mr Allardyce, told her that there was to be some sort of "Tea off" where he was going to assess how many cups of tea each could brew and pour in a fifteen minute period."
Reg continued: "Doris was distraught. Tea is a labour of love for her, it isn't about how many cups you can pour to the minute. Doris has made tea at West Ham for them all. Bobby Moore, Martin Peters, Geoff Hurst, Trevor Brooking, Billy Bonds. You name them, they've drunk Doris's tea."
He added: "There was a bit of bother when the foreign players started to arrive demanding coffee but Doris soon stopped all that nonsense, telling them it was tea or nothing. Even Di Canio gave in eventually but only after spitting his first cup into Doris's face. The manager, Mr Redknapp, made him apologise and slipped Doris a tax free bonus to compensate."
It hasn't all been a bed of roses as Reg explained: "There was that time when Mr Pardew took a bit of a shine to her and that fair turned Doris's head for a few days, but every woman has her little fling, and she got over it quickly enough."
Manager Allardyce denied that any final decision had been made but explained: "The tea making game has moved on. Where exactly has the Doris Way ever got the club? Relegation. My statistics show that using an urn and pouring tea directly into each cup up to the brim is much more effective than this nonsense of pouring in a bit, moving to the next cup, pouring in a bit, then moving to the next cup, pouring in a bit, then back to the first cup and pouring in a bit more."
A source close to Allardyce said: "West Ham fans might not like the idea but times change. Bobby Moore died twenty years ago. This is Sam's club now, not his."