IT's happy hammer finds dream job at Upton Park

Roy Benjamin started supporting West Ham United football club at the age of five and 25 years later he managed to land himself a...

Roy Benjamin started supporting West Ham United football club at the age of five and 25 years later he managed to land himself a place in the team, writes Nathalie Towner.

However, it was not his talent on the pitch that got him noticed but his ability to structure the club's IT facilities. Benjamin is proud of what he has achieved in his 18 months as West Ham's IT manager.

"I have standardised the desktop PCs and servers, structured the Ethernet Lan, creating one comms room, and streamlined the remote Wans which run the Epos service to eight shops," he says. "I have also taken on the communications side of the club by moving the existing Meridian telephone network, and implemented a time and attendance and access control system around the ground."

Benjamin even gets to boost his football knowledge by helping the coaching staff set up video analysis of matches so players can learn from incidents on the pitch.

Since working at the club Benjamin has had the chance to meet a lot of famous players, including his childhood favourite Trevor Brooking, who is now on the board of directors.

But there is more to the job than hanging out with football stars, and at times it has been downright stressful. And, with West Ham's ground currently undergoing a £35m redevelopment, the pressure has never been greater.

"My worst moment was installing Windows NT Service Pack 6 on our desktop server and losing all the data. I had to rebuild the server from a back-up and recreate all the mail users from scratch," he says.

It took Benjamin a week to complete and made him realise just how reliant the club is on having the IT services available 24x7.

Working for a football club has been very different to Benjamin's previous jobs. But he has enjoyed the steep learning curve. "Working in the City for six years for very large companies has helped a great deal," he says. "But I have never achieved as much as I have at West Ham."

Before joining the club he worked for Thomson Financial as leader of a product consulting team - a job that involved lots of international travel. But, although he misses the buzz of working in the City, Benjamin is full of enthusiasm for the projects he has planned at West Ham.

"We are looking at plasma screens for the conference rooms at the moment and the training ground at Chadwell Heath in Essex will be redeveloped and made into a state-of-the-art training ground which will need the latest IT," he says.

"We are also looking at fingerprint readers to allow fans access to the ground and a season ticket holders' smartcard system where the season ticket holder can just swipe a smartcard reader to enter the ground."

But would he be prepared to do the same work for another football team?

"I wouldn't have the same enthusiasm," he says.

"I applied for the job in the first place because it was West Ham."

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