WL: Ben, you've had a bit of a different life to most and at 2 you moved to Germany, how did that come about?
BH: I just moved out there with my family, was over there for a few years. We came back when I was seven or eight and moved back to the West Country. From there, I obviously grew up, left home at 16 and came up to Reading and the London area.
WL: Und du sprehen Deutsch? (And you speak German?)
BH: Ja!... Ein bisschen!
WL: What does that mean?! I'm not that good!
BH: A little bit!
WL: I heard you were fluent?!
BH: I was... well, until about six years ago when I stopped speaking it! It's kind of gone now though - my German tongue has kind of slowly evaporated!
WL: Did it take long to master?
BH: Well I grew up with it. As I said, I was only two so obviously, I was in Germany, I went to a German school. That was my first language really, I grew up speaking that until about six or seven when I came back to live over in England and I learnt to speak English again. German was primarily my first language but over the years I haven't used it and kind of lost it.
WL: Onto your footballing career now. Somerset to Reading is hardly around the corner, how were you spotted?
BH: It was in a county game really. I was 15, just playing for my school counties and there was a Reading scout who was there, was impressed and invited me over for a trial and it kind of went from there really. Signed as a YTS at 16 and later I came down to this wonderful place (Crawley) for a year!
|SIGNING ON: Ben (R) with John Medejski|
BH: Erm... not really. I suppose you've got to be mentally strong. I swapped schools when I was younger growing up so I was kind of used to new surroundings and stuff like that so it didn't really affect me. I moved up there and got on with my football because it was something I really wanted to do. It wasn't really a massive issue for me.
WL: As you said, you came here in your teenage years, a big opportunity to play plenty of games.
BH: Yeah, to be honest it was quite nice coming back here tonight. I think it's the first time in five years, I was 18 at the time and came here as a first team pro on loan. John Hollins (former Crawley manager) took me here and gave me my first experience in playing men's football so I'll always be grateful to him and the club for that. It was an opportunity to really get my foot in the door professionally really and gave me the opportunity to play football - It's a place I will always remember.
|Ben in action for Crawley|
BH: Yeah, Young Player of the Year I think it was. Yeah, it wasn't a bad season, we had money problems at the time, administration and we had minus ten points at the time as well. We started off at the bottom with the minus ten and I think we cleared that pretty sharpish within four or five games and built from there. In the end it wasn't a bad season, I really enjoyed it and made some good friends here. One still here is Dannie Bulman. I'm surprised to still see him here to be honest but he's still going strong so fair play to him!
|STILL GOING STRONG: Dannie Bulman (Centre)|
BH: Erm... I don't know really, it never really came into question to be honest with you. At Brentford I'd done well and played well for them and every time I seemed to come back on loan, Reading seemed to offer me a new contract. You know, it was good for me to be learning with a Premiership or Championship side - whatever Reading were at the time and I was happy to come out on loan and play my games that way. Then, obviously there came a time where I was getting older; I'm 24 now so last Summer I made the decision to leave with one year left on my deal. Luckily, Charlton came in for me and I made the decision to come and last season speaks for itself, we won promotion and it was the right decision in the end.
|Hamer (L) celebrates Brentford's League 2 promotion|
BH: Yes I do, yes I do concur with that! From the start I could tell we'd have a chance because it was the same as when I was at Brentford and we went up. The lads seemed to gel very quickly; it was a new bunch of lads that had been brought together. Even in pre-season you could tell that the lads were going to be fighting for each other and were good, level headed lads that had their feet on the ground and we had a positive vibe the whole way through the season. They're all a great bunch of lads and it was a very special season.
WL: And next season Ben, a Championship side now, do you look at what the likes of Southampton and Norwich have done in winning two successive promotions and aim for the Premier League? Go again?!
BH: That would be the ultimate for us. It'll be the first time in the Championship as a bunch of players, not many of us have played at that level, especially me - I've never made an appearance in the Championship yet. It'll be a new, fresh challenge and we'll look to do as well as we can and try and challenge the big teams that we're going to be coming up against and I'm sure we can hold our own. As far as promotion goes, I don't think you can say that just yet. We'll take every game as it comes and see how it goes, just like we did last year and look where it got us!
|PROMOTION TIME: Can the Addicks do it again?!|
BH: I don't know... I don't know! Obviously, that is my goal in life and to achieve that I want to play in the Premiership. It's all about the tiny little stepping stones and gradually getting closer. As you say, I'm in the Championship now, hopefully I'll do well there. There is a long way to go but that is my goal and that is what I'll be striving for!
|Me and Ben|
Thanks also to Dave Burt at www.ctfcphotos.co.uk for the use of some of the images!