WEST Ham United defender James Tomkins will come face to face with Stoke City winger Michael Kightly in the Premier League tonight - just years after doing the same thing in the playground.
The duo both grew up in the Basildon area and attended Chalvedon School.
And their former PE teacher Chris Dismore will be a proud man watching this evening’s encounter.
“Michael and James were a few years apart but they were at the school at the same time and have gone on to do fantastically well,” said the Benfleet based Dismore who has now retired after 26 years teaching at the school.
“During my time we had 13 different internationals across a range of sports but those two definitely have to be the biggest success stories the school’s had.
“They’re both playing in the Premier League and have represented their country at various age groups and it’s been great to see because they really were a pleasure to teach.
“They were never any trouble at all and they both impressed in other sports too.
“Michael stood out at cross country and James in basketball but football was always their strongest one and it will be very proud to see them playing against each other in the Premier League.
“I’m actually on holiday so I won’t be able to be at the ground but I’ll certainly be trying somewhere to watch it on television and I hope the game ends in a draw so neither of them will be too disappointed.”
The duo have played against each other once before, back in December 2008, when a Wolverhampton Wanderers side featuring Kightly beat a Derby team, for who Tomkins was playing on loan, 3-0 in a Championship clash at Molineux.
And Tomkins is now looking forward to tonight’s rematch at Upton Park.
“Michael was in the same year as my brother at school so, although I never used to hang around with him, I’ve always known who he is and it’s great he’s doing so well,” said Tomkins, 23.
“It’s really good that two local lads from the Basildon area are playing in the Premier League now and it’s great for our school too.
“It can’t have happened too many times before so it’s something fairly unique as well.
“But the main thing is just making sure we win the game and continue to build on our good start to the season.
“Hopefully I can play in that happening too because last Sunday at Newcastle was the first time I’ve started a match at centre-back this season and it would be great to get a few more.”
If selected, Tomkins will be in a tough test against a Stoke side who continue to cause problems for their opponents at this level. Last time out they saw off Queens Park Rangers 1-0 at the Britannia Stadium.
And Kightly is seeking more success this evening.
“West Ham have been doing very well this season so it will be a hard game for us but we’ve been doing well and want to keep it going,” said Kightly, 26.
“For me personally it’s been enjoyable too because I’ve got another chance of playing in the Premier League and I’m loving it.
“I was gutted when Wolves went down but with a new manager coming in there for a new start, I thought it was time to move on and jumped at the chance to come to Stoke.
“It’s gone well so far but I’ve had so many ups and downs in my career that I’m not looking too far ahead anymore.
“At the moment I’m just thinking about the West Ham game and it will be good to come up against James.
“I remember him at school and he’s done really well for himself.
“It’s always nice to see someone local being successful and I hope he continues to do well, but only after tonight!”