Dan Coker's Match Preview
Blast from the past
Billy Bonds’ West Ham United arrived at Vicarage Road, the home of this weekend’s opponents Watford, for a Second Division fixture on 13th March 1990 while en route to a seventh-place finish.
Beats International featuring Lindy Layton were number one with ‘Dub Be Good To Me’ and Matthew Broderick and Denzel Washington were in UK cinemas with Glory as the Hammers recorded a 1-0 victory in front of 15,682 thanks to a strike from centre-forward Trevor Morley (pictured above), his second goal of 70 for the club in 214 appearances. Watford would finish the 1989/90 campaign in 15th position, while Julian Dicks would end the season as Hammer of the Year and the Irons’ top goalscorer in all competitions.
West Ham United: Ludek Miklosko, George Parris, Colin Foster, Tony Gale, Julian Dicks, Kevin Keen, Martin Allen, Ian Bishop, Stuart Slater, Trevor Morley, Jimmy Quinn.
Former Hammers Valon Behrami and Mauro Zarate are both now on Watford’s books. Other players to have represented both clubs, divided by position, include:
Goalkeepers: Ted Hufton, David James, Perry Suckling, Manuel Almunia, Jack Rutherford, Joe Webster.
Defenders: Jon Harley, Calum Davenport, Lucas Neill, Chris Powell.
Midfielders: Henri Lansbury, Alan Devonshire, Alessandro Diamanti, Stuart Slater, Jobi McAnuff, Jimmy Lindsay, Joe Blythe, Jimmy Carr, Mark Robson, Carl Fletcher.
Strikers: David Connolly, Roger Hugo, Billy Jennings.
Len Goulden played for West Ham and managed Watford, while Malky Mackay played for both clubs and went on to manage the Vicarage Road club. Gianfranco Zola has managed both the Hammers and the Hornets.
This week’s focus though is on a midfielder who represented both clubs in the early years of this century. David Noble was born in Hitchin on the 2nd February 1982 and started his career as a trainee with Arsenal, with whom he won the FA Youth Cup in 2000 before joining Gianluca Vialli’s First Division Watford on loan in August 2001. He made his debut as a 72nd-minute substitute in a 3-0 home win over Wimbledon on 9th September 2001 and scored his only goal for the club in the 44th minute of a 3-0 win at Grimsby on 20th October 2001, lifting the ball over goalkeeper Danny Coyne before walking it into an empty net.
Noble played in a League Cup quarter-final while with the Hornets but was substituted at half-time as Sheffield Wednesday triumphed 4-0 at Hillsborough to reach the last four. After a promising start for the creative midfielder at Vicarage Road, his impact and appearances began to wane. His final appearance for the club came in a 2-1 defeat at Stockport on 1st April 2002 – after one goal in 18 appearances at Watford, Noble returned to parent club Arsenal.
After an appearance-less half-season back with the Gunners, Noble signed for Glenn Roeder’s West Ham United on a three-month permanent contract in February 2003. He was re-united with Joe Cole, with whom he had spent two years at Lilleshall. Noble, who played for England at youth level before making a single appearance for Scotland B in 2003, failed to force himself into the first-team reckoning as the Hammers eventually succumbed to relegation.
The 21-year-old extended his contract with the club in the summer of 2003 however and made his debut for the Hammers under Roeder in a 3-1 League Cup first round win over Rushden & Diamonds at the Boleyn Ground on 13th August 2003, his only start for the club. He made his first league appearance as a substitute in a 0-0 home draw against Sheffield United three days later. His only other appearances for the Irons came as a substitute under caretaker manager Trevor Brooking, in a 3-0 win at Crewe and 2-0 defeat at Gillingham. After four goalless appearances for West Ham United, Noble was released by Alan Pardew in early 2004, joining Third Division Boston United.
After two years at Boston, Noble joined Bristol City. He helped the Robins win promotion from League One and also scored in the Championship Play-Off semi-final against Crystal Palace the following season. After a loan spell with Yeovil in 2008/09, he was released and signed for League One Exeter. He moved to Rotherham in 2012 and, following a loan spell with Cheltenham, signed for Oldham in 2014. After only two appearances for Oldham, he re-joined Exeter on loan before making his return to Devon permanent in January 2015. After a year and a half back with the Grecians, Noble signed for St Albans City in the National League South last summer, taking his experience of over 300 Football League appearances to Clarence Park. Now 35, Noble has made 23 appearances for St Albans this season, with five assists to his name.
Saturday’s referee will be Craig Pawson; 2016/17 is Pawson’s fifth as a Premier League referee. In 2014/15 he refereed West Ham’s 3-1 home win over Liverpool and sent off Adrian in our 0-0 draw at Southampton, a decision that was later overturned. He was also the man in the middle for our 4-1 Capital One Cup home defeat to Wigan four seasons ago and our 3-1 loss at Stoke’s Britannia Stadium three seasons ago. His Hammers appointments last season were both at the Boleyn Ground, for our 2-2 draw with Manchester City in January 2016 and the 3-3 draw with Arsenal last April.
Pawson’s matches in charge of West Ham United so far this season saw him send off Harry Arter as the Hammers defeated Bournemouth 1-0 in August, while he also officiated in our 2-1 home win over Chelsea in the fourth round of the League Cup in October. His most recent Hammers appointment was our 5-1 home defeat to Arsenal in December.
Costel Pantilimon, Christian Kabasele, Nordin Amrabat and Roberto Pereyra are out for Watford, while Craig Cathcart, Sebastian Prodl and ex-Hammer Valon Behrami all face late fitness tests. Mauro Zarate is in line to start against the Hammers for the first time since leaving the club.
For West Ham United, Aaron Cresswell, Arthur Masuaku and Andre Ayew are all available, while Andy Carroll faces a late fitness test and may not be risked from the start. Angelo Ogbonna, Gokhan Tore and Diafra Sakho are the only definite absentees from Slaven Bilic’s squad. The Hammers have lost only one of their last 12 league matches at Watford, although this defeat came in our last visit, a 2-0 defeat in October 2015.
Possible Watford XI: Gomes; Janmaat, Cathcart, Kaboul, Britos; Capoue, Cleverley; Niang, Zarate, Holebas; Deeney.
Possible West Ham United XI: Randolph; Kouyate, Fonte, Reid, Cresswell; Noble, Obiang; Feghouli, Lanzini, Snodgrass; Antonio.
Enjoy the game – Come On You Irons!