West H.A.M in the good ole U.S of A

Flicking through some of my old football magazines recently I was reminded of the original North American Soccer League over in the states, not only that though it seems West Ham were very well represented across the league during the 70s. Some I knew had been out there like “Arry” and Clyde Best but then I discovered others and the list just grew including a couple of surprises.
Pike USA

Geoff made his West Ham debut in March of 1976, he was 20 and had come through the ranks with the likes of Alvin Martin, Mervyn Day and Alan Curbishley.
In the Summer of 76, he joined the Hartford Bicentennial’s, so named as in 76 America was celebrating its 200th year of drinking coffee instead of Tea.
The Bi’s as they were known, (stop sniggering people I’m serious) was a new franchise, started in 75 and recruited quite a few English players into their roster.
They changed their name in 77 to Connecticut Bicentennials, where their coach was to be a certain Malcolm Musgrave, one of the original Cassetari boys and an Ex Man United manager. as per their previous season in 76, they were not successful and one story from a coach I have found regards a game against San Jose Earthquakes who included George Best in their side.

“We used to cut the grass so high in the Yale Bowl that the other teams had trouble playing. It was like two or three inches high.
One time we were playing the Los Angeles Aztecs in New Haven and they had a bunch of foreign stars including Georgie Best. They came into town early in the week and were staying in a motel about ten miles away. Our Head Coach Malcolm Musgrove says ‘Rudi, go over there and see what they’re doing.’ I went over and sat next to the pool for most of the week and they were just drinking themselves to death and sneaking out every night, you know?
I came back and told Musgrove ‘Coach, we’ll kill these guys! They won’t be able to make the second half. They’re all drunk.’ They beat us 5-3. Musgrove said ‘You should have found out what kind of whiskey they were drinking.”
In 1977 Milan Mandaric bought the club and moved it, as is the way with franchise sports in the U.S over to the West Coast and Oakland. Just one year later he sold them and they became the Alberta Drillers in Canada until folding in 1982.
Geoff played 39 games scoring 8 goals and assisting in 10, and can claim to have played against the likes of Best and Pele as well. An experience that would stand him good stead for the rest of his career.

Hurst USA

In 1976 Hurst was finishing his time as a professional in England, his time at West Brom brought his career here to a close and so for possibly one last hurrah, or for a nice bit of wedge, he joined the NASL circus at Seattle Sounders.
The Sounders were packed with Brits and Hurst would team up with an old friend from his West Ham days, old Arry.
They though only had an average season with Hurst scoring 8 goals from 20 games with 4 assists, not bad considering his age at the time (37).
The next season though the sounders would fair better,
Under a new manager, Ex Everton, Southampton and Bournemouth player Jimmy Gabrial and though Hurst never returned, Harry was back and this time joined by Bobby Howe. Sounders would finish 3rd in the league but through the playoff system, they qualified for Soccer Bowl 77 where they faced the New York Cosmos.
Pele, Beckenbauer, Carlos Alberto and Italian legend Chingalia. Cosmos would win 2-1.
But Seattle would sign their own world superstar in 1978, the one and only Bobby Moore.

Moore USA

In 1976 while still at Fulham, Bob joined the San Antonio Thunder for a summer of football.
Thunder was a new franchise and 76 was only their 2nd season in existence. playing in the heat of Texas in the aptly named, Alamo stadium they struggled and finished off the pace and out of the playoff picture. Bob would play in more games than any other player for the Thunder that season.
It seems San Antonio wasn’t ready for Soccer and didn’t realise the value they had in Moore, as their average attendance was a [poultry four and a half thousand, and with that in mind the franchise moved to pastures new.
Bobby went to Seattle to join Harry while Thunder went to Hawaii and became Team Hawaii.

In a strange quirk of fate, in 1976 to help them celebrate the Bicentennial, The yanks invited over their old landlords to play in a soccer tournament, England along with Brazil & Italy would play with TEAM USA, in a four-team tournament. As the USA didn’t have anywhere near the quality of players they possess these days, they drafted in the best of the foreign legion in the NASL.
Pele, Chingalia from NY Cosmos, Ex-Spurs and Wales but aptly named Mike England, and Bobby Moore.
This led to Moore playing against England in their final group game, with Moore on the losing side as England ran out 3-1 winners thanks to 2 goals from Keegan and 1 from Gerry Francis. It seems this is not classed as a full international game by England as Keegan’s goals or appearance does not appear in his record.

I will finish off with a team mentioned above in regards San Jose Thunder moving and being renamed.
Now we know Bobby Moore didn’t move with Thunder so why would I mention Team Hawaii.
Well, it turns out if there is one team in the NASL forever linked with the hammers it turns out its Hawaii.
Five of their 20 players were from West Ham, Tommy Taylor, Keith Coleman, Keith Robson, Yilmaz Orhan and Pat Holland all played for Hawaii in 1977.
They lost 15 of their 26 games, losing 11 (draws not allowed in the US) and again only averaged around four thousand fans. Orhan played the most games, 24, and Pat Holland along with Keith Robson scored 4 goals each, Robson’s goals came in only 11 games though so a good ratio for him.
One season only in Hawaii before they were shipped off to Tulsa to become the Roughnecks but not one West Ham player followed them.

Pat Holland TH

Many other Hammers played in NASL including
Clyde Best (Portland Timbers 1978-1981 & various others)

Clive Charles (Portland Timbers 1978-1981)

Dennis Burnett (St Louis Stars 1977-1978)
Ade Coker (Various teams 1974 -1988)
coker & Jennings

Billy Jennings (Chicago Sting 1977)
Paddon USA

Graham Paddon (Tampa Bay Rowdies 1978)

Alan Taylor (Vancouver Whitecaps 1980-1984)


West Ham Sign Exciting Spanish International Playmaker

West Ham have confirmed the signing of the 23 year old Spanish international playmaker Pablo Fornals. Judging from the video on the official website he looks a very exciting prospect indeed.

Fornals played 59 times for Malaga, scoring 7 times, and made 70 appearances with Villareal, scoring 5 times. He has made two appearaces for the Spanish national side. He’s an attacking midfield playmaker, which is interesting, given we already have one of those in Manuel Lanzini. The club have said that he’s most certainly not a replacement for Lanzini, and they will play together. Hmmm.

Pablo told

I’m very happy to be part of West Ham,” Fornals told from Madrid, where he has been preparing for the tournament. I feel very good, very happy and very grateful for the opportunity that has been provided to me. I want the Club to continue giving opportunities to young and ambitious people, people who want to do well for the long term. “I know about the loyal fans and the stadium, which is a beautiful stadium. The fans fill the stadium every weekend and that is something admirable, especially with the passion with which football is lived there. I think it is important to play with the support of your fans at home. I have worked with Mario before – I know him from when I was in Malaga. With Manuel, only when I saw him and admired him on TV. Of course, Manuel was a big influence because in the end he is one of the best coaches in the world and who doesn’t want to work with people like that?!”


Glenn Roeder: The Day I Collapsed

Glenn Roeder, a boyhood supporter of West Ham United, was named caretaker manager of the club in the aftermath of Harry Redknapp’s sacking, losing the final match of the 2000/01 season 2-1 at Middlesbrough. By the start of the following campaign, Roeder had been named permanent manager after approaches for Alan Curbishley and Steve McClaren had proved unsuccessful. David Moyes and Alex McLeish had also been linked with the position.

Roeder, who had previously managed Gillingham and Watford and been a coach under Glenn Hoddle with England, finished seventh in his first season but the failure to improve the squad led to a downturn in form in 2002/03 – only Gary Breen (free transfer) and Edouard Cisse (loan) were brought in over the summer of 2002. The Hammers were second from bottom in mid-February 2003 but a six-game unbeaten run led to a key match at Bolton in mid-April – the Irons lost the match 1-0, meaning a miracle would be required to stay in the top flight. The next match, an Easter Monday home encounter with Middlesbrough was won by a goal to nil, but events after the match overshadowed the result – Roeder takes up the tale himself in the video below.

Trevor Brooking took caretaker charge, winning two matches, at Man City and at home against Chelsea. Needing to better Bolton’s result on the final day, the Irons drew 2-2 at Birmingham whilst Bolton beat Middlesbrough 2-1 at the Reebok Stadium. Roeder returned to the dugout in the First Division at the start of the 2003/04 season, winning the opening game 2-1 at Preston and beating Rushden & Diamonds in the League Cup at Upton Park. A goalless draw at the Boleyn against Sheffield United was followed by a 1-0 loss at Rotherham. Roeder was sacked the next day. He has since managed Newcastle and Norwich, and also worked at Sheffield Wednesday and Stevenage.

In this interview with Maxine Mawhinney, Glenn Roeder discusses the day he collapsed with a brain tumour, the pressures of management and the current state of the game. A caption early in the piece introduces Roeder as a singer/performer but, apart from that, it’s an interesting watch.


West Ham Fixture List Published

Nice easy one to start with…


‘That’s Zamora’

I do not have distinct memories of my 7th birthday, I’m sure I got some decent presents. With hindsight I am convinced that none of the presents were as enjoyable and impactful as my trip to Upton Park in March 2005. My Dad took me to my first football game on the 5th March: it was a glamorous fixture against Preston North End.

When I reflect upon watching my first game at Upton Park, I recall feeling excited and ready to watch a team which included the lumbering Malky Mackay at the back as well as the unpredictable Stephen Bywater in goal! I feel the appropriate quote to include is one from the brilliant Bobby Robson when he said in response to the question, what is a club?

’ It’s the noise, the passion, the feeling of belonging, the pride in your city. It’s a small boy clambering up stadium steps for the very first time, gripping his father’s hand, gawping at that hallowed stretch of turf beneath him and, without being able to do a thing about it, falling in love.’

Robson’s poignant response to this question embodies how I felt entirely. I had already started to play football and was enthusiastic when on the pitch, but going to my first game cemented my love for the game and West Ham. I have no doubt my Dad informed me that supporting West Ham would come with pain and frustration but with that some very special moments.

A couple of years ago I was having a conversation with my Dad about this Preston fixture, and it was only with the help of Google that I realised we actually lost the game 1-2! In my excitement of watching football at a stadium for the first time, I seemed to think we had won. A player who I grew to love and scored some good goals for us, Bobby Zamora actually scored what was a mere consolation goal in the 87th minute. I recall aspects of the game, I believe Stephen Bywater made a rather inexcusable error which lead to one of the goals scored by David Nugent and Patrick Agyemang. Up until recently, I had also forgotten that the perhaps cult hero figure in the form of Czech right back, Tomas Repka received a straight red card on the stroke of half time. If we had kept eleven men on the pitch for the second half, perhaps we could have turned it around and my first trip to Upton Park would have seen us win. At least my expectations were tempered from the off!

Only a couple of months later we were able to avenge this disappointing defeat as we won 1-0 against The Lilywhites in the Championship playoff final courtesy of another Zamora goal. I am certainly not alone amongst the West Ham fans in the theory that Mark Lawrenson has a vendetta against the club because he supports Preston and we beat them in Cardiff. It seems ridiculous but most weeks when he does his predictions for the weekend games, he predicts us to lose regardless of the team we are playing and the form we are in. I remember seeing the Premier League table from a couple of seasons ago and if it was according to Lawrenson’s predictions, we finished 17th or 18th unsurprisingly because he dislikes us. In reality we finished 7th. I think as it was the farewell Boleyn campaign. My advice to Lawrenson comes in the form of a quote that’s been reworked from an American motivational speaker, Josh Shipp when he said ’Don’t get bitter, get better’

As I’ve mentioned previously, there are some aspects of the 1-2 loss that I don’t remember but I do remember being taken aback by Teddy Sheringham’s skill and calmness on the ball. He was 38 years old when he dropped down to the Championship, and he scored 20 league goals whilst winning Championship Player of the season. I immediately appreciated his composure on the ball but it was probably only when I was older and had watched more football that I properly realised his class and the fact that despite his age he was still one of our best players. Bobby Zamora is one of few players I got on the back of my shirt, as I’ve said I liked Teddy as well as Matty Etherington but understandably my Mum and Dad did not want to fork out that much on the individual letters!

Ultimately, I look back on my first game at Upton Park with very fond memories. Getting the train and tube to the ground eating the snacks my Mum had prepared, smelling the spices along Green Street and the sound of the barriers as we entered the ground. Whilst we did not win the game, I knew immediately that this would be the club for me and that my Dad would be taking me back to Upton Park for many more games.

Have a good week.

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