Nigel Kahn’s Column

Lifetime Collecting Part 1


As many of you know, I am a collector of West Ham memorabilia. Or ‘crap’ as my wife would say.

Housed in my shed, I’ll admit I have a large collection of all different things. Basically, if it has a West Ham logo on it, or it’s attached to West Ham in any way, I’m interested in it.
I am often asked though how I started collecting and what got me into it. Basically, it started with the match day programme. Every game my uncle would buy me a programme, which I kept as a memento of the game. Back then it was handy sized, especially for a kid’s hands. It could fit in a pocket and didn’t have 30 pages of adverts. It basically told you news, both ticket and team, games coming up, and a small history section which is where my love of the history of the club stemmed from. Not forgetting a couple of pics from the previous game and the info on the team we were playing. Once I got through Bill Remfry’s (club DJ back in the day) column, I was basically as happy as a pig in s***.

Match weekly 1

I am a hoarder but at the age of seven I didn’t know it. I kept everything I had to do with West Ham and football in general. As a kid, I got every week bought for me, again by my uncle, Shoot & Match Weekly magazine. Match started in September 1979 and my mum said I was only allowed to keep one, the other had to go once I had finished reading it, so I kept Match as I had No1. I still have issue 1 now, along with every other issue up to 1988 when I was 18. I then decided I was a bit old for Match Weekly. I don’t know if it was a kid’s football mag but at 18 I suppose I had to grow up at some point.

The appearance of Match in 1979 coincided with West Ham’s run to the cup final, so it made receiving the issues even sweeter as they often focused on West Ham.

Of course, though, I was still keeping my programmes. I moved onto put them in binders to stop them being damaged. The size changed in 1983, not for the better if you ask me. It is not about being misty-eyed in remembering the small programme but it basically did everything we needed from a programme. It listed the 11 starters for both teams in the middle pages as well as telling us who the one mascot was. I was one of those kids armed with a pen that crossed out those not playing and inserted in my scruffy handwriting the names of the replacement.

The match fact section didn’t really tell us about the games but it just listed the Youth team lineup and result – names we didn’t know, like Houghton or Cowie, but hopefully we would. Sadly, Houghton, we would know about, just not playing for us. A Scottish born Irishman learning his trade at West Ham. I’m sure there is a joke there, apart from the fact we let him go. Cowie was George by the way. He never made it for us, or anywhere else that I can remember. But to this day I know I can use these programmes to look back, especially at the youth match facts and see how prolific Tony Cottee was as a 16-year-old, and I can remember the first time I read his name.

As collecting goes, there’s no real value to most programmes, as collecting them is very popular, though living a short stroll from the ground does have its bonuses in that department.

match W 2

I have a Boxing Day programme from 1979 West Ham at home to Birmingham City, nothing out of the ordinary, except the game was postponed in the morning, I was so upset my uncle took me up to the ground to prove it, where I bought a programme for the game that was later played in April. You know the game, the one where Bonzo was sent off for fighting Colin Todd and nearly missed the cup final. Yup, imagine if he had missed the cup final for that reason, sent off in a game that should have been played before we even started the Journey to Wembley.

So Parents, if you have a football-mad kid and he wants to start collecting, start with programmes, but be warned, over 40 years later their wives may not be thanking you.
Next week I’ll try to share with you some of my unique items that are in my collection, that include West Ham bottled water, (unopened) and even plastic carrier bag collection.
Yes, people, I am that Mad/sad or both.

Lastly, I’m not a great football shirt wearer now, but this season the club have come up trumps with the new kits. We all have our own take on the home kit and the traditional colours of it (shorts) but the away is special, and the fact it comes sponsor free as well. If you want I love, just need to replace the bag on it and it would be a true winner, though sky blue shorts with the white shirt was actually the away kit from 1980. I don’t know why we wore all white in the final as I don’t remember us playing in the all-white away kit in 79/80 until the semi-final.

If you don’t like them, just be rest assured, they will only be here for a season, unlike the good old days or 5 or 6.

Player News

West Ham Sign Number Two Goalkeeper Roberto

One Spaniard out, one Spaniard in. West Ham have confirmed our first pre season signing. They have signed Roberto Jiminez Gago, known simply as Roberto, from Espanyol. He’s signed on a two year contract with a third year option. He has a reasonable track record with Athletico Madrid, Benfica and Olympiakos, but in his three years as Espanyol he’s only made 4 appearances. You don’t get the feeling he’s a signing who will push Fabianski very much. It looks as if we might also sign another keeper, heavily rumoured to be Millwall’s David Martin (see Nigel Kahn’s column below)

He told…

From the beginning when I knew I was going to come here, I was very excited about the new experience," said the stopper, whose full name is Roberto Jimenez Gago. "I consider this step a big step in my career. I think everyone who follows football knows the importance of this Club, so I’m really excited. I am looking forward to playing in the Premier League, of course. It’s a big challenge as I consider this to be one of the two best and biggest leagues in the world, with our league in Spain, and I think it’s a dream for every player to come here and play in the Premier League, so I’m looking forward to getting started.

Also from…

Director of Football Mario Husillos is familiar with Roberto’s work and believes West Ham have signed a top goalkeeper. “I worked with Roberto during my time at Malaga," he confirmed. "He is a fantastic goalkeeper, who has a great deal of experience in football, having played at the highest level. “During his time at Olympiakos, I spoke regularly with the coaches and many of them spoke about Roberto as one of the biggest goalkeepers in the history of the club. “He is at a brilliant age for a goalkeeper, and we are extremely happy to bring him to West Ham United. He is a brilliant professional and a brilliant person. He has all the qualities to play in the Premier League and be very successful.”

Guest Post

Ruud Gullit...Nowhere!

Guest post by Danzo

If the title above looks familiar then like me you’re probably a fan of the iconic Only Fools and Horses. It was the 1989 Jolly boys outing, a lads trip to Margate when the hapless Rodney Trotter in a wholehearted attempt to pass a ball to his brother Del Boy looks at his mate Jevon, utters the words “Ruud Gullit…Nowhere” and proceeds to welly the ball straight into the face of a full on uniformed up copper. The result? Poor old Rodney ends up having his collar felt and the customary diversion down to the local nick for a few hours. It really was a great moment of comedy… Well I thought so anyway!!

Now whats the point you may ask? Well let me enlighten you. Arsenal football club is the point!! Because guess what Arsenal Football club did? All the way back in 1982 they had their own moment of comedy in connection with Ruud Gullit after turning down the opportunity to buy the 19 year old for a piddling 300 grand. Yeah that"s,300 GRAND!! Now before we go any further let me make a quick point here. There is some debate about the fee Gullit’s club at the time HFC Haarlem were after. Numbers that have been bandied about range from 200 grand to as little as 80 grand. My theory is that its just Tottenham spreading rumours in an attempt to make Arsenal look as nearly as silly as them. So out of pure dislike for the potatoes and a sprinkling of pity for Arsenal, for the purposes of this post, we’ll go with the larger fee. So 300 grand it is. Now where was i?? Oh yeah.300 GRAND!! Now whilst we’re here we may as well put that into perspective. Eight years previous a fella by the name of Bob Latchford cost Everton more money when they signed him from Birmingham for 350 grand. Now Bob Latchford may of been a great player. I have no idea. But what i do have an idea about is that before now I’d never heard of him. Unlike Gullit. OK then, what else? Go back three years previous Trevor Francis broke the million pound mark when Forest signed him. Again from Birmingham for a reported 1.18 mil. Now I’ve heard of him, but nevertheless!! In fact the UK transfer record in 1982 was 1.5 Mil for Bryan Robson which was a 1981 transfer deal between WBA and the red half of Manchester. Now I know he was a good player, But better than Gullit? Let alone five times better. No i’m not having that!

So whats the big deal you may say? Well if you are saying that then you don’t know a lot about Ruud Gullit. Because the fella was superb. Now granted you have to look past the Bob Marley hairdo and the Mickey Mouser tache. But really that isn’t all that difficult to d….errr well no actually it is. But if you can understand that although the fella did look as though he’d be comfortably at home rummaging around in the bottom of a wheelie bin for an old guitar. He looked just as equally at home on a football pitch. Undoubtedly his footballing ability did speak for itself. Mainly playing as a dynamic attacking midfielder,he boasts. Three Dutch titles. The Dutch cup. Three Serie A titles. Two European cups. The 1988 Euro championship with The Netherlands. Chuck a Balon D’or in there as well. There’s a Copa Italia somewhere. A few more cups and individual honours. Its really an extensive list by all accounts.

Now sadly in his latter playing days he did end up on the wrong side of London. But even then he proved himself a supremely gifted footballer in as much as he made up for his aging legs by playing a Libero role for Chelsea. Now on a personal level I have such faith in the mans footballing abilities. That I would have loved to have seen him join Chelsea a few years later. Where in doing so he would manage to garner the idolization of forklift drivers all over the land. Yet equally strike the fear of God into forklift repairmen all over the world. They would line the dole queues of Britain as Gullit week after week would miraculously manage to single handedly carry the Chelsea team containing our very own academy product, the morbidly obese Frank Lampard!! What a feat that would be. Cementing his legendary status. wouldn’t that be a great story to recount among the annals of great British history? Yeah, OK so maybe I slightly exaggerated there. But what is undoubtedly no exaggeration is that all in all Ruud Gullit is one of the greatest footballers of all time. So what about Arsenal then? I mean what were Arsenal thinking!? Perhaps like Rodney Trotter said they thought Gullit might end up…. nowhere. Not literally of course. But maybe like Rodney Trotter having some kind of affiliation with Margate. Playing for Margate maybe? . Well not Margate but the Dutch equivalent. Whoever that may be.

Now something else I have a good laugh about in the same OFAH scene is how in true OFAH fashion just before Rodney wellies the ball he deliberately mispronounces Ruud Gulitt’s name. Proclaiming his first name as "Rude’ and the first syllable of his surname more akin to how you might speak about Brighton and Hove Albion in a certain context. I’ll give you a clue. They take great delight in nicking your chips. So maybe, just maybe Arsenal had something along those lines in mind. Perhaps assuming he would end up working in some supermarket somewhere wearing a badge, bearing his name, which no one could make head nor tail of. Perhaps they thought that was the fate of the young Gullit. Who knows? But what we do know is a few years later Arsenal repeated the trick by releasing Harry Kane as a youngster!Considering him behind Benik Afobe by all accounts…..Yes that’s right the mighty Afobe! Now of course for us there is some kind of silver lining here. In as much as we get to both have a good laugh and be equally bemused at Arsenal yet again. But spare a thought for poor old Harry Kane who now has ended up playing for a small club in North London rather than a slightly bigger one. I’m not including Barnet in case you were wondering.

Now transitioning smoothly, as is my writing style, to the next player. Whilst we’re on the subject of names and players being released as youngsters, cop a load of this one. The fella with a girls name, Michel Platini. Now I know what you’re thinking, but just hang fire before correcting my misgivings whilst I recount my tale of bygone days and you will find that my Dad beat you to the punch by over 30 years. So there I was sitting in front of the telly, you know one of them ones where on a Saturday night you had to keep moving the antenna to get a clear picture, depending on whether you was watching Bullseye or Blind date? Oh yes. Well before the Sky TV days. It was the 1986 world cup QF France VS Brazil where I recall my first encounter with Michel Platini. Now as a six year old with an eight year old sister with the name Michelle, the very first time I heard his name the question was inevitable. “Dad why has he got a girl’s name” The response “Michel can be a boy’s name too”. Well that was enough for me weren’t it. Brilliant I thought, as I quick as a flash started winding up my sister at her having a boys name. The inevitable response come back from my sister. “MUUUM Daniel’s saying i’ve got a boy’s name” my Mum’s reply “Just call him Danielle”. Which oddly enough was OK with me, because right in front of my eyes was a fella with a girls name playing for his country in the world cup, yep he even scored too!! Now having said all that lets wrap this thing up.

Michel Platini another one of the greatest footballers of all time was rejected as a youth by F.C Metz considered “to feeble” to make it as a footballer. But hes not the only one. Ronaldo(the original) Franco Baresi, Antoine Griezman. The list just goes on and on. It really is a staggering list of players considered at one time or another as not good enough for various reasons.

So what does this all tell us? Well besides the fact that you can, like Ruud Gullit, look ridiculous and still be good at football. That like Platini you can be a fella with a girls name and still take on the mighty Brazil in the world cup. It also makes you think of the various youngsters released by our own club this summer. Several who have not been granted a contract extension. Neufville, u23 LB. Went out on loan to Newport this season. Young CB Josh Pask, last year he looked a right prospect, Toni Martinez, outstanding goalscorer at U23 level. Or at he least used to be. Noah Sylvestre. All U23’s. Even younger than that Jay Mingi, Mason Barrett, Kevin Dalipi, Odysseas Spyridis. U18 lads. Come the end of the summer there could be more, young Martin Samuelsen for instance, undoubtedly a talent seems to be just about hanging in there at least for now.

On a personal note you gotta feel for them really. I just imagine the excitement and anticipation on the day they got news of their trial, to now what appears to be a shuddering halt to their dreams and aspirations. I mean lets face it if a six year old boy is OK with having a girls name if it means he gets to play in the world cup, then the dream truly is strong in the mind and heart of a kid who wants to become a footballer. But the good news for any of these kids is that if they want the motivation to keep going they will find quite a list of rejections and bad news that past players received and then who went on to become greats. Even close to home our own Declan Rice, released by Chelsea. Looks like he’s gonna go right to the top of the game. Alan Devonshire so I been recently informed on this very forum was considered not good enough at one point. Yet another outstanding footballer. So there’s more than enough there to encourage them to keep their own dreams alive

However having said that one thing is clear in every case of a rejection turned to success and even though the late,great John Sullivan sings in the final line of the OFAH theme tune “Why do only fools and horses work?” I have to disagree with the great comedic genius. These youngsters are also gonna have to work and work hard in order to bounce back from similar rejection. But If they do then who’s to say what they can achieve….. They could end up facing corruption charges and cop a lengthy FIFA ban als……Oh wait!!


The West Ham Father & Sons Club

With the impending arrival of Alvin Martin’s son, David, he will then add the two of them to the select band of father & sons to have been at the club, & I’m sure David hopes to play for the club as well to then be a fully paid-up member of the father & son club.

The first members of this select club were Jim Barrett & his son, also named Jim. Both were proper West Ham born & bread and actually played a reserve or A team game as it was called back then, together in 1946. Big Jim, as the father was fondly known, possibly qualifies as a legend of the club, playing over 500 games in his 20 years making his debut in 1925 and playing his last game in January 1945 just 6 days before his 38th birthday. Upon retiring Big Jim then joined the coaching staff at the club, a true one-club man.

Jim Jnr joined the Hammers from school but had to wait four years before starting his first game. He would play just under 100 times before signing for Nottingham Forest in 1954. He retired aged just 29 but returned to the club as a youth coach assisting the youngsters as they won the FA Youth Cup in 1963, the first time the club had won that trophy. He also continued playing in the A team up to 1967 where his last appearance was as a substitute for a certain Tony Carr.

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Next up is Bill Lansdowne and son Billy. Bill Snr was part of the team that gained promotion to the first division in 1958 but Injury curtailed his appearances as did the emergence of a certain Bobby Moore. Senior would play 67 games in total, scoring 5 goals, but he did not leave the club on retiring, he also joined the coaching staff, progressing up to Youth Coach where he helped bring through a Billy Lansdowne.

I must admit I get a bit misty eyed when I think of Billy Jnr (no, not like that) as 1 night in October 1979 Billy scored a hat-trick against Southend in a league cup replay that the Hammers won 5-1. A couple of weeks before Bill had scored in the league against Burnley. Sadly that sums up Billy Jnrs time at West Ham as he only managed 14 games including sub appearances in total, scoring just those 4 goals, but for the 9-year-old me, he was a hero, if only for just 3 weeks.

Strange thing is, I remember was that his last game wasagainst Swansea in November 1979. It was my only time standing on the West terrace for a first-team game, My cousin took me to the game and he preferred standing rather than use my uncle’s seating season tickets. Billy moved on to Charlton and Gillingham before forging a career in Sweden.

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In 1991 Billy Bonds signed Kenny Brown Jnr from Plymouth and thus he and his dad, Ken Brown, would be the third entrants to the Father-son club. Ken senior was born In Forest Gate and would play over 400 games for his local club, another player where the word legend could be attributed to him. He scored though only 4 goals which Kenny Jnr would surpass in playing only 79 appearances. He scored six times though, none more celebrated than his shinner against Man United in 1992 that infuriated Fergie as United’s title charge was stopped at Upton Park.

Next up are the two Frank Lampards, Senior was a club legend born and brought up in the area and played more times for the club than any other player apart from Billy Bonds.
Frank left to spend a season at Southend playing and assisting Bobby Moore and was brought in to assist Harry Redknapp when he was elevated to become manager, even though Frank had not been in football for nearly 10 years. While assisting Harry, though, they brought through Frank Junior, part of a Golden generation of youth players the club would bring through but not see the best of. Frank Jnr still is sung about by the fans though I’m not sure he appreciates the sentiments.

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Aged just 17 when making his debut, Dan Potts, son of another club Legend Steve, broke the cycle of the father & son club being exclusively for those that shared the same name. Dan, though, didn’t make the same impression as his father, He managed only 13 appearances without scoring. Steve Potts, of course, is famous for the fact he played over 400 times scoring just 1 goal, against Hull, which in truth the keeper should be embarrassed about as he let it through his legs. He was the Hammer of the year twice, 1993 & 1995, and runner up in 1992 and 1994.

Dan is now at Luton Town where strangely enough he plays with not one but two other members of the club. Elliot Lee, son of Plaistow born Rob Lee and George Moncur son of John. Neither of those really troubled the club statisticians with Elliot making 7 appearances scoring just the once, and George gaining just 2 outings.

As we know, the father’s achievements at West Ham outweigh anything their sons have managed and David Martin will never get near achieving what his dad did but for me I always welcome a returning son to the club. Surely when growing up David was a West Ham fan and as such we can forgive him for his dalliance with Millwall. In fact, we could take some glee in that his last gift to Millwall was dropping the ball into the goal allowing Brighton to equalise in this season’s cup quarter-final and allowing Brighton to then knock them out on penalties denying our old enemy a trip to Wembley.

There are some near misses in regards to the Father-Son club as well. Lou Macari brought with him his son Mitch, who was a youth player for a couple of seasons, also Gianfranco Zola’s son, Andreas, was with us as well appearing in reserve games. Of course, both fathers never played for the club but If the sons had made it into the first team I’m sure we could have allowed them in.

Talking Point

A Bucket of Salt Water Always Required

I have no doubt that most West Ham fans always take the ever growing list of footballers linked with a move to East London with a pinch of salt. However, there are always a few who elect to read all of the rumours with seemingly no source and, as a result, decide we’ve got an outside chance of signing Mbappe!

I have my Dad to thank or maybe blame for a whole host of things, one of which being becoming a fan of this great club, but he did also introduce me to the rabbit hole that can be transfer forums. While many supporters avoid contact with such websites and opt for the ‘I’ll believe it when I see them holding the shirt’, I rather enjoy reading the rumours. For the record, I do hope that I become a fan who avoids all contact with what for the most part are made up rumours but, on the other hand, I like to envisage Maxi Gomez scoring 20 goals for us next season and guiding us to the Europa League!

An interesting example of how rumours can spread quickly, as well as how I have often got too excited about a player’s seemingly imminent arrival came in the summer of 2016. I distinctly remember returning home from an A-Level History revision session, and looking online to see we’d made serious enquires for Carlos Bacca. As the days went on, I became more and more convinced the Colombian would sign for us, and at this stage we needed a decent striker. After a few days I recall speaking to my English teacher who was a strong influence on me in my formative years about West Ham and transfers; sadly he was a Chelsea fan. I managed to convince my teacher and the rest of the students in the English class that Bacca to West Ham was a done deal. Of course when it didn’t happen, my teacher took great pleasure in telling me I should not believe everything I read. Ultimately, Bacca clearly did not want to play for us and in those instances fans are more than happy to look elsewhere for more committed players. Moral of the story, do not believe everything you read online and subsequently tell all your friends that it’s a done deal!

Given that my Dad has seen numerous West Ham teams over the years, some of which good and others that definitely flattered to deceive, he has instilled in me a sense of patience. Patience is a key attribute in everyday life anyway, but when it comes to supporting West Ham in a transfer window, it is essential. As my recent articles have included lyrics from songs, now is the time to turn to Gary Barlow and Take That ‘Just have a little patience’. The constant back and forth with transfer rumours these days is difficult as well as frustrating to keep up with, so Gary’s lyrics give us sound advice.

As usual we are already being associated with a whole host of players, some of which I think would be very good acquisitions and others would be underwhelming or even poor. Unlike in years gone by where the club has been less secure and the quality of the manager questioned, we are now in a better place. Thus, I believe I am in the majority that trust Pellegrini and Husillos to bring in good players who will complement the attacking style we are developing even if the budget is not an unbelievable amount.

I took a brief break while writing this piece to accompany my Manchester United supporting friend to Tesco, and for the majority of the trip we discussed Man United’s transfer plans. Louis seems convinced they will not sign players that they really need to and that next season will be another unpleasant one. I revelled in his pain and, unlike Man United’s bleak future, I think we can all agree we are moving in a positive direction. I feel it is appropriate to conclude with a song lyric, we turn to another successful band, and specifically Bono, ‘I Can’t Live With or Without You’ in East London even if some of the rumours are silly!

I was rooting for Derby to beat Aston Villa in the playoff final for a couple of reasons. The first being that Lampard’s men simply play a more attractive brand of football than the ‘villains’. But the second as well as more important reason is the fact my brother is attending the University of Derby in September. I was hoping to tie together a nice trip which would see me visit my brother in Derby, whilst also watching West Ham play at Pride Park. Alas, hopefully we draw Derby in a cup tie.

Hope everyone is well, have a good week.

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