The HamburgHammer Column

Must be a trick of the Saïd! - After a cruel summer, are West Ham a solid midtable team ?

NOTE FROM IAIN: The Predictor League for Manchester City on Saturday is now open HERE. Entries can be submitted until 10am on Saturday.*

Embed from Getty Images

Rarely in recent years did I check my mobile for West Ham news more frequently during a Concordia game under the lights than on Friday evening (which strangely enough seems like it happened a week ago already).

Would we get the Benrahmadrama deal over the line with the clock ticking away ? And on what terms ?

Would the deal sheet get stuck in the fax machine ? Would we miss the deadline by 30 seconds ? No. And no again.

Robert de Niro is no longer waiting, Saïd Benrahma is a West Ham player. Na Na Hey Hey to that!

All of the transfer window shenanigans are behind us now and it has been debated at length here by numerous WHTIDers what the club has actually achieved in terms of transfer dealings in the past few weeks and what squad weaknesses it has failed to address properly m

Overall my critical verdict for this window is a 6/10, and only just.

The biggest factor actually is not a player we brought in, but one we didn’t lose, at least for the time being. To still have Rice here makes a massive difference. That’s a big plus. Rice and Soucek are currently developing a symbiotic partnership, it would have been terrible to see that one being torn apart prematurely.

Embed from Getty Images

We signed a proper RB in Soucek’s mate Vladimir Coufal.
Would we have still signed him if Fredericks hadn’t gone down with a hamstring injury at a crucial time ? Maybe, maybe not. I’m really glad Coufal is here. Our right side is now no longer something to worry about constantly but a genuine weapon.

Coufal and Bowen could form a formidable partnership on the right, with Masuaku and Benrahma doing likewise on the other wing. It certainly makes us less predictable for any opposition.

Embed from Getty Images

I welcome Saïd Benrahma to West Ham as, frankly, how could anyone not want a player like him at our club ? Not only do we now have an array of lovely Bananarama song title puns to play with, we’re also getting flicks and tricks in the mould of Payet or DiCanio, the kind of football that will make supporters rise from their seats in awe and expectant delight.

Although they’ll be rising from armchairs and sofas initially rather than seats at any stadium for the time being. Boooh Covid!

Saïd “The Happy One“ Benrahma is a young, enthusiastic trickster and also seems to be a bloody nice person as indicated by the generous donation of a huge chunk of his loyalty bonus from Brentford to circa 100 staff members at his previous club. Kitman, tea lady, chef, youth coaches etc. will get a decent share of an amount rumoured to be in the region of £500k.

From what I could gather about Benrahma, watching games, videos, reading scouting reports etc. the winger/attacking midfielder really does have a full locker of weaponry at his disposal, making him a lethal finisher as well as a regular provider of scoring opportunities for his teammates.

A player who has a knack for winning free kicks in dangerous positions and the ability to score from those set pieces too. Shooting from outside the box, being a fox in the box, sniffing out instinctively where to lurk in anticipation of a bounce or deflection within his reach, in the attacking third he is a nuisance for opposing defenders. You get the picture.
I reckon we have a great prospect here.

Can he be Payet’s successor or is he only a poor cousin ? We’ll find out soon enough.

As for the rest of the window, I can’t really be overly impressed. We didn’t bring in ANY of the top quality CB targets Moyes wanted, either from Britain or overseas.

We ended up with another loan signing, Watford’s Craig Dawson. If you are looking at Watford fan blogs, many among their fanbase apparently are still giggling themselves to sleep when thinking about the fact that another club has taken Dawson off them. Maybe that’s a harsh reaction as Dawson could actually turn out better than the mockery would suggest.

Watford’s defence looks suspect, so I would imagine Dawson will find it easier to play next to players like Ogbonna and Balbuena than what he was used to at Watford.

Embed from Getty Images

Can he be more than a halfway adequate safety blanket for us ?
Unfortunately we also failed to add another striker after selling two.
We sold, loaned out and paid off far more players than we brought in.
So we have gone from an unbalanced PL squad to a smaller, yet still unbalanced PL squad. All we can hope is that we don’t suffer too many injuries this season or things might get awkward again.

I do have complete faith in our coaching staff though as our players look as lean, fit and full of stamina as any West Ham squad I can remember in the last decade. That will hopefully contribute with regard to keeping injuries within our team to a minimum.

Embed from Getty Images

My matchday experience on Sunday was vastly different from my usual routine as my fellow Concordia supporter and mate Michael (the Eintracht Frankfurt fan) had invited me to an afternoon of armchair football at his place. I had suggested to him a few weeks ago we should be looking out for a day on which Frankfurt and West Ham would have their respective fixtures scheduled for the same afternoon.

He has German Sky at home (including the Bundesliga and PL package), so we decided that this was a perfect opportunity for watching each other’s favourite club for a change while chewing the fat, not to mention a nice jalapeño burger with fries on the side as well.

The footballing fare on offer was enticing, with Frankfurt playing out the curtain raiser away at Cologne to be followed by the main drama of Spurs against West Ham straight after. So I drove some 20 miles south, crossing the river in the process and we experienced a quite remarkable afternoon.

Embed from Getty Images

I was dead jealous when seeing my mate’s flat for the first time as he must have a collection of about 7k CDs and 4k vinyl records gracing his walls and cabinets, easily a bigger music collection than mine. The first game was a dampener as Frankfurt only managed a 1:1 draw against Cologne who were shockingly bad, but somehow managed to score. A draw that felt like a defeat…

So, West Ham next. In a derby against our fiercest local rival. I had forgotten to bring my matchday screwdriver as initially planned. Maybe that’s why things went all Pete Tong in the first half.

I always feel nervous when watching a West Ham game with a friend who doesn’t follow them regularly or even has a soft spot for them.

I am even more desperate for West Ham to win and play well on the occasions when a mate (or my brother) is watching with me as I somehow feel my association with the club is a reflection of or at the very least an important part of my life and personality. So in a weird and symbiotic kind of way, I was convinced at kick-off that West Ham were representing me and I was representing them.

Embed from Getty Images

When Son scored after 45 seconds Michael looked at me and said “Seriously ?”.
When the second goal went in, I was getting ready for an almighty drubbing.
When it was 3:0 to Spurs after 16 minutes, Michael was compassionate enough to offer up some hard booze as consolation.
(I couldn’t accept as I had to drive back home later, but it was tempting at that point.)
Michael also suggested to change channels and watch the German equivalent of Top Gear instead. Or listen to some heavy metal classics on his monster CD changer which holds up to 400 discs at once…

I told him that I had seen worse from the Hammers before (that was a porky, I didn’t really remember at that point when I had seen worse), but I also explained that supporting West Ham was a 24/7 never-ending test of character and endurance. A lifetime challenge. Or maybe it was just karma for sins committed in a previous life…

You all know what happened next.

WHAT. A. COMEBACK!!!
3 unanswered goals in just 12 minutes (better than what Spurs did in the first half!).

Never say die! Never give up! Keep going until the final whistle! A team worthy of the name. Pure character, an iron will and burning desire.

Embed from Getty Images

The Lanzini goal ? One hell of a belter, smack right into the top right corner, shaking the crossbar and post mightily in the process. If Lloris had got more of his hand behind that shot he might have kept the ball out, but broken his wrist!

I remember madly celebrating that goal, sliding around the floor of my mate’s flat on my knees, shouting YES again and again. And some more. Michael only grinned at me like a Cheshire cat after a prawn-munching bonanza. Partly because of my bonkers behaviour, but also because he was genuinely enjoying the turn of events and entertainment provided by the game.

That draw came out of nowhere.
It was a very welcome point I would have gladly taken at the start of the game. A draw that felt like a win. One of those rare draws that will still give us bragging rights over Spurs for a long while as that comeback of ours will have hurt them deeply and profoundly.

Couldn’t have happened to a nicer club and manager…;-))

The upcoming games will be exciting as we should now have a fully fit squad to pick from, including new boy Benrahma. Man City and Liverpool will still be almighty challenges.

But after watching THAT comeback against Spurs we shouldn’t fear anyone. I doubt any team would fancy playing us right now.
We might want to try though NOT to concede three goals again within 20 minutes. It does make getting a result against strong teams a lot harder…COYI!!!

Embed from Getty Images

Hamburg football update: Starting with Hamburg SV who showed composure and guts winning 1:0 away at Fürth, playing for 40 minutes or so with ten men after Leistner stopped his opponent by way of a professional foul and unfortunately he was the last man as well. So kudos to HSV for maintaining their lead. Three wins out of three, perfect start to the league season, 2nd place, one game in hand to go top.
St.Pauli will play legendary club Nürnberg (that’s Nuremberg to you foreigners!) later this evening and you can watch at 7:30pm on BT Sport 1 if you fancy it.

Concordia have something in common with Hamburg SV: And that’s a perfect league record so far. Another win on Friday evening, a 4:3 thriller against Lohbrügge.
So that’s 12 points from 4 games, top of the table, game in hand. Lovely jubbly. Unfortunately due to the pandemic the Hamburg FA has decided to change the format for the local league competitions this season in such a ridiculous way that almost every club and supporter is opposed to it.
It works like this: After 17 games, the league gets split into a promotional round (for the teams finishing between 1st and 8th place) and the remaining 11 clubs fighting for survival in a relegation round.
The problem is that every point won in the previous 17 games gets chalked off, it’s a clean slate for everyone when the battle for promotion or relegation starts in all seriousness. With all the implication this brings.

As soon as teams have their “qualification” for the promotion round confirmed mathematically, they will begin to field B teams with lots of subs and youth players as those will effectively become meaningless games at some stage. While other clubs of course would hope for fellow teams fielding their best sides at all times in order to see certain results go in their favour. It means that the first 17 performances of each team are no longer relevant when the league splits in two. The positive thing is of course that once the promotion/relegation round starts EVERY game means something, no team is ahead of the pack with a 12 point cushion. Still, people already hate this format and long for the day the old league rules apply again. Bloody Covid!

The Cordi Women’s team surprisingly won their first game of the season, 4:2 away to Harburg, not far away from the place where I spent the afternoon. But I gave the game a miss as I fancied a bit of a Sunday morning lie-in. As the girls won, I reckon they won’t have missed me much…LOL


David Hautzig's Match Report

Tottenham 3, West Ham 3. When A Point Is More Than A Point.

NOTE FROM IAIN: Congratulations to MoanerMe who topped the Spurs Predictor League with 77 points. You can see the table "HERE"https://new.westhamtillidie.com/matches/spurs-2020-10-18. The Predictor League for Manchester City on Saturday is now open HERE. Entries can be submitted until 10am on Saturday.*

(Quick shout out to my best mate Jon who suggested the title of this report)

It’s ironic that the player I would have been most curious about going into today’s match at Spuds was unavailable because of a ridiculous deadline on registrations. Why on earth should any club not be allowed to use players that are registered to the club because of a five hour discrepancy? My newest pet peeve. Anyway, the announcement that Haller didn’t even make the bench due to a knock brought into question the decision not to get another striker. Yes, with Haller there it could have been an issue possibly relegating him to third choice. But Antonio’s hamstrings are always on a knife’s edge…metaphorically that is…and thus a worry. Overall, with Spuds on a roll and The Hammers coming off two very solid results, it had the potential to be a very interesting 90 minutes. It was waaaaay more than that.

The second Son got on the end of the long pass from Kane, a combination that has been fairly lethal this season so far for the home side, it looked bad. He flew by Balbuena, and as soon as he cut inside the goal literally looked like it was empty on TV. Might as well have been with Son’s quality. One minute in, one goal down.

Embed from Getty Images

Tottenham 1
West Ham 0

Considering the shock of such an early goal conceded, West Ham looked to answer. They won a free kick that Cresswell sent wide, and then a corner that Antonio tried to direct behind Lloris but sent it wide as well. An equalizer would have been huge considering what happened moments later. Kane got on the ball near the top of the eighteen yard box in the 8th minute, nutmegged Rice, and then with Fabianski standing still drove a low shot past Ogbonna and into the net.

Tottenham 2
West Ham 0

It got uglier in the 16th minute when Son returned the favor to Kane with a terrific cross to Kane in the box. Kane out-jumped Cresswell….not that hard…and headed it past Fabianski to seemingly end the match by the time it was quarter of an hour old. That yard work I need to do was looking a decent alternative to this pretty early on. Nigel told me I couldn’t go outside and play, unfortunately I thought, so I was stuck. Thanks, Nigel.

Embed from Getty Images

Tottenham 3
West Ham 0

It came close to 4-0 in the 35th minute when Aurier slid a pass into the box for the onrushing Son, but Fabianski slid out to meet the ball before the salt could be rubbed into the wound. Seconds later West Ham won another corner but couldn’t put a ball on target. Yet to the visitors credit, they did keep moving the ball forward and didn’t really look like a side that was being totally dominated. Even though they were where it counted because they have guys named Kane and Son and we don’t.

The final seconds of first half added time saw a scramble inside the Tottenham box, and it was the attacking Kane making a defensive stop against the defender Coufal to end the half.

Halftime
Tottenham 3
West Ham 0

Like some of the stretches in the opening half, West Ham looked to attack at the start of the second. They moved the ball around the Spurs end, and at times looked like they spent too much time on the ball instead of looking for a shot. Masuaku tried a volley that went high over the bar, and then Antonio crossed for Fornals but the Spaniard couldn’t put his header on target. From a quality of play perspective, again, West Ham didn’t look awful.

The Hammers won a corner in the 53rd minute when Masuaku and Cresswell combined on the left. The delivery found nothing in particular, but despite Spurs best efforts to clear West Ham drove it back and won another corner. Kane cleared the set piece, but Bowen brought it back and tried to find Soucek in the box but his cross was too high. In the first ten minutes of the second half, West Ham had five attempts to Spurs one, so if “how we looked” was something to consider, it was better than the scoreline dictated.

Spurs won their first corner of the day in the 62nd minute when Kane let go with a 30 yard shot that Fabianski had to dive low to his right to push around the post. West Ham dealt with the set piece, but Spurs won a second corner when Balbuena had to direct a Son cross over the bar. But the visitors back line did their job, something they had done well since the 17th minute.

The 70th minute saw another West Ham corner, and all it led to was another West Ham corner. A minute later Ogbonna was booked for a challenge on Aurier, giving Spurs a free kick 35 yards from goal. It also gave Spurs the opportunity to insert their newest loan signing, a guy named Bale, to take the free kick. Thankfully karma didn’t allow anything highly annoying to happen and the delivery bounced harmlessly to Fabianski.

Kane came an inch away from a hat trick in the 79th minute when Son cut to his right after a run near the West Ham eighteen yard box and rolled a pass to Kane, who one timed his shot off the post. Fabianski didn’t even bother to move.

Then, it started.

Three minutes after Kane almost put the dagger in us, Cresswell lined up to take a free kick and whipped in a very good ball that Balbuena rose high to meet and put it behind Lloris.

Tottenham 3
West Ham 1

Two minutes later, the entire narrative of the day changed when Coufal drove towards the box and sent a cross that Sanchez for some reason decided to try to head clear from close range. He headed it alright. Past Lloris and into the net.

Embed from Getty Images

Tottenham 3
West Ham 2

Lanzini won a free kick in the 89th minute, and after taking it short Cresswell found Bowen in the box but his quick attempt was blocked. In the second minute of added time none other than Bale went in alone on Fabianski, but instead of finishing it off he sent his shot wide.

West Ham kept pressing for an unlikely equalizer deep into stoppage time, with Cresswell taking a free kick on the left. His delivery was cleared, but as West Ham had done all day they kept going. They kept pressing. When Spurs couldn’t clear, Lanzini showed that he still has something deep in his locker when he sent a 35 yard blast off the outside of his right foot and into the top corner past a stunned Lloris.

Embed from Getty Images

Final Score
Tottenham 3
West Ham 3

At the final whistle, I had expected to write about my frustration on the day. We were the better side in the second half even before we scored, and roughly level with them from the 20th minute on. Instead, I thought back to another late equalizer at Spurs from 15 years or so ago when Anton Ferdinand headed home a corner to give West Ham a 1-1 draw. Only this one was even better.

To think.

The sight of a middle aged Scot dancing would be the highlight of my week.


Match Thread

Match Thread: Spurs v West Ham

Spurs v West Ham
FA Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
KO 4.30pm
TV: SkySports
Radio: WHUFC.com

Please use this thread to comment on the match as it progresses.


Opposition Q & A

Opposition Q&A with Spurs

This weekend West Ham follow up their victory against Leicester, with another potentially difficult opponent, away at Spurs, who will be bidding after their demolition of Manchester United. Ahead of the game I once again chatted to lifelong Tottenham fan Ode Ogwu to discuss the game, and the season.
Hi Ode, last time we spoke it was just after the restart to the 19/20 season, when you beat us, although I thought you were a tad fortunate. Ultimately Spurs came 6th in the table, which must be looked back on as a step back after your successive Champions League entries. How do you sum up the 19/20 season?
Transitional – the squad that got us to the champions league was already on the decline and last season exemplified that. The need for a rebuild was clear. Hopefully we have gone some way to fix that in the recent transfer window.

Jose Mourinho has been with you for nigh on a year. Has he had time to impose his favoured style of play on the Spurs team yet? Will you be happy if/when he does?
I’d rather Mourino rebuild the squad than almost anyone else, he knows what a winning team looks like. Let Mourino put a side together of his making and then I think we can evaluate him. He’s been backed this summer and as a consequence expectations are high.

You’ve had a reasonable start, despite losing to Everton, but you mullered Manchester United last time out, how do you think things will pan out this season – where do you think Spurs will finish the season?
It’s the hope that kills you! Personally I try to play it down. I know a lot of Spurs fans are going early, giving it large. I’m both excited and nervous. On paper we look strong but so do others. I think we should be competing for top four and a trophy, I’m not going to say more than that. Secretly I’m hoping for complete domination.

While we’re at it you might as well give us your predictions for the final top four places, in order please.
Such strange beginning’s to the season but here goes:
Liverpool, Man City, Tottenham & Everton
I could easily put Chelsea and Arsenal in there. Ask me after Xmas when form is more settled.

What has happened to Dele Ali?
He exploded onto the scene and set the bar really high. His particular skill set is quite specific, I think. He needs to be playing further up the pitch, he is not a midfielder in my mind. But changes in formation / tactical set up have seen him drop into midfield but arguably we have better players than him to do that. Now with the introduction of Bale it looks like we will stick with 4 3 3 set up with Kane, Son and Bale. In midfield the creative spots will go first to Le Celso and Ndombele over Ali. But we have lots of options to play in different formations with different players and Ali will just have to stake his claim in the side , which is a good thing.

West Ham have had two good wins on the trot, is David Moyes going to lead West Ham to a better finish than last season? What position do you think West Ham can realistically reach this season?
I thought you would do better than you actually did last year. Declan Rice, Bowen and Michail Antonio are looking good. Soucek from what I’ve seen, looks decent. I would be looking for you to push for top half and a really good season pushing for Europa league spots – that would be a great season – but so many strong sides in contention. What goes against you from what I can see, is the mood within the club and issues with the board. I’m not sure you had the greatest transfer window although you’ve got the boy Benrahma over the line, who could be a good signing, a creative player. At the same time I could see you struggling again particularly if you get unlucky with injuries. Too early to tell.

Gareth Bale has returned to White Hart Lane. Will he have the same impact on you as he did in his last spell there?
We hope so. He’s been a great player. I don’t expect him to be the same player who left but whatever this version is I expect it to be at a high level. At the moment it just feels great having him back, a real pick up for the club. We dream of great things.

What if anything do you think about your latest signing Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg? What about selling on Kyle Walker-Peters?
He fills a position we desperately needed fixing – centre mid. To that extent he has fitted in seamlessly and we look better for it. Sorry to see Walker Peters leave, was really holding out for him to make it at Spurs. He’s a good player and is holding down his position at Southampton. From a pragmatic point of view it was a good deal for us and we’ve strengthened at full back too. Overall we’re stronger. But always sorry to see one of your better ‘own ones’ leave.

Who are you early picks for the drop? Relegation candidates in order please?
Too early to say, but here goes:
18th Sheffield Utd 19th Burnley & 20th Fulham.

“How are Tottenham likely to set themselves up against us on Sunday? Players/Formation.*
4 3 3 in front of Loris:
Aurier, Alderweireld, Sanchez, Reguilon.
Hojbjerg, Ndombele, Sissoko.
Son, Kane, Lamela.
Bench: Bale, Moura, Vinicius (new CF), Doherty, Davis, Hart, Winks.

Cheers, very detailed! Finally do Spurs have a chance of gaining any points against a ‘flying’ West Ham this weekend? Prediction for score please?
It could be close with Bale coming off the bench to seal it 3-1 – get in there! Listen, you’re on fire, we look good, could be a draw!

Thanks to Ode for his thoughts. I think it could go either way, but you have to be a dreamer to follow West Ham, so 1 – 2 away win! COYI

Embed from Getty Images

Dan Coker's Match Preview

Match Preview: Tottenham v West Ham

NOTE FROM IAIN: The Predictor League for Spurs on Sunday is ready to enter HERE . The deadline for entries is 1pm on Sunday lunchtime.

Blast from the past

Today’s focus sees us travel back nearly 84 years, to Boxing Day 1936 – George VI had become King 15 days earlier after the abdication of Edward VIII, and Tommy Steele (knighted in the Queen’s recent Birthday Honours) was born nine days before a game which saw West Ham United secure a 3-2 victory over Tottenham Hotspur in front of 34,196 in a Cockney Christmas cracker at White Hart Lane.

The Hammers had raised the curtain on the 1936/37 Second Division season with maximum points from the reverse fixture against Spurs at Upton Park and completed the double over their north London rivals in this Boxing Day encounter. Walter Alsford was making his last appearance for Tottenham before a move to fellow Second Division side Nottingham Forest the following month but it was the Hammers’ Edinburgh-born centre-forward, 32-year-old Peter Simpson (pictured), who stole the show, bagging a brace to secure the victory. Outside-right Stan Foxall was also on the scoresheet for the Irons, while Tottenham’s goals came courtesy of Romford-born outside-left Les Miller and Geordie inside-right Joe Meek.

Simpson’s double was his only two-goal haul for the club – he had joined West Ham for a modest fee from Crystal Palace having netted 165 goals in 195 games for the Selhurst Park club between 1929 and 1935. Simpson had made his Hammers debut in a 4-3 defeat at Norwich on 31st August 1935 and scored 12 goals in 36 appearances for the Irons, playing his last game on 26th March 1937 in a goalless home draw with Barnsley. He moved on to Reading and later played for Aldershot. He ran a tobacconist’s in Croydon after retiring from the game. Peter Simpson died in March 1974, in Croydon, at the age of 69.

Charlie Paynter’s Hammers would end the 1936/37 Second Division season in sixth position, while Tottenham would finish tenth. Leicester topped the Second Division, Manchester City won the First Division title and Sunderland won the FA Cup. Len Goulden would go on to top the Hammers’ scoring charts that season, with 15 goals from 44 matches.

Tottenham Hotspur: Jack Hall, Ralph Ward, Vic Buckingham, Walter Alsford, Arthur Rowe, Frank Grice, Jimmy McCormick, Joe Meek, Johnny Morrison, Andy Duncan, Les Miller.

West Ham United: Jack Weare, Charlie Bicknell, Charlie Walker, Ted Fenton, Dick Walker, Joe Cockroft, Stan Foxall, Tommy Green, Peter Simpson, Len Goulden, Jackie Morton.

Club Connections

Ryan Fredericks returns to his former club while ex-West Ham goalkeeper Joe Hart welcomes his old side; a large group of players join them in having turned out for Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United. Divided here by position, they include:

Goalkeepers: Bill Kaine, Charlie Ambler, Fred Griffiths.

Defenders: Calum Davenport, Paul Konchesky, Mark Bowen, Mauricio Tarrico, Steve Walford, Chris Hughton, Percy Mapley, Fred Milnes, Mitchell Thomas, Neil Ruddock.

Midfielders: Paul Allen, Scott Parker, Michael Carrick, Jimmy Neighbour, Matthew Etherington, Ilie Dumitrescu, John Moncur, Mark Robson, David Bentley, Charlie Whitchurch, Chris Carrick, Martin Peters, John Smith.

Strikers: Mido, Frederic Kanoute, Almer Hall, Bobby Zamora, Peter Kyle, Sergei Rebrov, Kenny McKay, George Foreman, Dave Dunmore, Teddy Sheringham, Les Bennett, Jermain Defoe, Bill Joyce, Robbie Keane, Fred Massey, Jimmy Reid, Clive Allen, Les Ferdinand, Jimmy Greaves, Harry Bradshaw.

Jack Tresadern played for West Ham and managed Tottenham, while Trevor Hartley also played for the Hammers and managed Spurs on a caretaker basis. Alan Pardew played for Tottenham and managed the Hammers, while Harry Redknapp played for the Hammers and managed both clubs.

Today’s focus though is on a goalkeeper who spent one season with West Ham having started his career with Tottenham. Tony Parks was born in Hackney on 26th January 1963 and came through the ranks at Spurs, playing regularly for the youth and reserve sides. He made his first team debut for Tottenham at the age of 19 in a 2-2 draw with West Ham at Upton Park on 10th May 1982 but a regular spot in the starting XI proved elusive due to the presence of Ray Clemence. A brave, athletic goalkeeper, he made 49 appearances for Tottenham, with perhaps the most memorable coming in a UEFA Cup run in 1983/84.

Embed from Getty Images

After Clemence had suffered an injury in an FA Cup tie at Fulham in January 1984, Parks took over first team goalkeeping duties for a few weeks. Clemence made an initial return before severing a tendon in his finger during training – Parks consequently played in both legs of the UEFA Cup semi-final against Hajduk Split, helping Tottenham to a two-legged Final against Anderlecht. Clemence was fit for both legs of the Final but manager Keith Burkinshaw kept faith with the 21-year-old Parks – both legs ended in 1-1 draws with the winners of the competition decided on penalties. Parks saved from Morten Olsen and Arnor Gudjohnsen (father of former Chelsea and Tottenham forward Eidur Gudjohnsen) to win the UEFA Cup for Spurs.

Following the signing of Bobby Mimms, Parks had loan spells at Oxford in 1986 and Gillingham in 1987 before signing permanently for Third Division Brentford, managed by former Tottenham man Steve Perryman, in 1988. He joined fellow third tier side Fulham in 1990 before making a return to the top flight with Billy Bonds’ newly-promoted West Ham United in 1991, replacing Allen McKnight as Ludek Miklosko’s understudy. Parks admitted that he had let his early success at Tottenham go to his head a little and appreciated being offered a fresh start back in the First Division with the Hammers.

The 28-year-old Parks made his West Ham debut in a 2-0 home defeat to Notts County on 31st August 1991; he again deputised for ‘Ludo’ four days later in a midweek goalless draw at QPR, making a string of fine saves to keep a clean sheet and help the Hammers claim a point at Loftus Road. He had to wait nearly five months for his next appearance, again keeping a clean sheet in a 1-0 victory over Oldham at Upton Park on 1st February 1992.

Chirpy Cockney Parks would play all six of the Hammers’ matches in February 1992, three of which were in the FA Cup. The 5’10 custodian, a big favourite with the fans, kept a clean sheet in a 1-0 fourth round replay win at Wrexham before helping the Hammers secure a fifth round replay with a 1-1 draw at Sunderland’s Roker Park. John Byrne’s double put the Second Division Wearsiders in control of the replay at the Boleyn Ground (Parks is pictured on the programme cover for that match) before two wonder strikes from Martin Allen put the Irons back on terms. David Rush grabbed the winner as Sunderland progressed all the way to the Final that year. Parks also kept goal in a 2-1 defeat to Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough, which was sandwiched in between the two Sunderland ties. He rounded off the month by starting in a 2-0 home defeat to Everton on 29th February, and played his last match for the club in a 1-0 defeat to Southampton at The Dell on 3rd March 1992. The Hammers would be relegated in bottom place at the end of the 1991/92 First Division season.

Having made nine appearances for West Ham United, keeping three clean sheets, Parks left the Hammers in the summer of 1992. Disappointed to be offered only a new one-year contract by the club, he signed for third tier Stoke. He had never let the Hammers down and is remembered for screaming instructions to his back line. He moved to Falkirk later that year and made over 100 appearances for the Scottish side during a four-year spell, winning the Scottish Challenge Cup in the 1993/94 season – he played alongside former Hammers team-mate Frank McAvennie and another former West Ham player, Tommy McQueen. A spell at Blackpool in 1996/97 yielded no first team appearances before he joined Burnley; a loan spell at fourth tier Doncaster in 1997/98 preceded his only appearances for the Clarets, in two League Cup ties in 1998/99. A short stint at non-league Barrow was followed by a return to league football with Scarborough. He ended his career with fourth tier Halifax, playing his final professional match in the 2000/01 season. Parks also had two spells as caretaker manager at Halifax, in 2000 and 2001, before leaving the club in 2002.

Parks went on to work as a goalkeeping coach, holding roles at several clubs and also working under Clemence with the England youth teams for the FA. He returned to Tottenham under Harry Redknapp in November 2008 and has also been goalkeeping coach at Aston Villa. Now 57, he was Head of Academy Goalkeeping at Watford but left the club in September 2018 to set up Tony Parks Goalkeeping, offering private coaching and Coach Education.

Referee

Sunday’s referee is 39-year-old Paul Tierney. The Lancashire-based official has refereed the Hammers on eight previous occasions. His most recent Irons appointment was our 1-1 draw at Manchester United in July, a match in which he awarded the Hammers a penalty which was converted by Michail Antonio. He also refereed our 2-0 home win against Norwich in August 2019 and our 2-0 defeat at Everton last October. Tierney was also in charge for our 2-0 defeat to Everton in east London in March 2019 and also refereed our 3-0 win at Newcastle in December 2018.

Embed from Getty Images

Tierney’s first West Ham appointment was for the 1-1 draw with Everton in November 2015 which saw James McCarthy’s tackle on Dimitri Payet put the Frenchman out of action for two months (pictured above). His second Irons game was our 0-0 draw at West Brom in September 2017, when he chose to issue just a yellow card to Ben Foster for his late tackle on Javier Hernandez. He also refereed our goalless draw at Shrewsbury in the third round of the FA Cup in January 2018.

Possible line-ups

Gareth Bale is set to make his second debut for the hosts but Japhet Tanganga and Giovani Lo Celso are out. Eric Dier is a doubt. Tottenham could win three consecutive Premier League games against West Ham for the first time since a run of five between March 2008 and December 2009. Spurs have scored 13 goals in their past two matches in all competitions.

West Ham United are likely to have a fully fit squad, with Ryan Fredericks, Issa Diop and Arthur Masuaku all set to be available. Said Benrahma’s signing was not completed in time for him to feature on Sunday. Michail Antonio has scored four goals in his seven Premier League appearances against Tottenham. The Hammers have won only twice in their last 18 Premier League games away to Tottenham, drawing six and losing ten.

Possible Tottenham Hotspur XI: Lloris; Aurier, Dier, Sanchez, Reguilon; Sissoko, Hojbjerg, Ndombele; Bale, Kane, Son.

Possible West Ham United XI: Fabianski; Coufal, Balbuena, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Masuaku; Bowen, Soucek, Rice, Fornals; Antonio.

Enjoy the game – Up The Hammers!


Copyright © 2020 Iain Dale Limited. Terms and conditions. Cookies.
Website by Russell Brown.