My Sunday Times Feature on West Ham

This is from yesterday’s Sunday Times Sports Section. I thought you might like it.

My club: Iain Dale on his love for West Ham

Broadcaster Iain Dale remembers the perfect day at Wembley and the decision to leave Upton Park for good. Interview by John Aizlewood

Why West Ham?
It wasn’t in my genes: my dad was a Blackpool fan who’d seen them in the 1948 FA Cup final. I was brought up near Saffron Walden in Essex, but I must admit I supported Manchester United until the shame was too much when they were relegated in 1974. My best friend was a West Ham fan and, being easily led I followed. I assumed there’d be no more relegations…

Early memories
My first game at Upton Park was Alan Curbishley’s debut against Chelsea in March 1975. I went with my cousin, uncle and dad and we stood on the corner of the North Bank. We lost 1-0, but my eyes were on stalks: it was a war zone. I got a season ticket around 1990. I’ve had one ever since.

Best of times
The 2006 FA Cup final. The father of the friend who’d got me into West Ham had been a season-ticket holder since 1958 and he hadn’t got a ticket. It wasn’t right, so I gave him mine. A journalist friend heard about it and got another one for me. After we’d lost, Liverpool fans came up and said we had been robbed. That never happened before and it’s never happened since. It still makes me feel emotional. An imperfect result, but a perfect day.

Worst of times
Relegation in 2003. There were amazing players — Joe Cole, Jermain Defoe, Michael Carrick — but they couldn’t play as a team.

Favourite player
Paolo Di Canio. The flaws in his character added to his game. We’ll never see anyone like him again.

Least favourite player
Iain Dowie tried his best, but he was a terrible striker. He was a typical West Ham signing: we all knew it wasn’t going to work.

How good is today’s West Ham team?
It’s the best since the days of Joe Cole. Unusually for us, they play as a team. It’s a great feeling to be aiming for fourth rather than thinking about relegation. That said, we’ll finish seventh.

Sack the board?
I’m not part of any campaign to get them out. They’ve made terrible mistakes but moving to the new stadium was the right thing to do. When it’s full, the atmosphere is good. People forget that Upton Park was a deathly place when things weren’t going well.

The HamburgHammer Column

When Kane wasn't able - Hammers in Dreamland

It’s not often that your team wins a Cup Final in February. But apparently we did just that yesterday. I’m not quite sure if it was Spurs’ Cup Final or ours, but we did win this somehow.

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Although looking at the stats and considering how much of a workout my matchday screwdriver had to endure, I’m still a bit baffled how we managed to get all three points regardless.

Dare I say it ? This is what good teams do. They get a narrow lead over the line, by hook or by crook, even if they’ve been under the cosh for long spells in a game.

Talking about being under the cosh, I’m not gonna lie to you, but I didn’t sleep at all the night before, tossing and turning in my Futon style bed, gazing at the alarm clock on the bedside table every five minutes, never getting a proper dose of shut-eye until the sun was up again on Sunday.

It wasn’t just pre-match nerves either. This is a big week coming up for my family (more of that later) and once those meandering thoughts and lingering worries are beginning to direct a tense film drama of their own inside your head, sleep becomes an elusive commodity…

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Valecnici, that’s a useful Czech word, describing our team as a whole in this game against Spurs – it means “Warriors”. And that’s what the lads were yesterday, to a man. Like Soucek who had to briefly leave the pitch after a clash of heads in order to get a nasty cut above his eye fixed up, leaving us a man short for what seemed like eternity, but apparently was little more than five minutes. I was almost certain Spurs would exploit that fact and punish us. They didn’t.

For the rest of the game Spurs laid siege on our goal, they had 69% possession, a whopping 20 shots, 4 of them on goal. West Ham only had 31% of the ball (it seemed even less than that to me, watching on the old custard and jelly), only 4 shots in total, ALL of them on goal.
The truly important stat though, the one that got spelled out in all the major headlines is the one about West Ham scoring twice and Spurs only once. Did we bend ? Absolutely.
Did we break ? No, we didn’t. Not this time. Still hard to beat. Thanks to Moyes. Warriors.

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There’s no denying it: West Ham were riding their luck, especially in the second half. A combination of brave defending (Coufal taking one for the team late on, Rice racing back into the box to clear a ball and save the day), some fantastic saves by Fabianski and a great defensive contribution by the left goalpost (from Fabianski’s POV) kept Tottenham’s equaliser from materialising.

No Lanzini moment for them, no equaliser in dramatic fashion, rotten luck, Spurs! NOT sorry about that! LOL

When Spurs started collecting yellow cards early on as if they were going out of fashion with Mourinho busting the odd blood vessel or two down the sideline, I was expecting the game to go south for Spurs and Mourinho ending up in the stands once more. We didn’t exactly cruise after going 2:0 up. Spurs kept pushing, turning the screw further.

But we actually won by doing something very un-West Ham-like – we scored early in both halves, catching Spurs flat-footed both times. Again, that’s the sign of a strong team. As much as I was hoping we would keep Kane, Son and Bale quiet all game, I knew deep down that this was unlikely, if not impossible to do.

Even when not on top form they are still fantastic players who can turn a game on its head in a matter of seconds. And they nearly did. But “nearly“ is the little brother of “better luck next time“ and the poor cousin of “close, but no cigar!“, especially in football.

This time, luck was on our side and this is now one of those rare seasons where Spurs have failed to beat us at least once. God knows what’ll happen to our North London neighbours should they also fail to qualify for European football…

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I don’t have to go over each individual player’s contribution to this famous victory, they all did their bit, everyone put in a shift. Nobody more so than Jesse Lingard once again.

He really gives us that extra bit of quality, that desire and big team winning mentality we have been crying out for for years. He took his goal really well and he even got to celebrate it twice with his teammates, thanks to VAR. For me it was never really in doubt that the play was onside, even in real time it looked like a perfectly good goal to me.

I thought it would knock the stuffing out of Tottenham much more than it did though…several nervy moments and substitutions later we had the win in the bag. Sweet, mate!

And here we are then, sitting beautifully in 4th place. Best team in London.

It looks bizarre, it seems unreal. But his ain’t a fluke. Not anymore. Yes, we still have to play Man City, Man United and Leicester. But we can approach any and every game with confidence, pride and a bit of swagger these days. The season is far from over yet, of course. We aren’t even mathematically safe yet. There may be setbacks lurking.

However, this team now reminds me of a shark that’s been starving for prey for too long and which has finally smelled fresh traces of claret in the water. Thanks to players like Soucek, Coufal and Lingard the entire squad have acquired a taste for winning, a desire to train that little bit harder, to look after themselves more while trying to become better performers from one game to the next. It’s a refreshing change from seeing the likes of Carroll or Wilshere taking the club for a ride.

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This is a watershed moment for our club in my opinion. Moyes is key in all this. He’s the one with a clear and strategic plan and the right ideas about how to push this great club forward. I read some quotes from our gaffer, talking about how having Rice at West Ham helps himself and this club as a whole to be more ambitious. Because Rice is rightfullyambitious and hungry for success, Moyes feels added pressure to bring better players in to keep the likes of Rice happy.

This is what Moyes said just recently:

Declan is pushing me to improve the team, because I’m looking at him and saying, ‘You’re an England international, possibly future England captain and you want me to get you good players.’ I think Declan will always be here as long as he thinks I’m going to try to do that.

And it’s true. Rice could become a legend at West Ham – if we can keep him at the club that is and keep him happy. As unlikely as that may sound at this point, he will have no reason to leave as long as West Ham are heading in the right direction. With European or even CL football beckoning and starting every game for us, with Moyes adding to the quality of the squad, why would Rice want to leave ?

I’d go one further . We all know how Rice grew up a Chelsea fan, how they ditched him as a youth team player because they were convinced he’d never be good enough to make it into the PL. Well, they got that one slightly wrong, didn’t they ? Rice, by the way, was magnificent against Tottenham.

Playing for your childhood club must be a dream come true if it happens, I am ready to believe that. But Rice is making some great progress and wonderful memories at West Ham NOW as a man. He’s no longer the kid that used to cheer when Lampard or John Terry scored a goal.

He’s clearly enjoying playing for West Ham and why wouldn’t he ? He’s been our player for a while now, U23s and first team. Chelsea may have been his first football love. But not everybody gets to marry his first love from teenage days in real and adult life. My bedroom used to be plastered with Nena posters on every wall during my teenager years, today I listen to many other artists and have given up any desire or hope to hold hands with the singer of “99 Red Balloons“ at the end of the aisle, exchanging vows in front of a clergyman.

I can see a similar process at work for Declan Rice and his relationship with his boyhood crush Chelsea.

There is every chance that Rice is no longer simply a West Ham player at this stage. I wouldn’t be surprised to seeing him becoming more and more of a West Ham supporter who happens to wear the claret and blue shirt while playing his football, if it hasn’t already happened. A fan on the pitch, just like Mark Noble used to be and still is occasionally.
Playing every game and being skipper of your team must make a difference. I can see Moyes making Rice the focal point of his improved future West Ham team. Build the team around him.

Let’s hope Moyes will indeed be in a position to bring in more good players in future to keep this club on the right track.

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Moyes has mentioned what he thinks is essential to turn this club around. A proper scouting network and recruitment policy. Signing young and hungry players rather than big name players looking for one final hurrah, paired with a big wage packet.

Players who are good at football AND sound as human beings and teammates. Pillars of the dressing room rather than pillocks on Instagram.

I reckon this is going to be a bloody exciting ride if Moyes is allowed to make more decisions concerning the club’s future.
If he gets proper backing in words and action, who knows what he can achieve for the Hammers ?

I am really grateful we won our derby game because it has lifted my mood just in time for what is going to be a crucial week for me personally. My brother is having to face yet another medical procedure on Thursday to finally get rid of his cancer. It’s minimally invasive surgery this time, so he should be in and out of hospital quickly.

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My brother is obviously hoping that this is gonna be the final operation required in order to kick the tumour into touch once and for all. Fingers crossed and all that. Your kind thoughts and expressions of support have been most welcome and sincerely appreciated, thank you all for your words of encouragement, positive vibes and prayers, bless you all!

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Somehow wins against Spurs are always that little bit extra special, aren’t they ? It’s only three points on paper, same as the previous win against Sheffield United.

But it does feel more like six or nine points really, this one. Not just because it was a derby win. More in terms of being a statement of intent.
A line drawn in the sand.
In the form of an impressive run of results with victories coming in different shapes and sizes. And not just against relegation strugglers. Pundits are finally sitting up, taking notice. West Ham, on current form, can no longer be ignored.

And what’s even more uplifting to see is that this bunch of players is in no danger of losing contact with solid ground, these guys aren’t getting cocky, too big for their boots or ahead of themselves.

But winning breeds confidence. And bigger confidence makes winning more likely. Which raises the confidence levels even more.

Have we got anything to lose against Man City ? Not really. As long as we don’t suffer a thrashing by three or four goals, there is no shame if we were to lose against them. Most other teams do. But one thing I’m sure of is that Man City will know they’ve been in a game once the final whistle has sounded.

It’s great to be a Hammer in February 2021.
Especially after also winning Spurs’ Cup Final this year. COYI!!!

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Hamburg football update: Isn’t football weirdly wonderful ? When a team topping the table travels to the worst team in the league and still manages to lose by a scoreline of 2:3, then we are all being reminded once again what is so great about the beautiful game: You just don’t know what’s gonna happen over 90+ minutes.

Hamburg SV of course have a long history of losing this type of fixture.
They can beat three top teams in a row, only to suffer an embarrassing defeat at the hands of a Würzburg team that is (still) very much destined for the drop at the end of the season and rightly so. Hamburger SV are still occupying top spot though for the time being, thanks to their superior goal difference over both Bochum and Kiel who are also on 42 points, just like HSV. What a promotion race this is already shaping up to be, with Fürth and Karlsruhe also still very much in the hunt…

St.Pauli, meanwhile have apparently forgotten how to lose at football, they have now won four in a row after beating Darmstadt 3:2 and they firmly got their minces peeled on the top half of the Bundesliga 2 table rather than another dreaded relegation dogfight.

David Hautzig's Match Report

West Ham 2, Tottenham 1. So This What Fortunes Look Like.

I was a bit conflicted about todays match. When Sean Whetstone asked me for a prediction, I said 2-1 West Ham. I figured our speed and pressure up front would force a few mistakes from Jose’s crew. The conflict was something different. It was about desire. Of course I wanted to beat them, go nine points ahead of them, and continue to loiter in the top four. But I was taken by what David Moyes said to The Times.

“I want to get away from that feeling that you have to take this chance now,” Moyes said. “To say, ‘This is your chance to do it or you’re not going to do it at all, that’s not that way I’m building. I want to build something which is going to be consistent and regular. I expect us to do it next year and the year after, because that’s my job.”

To that end, I didn’t want today to turn into the be-all-end-all of West Ham existence. But boy, does it feel wonderful.

The mistakes at the back started early for Spurs. In the 5th minute, Coufal nutmegged Reguilon before rolling a pass to Bowen, who then put a cross into the box for Antonio to attack. It looked like Dier and Sanchez played that internal game of “you got him?” with each other, and as it turned out neither had him. Antonio got a toe to the cross, Lloris couldn’t hold on to it, and our man up front slammed home the rebound.

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West Ham 1
Tottenham 0

A few minutes later Tottenham were again sloppy on the ball at midfield, and Antonio pounced. He fed Lingard on the left, but the man on loan tried to return the favor with a pass as opposed to shooting and Antonio couldn’t reach it. A minute later Lamela broke on a counter for Spurs and got the ball to Kane twenty yards out. But Kane’s right footed effort went wide.

West Ham’s day could have become complicated in the 15th minute when Soucek and Sanchez clashed heads as the ball bounced around in the West Ham eighteen yard box following a Spurs corner. Both players went down. It says something about the relative toughness of the two players, as Sanchez rolled around on the ground while Soucek bounced back up despite the blood pouring out of his head. So while the wanna be hockey player from the Czech Republic got stitched up West Ham had to cope with being a man down.

Spurs won a free kick from just outside the box when Bowen used his arm to block a cross from Reguilon. It should have been a very dangerous moment for West Ham, but Son’s delivery barely elevated off the ground let alone beat the first man. But despite the return of Soucek, the visitors kept the possession and the ball inside the West Ham half.

Wes Ham won a much needed corner in the 37th minute after what seemed like ages of Tottenham possession. And it almost doubled the Hammers lead when Dawson rose up to reach the delivery from Cresswell, but his header was right at Lloris who palmed it over the bar for a second corner which Spurs were able to clear.

Spurs got their first shot on target of the day in the 43rd minute when Lamela latched onto a ball 25 yards from goal and let go a low shot that Fabianski went down to his right to stop. Two minutes later West Ham won a cheeky corner when Coufal got the ball into the Spurs box for Bowen, forcing Sanchez to head the ball out. But Lloris came out strongly and gathered it in.

In the late moments of added time, Kane got the ball just where he likes it and tested Fabianski with a low shot. Diop got to the rebound first and put it out for a corner. The delivery was good enough to allow Dier to get his head on the ball but his attempt went wide.

West Ham 1
Tottenham 0

VAR has been inconsistent bordering on disastrous at times. But the whole point of it is to make sure as many decisions are correct as possible. Imagine this. Antonio laid the ball off for Fornals, who then broke into the Spurs area alongside Lingard with the latter capping off the attack with a wonderful left footed shot into the far corner, only to see the flag go up and the goal disallowed. All of us at home then get to see the decision was utterly absurd. I know the reaction on Twitter and the many fan sites, this one included, would have been incendiary.

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West Ham 2
Tottenham 0

Spurs won a free kick when Soucek was shown a yellow for a foul in the 59th minute. Kane took it, and while it beat the West Ham wall it flew wide. Two minutes later Kane whipped in a low cross that Fabianski read well and smothered low. Moments after that Bale got the ball at midfield and started a trot deeper into West Ham territory before trying a low shot of his own that Fabianski handled. Then Tottenham won a corner, and the pressure that Spurs had kept up finally had an end product as Moura got to the ball first and beat Fabianski to the near post. Poor marking from Cresswell? Yes. But it was coming.

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West Ham 2
Tottenham 1

In the 70th minute, after two quick consecutive corners, Moura had a good look at goal from 25 yards out but skied his shot high over the bar. Two minutes later Kane cut across the top of the West Ham eighteen yard box and almost found the corner of the net. It was all Spurs, and one had to wonder what the match would have looked like had Spurs started like this from the opening whistle.

The game opened up, and after Fornals inexplicably tried to cross to nobody in the box instead of shooting, Spurs broke. Kane chased down a ball on the end-line and passed to Bale near the top of the box. The man with the silly rubber band in his hair let loose a cannon of a shot that clanged off the crossbar and out for a goal kick.

West Ham saw a nervy time transform into sheer terror when Fabianski came out to punch away a cross, but he collided with Coufal in the process. The bargain of not just this season but many seasons laid on the grass for several minutes. The medical staff came out quick, and at first it looked very serious. But like his countryman earlier, Coufal showed his toughness and carried on.

The final minutes plus added time were too nervy for me to watch and write at the same time, so I put my IPad down and began to pace. Quietly, because the family was asleep. When Coufal’s clearance attempt bounced off Son, and then bounced off the bar, and THEN evaded Sanchez, my knees buckled a bit. Adding to the tension was the knowledge that my stream was close to two minutes behind. So when my best mate Jon texted me that it was over, I stared at the screen in a kind of daze. Waiting for the alternative time line to hit me with Kane scoring the equalizer. Like Mourinho dressed as Thanos snapping his fingers.

Final Score
West Ham 2
Tottenham 1

I wonder how many of you are sharing the same combination of feelings as I have. Joy with a level of disbelief. We are in the top half of the table in a legitimate fight for a spot in Europe. Our place in the upper atmosphere is certainly precarious, but it’s also on merit. You are not fourth after 25 matches on luck. You are there because you belong there. And to do that on our budget, with the losses we have incurred on transfers that didn’t pan out, is remarkable. At a time when so many parts of our collective lives are somewhere in between uncertain and scary, the fun this side and David Moyes in particular have given us is priceless.

Hello Fortunes. Nice to meet you after all these years.

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Match Thread

Match Thread: West Ham v Tottenham Hotspur

West Ham v Tottenham Hotspur
FA Premier League
London Stadium
KP 12 noon
TV: Sky Sports
Radio: talkSport

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

Dan Coker's Match Preview

Match Preview: West Ham v Tottenham

The Predictor League for Spurs is open. Enter your team HERE. Deadline is 10am on Sunday.

Blast from the past

Easter Monday, the 31st of March 1986 – Cliff Richard & The Young Ones featuring Hank Marvin were number one with ‘Living Doll’, Clockwise topped the UK box office and Sir Peter Pears died three days later. West Ham United, meanwhile, secured a 2-1 victory over Tottenham Hotspur in front of 27,568 at Upton Park.

West Ham were without the suspended Alvin Martin, sent off at Arsenal earlier in the month, so Paul Hilton came in for his second and final appearance of the season. Tottenham were without Glenn Hoddle but former Hammer Paul Allen lined up for the visitors in his first appearance back at the Boleyn Ground since departing for Spurs the previous summer. Future Hammer Clive Allen, Paul’s cousin, appeared as a Spurs substitute.

John Lyall’s hosts, fresh from a 4-0 thrashing of Chelsea at Stamford Bridge 48 hours earlier, came close early on when Geoff Pike and Mark Ward were denied by Ray Clemence. West Ham took the lead in the 17th minute when Frank McAvennie’s clever flick found Alan Dickens, who in turn released Tony Cottee (pictured in this game below) who buried his effort past Clemence. The 20-year-old striker would be voted Hammer of the Year, with McAvennie runner-up.

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Ossie Ardiles headed an equaliser for Tottenham five minutes later but the Hammers were ahead again shortly before half-time – Ward’s corner was headed on by Tony Gale, Cottee’s effort was blocked by Clemence and McAvennie smashed the loose ball home – the Scot would end his first season in east London as the club’s top scorer with 28 goals from 51 appearances. The second half saw Alan Devonshire denied by Clemence, while McAvennie hit the bar with a lofted effort and saw a shot beaten away by Clemence after a swift breakaway following a Spurs corner. The action from this match can be viewed in my video below.

West Ham ended the 1985/86 season in third place, still our highest ever league position, while Peter Shreeves’ Tottenham finished tenth. Unfortunately, there was no prize of a European place in 1986/87 following the Heysel ban on English clubs in Europe. Liverpool would complete the Double by winning the league and the FA Cup.

West Ham United: Phil Parkes, Ray Stewart, Tony Gale, Paul Hilton, George Parris, Mark Ward (Neil Orr), Alan Dickens, Geoff Pike, Alan Devonshire, Tony Cottee, Frank McAvennie.

Tottenham Hotspur: Ray Clemence, Gary Stevens, Paul Miller, Gary Mabbutt, Danny Thomas, Paul Allen, Graham Roberts, Tony Galvin, Ossie Ardiles (Clive Allen), Chris Waddle, Mark Falco.

Club Connections

Ex-West Ham goalkeeper Joe Hart returns to his former club while current Hammer Ryan Fredericks started his career at Spurs. A large group of players join him in having turned out for Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United. Divided here by position, they include:

Goalkeepers: Bill Kaine, Charlie Ambler, Tony Parks, Fred Griffiths.

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

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

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

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

This week’s focus though is on a midfielder who had a short loan spell at Tottenham Hotspur before later managing West Ham United. Alan Pardew was born in Wimbledon on 18th July 1961 – a former glazier, Pardew signed for Crystal Palace from non-league Yeovil in 1987 at the age of 25 and remained at the club for four years. He signed for Charlton in 1991 and scored a winning goal against West Ham in August 1992.

Pardew had a brief loan spell at Tottenham in the summer of 1995, featuring for them in the InterToto Cup. UEFA had stated that any club refusing to play in the competition would incur a ban from European football but Spurs saw it as an inconvenience to their pre-season plans – they also had players representing England in the Umbro Cup (a preparatory tournament for Euro ’96) and others playing for the Under-21 side in the Toulon tournament. Manager Gerry Francis put together a team of the club’s youngsters alongside veterans loaned from the lower leagues – Francis didn’t even attend the InterToto matches, preferring to spend pre-season in Scandinavia with the first team.

With the InterToto Cup played in a group stage format, Pardew made his Tottenham debut in a 2-0 ‘home’ defeat (the match was played at Brighton’s Goldstone Ground) to Swiss side Luzern on 25th June 1995. Pardew’s only taste of victory in a Spurs shirt came in a 2-1 win at Slovenian side Rudar Velenje. A 2-1 loss to Swedish side Osters followed in a match again played at the Goldstone two days before his 34th birthday, but Pardew’s fourth and final appearance for the club remains etched in Tottenham history – their 8-0 humbling in Cologne on 22nd July 1995 remains in the record books as the club’s heaviest defeat. The German club took the competition somewhat more seriously – German international Bruno Labbadia scored a hat-trick, with Austrian legend Toni Polster and Romanian World Cup quarter-finalist Dorinel Munteanu netting two apiece. With Spurs’ InterToto adventure ending in failure, Pardew joined fourth-tier Barnet as player-coach and ended his playing career with the Bees in 1997.

Pardew moved into management with Reading, first as caretaker manager in March 1998 before landing the job permanently a year later after the departure of Tommy Burns. Having lost the 2001 Second Division Play-Off Final, Pardew took Reading up automatically the following season and followed that up with another play-off position finish in the First Division in 2003.

Following the sacking of Glenn Roeder in August 2003, West Ham courted Pardew’s services but were given short shrift by Reading chairman John Madejski who, when Pardew resigned his position, enforced a period of gardening leave on his former employee. With Trevor Brooking steering the ship capably in a caretaker role, the 42-year-old Pardew eventually became West Ham’s tenth permanent manager in October 2003. He drew his first game at home 1-1 against Nottingham Forest, with Jermain Defoe’s header equalising Andy Reid’s long-range effort. He had to wait until his eighth game in all competitions for his first win, which arrived on 29th November 2003 against Wigan who were thrashed 4-0. An impressive comeback from 2-0 down to win 3-2 against Sunderland a month later kept the Hammers’ promotion push alive.

Pardew lost Defoe to Tottenham in January 2004 but ensured Bobby Zamora came to the Boleyn as part of the deal. Zamora joined fellow Pardew signings Hayden Mullins, Brian Deane and Marlon Harewood in east London, while three new faces would arrive from Wimbledon in the shape of Nigel Reo-Coker, Adam Nowland and Jobi McAnuff. Andy Melville arrived from Premier League Fulham, with Ian Pearce moving to Craven Cottage. England goalkeeper David James departed for Manchester City.

Pardew’s men dumped Premier League Wolves out of the FA Cup at Molineux in the fourth round courtesy of goals from Deane, Harewood and David Connolly but would be defeated in a fifth round replay by Fulham. The Irons finished fourth in the First Division, 12 points behind the automatic promotion places, but would defeat Ipswich in the Play-Off Semi-Final second leg at a raucous, rocking, revitalised Upton Park – Matthew Etherington and Christian Dailly scoring the goals on a night few who were there will ever forget. Pardew’s interest in the psychology of the crowd played a part in building the atmosphere before kick-off. After such a wonderful display against Ipswich, the Play-Off Final was a damp squib, Crystal Palace defeating the Hammers 1-0 in Cardiff.

The Hammers started 2004/05 in the newly-named Championship with England international Teddy Sheringham added to their ranks but Michael Carrick was to move to Tottenham. Jimmy Walker, Malky Mackay, Chris Powell, Luke Chadwick, Shaun Newton, Carl Fletcher, Gavin Williams and Sergei Rebrov also joined the club that season. Pardew also put his faith in youth, handing a debut to a young Mark Noble and finishing the campaign with Academy products Anton Ferdinand and Elliott Ward as his first-choice centre-back pairing.

The Hammers endured a difficult campaign, although along the way they won at eventual title winners Sunderland through Harewood and Sheringham strikes and also tore up Ipswich’s unbeaten home record on New Year’s Day, Harewood again scoring alongside Etherington. Premier League Norwich were also knocked out of the FA Cup in the third round before Sheffield United defeated the Irons on penalties in the next round. West Ham sneaked into the Play-Offs with a final-day win at Watford, ending the season in sixth place just ahead of Pardew’s former club Reading. A Zamora-inspired 2-0 win at Ipswich in the second leg of the Play-Off Semi-Final ensured a 4-2 aggregate triumph and the Hammers weren’t to be denied a second time, securing promotion in Cardiff with a 1-0 win over Preston with Zamora notching the winner.

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A ninth-placed Premier League season followed, Pardew’s boys starting with a 3-1 comeback win at home against Blackburn before Aston Villa were downed by a Harewood hat-trick. New signings Roy Carroll, the returning Shaka Hislop, Danny Gabbidon, Paul Konchesky and Yossi Benayoun were settling in nicely, Benayoun rounding off the aforementioned win over Villa with the fourth goal in a 4-0 win. Pardew again showed his eye for a goalscorer by breaking the club’s transfer record to sign Dean Ashton in January 2006 and the Hammers enjoyed a run to the FA Cup Final for the first time in 26 years, beating Norwich, Blackburn, Bolton, Manchester City and Middlesbrough along the way before Liverpool agonisingly defeated the Hammers on penalties in Cardiff. League wins at Highbury and against Tottenham to deny Spurs a place in the Champions League (helped in some small part by a dodgy lasagne) made 2005/06 a season to remember. Pardew was mere minutes away from lifting the FA Cup which had also eluded him as a Crystal Palace player in 1990.

The summer of 2006 saw quantity but a lack of quality arrive at the club with Tyrone Mears, Jonathan Spector and John Paintsil all signed to contest the right-back spot. Rob Green was an inspired signing in goal, George McCartney and Carlton Cole would serve the club well and Lee Bowyer added experience in midfield. The astonishing signings of Javier Mascherano and Carlos Tevez, alongside a takeover of the club by Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson and Eggert Magnusson, destabilised the club however. The Hammers went seven games without a goal and 11 without a win in all competitions, being knocked out of the UEFA Cup by Palermo and the League Cup by lowly Chesterfield. The crowd showed their support for the manager by chanting ‘Alan Pardew’s Claret and Blue Army’ before a 2-1 win over Blackburn, while a late 1-0 win over Arsenal in November 2006 saw Pards and Arsene Wenger have a much-publicised spat on the touchline.

Pardew was sacked during the week after a 4-0 defeat at Sam Allardyce’s Bolton on 9th December 2006. He was replaced by former Hammer Alan Curbishley. Pardew was appointed manager of former club Charlton on Christmas Eve but, despite a 4-0 win over Curbishley’s West Ham in February 2007, could not keep the Addicks in the top flight. He went on to manage Southampton before making a Premier League return at Newcastle in December 2010, replacing former Hammer Chris Hughton. Pardew made impressive progress with the Magpies, securing a fifth-placed finish in 2011/12 and winning the Premier League Manager of the Season Award and the League Managers’ Association Manager of the Year Award.

Pardew decided to move to former club Crystal Palace in January 2015 and made the FA Cup Final in 2016, which he would again lose. He took over as manager at West Brom in November 2017 but could not halt the Baggies’ slide to the Championship and he left The Hawthorns in April 2018. Pardew was manager of Dutch club Den Haag for a spell last season. Now 59, he is currently Technical Director of Bulgarian side CSKA Sofia.


Sunday’s referee will be Craig Pawson; 2020/21 is Pawson’s ninth 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. His Hammers appointments in 2015/16 were both at the Boleyn Ground, for our 2-2 draw with Manchester City in January 2016 and the 3-3 draw with Arsenal three months later.

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Pawson’s matches in charge of West Ham United in 2016/17 saw him send off Harry Arter as the Hammers defeated Bournemouth 1-0 in August 2016, while he also officiated in our 2-1 home win over Chelsea in the fourth round of the League Cup in two months later. He also refereed our 5-1 home defeat to Arsenal in December 2016. He awarded Watford a penalty and sent off Michail Antonio as the Irons drew 1-1 at Watford in February 2017. Pawson did not referee the Hammers at all in 2017/18; his Irons games in 2018/19 were our 8-0 win over Macclesfield, our 2-1 win at Southampton and our 1-1 draw at Crystal Palace. His only matches involving the Hammers last season were our 2-0 defeat at Tottenham in June 2020 and, most recently, our 2-2 draw at Newcastle in July.

Possible line-ups

West Ham United will be without Darren Randolph, Angelo Ogbonna, Arthur Masuaku and Andriy Yarmolenko but Michail Antonio should be available. Fabian Balbuena is a doubt. The Hammers have won six of the last 27 Premier League games against Tottenham but have scored 58 Premier League goals against Spurs, more than against any other team. Aaron Cresswell needs one more Premier League assist to match his career-best return of seven, set in 2017/18.

Tottenham Hotspur are without Serge Aurier and Giovani Lo Celso, while there is a doubt over Sergio Reguilon. There have been four red cards in the last seven league encounters between these two sides in east London. Harry Kane has 11 goals in his last 11 league games against West Ham. Tottenham might fail to beat West Ham in a league season for the first time since 2013/14. Spurs have conceded eight goals in their past two games on English soil – the most a Mourinho team has ever let in across a two-match period.

Possible West Ham United XI: Fabianski; Coufal, Diop, Dawson, Cresswell; Lingard, Rice, Soucek, Benrahma; Bowen, Antonio.

Possible Tottenham Hotspur XI: Lloris; Alderweireld, Sanchez, Dier; Doherty, Hojbjerg, Ndombele, Davies; Bergwijn, Kane, Son.

Enjoy the game – Come On You Irons!

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