Dan Coker's Match Preview
The Predictor League for Sheffield United is open. Enter your team HERE. Deadline is 4pm on Monday.
Blast from the past
1st May 1937: the final day of the 1936/37 season and the day actress Una Stubbs was born. The month also saw the Hindenburg disaster, George VI’s coronation, the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge and Neville Chamberlain becoming Prime Minister following Stanley Baldwin’s retirement. Meanwhile, West Ham United beat Sheffield United 1-0 in front of 10,068 at Upton Park, making it nine games without defeat at the end of the season.
Left-half Joe Cockroft was in the Hammers’ starting line-up that day – he later played for Sheffield United, becoming the oldest First Division debutant when he made his Blades debut 11 years later at the age of 37 in November 1948. 17-year-old Norman Corbett made his West Ham debut at right-half in this match – a long-throw expert who was born in Falkirk, he would go on to make 174 appearances for the club (306 if wartime matches are included).
The Hammers’ matchwinner in this game had ironically been born in Sheffield – 22-year-old outside-left Jackie Morton (pictured below) had really come into form in 1936/37 and this was his 14th and final goal of a campaign which had seen him make 41 appearances. This was the highest Morton was to score in a single season during his eight-year stay in east London. Morton made his England debut in a 5-4 win against Czechoslovakia at White Hart Lane exactly seven months later, on 1st December 1937. In doing so, he became the 11th West Ham United player to represent England, playing outside-left with Hammers team-mate Len Goulden playing inside-left – Morton marked what would be his only England appearance by scoring after 20 minutes.
The speedy Yorkshireman, standing at 5’9 and weighing in at 10st 4lbs, was described as a “frail-looking winger, fast and possessing a multitude of tricks and a good shot” – he went on to score 57 goals in 275 appearances for West Ham United. The outbreak of the Second World War effectively ended his footballing career – he was 24 when he played his last game in claret and blue in March 1939. He served in the Royal Air Force and worked as a bookmaker in London’s East End after the war. Jackie Morton died on 8th March 1986 in Milton Keynes, aged 71.
Charlie Paynter’s Hammers would end the 1936/37 Second Division season in sixth position, while Teddy Davison’s Sheffield United would finish seventh. The aforementioned Goulden topped the Hammers’ scoring charts that season, with 15 goals from 44 matches. Leicester topped the Second Division, Manchester City won the First Division title and Sunderland won the FA Cup.
West Ham United: Jack Weare, Charlie Bicknell, Charlie Walker, Norman Corbett, Dick Walker, Joe Cockroft, Stan Foxall, Tommy Green, Sam Small, Len Goulden, Jackie Morton.
West Ham United and Sheffield United have shared a number of personnel over the years. A run-through of those who have represented both clubs includes:
Goalkeepers: Ted Hufton, Tom McAlister, Bill Biggar, Richard Wright and Mervyn Day.
Defenders: Jon Harley, Matthew Kilgallon, David Unsworth, Jimmy Holmes, Wayne Quinn, Simon Webster and Fred Milnes.
Midfielders: Franz Carr, Kyel Reid, George Ratcliffe, Joe Cockroft, Herbert Winterhalder, Ravel Morrison, Lou Raisbeck, Don Hutchison and Jim Simmons.
Strikers: Billy Barnes, Henri Camara, David Kelly, Brian Deane, Peter Kyle and Dick Leafe.
Martin Peters played for West Ham and Sheffield United; he also managed the Blades.
This week’s focus though is on a player who represented Sheffield United and later played for Thames Ironworks. Kenny McKay was born in Wishaw, Lanarkshire in 1876 – he started his footballing career with Hamilton Academical before moving south of the border to sign for Sheffield United. McKay was a member of the Blades side which won the 1897/98 First Division title; this was to be his one and only season at the club. McKay moved to Tottenham in a surprise transfer and scored on his debut against Thames Ironworks on 3rd September 1898.
McKay (pictured) signed for Thames Ironworks in their final season before reforming as West Ham United. Francis Payne, the club secretary, had been given the task of finding players for the club’s first season in the top division of the Southern League; according to one report Arnold Hills gave Payne £1,000 to find the best players available. With this money he brought McKay, Tom Bradshaw and Bill Joyce from Tottenham. McKay made his Irons debut in a 1-0 Southern League defeat at Reading on 16th September 1899 and scored his first goals for the club two days later, bagging a brace on his home debut in a 4-0 win over Chatham at the Memorial Grounds.
An inside-right, McKay enjoyed a particularly impressive run of five goals in seven FA Cup games – one in a 6-0 thrashing of Royal Engineers, another in a 4-0 win at Grays, two in a 7-0 win at Dartford on 28th October and another in a 2-0 home win over New Brompton as the Irons won through to the competition’s fifth qualifying round. McKay also scored in a 3-1 Southern League defeat at Southampton on 16th December 1899 before tragedy struck the club – the aforementioned Bradshaw, McKay’s Irons team-mate and former Tottenham colleague, died of consumption on Christmas Day 1899.
McKay scored in a 2-1 home defeat to QPR five days after Christmas and was also on the scoresheet twice in successive games in mid-January as the Irons ushered in the 20th century, in a 1-1 draw at Bristol Rovers and 3-0 win at Sheppey United. McKay scored his last goal at the Memorial Grounds in a 4-2 home win over Sheppey, with his final goal for the club coming in his next match away at Millwall, the winning goal in a 1-0 triumph. Thames Ironworks finished in 14th place and would be required to play a Test Match against Fulham to maintain their senior divisional standing; ironically, the game would be played at White Hart Lane, McKay’s former stomping ground, and it would be his last appearance for the Hammers. The Irons recorded a 5-1 victory on 30th April 1900 to preserve the club’s Southern League First Division status. Just over a month later, the club was reformed as West Ham United.
After scoring 13 goals in 36 appearances, McKay returned to Scotland, playing a single season with Wishaw United. He moved to Fulham in 1901, helping the Cottagers to win the Second Division of the Southern League in 1902 and 1903. His date of death is unknown.
Monday’s referee will be Wiltshire-based Simon Hooper, who will take on only his sixth Hammers appointment. He first refereed West Ham in the 1-0 Championship home win over Coventry in January 2012 and he was also in charge of our 3-0 League Cup third round win over Bolton at London Stadium in September 2017. His first Premier League appointment involving the Hammers was our 2-0 defeat at Bournemouth in January 2019. Hooper has officiated in two West Ham games this season, for our 5-1 League Cup third round win over Hull at London Stadium in September and, most recently, for our 2-2 draw with Brighton in December.
Hooper has refereed 16 matches so far in 2020/21 – seven in the Premier League, five in the Championship, two in the FA Cup and two in the League Cup. He has issued 40 yellow cards and no reds in those games. Hooper has also awarded four penalties this season, one of which was converted by Andriy Yarmolenko in our aforementioned League Cup victory against Hull.
For West Ham United, Darren Randolph, Angelo Ogbonna, Arthur Masuaku and Andriy Yarmolenko are all out. Issa Diop should be available but Fabian Balbuena and Michail Antonio are doubts. The Hammers have won just one of their last eight home meetings with Sheffield United in all competitions. The Irons haven’t lost consecutive league games at London Stadium since December 2019, before David Moyes’ return. Moyes has won all six of his previous home matches against Sheffield United as a manager.
Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder is without Jack O’Connell, Jack Robinson and Sander Berge, while George Baldock and Enda Stevens are doubts. Sheffield United have won three of their past six league and cup games, alternating between victory and defeat. However, the Blades have only won one of their last 12 away games against West Ham in all competitions (excluding penalty shoot-outs).
Possible West Ham United XI: Fabianski; Coufal, Dawson, Diop, Cresswell; Rice, Soucek; Bowen, Lingard, Benrahma; Antonio.
Possible Sheffield United XI: Ramsdale; Basham, Egan, Ampadu; Bogle, Fleck, Lundstram, Norwood, Lowe; Burke, McGoldrick.
Enjoy the game – Come On You Irons!
Opposition Q & A
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This week, after our defeat to Manchester United in the FA Cup, West Ham return to action in the league on Monday night, when we welcome an almost doomed Sheffield United to the London Stadium. Ahead of the game I once again spoke to hardcore Sheffield Utd fan Jack Simpson to talk about the game and the season.
Hi Jack, since we last spoke, although you have have a couple of wins including that fantastic result against Man Utd at Old Trafford, it’s not looking good for you. Are you resigned to bring relegated, or do you think you can claw back 11 points?
A couple of wins, come off it Jeff, we’ve won six out of our last eight. But you are right, it isn’t looking great at all, is it? I think even the most optimistic Blade will tell you it is the Championship for us next season. In reality for most sane Blades, we have been down since well before Christmas. To be honest at that point many were wondering if we would win all season. However, we have had a great month. FA Cup wins against lower league opposition have really boosted the team’s confidence and this has shown in performances in the league. That night at Old Trafford was special, and one of the best Sheffield United away days (even if from the comfort of our own homes) in recent times. Does show if we are on it, we can get results. I think the aim at the moment is to first get ahead of West Brom and then Fulham. I think if we can finish third from bottom and get anywhere near 30 points, that would be a successful second half of the season.
From what you’ve seen of Fulham and West Brom, are any of these 2 able to drag themselves up?
Nope, I think that is the three that will be at the bottom. All three of us struggle to win games. I think Fulham and West Brom have less wins than us. Big Sam has shown he’s lost his magic and despite spending a load of, let’s be honest wasted, money in January, they look a poor side. I think they will finish bottom. Fulham are definitely better and have gone toe-to-toe with some of the bigger teams but seem to lack goal threat. Doesn’t help that all of the teams just above the drop zone keep picking up points, too. Keep thinking Newcastle will sink like a stone and then they pick up a win here and there to pull themselves further away.
I think it takes about 3 seasons to cement your place in the Premier League, and unfortunately it looks like you have just fallen short. If you do go down, will the club sick with Chris Wilder, and do you have the resources to come straight back?
I think I said it last time around, but ‘in Wilder we trust’. This guy has more than enough goodwill in the bank, taking us from 12th in League one to 9th in the Prem in four seasons. Nobody wants him to go, and everyone still thinks he is our greatest manager of all time. Wilder seems to have the backing of the chairman even if we go down. Our owner, Saudi Prince Abdullah bin Musa’ad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, has said this publicly. And I think realistically you look out there and think who else would you want to try and take you back up. The only worry I have is Wilder getting annoyed and leaving if the board don’t support him with funds in the summer. There were some rumours of dischord in January after the board turned down Wilder’s requests to bring in loan recruits. If you asked me about a month ago if we would be coming straight back up, I would have said highly unlikely. However, since the turn of the year, our performances have improved, and many individuals, like Fleck and Norwood, who were dreadful in the first half of the season have looked a lot more like themselves. If you look at our squad on paper, you have to say it is too good for the Championship. Players like McBurnie and Brewster scored a hatful last time they were playing in it. I also think because of our poor form in the early part of the season, I can’t see too many players being sought after when we go down.
Of course all is not total doom and gloom, and Sheffield United are still in the FA cup. If you had the choice would you take a cup victory and relegation over staying up and going out against Chelsea?
Ooooh tricky one. I would say staying up this year. Would usually say the FA Cup but the fact that we wouldn’t be able to be there to watch it this season, means I’m probably pushed more towards staying up. Plus, if we managed to turn around this 14-point gap, that would be the greatest escape of all time and would probably mean we only lose three more this season….and beat West Ham on Monday.
It looks like Manchester City are taking a firm grip on the Premier League title, but who are your picks for the top 4 places?
Manchester United definitely: so stacked with class players that even if they are out of form, they still find a way to win. Then Leicester. Don’t seem to be faltering like last season, have the points in the bag and just seem like a really decent outfit. Then, I’m going to have to say Liverpool. Although they’ve been in bad form lately, They have Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Firmino. How can you finish outside of the top four with those four in your squad?
Where can West Ham hope to finish the season?
David Moyes is a bit of a genius, isn’t he? Been a complete turnaround since last season, I didn’t see that coming. I think you will finish eighth. Just looking at the table and what is behind you and think Everton and Tottenham will eventually overtake you.
Who are your top rated Sheffield United players at the moment? 1 of each from defence, midfield and up front.
Our defence is pretty solid and settled now. With our Chelsea loanee Ethan Ampadu, who plays on the left of the three, finally showing Blades fans how good he actually is. Irishman Jon Egan in the middle is also solid and has shown he can operate at this level. But our star performer in defence is Mr Sheffield United, Chris Basham. Bought back in League One, he has amassed over 300 games and isn’t slowing down. Is one of our best attacking threats with his ball carrying from right centre back and can run all day. Almost singlehandedly won us the match against West Brom two weeks ago.
Jon Fleck was useless for the first half of the season. To be fair to him, it was revealed a few weeks ago that he broken bones in his back just before the season started, and was probably playing injured for part of it. He has turned it around in the last five games, and has been our standout perfomer. If he is on it tomorrow, watch out for his driving runs from midfield.
While everyone will think Billy Sharp, when they think Sheffield United strikers. Our main man this season, as he has been for the last three, is David McGoldrick. Not the world’s greatest finisher by any stretch but he is a classy link man, who connects the play from midfield up front. We are so much more fluid when he plays.
How will you line up against us on Monday night?
Ramsdal in goal. Three centre backs; Ethan Ampadu (LCB) Jon Egam (CB) Chris Basham (RCB) Midfield: Oli Norwood (DMC) Jon Lundstram (RCM) Jon Fleck (LCM) David McGoldrick (CF) Bill Sharp (CF)
I thought you were a bit unlucky against us at your place, will you be able to turn the result around on your visit to London Stadium? Prediction for result?
That’s very kind of you. Think West Ham did what they needed to do and then apart from McBurnie hitting the bar late on, was all pretty easy for you guys after the goal. I’m a glass half full sort of guy but really don’t fancy our chances, unfortunately. Think we will lose by the odd-goal again. Maybe 2-1. Let’s hope I’m wrong.
Well many thanks to Jack once again for his considerations. I’ll be happy to see us get back to winning ways again, so will join Jack in gong for 2 – 1. COYI
Guest Post by Phil Murphy
I thought I might start off a bit of a discussion about the Hammers United survey results. Everyone knows I have no time for them or WHUISA (or whatever they’re called now) so my views are admittedly slewed but fair enough if you have a different position. I’m just trying to generate debate here.
I paid to join WHUISA at the beginning because I thought it’s great that people want to represent us and make all things West Ham better for the fans. I lost interest when they became a protest group and they focused on primarily #GSBOUT.
Both groups claim to have 18,000-24,000 members. I’ve always said the vast majority are indifferent about ownership and all fans really want is entertainment and success (in that order) on the pitch. Our independent supporter groups are, in my opinion, going about it wrong with their #GSBOUT stuff, that appeases the small noisy minority, not the majority of us.
Most of the members that joined up at the outset no longer consider themselves members. I wrote to WHUISA to tell them to stop claiming they had 24,000 members. I said that most of those that had paid £1 had not renewed and cannot therefore be considered members and the majority that paid £3 for life membership did not consider they were still members because their group had become a laughing stock. I suggested they poll their membership to establish who they still represented. I never received a reply.
Hammers United claim they have 18,000 members and yet only 2,300 took part in the survey. I think it’s fair to assume not all of them were unhappy so in my view it follows that those members that are unhappy with the ownership probably consist of the 1,500 members that we saw matching and protesting before lockdown claiming to represent the rest of us. They don’t represent me.
How about this quote from Hammers United;
.bq West Ham supporters, unsurprisingly, are extremely happy about current performances on the pitch. Hammers United would like to re-iterate that it will always support our manager, coaching staff and players at the club. It is not our place to enter into discussions around such matters.
Let that sink in. Is it any wonder that White & Jordon of talkSport pull these guys apart on the radio? “So you do not consider it is your place to enter into discussions about team management, coaching staff and players at the club but you do think it’s your place to enter into discussion regarding ownership of the club? Really guys? Oh wait a minute you did think it was your place to hold a poll on the manager 4 years ago when Sam Alladyce was the manager didn’t you?”
The hypocrisy of these guys is unreal.
Their poll is no more representative of the fans than the straw poll various blogs conducted 4 years ago regarding Big Sam, all the Hammers United poll does is confirm that the vast majority of the #GSBOUT group want, er, GSBOUT. Well of course they do.
I would happily support all the independent supporter groups if they concentrated on trying to change what they can change and entered into dialogue with the club regarding this but they can’t do that while they march under the #GSBOUT banner can they? That would be like someone knocking on your door to enquire if a family member can park on your drive whilst they visit while holding a sign above their saying saying “I hate you and want to burn your house down” You arent going to agree are you?
Ironically, this site would make a perfect independent supporters group because there is no way the contributors would permit its hashtag to be #GSBOUT, anymore than they would vote for statues of the owners to be erected on the island. Balance, that’s what this site has and that is because Iain doesnt make us all march behind his views, which is unique in the blogosphere in my view.
I actually hope this poll and the resultant discussions see better relations prevail between the groups and the board.
COYI’s and Choo Choo.
Nigel Kahn’s Column
The Predictor League for Sheffield United is open. Enter your team HERE. Deadline is 4pm on Monday.
The last two games have put a different feel on the season and the fact we failed to score in either game highlighted for many fans the failure to replace Haller after allowing him to leave without any replacement in the pipeline.
Naturally, many fans then started playing the blame game into who was at fault for the lack of any genuine strikers at the club.
Top of the list and the de-facto go-to people are the two Daves. They are underinvesting asset strippers who have failed to back the manager again after throwing him under a bus done where along the route. Next in line who Dave Moyes or dithering Dave to give him his blame game name. He is too tight with the money and takes too long to make up his mind over players.
When Moyes admitted he had money available but didn’t want to use that to sign another “has been” or “unknown gamble” as West Ham have constantly done in the past, many of the participants playing the Blame Game thought he was lying to protect the owners.
What if Moyes was speaking the truth with what he was saying – there was money available but he preferred to use that in the summer should we as fans of the club just accept that without any criticism of him?
What about those that constantly non-stop blame the owners for everything wrong with the club?
Do they undo the cause of #GSBOUT by constantly blaming them for everything to the point that certain fans now look on that as the looneys spouting off as usual, because when genuine reasons for disliking the ownership are lost inside the bluster and the faux outrage that appears at every bad result the team has?
Let us look at a couple of the often used complaints – asset strippers and underinvestment.
What assets have been stripped from the club?
The obvious asset is that we no longer have is Boleyn Ground, sold for a price that to those outside of the construction industry looks a bargain to those that bought it.
Throw in that the original buyers sold it a year later for 2 million pounds more than the 38 million they paid for it and that the site is delivering over 800 units selling from £350,000 then it does seem someone is profiteering from that deal.
What we have to remember is the club sold the land at an auction they ran as well. The price we received is said to be the highest but we don’t know that for sure, we just have to trust them when they say that.
The Auction was in 2013 and naturally, land prices have changed and no one could know whether that would go up or down, also in 2013 the club needed funds urgently and the 38 million went on debt covering and our share of the Olympic stadium upgrade costs.
I am led to believe that the club saves money by renting the stadium for a fixed price than the upkeep required on The Boleyn Ground.
Has it been Asset stripped from the club by the owners?
Other assets the club have are the players.
The graphic is of a spreadsheet by Mike Hare on Twitter of the transfer buys of the owners, the prices paid are in my opinion educated guesses as generally we never know the real price paid out, nor can it show how much in agents fees are paid and other fees that seem to be paid when transfers are done.
It does rather well for me show the outlay of money that we could probably all agree has been badly spent as a whole, so I doubt players have been asset-stripped as they could say they have been replaced, also for me it shows they have invested in the squad just poorly.
The assets the club had that there is no hiding from have been stripped from the club were the items gifted or collected by the club sold at the auction after the last game at Upton Park.
Trophies, ex-players shirts boots etc, pictures, paintings &signs. Pennants and other gifts from foreign clubs played over the history of us.
If it could be carried out or unscrewed they sold it.
I think those groups leading the #GSBOUT should produce the reasons why they are and then it may then stop the false reasons being argued over.
Thanks to you all that watched my new video last week and this week you have two videos to watch if you so choose.
Not only my “view from the shed” of the VAR use in the Fulham game but also after seeing a comment on here last week I have started a series showing parts of my vast football memorabilia collection.
This week my first programme I kept and the first football magazines I collected. Hope you enjoy them
View From The Shed E.2