Just recently I did a nostalgia article on Eddie Bovington who played for the Hammers in the 1960s. He was also a member of the 1964 FA Cup final winning side. Special thanks must go to ‘Big Sam’s Buddy’ who put me in touch with Eddie who was kind enough to allow me to conduct a Q&A article with him for the WHTID site. Eddie Bovington typifies what was the West Ham way and that is why it is such a pleasure to write articles on these icons of the club for WHTID. He worked his way through the academy and was a one club man, playing 184 games over an eight year period. Today is his birthday.
You made your debut just a few days before your 19th birthday at Old Trafford against Manchester United. What was that experience like and do you remember much from the game?
It was a marvelous experience, although a very daunting one, to make a debut at such an iconic ground as Old Trafford and to play against such players as Denis Violet, Bobby Charlton, Bill Foulkes, Harry Gregg, all survivors of the Munich Air Crash. The pace of the game seemed so fast for the opening 20 minutes and then settled down. Although we lost 5 – 3 I think it was a fairly good debut.
You played in the same side as Moore, Hurst and Peters. What was that like?
Playing with 3 world cup winners was a privilege and made me appreciate what fine players they were.
I guess the 1964 Cup Final was probably the highlight of your career Eddie – what was special about that day and was there any other match that compared?
The Cup Final for most boys is a life time dream. It is something that the ordinary boy in the street never expects to achieve. The semi-final against Manchester United was also very special because we were rank outsiders. Nothing compares with the old Wembley Stadium for atmosphere. It is only photos that remind me of the wonderful lap of honour which was over much too soon.
You hung the boots up at the relatively early age of 28. Any regrets?
Retiring at 28 years of age was planned because I had no offers from first division clubs, only lower league. I had been working in the family retail business part-time for the last two years of my contract.
Is there one good or funny story you can share with us from your time at West Ham?
I know you were a keen marathon runner after life with West Ham, but what keeps you busy now Eddie? Do you enjoy any hobbies?
I had a replacement hip 9 years ago so had to stop running but was cycling outdoors. However for the last 4 years I cycle 125 km a week and row 5km a week in the gym.
Do you still follow the Hammers and what do make of the current team and playing style?
Once a Hammer always a Hammer. I do not go to games very often but will be going on the 19th April to the Crystal Palace game as I have been invited by the Club to celebrate 50 years since the Preston Final. The playing style is not to my liking.
Are you pro the Olympic Stadium move or would you prefer the club to stay at Upton Park?
Upton Park is West Ham and the atmosphere of the Boleyn Ground will be lost forever, so I am not a fan of moving to the Olympic Stadium
Who was the best player you ever played with and who was the best you played against?
I think Bobby Moore was the most inspirational because he was so calm and led by example. I cannot pick out one player but would like to name three of the best that I played against. Denis Law, Bobby Charlton and my favourite Jimmy Greaves.
You were in the team for the very first match I saw against Burnley in 1967. Do you keep in touch with any of the Hammers you played with in the sixties?
See each other when occasionally invited back to Upton Park. Was recently at Brian Dear’s 70th birthday party with Ken Brown, Martin Peters, Frank Lampard, Jack Burkett, Roger Hugo, Martin Britt and Roger Cross.
Is there any message you would like to leave the West Ham fans that read WHTID?
I would like to thank all the fans for their loyal support during the good times and mostly bad times.
It is a special day for Eddie today, and I would like to wish him a very happy birthday from all at WHTID. Thanks for the memories Ed.