Dan Coker's Match Preview
Hello and welcome to the 45th and final match preview of a turbulent season in the history of West Ham United, but one which closes with the Hammers safe in the Premier League.
Blast from the past
19th December 1998: B*Witched were number one with ‘To You I Belong’, Rush Hour topped the UK box office, Reece Oxford had been born three days earlier and media impresario Sir Lew Grade had died six days before this match.
West Ham United went into this home game against Everton on the back of away defeats at Leeds (4-0) and Middlesbrough (1-0) having risen to second in the Premier League with victory over Tottenham at the end of the previous month. 30-year-old French international Marc Keller scored the Hammers’ opening goal after 19 minutes that day in front of 25,998 at the Boleyn Ground – receiving a pass from Steve Lomas, Keller’s attempted cross from the left wing looped over Everton goalkeeper Thomas Myhre and into the net. Keller is pictured below celebrating his goal with Trevor Sinclair, Ian Wright and Frank Lampard.
Everton forward Danny Cadamarteri slid home a 71st-minute equaliser from substitute Nick Barmby’s centre but the Irons weren’t to be denied, Keller supplying the left-wing cross four minutes later from which Sinclair converted a diving header which bounced over Myhre on its way into the goal. It was to prove an unhappy return to Upton Park for former Hammers Slaven Bilic, David Unsworth and Don Hutchison, all of whom played the 90 minutes of this match. ‘Hutch’ would return to east London in 2001 while Super Slav would return as manager just under 17 years later. My video below shows the goals from this game, as well as interviews with Keller and Eyal Berkovic.
Harry Redknapp’s Irons went on to finish in fifth place in the top flight that season, the highest Premier League position the club have recorded, while Walter Smith’s Everton finished 14th. Manchester United won the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League Treble in 1998/99. Ian Wright finished as the Hammers’ top scorer with nine goals from 25 appearances. Shaka Hislop was voted Hammer of the Year, with Ian Pearce runner-up.
West Ham United: Shaka Hislop, Ian Pearce, Rio Ferdinand, Julian Dicks, Trevor Sinclair, Steve Lomas, Frank Lampard Junior, Eyal Berkovic, Marc Keller, John Hartson, Ian Wright.
Everton: Thomas Myhre, Alex Cleland, Slaven Bilic, Marco Materazzi, David Unsworth, Mitch Ward (John Collins), Olivier Dacourt, Tony Grant (Nick Barmby), Don Hutchison, Danny Cadamarteri, Mickael Madar (Michael Branch).
Sam Allardyce visits his former employers, while David Moyes welcomes his old club. Former Hammer and Toffee David Unsworth is currently in charge of the Under-23s at Goodison Park. They are joined in representing both clubs by:
Goalkeepers: George Kitchen, Richard Wright.
Defenders: William Wildman, Lars Jacobsen, David Burrows, Bob Young, Lucas Neill, John Russell, Alex McCartney, William Kelly.
Midfielders: Harry Dawson, Don Hutchison, Joe Blythe, Mark Ward, Ray Atteveld, Niclas Alexandersson, Danny Williamson, Ian Bishop, Thomas Hitzlsperger.
Strikers: Tony Cottee, Chas Crossley, Tony Weldon, Alex McDonald, Mike Newell, Enner Valencia, Nikica Jelavic.
Slaven Bilic played for both clubs and managed the Hammers.
Today’s focus falls on a player who played for Everton before spending two seasons with the Hammers. George Eccles was born in Newcastle-under-Lyme in (it is believed) 1874 and played for Middleport before joining Burslem Port Vale in June 1893. He played six Second Division games in the 1893/94 campaign and made 27 league appearances in the 1894/95 season, also featuring once in the FA Cup. He scored one goal in a 4-4 draw with Newcastle at the Athletic Ground on 6th October 1894. On 26th February 1895, when heading for a match against Notts County at Trent Bridge, he misread the train timetables and selected a non-existent train that only ran on market days, thereby missing the game. He played 17 league and two FA Cup games in the 1895/96 season and broke his collarbone in February 1896. He was sold to Wolves for a ‘considerable’ fee in May 1896 and finished tenth and third in the First Division in 1896/97 and 1897/98. Eccles scored one goal in 36 league games during his two years at Molineux before moving on to league rivals Everton.
Eccles, a sturdy full-back, made his debut for Everton in a 2-2 draw at Newcastle on 7th January 1899 and made ten appearances before the end of the 1898/99 campaign. The Toffees finished fourth, eleventh, and seventh in 1898/99, 1899/1900 and 1900/01, with Eccles playing 56 league and four FA Cup games during his three seasons at Goodison Park before switching to Preston. He did not feature in the Second Division for his new club in 1901/02, and instead transferred to Southern League West Ham United.
Described as a player as being “a grand tackler and an untiring worker”, Eccles (pictured) made his debut in the opening fixture of the 1902/03 campaign, a 1-1 home draw against Reading in front of 7,000 at the Memorial Grounds on 6th September 1902. He made 26 appearances that season, helping the Hammers to a tenth-placed finish. Eccles made consistency his byword during his time with West Ham and was an ever-present the following season, making 38 appearances in 1903/04 with the Irons dropping to 12th. His final match for West Ham United, on the final day of the 1904/05 season in a 1-0 home defeat to Swindon on 30th April 1904, was the Hammers’ last-ever game at the Memorial Grounds before the move to the Boleyn Ground. His proud record could not save him from the ruthless purge on the playing staff which saw only five players retained and a major influx of new faces to coincide with the move to Upton Park. In total he made 64 appearances for the club, without scoring – he left to make a brief playing return to the Football League with Bolton, against doctors’ advice that the Lancastrian climate would not agree with his health.
Eccles married the trainer’s daughter and stayed at Bolton for 40 years as assistant and then trainer. Bolton’s directors had a special medal struck for Eccles in 1930 to commemorate his handling of three successful FA Cup teams, including the 1923 Final against West Ham. George Eccles died just before Christmas 1945, at the likely age of 71.
This Sunday’s referee is 49-year-old Graham Scott. The Oxfordshire-based official will be taking charge of only his fourth Premier League match involving the Hammers, his first appointment being our 3-1 win at Southampton in February last year. He also took charge of the Hammers for our 3-0 win at Stoke in December – Scott’s decision to award Manuel Lanzini a first-half penalty saw the Argentine retrospectively banned for two matches. His most recent Irons match was our 2-0 home win over Watford in February.
Scott was also the man in the middle for our 2-1 League Cup victory over Cheltenham in August 2013 and is pictured above sending off Callum McNaughton in the defender’s only Hammers appearance as the club were knocked out of the same competition by Aldershot in August 2011.
For West Ham United, Sam Byram, Winston Reid and Michail Antonio are on the sidelines through injury. James Collins and Chicharito could be available. Everton have certainly been the Hammers’ bogey side in recent seasons – we have only beaten the Toffees once in the league, home or away, since April 2007, drawing five and losing eleven in all competitions since then. In addition, West Ham haven’t recorded a win over Everton by more than a single-goal margin since 1982.
Sam Allardyce will be without the injured Eliaquim Mangala, James McCarthy, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Wayne Rooney and Dominic Calvert-Lewin. Mason Holgate will face a fitness test but Theo Walcott should be fit.
Possible West Ham United XI: Adrian; Zabaleta, Rice, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Masuaku; Kouyate, Mario, Noble; Lanzini, Arnautovic.
Possible Everton XI: Pickford; Coleman, Keane, Jagielka, Baines; Gueye, Schneiderlin, Davies; Walcott, Vlasic; Tosun.
Enjoy the game – Come On You Irons!