Nostalgia

Playing Away With Ein Bisschen Vorsprung Durch Technik

Guest Post by John Bayfield

Up to the end of 1980 my away day record for West Ham games was P7 W0 D2 L5 F4 A15. On the law of averages I would have expected (or hoped for) a win sooner rather than later. The second and final Triumph TR7 trip on my Irons away trips was to see if the Hammers could go home with all the points from Meadow Lane, home of the Football Leagues oldest club, Notts County on 17th January 1981. As usual our fans were in good voice. Even more so after Pat Holland gave us the lead and we should have gone in at the break well ahead but Don Masson’s midfield performance inspired the midlands club to draw the Division 2 clash 1-1. Unfortunately Holland got injured whilst scoring and never played in the first team again. The only triumph I saw was written on the front of my car. Team; Parkes, Stewart, Brush, Bonds, Martin, Devonshire, Holland, Goddard, Cross, Brooking and Pike. Sub; Allen. No wins from eight.

After selling the TR7, I bought what was to be my favourite car. I ventured into the Vorsprung Durch Technik world, a first generation silver VW Scirocco 1.6 GLS. Like Parkes it handled well most of the time. Like Brooking it went smoothly along. Like Cottee it went up the gears nicely. Like Repka it managed a few ‘mishaps’. It was a while before it ventured out to see the Irons on the road though. And what a debut! February 18th 1984, I drove my highway star to St Andrews for an FA Cup 5th round match against Birmingham City. I was feeling quite confident for our progress to the sixth round, standing in the away end and full of hope. Lots of noise from the travelling fans as you would expect.

Great atmosphere from kick off and through the game. Until the hosts scored the first goal. Then the second. Then the third. A couple of pitch invasions didn’t help either even though the fences around the edge was to keep fans off the pitch. Another 3-0 defeat, not even a consolation goal. Bit of Groundhog Day creeping in. We had to stay where we were well after the finish, bottles being heard smashing behind our stand. Not such a great atmosphere at full time. Another below par day out on and off the pitch. For my ninth game on the trot winless the team was Parkes, Stewart, Lampard, Brush, Orr, Walford, Dickens, Barnes, Cottee, Swindlehurst and Allen. Sub; Bonds.

That was to be the only Hammers game for the Scirocco. It was very reluctantly sold as it went to get our first house deposit for a mortgage of which I remind my wife frequently. So finances dictated a smaller motor, the piggy bank was raided and the odd bit of change that fell out went on a British Leyland Mini mark 3 1000cc which (sort of) graced the drive. No West Ham games home or away for my little tin box on wheels. If I bought a Dinky car that might have had more style to it. The big elastic band to make the car go would only turn enough rotations to get me to the shop at the top of the road let alone east London. The Mini was very Marco Boogers, erratic, a bit rusty and as reliable as Joey Beauchamp. I think it reached 57mph once but that was downhill. Eventually a newer vehicular monster arrived and but not the ZZ Top car, The Eliminator, as I had once hoped for. But it was still black, a Fiat Uno 1.1 model with red go-faster stripes but as with the stripes on the TR7 I wasn’t going to get fooled with that one again. The Fiat wasn’t exactly life in the fast lane but it took me for a journey up the A1 to Sheffield again for the FA Cup quarter final tie at Hillsborough on March 12th 1986. West Ham didn’t really get into gear until we were 2-0 down and Tony Cottee’s very well taken goal after good team work pulled one back. As much as we battled well, the Owls put the brakes on and parked the bus. All the ‘torque’ afterwards was what might have been. Ten attempts, no Churchill V-sign for the home journey. Team; Parkes, Stewart, Parris, Gale, Martin, Devonshire, Ward, Dickens, McAvennie, Cottee and Pike. Sub; Orr.

Saturday, May 3rd 1986 and it’s the boys of ’86 at The Hawthorns playing West Brom in an attempt to win our first Division 1 league title. A very significant away day for all of us but slightly different for me. McAvennie, Cottee and Stewart making the visiting support very proud in a great 3-2 away victory. In the build up to the afternoon I was very excited, nervous, trying to keep calm, looking smart, clean shaven and dressed for the occasion as best I could. But no, I wasn’t in the west midlands. And I wasn’t driving any car. I was about to enter a fine old Bentley with my wife to head for our wedding reception when a guest approached me and said ‘West Ham won 3-2’ and in almost the same breath ’ but Liverpool won 1-0’. The Reds took the title. Gutted doesn’t even come close. The Bentleys journey was of mixed emotions. We won away on my wedding day but lost out on a chance of history as well. That 10 minute ride left me a bit deflated. Even an away win ended in disappointment, whatever type of car I was travelling in at the time.

I really fancied a white car next up, the idea was to put two subtle thin looking stripes along it, one each of claret and blue similar to our away strip a few seasons back. ‘Don’t like them. White cars always get dirtier quicker’ replied my better half/boss. That’s not always true I thought. Phil Parkes talked off an away game where the boys played in a white strip at Leicester and lost on a muddy pitch but Tony Cottee’s kit stayed pristine clean for the whole game.’ He came off cleaner than he went on’ laughed our £565,000 goalkeeping giant. The rest of the team who had put in a shift and a half and got back to the dressing room covered in dirt, weren’t very impressed with Tone and told him so afterwards but not quite using the Queen’s English. But it proved white doesn’t always get dirty!

So the Fiat Uno was exchanged for another Italian, a metallic light blue Fiat Tipo. The flip up glass sunroof though couldn’t always hold out the rain, leaking quite often thus reminding me of some previous dodgy defensive displays. Preparing for my longest drive yet, I thought my James May/Captain Slow approach which I had used until then had to end so I got into a Damon Hill mental mode and it was Go-Go-Go from the green traffic light as our latest travel beast went up to Liverpool in 1993. For a weekend birthday treat, I had managed to get tickets for a first visit to Anfield for our Premier League encounter on 6th November. The Hammers who had only won four league games from the previous thirteen since season start, played well enough but second half goals from Nigel Clough and an Alvin Martin own goal ensured my record of not seeing a Hammers away win for the eleventh consecutive game carried on. Team; Miklosko, Breacker, Martin, Potts, Burrows, Marsh, Butler, Bishop, Holmes, Morley and Chapman.

After an extended sojourn from away trips whilst bringing up our little juniors, I still managed a few Upton Park clashes. I finally found my away day wheels on fire again, with a Chelsea workmate of mine (Pete, my manager) who had tickets for the Premier League game at Stamford Bridge on April 23rd, 2011. Although a staunch Blues fan, Pete always said he felt like the Hammers were his and many others second team which surprised me. Partly from the 1966 World Cup win connections but also from the playing style that had built up through the Greenwood/Lyall years. We may not win as much as some so called ‘bigger’ clubs but generally the football has been enjoyable to watch with exception to any Lou Macari game. (In my mind he was never a West Ham manager). Stamford Bridge had changed vastly since my previous visit 32 years back when to be honest it was a bit of a dump bar a large stand. Maybe, just maybe, I might get that first win on the road. Our latest family car a Vauxhall Zafira did the honours. As it turned out my seat was a few yards from our supporters so that help pep me up before kick off. Young Frank put Chelsea one up by half time then sub Robbie Keane missed a sitter early in the second half for an equaliser. Up until then Fernando Torres hadn’t scored for the Blues after his mega money transfer from Liverpool three months earlier. So it had to be against us. After 13 games and no goals, he duly obliged in our 3-0 defeat. Team; Green, Jacobsen, Gabbidon, Da Costa, Bridge, Spector, Noble, Hitzelsperger, Sears, Ba, Cole. Subs; Keane, Piquionne and Obinna. Felt like I was running on empty.

One final chance for the Zafira and currently my most ‘recent’ trip away was a second visit to Norwich on September 15th 2012 in the Premier League. A Norwich fan I know couldn’t make the game so I got offered the seats. Only problem was they were in the Barclays End Stand in the middle of the home support. I took my youngest son with me, hoping it may change my luck. Anything to get the monkey off my back. Norwich fans are generally better than most so I didn’t get too much stick. Norwich had Robert Snodgrass playing for them and loanee striker and future England captain Harry Kane who came on for them and caused a few problems. Kane could have wrapped it up for the canaries in the last minute but Jussi Jaaskelainen made the save. In a decent game Carlton Cole had a goal bound header cleared off the line but Jussi was the busier of the two keepers. We could have won it but surprise surprise we didn’t.

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A 0-0 draw. A bakers’ dozen on my Hammers travels and still no away win to take home, savour or watch on Match of the Day. Team; Jaaskelainen, Demel, Collins, Reid, O’Brien, Noble, Diame, Nolan, Vaz Te, Taylor, Cole. Subs; Henderson, Tomkins, McCartney, Diarra, Benayoun, Jarvis,and Maiga.

No more away excursions since then but my latest Dagenham Dustbin may yet be the lucky one. On the road following West Ham United is rarely a smooth one but can be very enjoyable as columns written on this site in recent times have shown. Some of you have seen many, many more away games than me so you know what it’s like, good, bad or complete disaster. My current magical (tragical?) mystery tour of competitive away match day statistics are; Played 13 Won 0 Drew 4 Lost 9 Goals; For 6 Against 26. That digit after the ‘Won’ has been niggling away at me whilst writing this piece. Looking at those statistics, it doesn’t make great reading. The equivalent of a third of a season’s games spread just over three decades but somewhere along the line I will get to see the boys win on the road before the wheels finally fall off. Happy travels all.


Nostalgia

On This Day, 9th May: Hammers Relegate Man City & Happy Birthday Don Hutchison

West Ham 2-0 Man City, 9th May 1987

9th May 1987, exactly 33 years ago today – Ireland’s Johnny Logan won the 1987 Eurovision Song Contest with ‘Hold Me Now’, Starship were number one with ‘Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now’, Platoon was in UK cinemas and West Ham United emerged victorious from a First Division encounter against Manchester City with a 2-0 win in front of 18,413 on the final day of the 1986/87 season.

Before kick-off, Mark Ward was named runner-up in the Hammer of the Year voting with Billy Bonds claiming the main prize for the fourth and final time. City arrived at Upton Park knowing that only a win would be enough in their bid to survive in the First Division – it was the Irons who started the brighter though, Steve Potts creating an early chance for Stewart Robson which the midfielder blazed over. Kevin Keen had an effort saved by Eric Nixon after good work from Liam Brady before Paul Ince, playing as an emergency left-back, struck the crossbar, with Mark Ward having his header from the rebound saved. Brady then shot tamely at Nixon as the Hammers dominated, although City forward Paul Stewart did force Tom McAlister into action at the other end.

The Hammers finally made the breakthrough in the 33rd minute – Potts, who had celebrated his 20th birthday just two days previously, popped up with some neat work on the left flank and found Frank McAvennie. His cross was diverted by Republic of Ireland international Mick McCarthy into the path of Ward whose low shot was turned in by top scorer Tony Cottee (pictured below), poaching his 29th goal of the season in his 51st match.

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McAlister made a routine save from Paul Moulden in the opening exchanges of the second half before McAvennie was denied by a combination of Nixon and left-back Clive Wilson in the 50th minute. The Hammers doubled their lead from the resulting corner, Ward finding Brady who worked his way into the penalty area before firing low and left-footed across Nixon and into the far corner of the net. McAvennie again went close and Stewart hit the post for the visitors before 19-year-old Eamonn Dolan came on to make his West Ham debut – Dolan sadly passed away in June 2016 at the age of 48. With Dolan joining Potts, Ince and Keen in the action, West Ham ended the match with four players aged 20 or under on the pitch. The highlights from this match can be seen in my video below.

John Lyall’s Hammers finished in 15th place in the 1986/87 Division One season while Jimmy Frizzell’s City ended up relegated in 21st place. Everton won the league title and Coventry won the FA Cup.

West Ham United: Tom McAlister, Steve Potts, Gary Strodder, Neil Orr, Paul Ince, Mark Ward (Eamonn Dolan), Stewart Robson, Liam Brady, Kevin Keen, Frank McAvennie, Tony Cottee.

Manchester City: Eric Nixon, Kenny Clements, Steve Redmond, Mick McCarthy (David White), Clive Wilson, Andy May, Neil McNab, Kevin Langley, Paul Simpson, Paul Stewart, Paul Moulden.

Happy 49th Birthday Don Hutchison

Don Hutchison was born in Gateshead on 9th May 1971 – he first caught the eye while playing for Paul Gascoigne’s former club, Redheugh Boys, but started his professional career at Hartlepool. The gangling ‘Hutch’ was used either as a striker or central defender before settling into an attacking midfield role. He played his last game for the club in November 1990 before signing for Liverpool after his talents were quickly spotted by bigger clubs. After almost four years at Anfield, and some controversial off-field antics which earned him a somewhat dubious reputation early on his career, Hutchison joined Harry Redknapp’s Hammers in a club-record £1.5m deal in August 1994.

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The 23-year-old Hutchison converted a penalty on his debut in a 3-1 defeat to Newcastle, the club he supported as a boy, at the Boleyn on 31st August 1994 and scored in successive home games in October, a 2-0 League Cup second round second leg win over Walsall and the only goal in a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace. He also scored the winner in a 1-0 League Cup third round win against Chelsea on 26th October 1994. Disciplinary and injury issues were never far away in Hutchison’s early days in east London though, and he was sent off after receiving two yellow cards in the first half of a home game against Leicester on 5th November – the Hammers’ ten men went on to win the match 1-0 but Hutchison wouldn’t return to the side until January 1995. He scored in a 2-1 home defeat to Chelsea the following month and bagged the only goal of the game in a 1-0 win at Arsenal on 5th March 1995. He also scored in a 1-1 draw at Southampton ten days later and was on the scoresheet again three days after that in a 2-0 win at Aston Villa.

With the Hammers in a relegation battle, ‘Deadly Don’ scored in a 2-0 home win over eventual champions Blackburn on 30th April 1995 and bagged a brace against former club Liverpool in a 3-0 win at Upton Park on 10th May, a victory which secured the club’s survival in the Premier League. Hutchison scored a thumping free-kick in a 1-1 home draw with Tottenham at the start of the 1995/96 season, on 30th August 1995, and also scored in a 3-1 home defeat to Chelsea on 11th September 1995. His final game of his first spell in claret and blue came in a 2-1 defeat at Manchester City on New Year’s Day 1996 – he had scored 13 goals in 39 appearances. He moved to First Division Sheffield United, then managed by Howard Kendall, later that month for £1.2m.

After scoring six goals in 91 appearances for Sheffield United, Hutchison returned to the Premier League in February 1998, teaming up again with Kendall at Everton and joining a group of players to have played for both Merseyside clubs. He moved on to Sunderland in the summer of 2000 and returned to West Ham in August 2001, again setting a club-record fee, this time of £5m. By now, Glenn Roeder was Hammers manager and Hutchison was an international player for Scotland, having made his debut in 1999 – he would win 26 caps for Scotland, scoring six goals, including one against England at Wembley in a Euro 2000 Play-Off.

The 30-year-old ‘Hutch’ made his second debut for the Hammers in a goalless draw at Derby on 8th September 2001 and scored in a 3-0 home win over Newcastle on 23rd September 2001, the same side he’d scored his first ever Hammers goal against seven years earlier. Hutchison suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury in February 2002 which would keep him out for ten months. The midfielder’s ten appearances in 2002/03 all came as a substitute and he was unable to prevent the Irons’ relegation to the First Division at the end of the campaign.

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Hutchison scored a late winner under caretaker manager Trevor Brooking in a 1-0 win at Derby on 4th October 2003 and preserved Brooking’s unbeaten home record in his last match as manager by bagging a late equaliser in a 2-2 draw with Burnley at Upton Park on 18th October 2003. His final goals for the Hammers came on 1st May 2004, scoring twice in a 4-0 home win over Watford under Alan Pardew. Hutchison’s last appearance for West Ham came in a 1-0 home defeat to Brighton on 13th November 2004 and he left the club at the end of the 2004/05 promotion campaign after his contract expired, signing for Millwall. He had made 71 appearances in his second spell, scoring five goals – this took his Hammers totals across both his spells to 18 goals in 110 appearances.

Hutchison moved to Coventry in January 2006 before joining Luton in the summer of 2007. He was released at the end of the 2007/08 season and announced his retirement. Hutchison, who turns 49 today, now works in the media.


Nostalgia

The Search for an Away Win

Guest Post by John Bayfield

During my time supporting West Ham United, I haven’t seen as many away games as I would have liked. 13 in total, that’s all. A meagre tally compared to a lot of us on here. What with playing a lot of local football in my teens, twenties and early thirties, getting married and bringing up a family has restricted me via time and finances one way or another to see the boys play both home and away as much as I would have hoped. I have read with some envy on this site of numerous stories and anecdotes when it came to away travel to see the Hammers across the country and some abroad too. Many a day the wit and wisdom written about your claret and blue travel adventures or horrors have left a grin on these not so pristine chops of mine. We have a history of our away fans being amongst the best, if not THE best, for brilliant support whatever the teams form at the time, our position in whatever league we were in or the cup games we were contesting over many years. Most of my away ventures were in the late 70’s and early 80’s, times when you had more of a chance to get a ticket at the turnstiles on the day of the game. Nowadays, the chances of seeing the team in a competitive match for an away game are a lot less as many of us know all too well.

Having spent some time and pocket money on round rail trips from Cambridge to Liverpool Street onto Upton Park via the Hammersmith and City Tube line for my early visits to home games, the words of my driving test examiner brought a new personal landmark,’ You have passed …..but only just’. I wasn’t too worried about the’ just’ bit. You either do or you don’t. After many months of saving up the pennies and purchasing my first car, a metallic bronze Ford Cortina Mk 3 1600L in 1976, it gave me more freedom to explore a bit more West Ham football away from Upton Park. I had a playing card sized West Ham crest on a nice fine cloth and stuck it above the cassette player in the car, my own paradise by the dashboard light item not too obvious to be seen from the outside. My thought being if I had put some sticker in the car window I might return from a game minus the window and more. The car gave me the chance to go to games, not always West Ham ones, but just to see some football anywhere within a few hours from my house, off to the Midlands and beyond. Once I knew my local Cambs. league game had been called off, a team mate and I would find out which football league fixtures had passed pitch inspections in or around East Anglia and see if any was worth a visit. For example, one cold Saturday in February, 1977, one of the few games on that day was Ipswich v Stoke City in Division 1. It was good just to see a game and struggling Stoke won 1-0 with Peter Shilton playing a blinder for them. It was worth the admission just to see his display alone that afternoon. So a Saturday afternoon not wasted.

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Although my work at that time meant some early morning starts, that didn’t deter me going to watch some midweek games further afield. The Cortina or Dagenham Dustbin, as my uncle kindly referred to it, took me to my first Hammers away game at Filbert Street on August 24th 1977. A draw looked on the cards but Leicester won 1-0 thanks to a late Steve Kember goal in the Division 1 clash. It had been a very hot and humid day but it ended in heavy rain just before the end of the match. Dressed for the weather in t-shirts and jeans we got drenched bucket loads all the way back to the car. The Leicester trip was also the first of the ‘spot Steve Bacon behind the goal’ on away games. Steve being the larger than life lens man and his photos graced many a home match programme. But the satisfaction of seeing the team away from the Boleyn Ground was a positive experience none the less. What’s the saying? You never forget your first time………. Team; Day, Brush, Lock, T.Taylor, Lampard, Curbishley, Devonshire, Pike, Radford, Robson, A.Taylor, Sub; Outlakowski.

Next up, scorched tyre marks all the way up the A11 to the Norwich City clash on January 2nd 1978. A 2-2 draw at Carrow Road in another Division 1 encounter, Alan Devonshire and Derek Hales our marksmen. Hales getting a late equaliser near the end with a flicked near post back header from a corner. Or was it off his moustache? One loss, one draw but I was getting into this away travel lark when I could. Team; Ferguson, Brush, Taylor, Bonds, Lampard, Brooking, Curbishley, Devonshire, Hales, Cross, Robson.

The bronze dustbin then dashed off south via the A10 and north circular road to Shepherd’s Bush. Whist waiting to get into the Queens Park Rangers stadium for an FA Cup 4th round replay on January 31st 1978, there was a big roar after a goal. For whom though? Pop Robson had given us the lead five minutes in and I didn’t see it. Saw all the other goals in our 6-1 defeat though, lucky me. As Chris Rea might have sung it, ‘This is the Loftus Road To Hell’. Phil Parkes watched most of the game in the home goal, Stan Bowles, Don Givens and Martyn Busby mullered us the longer the game went on. Each mile on the journey home was made that much better with a QPR mate in the passenger seat. He talked, I listened and my left ear took the brunt of it. Team; Ferguson, McDowell, T. Taylor, Bonds, Lampard, Curbishley, Devonshire, Holland, Hales, Cross, Robson. Sub; A.Taylor.

The dustbin’s next excursion on the long and winding road was northwards to Sheffield United on April 2nd 1979. Now in playing Division 2, we lost 3-0. We were out played for most of the game and we thoroughly deserved it. It rained all evening over Bramhall Lane as well. Nice. Another new ground visited, that was the only plus that evening. It didn’t matter how many Hammers devotees went away, a few hundred or a few thousand, we always let the home crowd know we were in attendance. Team; Parkes, Lampard, Brush, Martin, Bonds, McDowell, Holland, Devonshire, Cross, Robson, Pike.

Five days later it was at Cambridge United, April 7th 1979. Two West Ham games in a week was a real bonus for me. We drew 0-0 and it was my shortest (and cheapest) ever journey to see the Hammers play a competitive away game. I walked out of the house door and could see the floodlights, 15 minutes later I was inside the Abbey Stadium. (Dustbin left in the drive). Game was nothing special though we played well but lacked the cutting edge. That got me to five away games and no wins. It felt like I was on a road to nowhere. Team; Parkes, Lampard, Brush, Bonds, Martin, T. Taylor, McDowell, Holland, Devonshire, Cross, Robson. Sub; Pike. (September 27th 1980, we won at Cambridge 2-0 but I was playing elsewhere that day-typical!!) No promotion either that season after finishing seventh. The dustbin did me well for me as a first motor but it had one hiccup. Before driving back from a midweek England v Denmark Euro Qualifier game at Wembley on 12th September 1979 ( we won 1-0, Keegan I think)) I wound down the drivers’ window handle when pulling out of the stadium car park. But the window stayed in the usual up position for a moment before disappearing down into the door. It had come out of the mounting underneath it and I couldn’t get the window back up. I spent much of the 50 or so miles travelling home on a cold evening with my right arm and shoulder holding up my Parker coat covering the open window area as best I could and trying to stop my passengers in the car from getting a wind chill near minus. The left arm multi tasked with gears, steering, wipers and the occasional bit of ball scratching. Well….needs must.

The dustbin made its Hammers farewell journey on November 14th 1979. My sister braved the visit to Stamford Bridge with me for a midweek Division 2 match. The dustbin was parked a fair distance away from the ground for its own safety so a long walk ensued for us. My sister, Jane, had a soft spot for West Ham because of my support and it was her first game to see them play away. Pat Holland gave us a 25th minute lead but Lee Frost levelled six minutes later. A decent game on a heavy pitch ended with the home team’s winner from Mike Fillery on 75 minutes. I was gutted as it looked like we would get something from it. Not far from the ground after the game, I think it was on the Fulham Broadway, we heard shouting and the thunder of boots hitting the tarmac from afar and the noise was getting nearer to us. Some rabid wildebeest perhaps? I wasn’t far wrong in the description. A few hundred Chelsea louts, seemingly chasing after some of our fans and being followed by the old bill some on horseback, ran close by us. I shielded Jane against a wall, luckily they passed us without incident and we got back to the car in one piece. Glad I decided on the long walk after all. The team consisting of Ferguson, Stewart, Lampard, Bonds, Martin, Holland, Allen, Devonshire, Cross, Brooking and Neighbour with Landsdowne as sub, deserved better on the night but another trip home winless and pointless. No win in six. Never mind I thought it’ll come good.

New season, new hope and different a make of mobile rubbish container. I traded in the Cortina and thought I would try to up the street cred a bit (shakes head) and bought a two seater British Leyland Triumph TR7 with flip up headlights, a yellow colour with black go-faster stripes down the sides. No matter how much I tried, the stripes didn’t make much difference. To me or the team. The 1980-81 season opener, the Charity Shield on August 9th against Liverpool was not really officially an away game as such but unofficially that will do for me. At least I ticked it off my bucket list and managed to see us play at Wembley at least once. Liverpool always looked comfortable, the only real trouble for them being David Cross’ acrobatic overhead kick late on. Terry McDermott’s 17th minute decider after a rare Phil Parkes error meant another 1-0 loss keeping sister Jane’s 100% away record intact, before driving across the menagerie of London streets to Earls Court to see Pink Floyd knock down a rather large wall. Some excellent music thrown in as well. Team; Parkes, Stewart, Brush, Bonds, Martin, Devonshire, Allen, Holland, Cross, Brooking and Pike. Sub; Morgan. Guitar; D. Gilmour (sorry, thought I’d throw that one in).

After seven games and no victory, would The Holy Grail of that first away win be just around the corner? Or was I heading into a dead end? The search for that first away win would have to carry on.


Nostalgia

On This Day, 7th May: Lasagne-Gate & Happy Birthday Ian Pearce

Happy 46th Birthday Ian Pearce

Ian Pearce was born in Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk on 7th May 1974. He started his career at Oxted & District before signing for Chelsea during the 1991/92 season. Pearce was part of the England Under-20 team that came third in the 1993 FIFA World Youth Championship in Australia, playing in all six matches and scoring one goal. He was capped three times for England at Under-21 level in the mid-1990s but would never make the senior side. Pearce moved to Blackburn in October 1993, scoring the winning goal for Rovers in a 2-1 win at West Ham in April 1994 before winning the Premier League title the following season.

The 23-year-old Pearce joined Harry Redknapp’s upwardly-mobile West Ham United for a fee of £2.3m in September 1997. He made his Hammers debut in a 1-0 home defeat to Newcastle on 20th September 1997 and quickly forged a young, promising central defensive trio alongside Rio Ferdinand and fellow new boy David Unsworth. Pearce scored his first goal for his boyhood club in a 1-1 FA Cup quarter-final draw at eventual Double winners Arsenal on 8th March 1998. He scored his first league goal in claret and blue in a 3-0 win over Leeds at Upton Park on 30th March 1998, a match which saw Pearce playing at right wing-back. Pearce made 39 appearances in 1997/98 as the Hammers finished eighth (their highest position for 12 years) and reached the quarter-finals in both cup competitions.

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Pearce made 36 appearances and was runner-up to Shaka Hislop in the Hammer of the Year voting in 1998/99 as the Irons finished fifth and qualified for the InterToto Cup. He scored in a 2-1 home win over Nottingham Forest on 13th February 1999 and bagged his second of the campaign in his next home game, a 2-0 win over former club Blackburn two weeks later. Pearce played in both legs of the InterToto Cup semi-final against Heerenveen in the summer of 1999 before injuring knee ligaments 37 minutes into the opening day of the Premier League season in a 1-0 win over Tottenham – he was to be ruled out for 14 months.

Making his comeback in October 2000 in a 1-0 home win over Newcastle, Pearce made 17 appearances in 2000/01, scoring his only goal of the season in a 4-1 home win over Manchester City on 11th November 2000. He was injured again in April 2001 and would be out for ten months, making only nine appearances under new manager Glenn Roeder in 2001/02 – he did, however, score a stunning and dramatic last-minute equaliser at White Hart Lane on 13th April 2002, lashing home a left-footed piledriver from distance. His second goal of the season was the final act of the campaign, a late winner in a 2-1 home triumph against Bolton on the final day of the season.

Pearce made 33 appearances in 2002/03 as the Hammers were ultimately relegated from the top flight. He was sent off in a 3-2 defeat at Tottenham on 15th September 2002 for a professional foul on future Hammer Robbie Keane and was forced to play as an emergency striker in a winter which saw the Hammers deprived of Paolo Di Canio and Frederic Kanoute. He scored two goals during his stint up front, in a 2-2 draw at Middlesbrough on 7th December 2002 and in a 1-1 home draw with Bolton two weeks later. Pearce was red carded for the second time in a crucial and infamous 1-0 defeat at Bolton on 19th April 2003 – his late tackle on Pierre-Yves Andre led to a melee and, minutes later when the match had ended, a subsequent fracas in the tunnel.

The first half of the 2003/04 First Division campaign saw Pearce make 26 appearances under three different managers – Roeder, caretaker Trevor Brooking and Alan Pardew. His final goal for the club was the winner in a 3-2 home win over Sunderland on 13th December 2003, completing a Hammers comeback from 2-0 down. He made his last appearance in claret and blue in a 2-1 home defeat to Preston on 10th January 2004 – after scoring ten goals in 163 appearances for West Ham United, the 29-year-old Pearce returned to the Premier League, signing for Fulham with £1m and Andy Melville heading the other way to east London. All of Pearce’s ten goals in claret and blue can be viewed in my video below:

After just over four years with the Cottagers, Pearce joined Championship side Southampton on a month’s loan in February 2008. He returned to the club where it all began for him, Oxted & District, in the Surrey South Eastern Combination League in August 2008. He signed for Isthmian League Premier Division outfit Kingstonian in August 2009 but joined Lincoln as player-assistant manager to former Blackburn team-mate Chris Sutton two months later. He left when Sutton resigned in September 2010 and returned to Kingstonian in March 2011; he also played for Surrey-based Lingfield later that year. Pearce, 46 today, joined Brighton as a scout in 2014 and is currently Head of Recruitment at West Brom.

West Ham 2-1 Tottenham, 7th May 2006

Let’s also travel back exactly 14 years, to the 7th May 2006 – Mission: Impossible III topped the UK box office, Gnarls Barkley were number one with ‘Crazy’ and Middlesbrough manager Steve McClaren had just agreed to become the next England manager after the 2006 World Cup. FA Cup Finalists West Ham United, meanwhile, secured a 2-1 victory over Martin Jol’s Tottenham Hotspur in front of 34,970 at Upton Park.

Paul Konchesky, Teddy Sheringham and Bobby Zamora all lined up for the hosts against their former club. Calum Davenport, Michael Carrick and Jermain Defoe were all returning to the home of their old club – Davenport would return for a second spell with the Hammers. Robbie Keane would also go on to represent West Ham later in his career.

The game is, of course, famous for most of the Tottenham squad suffering from food poisoning after a dodgy lasagne at their hotel the previous evening; there were even fears on the morning of the game that the match wouldn’t go ahead. Tottenham and Arsenal were locked in a final-day fight for fourth place and the final Champions League position, with the Gunners needing to better Spurs’ result to leapfrog them in the table. The Hammers started brightly with Nigel Reo-Coker flashing an effort wide via the head of team-mate Anton Ferdinand. With ten minutes played, the hosts took the lead, Carl Fletcher (pictured below) winning possession before striding forward unchallenged and fizzing a firm strike from distance beyond the dive of England goalkeeper Paul Robinson and into the net. Spurs were level ten minutes before half-time though when two former Hammers combined to fashion an equaliser, Michael Carrick threading a pass through for Jermain Defoe to turn and fire an exquisite finish beyond Shaka Hislop. With Wigan holding Arsenal 2-2 at Highbury, Tottenham were in the Champions League box seat at half-time.

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West Ham had a great chance to regain the lead six minutes into the second half when Bobby Zamora was brought down for a penalty. Sheringham, however, saw his spot-kick saved by Robinson low to the goalkeeper’s right. The game’s deciding moment came with ten minutes remaining – Reo-Coker’s backheel found Yossi Benayoun, who sidestepped Michael Dawson and fired into the top corner. With Arsenal winning 4-2 against Wigan, Tottenham’s Champions League dreams were dashed – Hammers fans have “laughed ourselves to bits” over Lasagne-Gate ever since..! The goals from this match can be viewed on the WHTID social media pages.

West Ham ended up ninth at the end of the 2005/06 season; Tottenham finished in fifth position. Danny Gabbidon was voted Hammer of the Year, with Marlon Harewood runner-up; Harewood was leading scorer with 16 goals in 46 matches. Chelsea were Premier League champions and Liverpool beat the Irons on penalties to win the FA Cup.

West Ham United: Shaka Hislop, Lionel Scaloni, Anton Ferdinand, Danny Gabbidon, Paul Konchesky, Shaun Newton, Carl Fletcher, Nigel Reo-Coker, Yossi Benayoun (Kyel Reid), Teddy Sheringham (Marlon Harewood), Bobby Zamora.

Tottenham Hotspur: Paul Robinson, Stephen Kelly, Michael Dawson, Anthony Gardner, Lee Young-Pyo (Lee Barnard), Aaron Lennon, Michael Carrick (Andy Reid), Edgar Davids, Teemu Tainio (Calum Davenport), Robbie Keane, Jermain Defoe.


Talking Point

In Focus: Jarrod Bowen

Is it too soon to talk about Jarrod Bowen? Born 20th September 1996, Bowen was a transfer deadline day signing from Hull City joining team mates Tomas Soucek and Darren Randolph in January 2020 transfer window under Moyes, who was rumoured to be looking for younger talent to come into the team.

Bowen had to wait for his first start, coming on as a sub in the games against Man City and Liverpool in the last 20mins of each match.

Jarrod made his first start in front of the home crowd in a 3-0 victory against Southampton on 29th February where Bowen also registered his first goal for the Hammers.

Bowen began his professional career at Hereford United after being rejected by both Aston Villa and Cardiff City, breaking into the first team at the age of 16. Bowen has fond memories of his time there both as a supporter and developing player.

“It was the club for whom I made my professional debut at such a young age and that kind of environment of non-league, with older pros, did me well, because I was going into the changing room with a robustness from a young age and, since then, I’ve taken everything in my stride.”

After Hereford we’re expelled from the Football Conference in 2014 Bowen signed for Premier League side Hull City in July of that year. After an impressive preseason in 2016, and scoring regularly for the reserves, he made his first team debut on 23rd August playing against Exeter City in a 3-1 victory in the EFL Cup.

Whilst Hull were in the Premier league, Bowen was keen to play more games and requested to go out on loan, but this was refused. When they were relegated to the Championship some first team players left and Bowen saw it as an opportunity to step.

“When we got relegated and a few people left, after the first season I had in the Championship, I felt I was quite a key player in the team and I had to help people learn from me, so to speak.”

Bowen is grateful for his time at Hull and what he learnt as a developing player, making 131 appearances and scoring 54 goals.

“Hull is a good club. The fans were great to me. They’ve got the fanbase and a good culture around there and I’m sure they’ll do well in the future.”

Referred to as a budget Arjen Robben, Bowen has opened up about his reasons for joining the Hammers saying he felt he had done as much as he could at Hull.

“I felt I had earned this opportunity.”

“It’s everyone’s dream to play in the Premier League and, when a team like West Ham came in for me, it was a no-brainer.”

“Look at the Stadium. When I signed, I went to the Stadium and I looked around and got to take it all in. It’s incredible.”

“Making my home debut, coming out in front of all those people. That’s when it hit me. That was what I dreamed of. I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

What can we expect from Bowen in the future? At 23 years he has most of his professional playing career ahead of him and he is hungry for success and wants to impress. Jarrod certainly impressed against the Saints at the London Stadium, tracking back, tackling and helping to launch counter attacks and continued his impressive home debut away to Arsenal. Bowen arrived with 17 goals to his name, so are we expecting to see the same at West Ham? Is it too early to tell and importantly will Bowen settle into the Premier League and become the kind of player we need for the future?

We are going to have to wait a while to see how Bowen develops given the uncertainty regarding when the league will restart.


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