Blast from the past
Today’s focus sees us travel back nearly 118 years, to the 18th October 1902 – the first Borstal (youth offenders’ institution) had opened two days previously in Borstal, Kent. West Ham United, meanwhile, secured a 3-1 victory over Watford in front of 4,000 at the Memorial Grounds.
21-year-old centre-forward Sidney Sugden lined up for his one and only West Ham appearance in this match. John Farrell had played in the opening five games of 1902/03 but was unfit so Sugden, then playing for Ilford, volunteered to fill the spot. Described by a contemporary reporter as “a wonderfully dashing player with a splendid turn of speed and a deadly shot, but not a good team man”, Sugden was so keen to remain an amateur that he had declined an offer from Aston Villa, giants of the Victorian and Edwardian eras. He did eventually sign on as a professional with Nottingham Forest of the First Division after his solitary appearance for the Irons and was their top scorer in 1903/04. He returned to the Southern League First Division in 1905, spending three years at QPR before a season each with Brentford and Southend.
Sugden wasn’t on the scoresheet in this 3-1 win over Watford though – 21-year-old inside-right and captain Billy Grassam (pictured) bagged a brace with inside-left Billy Barnes scoring the other. In a week which has seen Michail Antonio become the latest prestigious member of the Hammers’ Hat-Trick Club, it’s worth noting that Scotsman Grassam was West Ham United’s first ever hat-trick hero, scoring four goals in a 7-0 rout of Gravesend United on the opening day of the 1900/01 Southern League First Division season. He was also the Hammers’ first scorer of a hat-trick in the FA Cup, in a 3-2 fifth qualifying round replay win at Clapton Orient on 12th December 1900. Grassam would top the Hammers’ scoring charts for 1902/03, with 19 goals from 30 matches, but would move on at the end of the season and have spells with Manchester United, Celtic and Leyton. He returned for a second spell in east London in 1905/06 before departing for Brentford in 1909. Bill Grassam died in New York in 1943.
Syd King’s Hammers would end the 1902/03 Southern League First Division season in tenth position, while Watford would finish 15th and were relegated as a result of Test Matches. Southampton topped the division, The Wednesday won the First Division title and Bury won the FA Cup.
West Ham United: Fred Griffiths, James Dow, George Eccles, James Bigden, Tommy McAteer, Joe Blythe, John Campbell, Bill Grassam, Sidney Sugden, Billy Barnes, Billy Linward.
Former Hammer Domingos Quina is now on Watford’s books. Others to have represented both clubs, divided by position, include:
Goalkeepers: Billy Biggar, David James, Ted Hufton, Perry Suckling, Manuel Almunia, Joe Webster, Jack Rutherford.
Defenders: Jon Harley, Calum Davenport, Lucas Neill, James McCrae, Chris Powell, Colin Foster.
Midfielders: Henri Lansbury, Alan Devonshire, Alessandro Diamanti, Stuart Slater, Jobi McAnuff, Jimmy Lindsay, Joe Blythe, David Noble, Jimmy Carr, Mark Robson, Valon Behrami, Carl Fletcher.
Strikers: James Reid, David Connolly, Mauro Zarate, Jack Foster, Roger Hugo, Billy Jennings, Bertie Lyon.
Len Goulden played for West Ham and managed Watford, while Malky Mackay played for both clubs and went on to manage the Vicarage Road club. Glenn Roeder played for the Hornets and managed both clubs; Gianfranco Zola has managed both the Hammers and the Hornets.
This week’s focus though is on a much-travelled Scottish centre-forward who represented both clubs. Peter Kyle was born in Cadder, East Dunbartonshire, on 21st December 1878 and represented Glasgow and District schools before playing for Glasgow Parkhead. He had been rejected after trial periods with Clyde, Hearts and Thames Ironworks (later to be West Ham United) but did turn out for junior club Larkhall Thistle.
Having reportedly been rejected by Clyde due to possessing a fierce temper, Kyle joined First Division Liverpool in 1899 for £100, playing five league games for the club. Unhappy with mainly reserve team football, he dropped down into the Second Division to sign for Leicester in the summer of 1900. After just over a year in the East Midlands, Kyle was on the move again, signing for West Ham United in the autumn of 1901.
The 22-year-old Kyle (pictured), a heavy-set centre-forward who was over 6’ in height, made his Hammers debut in a 1-0 FA Cup third qualifying round win at Leyton on 2nd November 1901 – it was the only time he would savour victory in a West Ham shirt. He made his only Southern League appearance for the club in a 2-1 defeat at QPR the following week and his final match for the Irons came in a 2-1 FA Cup fourth qualifying round loss at home against Grays United on 16th November 1901. After just three games for West Ham, Kyle was shipped out to fellow Southern League outfit Kettering in a swap deal for Welsh international full-back Bill Jones in December 1901. Jones would spend the remainder of the 1901/02 season in east London, making 15 appearances for the Hammers – Jones was tragically killed in action during World War One, in May 1918, and is buried at the Doiran Military Cemetery in the north of Greece, near the south-east shore of Lake Doiran.
Kyle, meanwhile, represented Kettering in the Southern League before appearing for Wellingborough. He returned to Scotland in September 1902, playing once for Aberdeen before joining Cowdenbeath three months later. He moved to Hearts in the summer of 1903 and represented Larkhall-based side Royal Albert, Port Glasgow Athletic and Partick Thistle in 1904. Kyle returned to the Southern League in 1905, signing for Tottenham – the extrovert centre-forward was involved in an incident which validated those clubs who had been previously concerned about Kyle’s temperament. He was suspended by his club in the spring of 1906 for fighting with Spurs team-mate Chris Carrick, an incident which was deemed “a breach of the club’s training rules”. Teesside-born Carrick had also played for West Ham, but during the 1904/05 season so he had not been a team-mate of Kyle’s at the Hammers.
Kyle was swiftly transferred to First Division Woolwich Arsenal in April 1906 and proved there was little doubt over his footballing ability, scoring 22 goals in 60 senior outings – he was also called up by his country to take part in a trial match in 1907 but never played a full international game for Scotland. Kyle was Arsenal’s top scorer in the top flight in 1907/08 but, with the club strapped for cash, he was sold to First Division rivals Aston Villa before the end of that campaign. By October 1908 the wayward striker was on the move again, staying in the top flight to sign for Sheffield United. His old failing came to the fore once again though when he was sacked for failing to train properly with the Blades and he returned to Scotland with former club Royal Albert in the summer of 1909.
Kyle returned to Southern League football with Watford at the age of 30 in November 1909. He scored four goals in 13 appearances but was released in February 1910 for what was, according to the West Herts Post, “utterly disgraceful and demoralising conduct” which also involved team-mates Frank Cotterill and Jock Grieve. Kyle returned to Scotland to join Royal Albert for a third spell and finished his career at Raith Rovers, whom he joined in July 1911. Peter Kyle died on 19th January 1957 at the age of 78.
The referee on Friday will be Martin Atkinson. 2019/20 is Atkinson’s 15th as a Premier League referee. Since West Ham United achieved promotion back to the top flight in 2012 Atkinson has refereed 26 of our league matches, officiating in 12 wins for the Hammers, three draws and 11 defeats. Atkinson is pictured below, refereeing our 4-2 home defeat to Watford in September 2016.
Embed from Getty Images
Atkinson’s Hammers appointments last season were our 3-1 win at Everton in September 2018 and our 1-0 home defeat to Tottenham in October 2018. He refereed our 1-0 win at Southampton in December, our 1-0 defeat at Arsenal in March and, most recently, our 3-2 home win over Chelsea earlier this month.
For West Ham United, Robert Snodgrass misses out through injury, while Felipe Anderson is a doubt. If selected, Mark Noble will be making his 500th West Ham appearance; he has scored three goals in his last two league games against Watford. The Hammers have won three of their past four league meetings against this evening’s visitors, as many as in their previous nine against the Hornets.
For Watford, Daryl Janmaat, Isaac Success and Gerard Deulofeu are out injured. Troy Deeney is expected to be fit to play. Watford have recorded only eight league wins this term, with four of them coming against the current bottom three.
Possible West Ham United XI: Fabianski; Fredericks, Diop, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Soucek, Rice; Bowen, Noble, Fornals; Antonio.
Possible Watford XI: Foster; Femenia, Kabasele, Dawson, Masina; Capoue, Hughes; Sarr, Doucoure, Welbeck; Deeney.
Enjoy the game – Up The Hammers!