Nostalgia

Upton Park was Rocking

One of the tensest matches I have ever been to was the Quarter final of the FA Cup on the 8th March 1980 against Aston Villa at Upton Park. Unfortunately, the video clip attached below does not, and realistically can not, fully transmit the rising tension inside the ground to what became a white hot fever pitch. It was of course our Cup winning year despite still being a second division outfit. We had already beaten West Brom, Orient and Swansea in the previous rounds and the visit of Villa had everybody full of anticipation of the possibility of a Cup semi final or more?

Villa came to Upton Park in 5th place in the old first division and the Hammers were in 7th spot in the second division. The Hammers were without their inspirational skipper Billy Bonds and lined up as follows; Parkes, Stewart, Martin, Brush, Lampard, Pike, Brooking, Devonshire, Allen, Pearson and Cross. Billy would be back two months later with this same line up, albeit replacing Paul Brush, to win the Cup at Wembley against Arsenal.

The Hammers had a great mix of players in this fantastic team. They had bought Phil Parkes for what was then a World record fee paid for a goalkeeper. Alvin Martin, who had been awarded an apprenticeship six years earlier, a day after QPR had rejected him, was a mere 21 and was to go on to earn two testimonials with West Ham. Ray Stewart at 20, had joined earlier that season from Dundee United and was the most expensive teenage signing in British football at the time. Paul Allen was a mere seventeen and was to go on that year to break Howard Kendall’s record of being the youngest player ever to play in a Cup Final. Frank Lampard (snr), Stuart Pearson and David Cross added experience to the side and of course the best midfield pairing the club has ever seen (IMO), in Brooking and Devonshire, added the guile and silky touches to a balanced team.

The feeling around the ground prior to the game was that we needed to finish the job today. We had a chance at home but if we went to a replay we had little hope. This was a fact born out that with ten minutes to go in the game, Villa fans started singing songs on how easily they would beat us in Birmingham. A heavy shower ten minutes before the game made for a greasy surface but some great football. Early on Devonshire slid a ball into the six yard box for it only to be scrambled away when it seemed easier for Pike to nudge home. A short while later Devonshire himself brought a great save from Villa keeper Jimmy Rimmer as did Alvin Martin with a free header on goal, but basically the first half produced a lot of huff and puff. The final 25 minutes of the second half saw enormous pressure on the Villa goal and it was a constant bombardment from West Ham that eventually took the fans to a delirious frenzy. With each missed chance, goalkeeper save and frenetic clearance the atmosphere in the ground grew from passionate to electric. The countless goalmouth scrambles merely compounded the tension as the feeling mounted that this was not to be our day. Then the pressure valve was finally released in the last two minutes when Villa defender Ken McNaught inexplicably handled the ball in his own area to give away a penalty.

There have only been two penalties where I just had to close my eyes and this was the first. The other was the equalising penalty from the same man, Ray Stewart, a year later in the League Cup final at Wembley. Well, history tells that Ray belted home both those penalties and the one against Villa had many people at Upton Park crying with relief, including me! Both these penalties were in the final moments of matches with so much riding on them. We don’t see Upton Park “rocking” too many times nowadays, but it certainly rocked towards the end of this game. There is some conjecture to Ray Stewart’s penalty record. Unofficially he had 86 attempts and missed ten although he actually scored twice from the ensuing rebounds. I was not there for all of Ray’s penalties but I know I definitely missed two of them!


Talking Point

What West Ham pay Football Agents

Back in 2008 the premier league agreed to publish fees paid to football agents by clubs. This is now published on 30th November each year.

In the past three years West ham have paid £13.2 million to football agents.

In our season in the Championship we may have finished 3rd in the league but we topped the agent fees we paid in the league by a mile! We outspent everyone else in the division with regards to agent fees paid out clocking up £4,314,270 on 69 deals. The closest club to us was Leicester who spent £1,812,371 on 78 deals. Barnsley by comparison spent the least with £124,888 outbound to agents.

In 2009/2010 West Ham spent £3,419,089.99 in agent fees

In 2008/2009 West Ham spent £5,527,548 in agent fees

Mark Curtis

In August last year David Sullivan told the Daily Mail he had no concerns about the continuing close links between manager Sam Allardyce and controversial agent Mark Curtis. Mark Curtis is agent for Sam Allardyce, Kevin Nolan, James Tomkins, Jack Collison, Matt Jarvis and Andy Carroll. Mark Curtis was warned as to his future conduct by the FA in 2008 over his Luton transfer dealings gained fame for the number of deals he did at Bolton while Sam was in charge.

Willie McKay

In the same interview Sullivan confirmed Willie McKay received more in agency fees than Mark Curtis in the summer of 2012. He revealed ‘Mark [Curtis] receives five per cent of the player’s wages over five years, which is a lot of money but the standard rate’. Willie McKay was investigated by Lord Stevens into allegations of bungs in football but was later cleared. He was also arrested in 2007 by City of London police alongside former West Ham manager Harry Redknapp & Peter Storrie but again he was never formally charged and the case was later dropped. Last year he was stopped driving while disqualified with a bag of cocaine in his car.

Barry Silkman

The third agent often involved with West Ham dealings is Barry Silkman who was involved in Demba Ba & Thomas Hitzlsperger arriving at West Ham. He was also instrumental in bringing Ravel Morrison to West Ham from Manchester. More recently he has been involved in the attempt to bring Carlton Cole back to West Ham. Barry Silkman was also named in Quest’s final report into alleged Premier League “bungs”, At the time he said he will not cooperate with the further inquiries being pursued by the Football Association’s compliance unit because he believed they were unreasonable.

In 2011 former agent Peter Harrison admitted to the Daily Mail he freely took advantage of the naivety of the then West Ham chairman Eggert Magnusson to pocket £900,000 in commission in the deal to sign Lucas Neill. He claimed that when he took Lucas Neill to West Ham instead of Liverpool he earned £900,000 and we put Neill on £72,000 a week. He said ‘He was going to Liverpool but West Ham wouldn’t take no for an answer. It was incredible. At the time I thought it was just business – I had bills to pay, office, telephone, travel – but when I look back on it now I’m embarrassed. Harrison was Andy Carroll’s former agent who fell out with Mark Curtis over Carroll’s £35M transfer to Liverpool.

Earlier this year just after the January transfer window ended, David Sullivan called for the FA to look into agents’ conduct and cap fees. He said “I can see it spilling over into violence in the future, unless there is legislation from the FA. I had an agent threaten me and one of our players with physical violence, because he thought he was being cut out of a deal.”

Sullivan claimed the financial demands by agents had got out of control adding: "We are talking millions of pounds here around a transfer and not enough deals to go around. There are too many agents and not enough transfers to feed them. Agents who would once demand £50,000 for their part in a transfer now want £500,000 to £1m to either bring a player or keep a player. It is quite outrageous and the FA should cap the amount paid to agents for their work”

I agree with David and think it is staggering how much we pay in agent fees and the power they appear to now have on the game. I would like to see much more transparency with individual transactions published each year. The latest figures will be published on 30th November and with the arrival of Joe Cole, Stewart Downing and Andy Carroll I am sure they will make interesting reading with regards to West Ham’s most recent dealings with these football agents.


Poll

Survey Results 6: Your Ideas to Improve the Site & General Feedback

This is the final installment (some of you may be glad to hear!) of the survey results. Thank you once again to more than a thousand of you who took part. It’s really focussed what needs to be done to keep this site performing at the right level. There are so many things I want to do with the site, but time and resources mean that it all has to be done in a gradual way. I’m delighted by the quality of the new authors I have recruited, and I think the standard of comments is rising. Anyway, have a read through these comments from the survey, which are a mixture of suggestions and general feedback. My replies are in bold.

I’d like the ‘seen elsewhere’ to be a bit more interesting – it’s a great idea but the execution could be sharpened up.
(ID: I am not sure what you mean. It’s a series of links. How could that be made more interesting? I’m genuinely curious to know what you mean.)

I really miss the “LINKS” tab leading to twitter posts. Can it be reinstated please?
(ID: This is about to reappear. In fact it may have done by the time this is posted.)

It would be good if it had a proper editor trimming some of the longer posts down and improving the quality of the writing.
(ID: Obviously in an ideal world we would have one. But a blog doesn’t really work like that. It’s necessarily raw. And we couldn’t afford one!)

Have a thumbs up and down option. Only allow a person to press a button once. Ability to sort comments by Oldest, Newest, Best and Poster. Be able to see recent activity on every thread so that you know which one people are commenting on. This will stop people digressing from the topic of the thread Option to request to be emailed when someone comments on a comment that you have commented on, ie not just one you have started See recent activity on a persons profile You also appear to be categorising your threads, ie ‘Financial’, ‘Transfer Gossip’, etc but you are not actually able to search/filter on these categories On the main homepage, I would prefer to not see the full post, but instead just see the beginning of the post and then have a ‘Read More…..’ link Daily digest
(ID: Thumbs up/down is next on the list to introduce. Comment sorting is also on the agenda. We have debated the email thing for sub comments, but for various reasons we didn’t think it would work. More activity on the profile page is also on the agenda, but more long term. A search filter in categories will also be introduced soon. I don’t like blogs that only show the first few lines of a post. Not going to happen. Sorry!)

I envision some kind of group podcast or vlog with all the authors having it out about west ham related topics but I don’t think it would be worse without one.
(ID: Vlogs are so 2009. Stop Hammertime! and Kumb have really good podcasts. I don’t have the time to do it to be honest, even though I think it would be a nice addition. I’m going to add the Kumb podcast to the sidebar soon. It’s very good.

Having a countdown until the next West Ham match in days, hours, minutes and seconds at the top of the page. Also when a West Ham match is ongoing, there should be a live score bar somewhere at the top of the page that provides the score and goalscorer(s). It would be a good idea to also add the latest result and next upcoming fixture and maybe even a small portion of the premier league table with West Ham and the teams above and below us. This is featured on the whufc.com website. If this were implemented somewhere on the side of the page and is instantly seen when the page loads, it would be a nice feature in my opinion.
(ID: Something similar to this will soon be added when we launch the Team Lineup predictor – hopefully in about two weeks time. This will enable us all to say what the lineup should be for the next match.)

A regular column from an ex player would be great if it could be set up. Or a regular guest column from ex players?
(ID: This is work in progress. Geoff Pike has agreed to write from to time and we are also chasing a few others.)

A Hammerette guest posting each week :)
(ID: In your [wet] dreams!)

I enjoy the articles about previous players/matches – I suspect it is very useful for younger members to understand the history and heritage of the club. Is it possible to do a ‘where are they now?’ series of posts. I saw Patsy Holland at the Stoke City match and wondered what he was doing now.
(ID: A good idea, but those sorts of articles take quite a lot of research and ideally an interview with the player. I can’t do this, but if anyone else would like to take this on for the site, I’d love to hear from them.)

Maybe an acknowledgement and engagement with overseas fans
(ID: A good idea, but how would it work. Bearing in mind 23% of this sites readers are based overseas, I’d be keen to do something but I have no idea what. Ideas?)
The upgrade has been phenomenal. That masthead still gives me goosebumps. I feel like more attention could be paid to the development squad, so we can keep an eye on emerging talent

How about a picture of our greatest -‘Sir’ Bobby Moore on the front page of the web site. Not here but never forgotten.
(ID: It amuses me that some people don’t realise it is already there! He’s looking down on us from the clouds, watching over us. Just as it should be. We’re going to add similar images of Ron Greenwood and John Lyall at some point. And yes, Dicksy and Sir Geoff will also be added to the main banner too.)

Don’t let the new authors stop Iain and Chandos from still writing regular items.
(ID: Don’t worry. Not. Gonna. Happen.)

The site was getting very tired and jaded – there simply wasn’t enough new threads every week but this has been rectified. The list, on the right of the site, of other West Ham stories on other sites is a very good idea.
(ID: I agree. Which is why I knew I needed to rejuvenate things. I have the attention span of a flea, so if I get bored it shows.)

I’m a fan of the new look. Would like to click on selected posters and read, maybe, their previous half a dozen or so comments nicely packaged. Also, when someone had interacted with one of my comments I’d like to be able to find my original post a bit easier, especially now that the comments are batched in groups of 20 or so. On a very personal note, I’d prefer the host bloggers to keep their thoughts to no more than 250-300 words unless they are delving into an historic or information-intensive topic.
(ID: On the comments, we’ll look at that. On article length, when I send out posting instructions to new authors I make the point that posts don’t have to be essays. Sometimes they can be two lines. SJ is the exception, naturally!)

Have read lots of West Ham blogs over the years, this one stands head and shoulders above the rest. The articles are well written, well informed and thought provoking. I love reading the comments – the serious, the banal, the daft – all interwoven with lots of East End humour. The banter must stay!

I really like the site although over the last year it has not had enough articles and i miss a news-feed. I think a few more interviews from Iain with West Ham staff and players would be good. Also a, where are they now, for our old Heroes. I always use newsnow for updates but check the source before i bother to read them. Thanks for your efforts so far.
(ID: I don’t know what you mean by “I miss a news feed”. I’d love to do more interviews and I am about to try to arrange to interview both David Sullivan and Billy Bonds, but I hope you understand that my working life precludes me from doing many big interviews. My working day is already 9am to 8pm 5 days a week. However, SJ is hopefully going to start doing some too. I do appreciate that a weekly interview would really add something to the site.)

Site is good. Recently, I have been finding myself internalising to the opinions on this page which shows the standard has excelled and is now excellent. The introduction of new writers, especially the match statistics posts, make the site more rounded and covered. The introduction of a match countdown, live score bar (when West Ham are playing), latest and next upcoming fixture and a portion of the premier league table where West Ham are will add the finishing touches to a generally excellent and insightful site.

I would like to see more predictable posting. I understand certain aspects must be driven by news but the ad hoc nature of posting makes it frustrating at times as a reader. It would be great to know that we will get an SJ opinion special on Wednesday morning, or Iain’s match report on Sunday etc. Then ad hoc stuff can be built around that.
(ID: A good point which is being addressed. SJ is posting Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings at 8am. I will continue to do the match day stuff, although we could do with someone doing proper match reports.)

_Would love to see an equivalent to the WHUFC.com “Know Your History” section where contributors can help educate, entertain and inform.
(ID: When we create the category links, the Nostalgia section will fulflll that requirement.)

I used to go straight to Kumb but you are no.1 now with the new site.
(ID: Very kind of you to say so, but I think Kumb are so different to us that we compliment each other rather than compete. In fact, I think that’s the same will most West Ham blogs/sites. I visit quite a few of the others because they all offer something unique.)

I am glad that you’ve extended the author base although Iain and SJ have posted many intelligent, thoughtful articles. I do think there have been times in the past when you’ve sucked up to the owners a bit and have adopted a “things are all rosy” attitude when clearly they are not. I don’t trust Gold, Sullivan or Brady and they have at times been disingenuous to say the least. Thankfully, following the debacle of only signing one striker, you have started criticising those responsible.
(ID: Everyone has a different viewpoint on the owners, manager and everything. I think we have asked some tough questions on this site. I know the owners and management of the club read the site but that doesn’t mean I don’t give my honest views. If I think they have made a mistake I will say so, and frequently do.)

Iain should sometimes count to five before replying . . .
(ID: 1,2,3,4,5. You’re a ** ****. Seriously, that is probably good advice, although in some cases it needs to be til 10.)*

In response to your invitation Iain, I think that you are a little to quick off the mark to show that you do not suffer fools, or people who disagree with you, too readily. I think it may have lost you some valuable contributors in the past. However, I do think that this is a first class site and a must read for all true West Ham supporters.
(ID: It is true, I do not suffer fools gladly. But quite often, the very people who criticise me for dishing it out, are the very ones that like to dish it out to me. If you can’t stand the heat…)

I like the fact that this site is intelligent comment-led. I have little interest in the posts of users on other sites, which are cliquey and sometimes get personal. Have you read some of nonsense postings on, for instance, KUMB. I would like to see WHTID firmly establish itself in a space where it attracts more intelligent users with lots more intelligent content, with the “Green Street”-watching Ray Winstone wannabe ‘In The Know’s’ left attracted to other sites.

Iain, I think you have done a great job with the new site and I support you telling people to not do this or that, to get rid of some of the crap. Some people need policing and it will need occasional prompting to maintain quality and standards. Generally, I like the fact that the comments are not full of foul mouthed rants and abuse like some other sites, I hope that continues. I really like the links to stories appearing elsewhere and the diversity of contributors.

I’ve been a regular visitor to your site for about 5 years. I liked the original format, was happy with the second version, didn’t like the third but think the latest is best of all. I like the way that you, SJ and the new contributors are responding to the comments which was, I thought a failing in years past. It seemed you only responded when angry. Understandable but not good for relations. You seem to be developing a sense of humour – which is the best way to deal with some idiots :). Thanks to all of you and keep up the good work.
(ID: We try. We may not always succeed but we try. I have asked all authors to interact more in the comment threads, and I am doing much more of that myself.)

This is one of my favourite sites. The posts are generally great. The only issue is that the site has a number of regulars that seem not to appreciate the opinions of others, newbie’s in particular. I once commented and was told that my opinion was wrong, which is not a problem, after all it is an “opinion”, but I was mocked by two or three members, and not individually. To disagree and let me have your opinion is fine, but to belittle my opinion is not. I have been very disappointed by Diame so far this season, which will receive mixed response, but I won’t lay out my feelings for discussion.
(ID: I hope you will comment again. If I see anybody laying into newcomers, I will stamp down on it.)

As on KUMB they have preview percy giving his pre match thoughts could WHTID incorporate a pre match preview on similar lines.
(ID: If anyone would like to take that on, be my guest.)

The site is brilliant. It just needs an editor to tighten up the writing and make some of the posts shorter and more to the point. I am a newspaper editor and run a web-based news and data service. I didn’t say all that about editing just to talk my book, but I would be happy to edit some content if you think it would be useful and we can find a way to do it that we can both make work.
(ID: You sound like someone who would make a good contributor! The trouble with editing is it means a delay in the posting, and many of our articles are time sensitive. I don’t know if there is a solution to be found.)

Stop Ian appearing on Sky News with his paper reviews. Embarrasing and very right wing.
(ID: A boy has to earn a living!)

The quality of the site is directly proportional to the amount of effort Iain puts into it. When Iain is focused, like now, it’s great… When he loses interest for a while, it struggles. SJ is good, but Iain is critical.

Iain, I appreciate that you fund this site yourself and that there’s no advertising crashing around and different windows popping up here there and everywhere (which on other sites is incredibly irritating). This makes me cautious about approaching you about things that could be improved/I don’t like as I feel ungrateful! The fact that Russell’s doing this as well and he’s not even a football fan at all is amazing – you must be very persuasive. It’s evident that you love West Ham, so thanks to you, Russell and the other posters for providing us with WHTID for us all to ‘share the love’! (OK a bit corny, but you know what I mean!)
(ID: I thought we’d finish off with a nice one!)


Player News

Ravel is a Tired Boy

Bless. I think Mr Reid might cop some flak for this!


Competition

Win Two Executive Tickets for Everton Courtesy of Alpari

Those nice people at Alpari have given me two tickets to give away on the site for Everton on Saturday. Not just normal tickets, but Club 100 tickets in the Alpari suite with complimentary food and drink.

To win the tickets click on CONTACT at the top of the screen and answer this question:-

*Which West Ham striker from the 1990s was known as the ‘Gypsy from Billericay’?

And in addition complete the following sentence: "I think I should win these tickets because…….*

All entries must be received by 12 noon on Thursday and the winner will be announced later that afternoon. The decision of the judges (ie, me) is final.

Thanks so much to Alpari for donating this.


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