It’s just a bit of fun, but I thought I would spend an hour dreaming up my West Ham team of the 1990s. I first had a season ticket in 1992, so I saw most of the players we had in the 1990s. It’s funny how we all remember certain players who we thought could have really become big stars if only they had been given the chance or seized the opportunity when it came along. There were quite a few in the 1990s. Matthew Rush is one that immediately springs to mind. He had everything – an athletic build, loads of skill, the ability to score spectacular goals and speed. But he lacked application and mental will to drive himself on. He ended up spending a few seasons in the lower leagues before becoming a PE teacher. He won’t make my team of the 1990s, but he could have. So, here we go. To qualify for the team, a player must have played at least one game during the 1990s, starting the the 1990-91 season and finishing with the 1998-99 season.
Can we really look beyond Ludek Miklosko? No, of course not. In my view neither Craig Forrest nor Shaka Hislop were in the same league as Ludo.
Similarly, Julian Dicks had a bit of competition from David Burrows, David Unsworth and Stuart Pearce, bur clearly Dicksy gets the nod.
Right back was a tricky position once Tim Breacker left and Steve Potts retired. Breacker was a fantastic player for West Ham, but my nod goes to Steve Potts who wasn’t just an excellent right back, but was brilliant in central defence.
Here’s where it gets difficult. How on earth do you pick two from Alvin Martin, Tony Gale, Marc Rieper, Slaven Bilic and Rio Ferdinand. I can’t believe I am leaving out Alvin Martin, but I am going to plump for Slaven Bilic, who may have been a mercenary, but he was a brilliant, brilliant defender. And Rio Ferdinand looked the real deal from the moment he made his first team debut.
If anything, this was our weakest position in the 1990s. If you think about it, few of the likes of Don Hutchinson, John Moncur, Martin Allen, Ian Bishop, Danny Williamson, Steve Lomas or Frank Lampard in his early days, were likely to strike fear into the hearts of the opposition. Eyal Berkovic, on the other hand, was a different kettle of fish. Playing behind the front two, he was a brilliant playmaker, and formed a superb understanding with John Hartson (apart from when Hartson was kicking him in the head). So it’s Eyal Berkovic and John Moncur for me. Moncur was a tenacious midfielder with a good tackle and a powerful shot. I’d like to have gone for Ian Bishop, but if it’s 4-4-2 with two wingers you need a tackling midfielder in there, putting it about a bit.
We also had a nice line in tricky wingers. Stuart Slater, Mark Robson, Kevin Keen, Matty Holmes, Michael Hughes, Stan Laziridis, Hugo Porfirio, Trevor Sinclair and Joe Cole are the leading candidates. Laziridis was always a favourite of mine, possibly because he was the first footballer I ever interviewed. In the end I’ll go for Trevor Sinclair on the right and Joe Cole on the left. Hugo Porfirio was another one of those players who came, made an impact, thought he was better than us and left for oblivion. If he had stayed I believe he could have become a great player for us.
Despite a rich vein of goalscorers including Tony Cottee, Trevor Morley, Jimmy Quinn, Clive Allen and Paul Kitson, the two obvious picks for me are Paolo di Canio and John Hartson. Hartson, together with Kitson, saved us from relegation and Di Canio remains the greatest player I have ever seen in a West Ham shirt.
So here’s my team: Miklosko, Potts, Dicks, Ferdinand, Bilic, Cole, Sinclair, Moncur, Berkovic, Hartson, Di Canio. And on the subs bench: Hislop, Rieper, Morley, Cottee, Bishop.
Feel free to disagree!