How ironic that a man once regularly described as a ‘Judas’ should be responsible for this joint statement from the owners of Claretandhugh and WestHamtilidie – Hugh Southon and Iain Dale.
But quite simply the Sunderland striker (soon to return home to the Irons?) has shown behaviour over the last few days as caring and professional as perhaps any we have seen for many years. Returned to the England team against Lithuania, he grabbed the first goal and was named man of the match by many with Gareth Southgate clearly seeing him as a World cup possible/probable.
But it’s none of that which brings this article together. Instead it’s Jermain’s incredibly compassionate friendship with five year old terminally ill Bradley Lowrey with whom he walked out in front of the England team – thanks Joe Hart – before the little lad hugged his “very best friend”.
A CandH follower wrote this and as a result Iain and Hugh are making the call for which he appeals.
“The more I read the blogs the sadder I become, why can’t people debate, or argue their point of view without lies, name calling and hatred directed towards our club?
Hugh and Iain Dale should make a new statement of respect towards our owners and board. That’s not to say do not criticise them just to do it respectfully or they are banned without notice. I won’t hold my breath as traffic would decrease by 50%. I shall take a break however so hate all you like.”
He gets only one thing wrong in all of that – neither of us care one iota how many we have to ban if the only agenda is to bring the sites into scummy disrepute from foul mouthed gobby individuals whose currency is hatred and disrespect towards the board, the owners and the club as a result.
We will ban without notice all abuse of that type because West Ham has had the wideboy gobshite image for far too long.
We are as one on this – it stops here and going forward, whilst criticism is obviously going to arise, please ensure it is respectful and considered. We move on with dignity please!
I was sitting on the Stansted Airport coach heading to London, quietly reading a magazine. Then, as I looked out of the window to my left, bang! There it was, without any warning. A vast structure of a stadium with large letters on top which read WESTHAMUNITED. The stadium almost immediately disappeared behind houses, but I could hardly contain my excitement. We had arrived in London!
My wife and I are both English teachers in our native Czech Republic, so we naturally love everything British and we love London. We have been to this amazing city a good few times and always enjoy coming back for a visit. My wife and I both have West Ham United in our systems, I have been a keen Hammer since my boyhood hero Ludo Mikloško joined the club, while my wife spent some time as an au-pair in a West Ham supporting family. Admittedly, she is not as passionate about football as me, still she keeps an eye on things West Ham, especially Michail Antonio´s sixpack…
So here we were in London again, and having secured a pair of tickets for the Chelsea game, West Ham was to play a major part in our holiday, just like the last time, in August 2015, when we had stayed in the Boleyn Ground stadium hotel inside the main stand for a few days. I had taken the stadium tour and also attended the game against Leicester City. That was the time of my life! This time, we decided to bring along our little Hammer, seven-year-old Sebastian, for his West Ham baptism. Seba is just as football-crazy as me, he wears claret-and-blue at every training of his football team. He also does his best to turn all his classmates into Hammers, including his teacher.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Russ for kindly arranging our tickets for the Chelsea match and keeping us great company throughout the match, together with Voice of Reason. Cheers, guys!
As we arrived a few days before Monday´s match, Seba and I were eager to sample the new stadium on a tour. The walk up to the stadium is spectacular, the sheer size of the structure is just overwhelming. It is standing there like a giant crown with the Orbit tower as its sceptre by its side. It is nice to see all the club related details, the huge West Ham badges, the claret-and-blue ornaments or the player murals around the outside wall.
The stadium tour took us through the VIP hospitality area, then out to the main stand for a great view of the pitch (and that awful gap), back inside to the home changing room with players´ shirts, media rooms and through the tunnel onto the edge of the pitch. The layout of the tour is fairly similar to the Boleyn tour (including a lack of a trophy cabinet). There were a lot of photo opportunities and we both enjoyed the tour. Everything about the stadium is large, super modern, super comfortable, flashy and neat, You can sense the 21st century all around you. There is a lot of West Ham detail around, from massive photos of current players on the walls to plenty of badges and claret-and-blue colour.
It is a very impressive stadium we are renting here. So what was it that I was missing? Perhaps the history, the character, the wear and tear of everyday use. The Boleyn Ground breathed history and character, if only those walls could tell the stories… The creaky, carpeted stairways were replaced with elevators, framed shirts of old time heroes with flashy photos of the current players, a knowledgeable tour guide with stories to tell with an interactive audio guide.
And then it was the match day. I fondly remember the claret-and-blue festival of Upton Park area, the hustle and bustle, the sizzling of food stalls, the calls of fanzine and official programme vendors, the flags and scarves flying from the independent souvenir stands, the chants coming out of the Boleyn pub, the claret-and-blue crowd drifting to and fro. None of this was evident outside the London Stadium.
The match was what it was. In fact, there were a number of similarities with that Leicester City match – in both cases we came up short against the champions (bar a miracle this season), lacking intensity and penetration, and only managed a consolation goal towards the end, neither of them was celebrated by the scorer (Payet/Lanzini). Despite the loss to Chelsea, Seba and I enjoyed the experience, it was our first West Ham match together, and Seba´s favourite player scored just as well (and I don´t mean Costa). It was also nice to meet some WHTID legends, such as Dan Coker (and his dad and sister), Liddy or Safe Hands, during the break.
All in all, I happily admit I had been in favour of the move to the new stadium as a way forward. I am not sure any more. My persuasion is fading. We are still a midtable club with midtable players and midtable transfer funds. This is clear to see for everyone and it was clear on the pitch against Chelsea, we were nowhere near them in terms of quality or depth of squad. There is, however, a discrepancy between the current status of the club and the apparent top 4-6 ambition of the Board which was suggested as the main motive behind the move to a larger and super modern stadium. We should have either quietly remained an honest midtable club and stayed at the Boleyn Ground, in our comfort zone, settled, with our familiar match day rituals, or the owners should consider selling up to someone with money to match the ambition and grandeur of the stadium. For now, we are stuck in the middle.
As for me, I would personally hate West Ham to become another plastic club for plastic fans from China or Thailand. I love the fact that each of us has a genuine reason for following West Ham United (well, that statement comes from a Czech guy, I hear you say, but when I converted, West Ham were a Second Division club). I would be happy with an honest, hard-working, passionate brand of football and midtable stability. After all, aren’t we all honest, hard-working, passionate fans to go with it? But I wonder what West Ham my lad Seba will one day take his child to watch. COYI.
Eddie Bovington appeared 184 times for West Ham between 1960 and 1968 after coming through the youth academy with so many other great players of that era. When Ron Greenwood replaced Ted Fenton as West Ham manager in 1961, he had an abundance of young locally born talent waiting for their chances. It was from these players that he built the side that went on to win the FA Cup in 1964. Jack Burkett, Johnny Sissons, Ron Boyce, Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst and Eddie Bovington were all players of this same ilk and Greenwood still had Martin Peters emerging from the ranks. On Boxing Day 1963 West Ham were thrashed 8-2 by top of the table Blackburn Rovers. The return fixture at Blackburn was just two days later and how would Ron Greenwood turn things around? Well, the only change he made was by dropping Martin Peters and replacing him with Eddie Bovington. History shows the Hammers won the rematch 3-1 and that result was to prove very significant for both Peters and Bovington. Greenwood announced an unchanged side for the following weeks Cup match at Charlton and he kept the exact same side for the rest of the cup matches that season – including the FA Cup final side that beat Preston 3-2. The Hammers were trailing 2-1 at half time in the final and Ron asked both Moore and Bovington to push further forward in the second half. The tactic worked and Eddie had won himself a Cup winners medal.
Eddie had made his debut in 1960 at Old Trafford against Manchester United. Three years ago he told me; “It was a marvelous experience, although a very daunting one, to make a debut at such an iconic ground as Old Trafford and to play against such players as Denis Violet, Bobby Charlton, Bill Foulkes, Harry Gregg, all survivors of the Munich Air Crash. The pace of the game seemed so fast for the opening 20 minutes and then settled down. Although we lost 5 – 3 I think it was a fairly good debut”. He had to wait another 20 months to make his second appearance for the Hammers and another season before establishing himself in the first team.
By 1966 Martin Peters had developed into a World class player and in the 1967/68 season Eddie was limited to just six appearances. He hung up his boots at just 28 years of age but reflected “I didn’t actually miss the playing side of the game when I packed up in 1969. What I missed a lot though was the camaraderie of the players.” Eddie has been kind enough to participate in a Q&A for the site and as you can see his answers pull no punches.
Q. Can you tell us about the time you were first scouted and approached to join West Ham?
A. I was playing for a youth team on Saturday afternoons in the Edmonton League and one of the team was spotted by a West Ham scout and went for a trial. West Ham asked our manager if he had anyone he could recommend and he said me. I played in a game against Fulham Youth at Green and Silley Weirs ground at Wanstead on a Friday night in April 1957. I was asked next season after a few more games if I would like to join the ground staff at West Ham which I did.
Q. What type of manager was Ron Greenwood? Did you have a good relationship with him?
A. Technically very good but lacked man management skills. I had a poor relationship with him.
Q. You made your debut at Old Trafford against Manchester United in a 5-3 defeat despite leading 3-1 at one stage. What can you remember from that day?
A. Being on the field with Manchester United players such as Bobby Charlton and Dennis Violet and not believing I was with these great players
Q. Playing with legends like Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters must have been something special. Outside of those three who was the best West Ham player you ever played with?
A. Johnny Byrne
Q. What about Bobby? Were you good friends with him and what sort of team spirit was there amongst the lads?
A. I was good friends with him. We roomed together for a while. The team spirit was pretty good.
Q. If the team played badly what was Ron Greenwood like? He seemed like a philosophical type of man but was he always like that in the dressing room?
A. He rarely showed any emotion.
Q. Who were the best players you ever played against?
A. Jimmy Greaves and Dennis Law
Q. I’d imagine Moore, Hurst, Byrne, Peters may be amongst the best you played with but of the others, when one was unavailable, who did the team miss the most?
A. When fully fit – Johnny Byrne
Q. You played in an era where there were plenty of noted hard men in the game. Who was the hardest you ever played against and was there any player you liked to give some back too?
A. One of the hardest was Andy Lockhead of Burnley. Would like to have given some back to most of the Leeds United Team of the 60’s.
Q. I guess the 1964 FA Cup final was the highlight of your career? What were the special moments of that day that you remember most fondly?
A. Seeing Ronnie Boyce’s winner go in so late in the game and also the lap of honour. The parade on the Sunday morning in the East End of London was also one of the best highlights.
Q. What’s your view on the possible future use of video technology?
A. I think video technology is inevitable but am concerned it may mean more interruptions in the game.
Q. What do you like the most about the modern game of football and what do you dislike the most?
A. The level of skill is so good today. Dislike the constant passing back and across the field. So many touches but no closure.
Q. Ed, why do you think there are so few players coming through our academy into the first team nowadays? Most of the promising ones seem to go out on loan and rarely make it back into the Premier League.
A. Probably because the clubs demand instant success and can’t wait for the youngsters to develop.
Q. Have you been to the Olympic Stadium to watch West Ham yet and if you have what are your first impressions? What are your thoughts on the move?
A. I have been to the stadium but not to watch a match. It is a wonderful venue for what it was intended to be which is athletics and not football. Unfortunately I am stuck in the past and yearn for Upton Park.
Q. Last time I spoke to you, nearly three years ago, you were cycling 125km a week and doing 5km of rowing in the gym. How is that all going and what do you enjoy most about your retirement?
A. I am still exercising but after not being well in January have cut back to 100kms per week.
Phew – I am quite exhausted just thinking about cycling 100kms a week. Obviously Eddie has kept himself very fit. I would like to thank Eddie for the giving of his time to give the readers on the site some insight on his playing days and his views on today’s football. His honest admission of a poor relationship with Ron Greenwood is interesting. Other players from that era have also said that despite Greenwood being a great tactician, he was quite aloof with his players which didn’t help with his cool relationship with Bobby Moore. Interestingly, Eddie like so many of the senior gentleman on this site, had great admiration for what a wonderful player Budgie Byrne was when fully fit. I saw Eddie play on many occasions when I was a nipper in the North Bank. It was an iconic time to watch West Ham play and Eddie certainly played his part.
This will be a rather short column, for a variety of reasons. a) West Ham didn’t play, so there’s no game to discuss. And b) There haven’t been too many rumours/news of substance to debate either. I also could add c) that I can’t be bothered to bash the owners again as that is by now even boring me.
Of course there have been some murmurs in certain papers about potential replacements for Slaven Bilic being lined up, should our team fail to pick up both in terms of form and results during the remainder of the season.
Some have mentioned Mancini who by all accounts is a very good manager, with bags of experience and surely he is a household name in European football, then again I am not sure he would be willing or capable to work for a club under, let’s say, certain financial constraints in terms of transfer funds.
Another name being bandied about has been Jaap Stam, but that’s lazy journalism in my view. Stam is just starting his managerial career at Reading and you’d have to be very brave if you wanted to throw him into the hot seat at our club in the summer with no previous experience at a club playing top flight football in a reasonably respectable league in Europe.
I want to see our team show some guts, blood, sweat, tears and spit if need be for the rest of our season. Not just for Bilic’s sake, although of course I hope that Bilic will remain at the helm for many more years. But then again you already knew that. I hope that our team can light a spark and instill some much needed pride and passion into the support from our fans, not necessarily away from home, that has never been an issue, but for the home games.
With the long-term injuries suffered by Obiang and Reid (and doubts over Antonio) we may now have to rely on some of the bench players to step up and be counted, old battlehorses like Collins, maybe even guys like Nordtveit. There have been murmurs of a big clearout of players in the summer, so for some of these players this is the time for them to show the club and the manager that they deserve to still be West Ham players next season. For our players there should indeed be no such thing as meaningless games, especially as we aren’t even mathematically safe yet.
As for Concordia, a lot of things have happened at my little local club in the past week, the manager has been given the tin tack for announcing in the press he wouldn’t sign a new deal, rather than speaking to the club about it first. With the trust between manager and club gone, there was only one choice. Apparently this decision also led to the assistant manager, the goalkeeping coach and the physio to pack it in. A new manager has been hired already, but even the new manager trick didn’t quite work, delivering only a 2:2 home draw against our Turkish friends from FC Turkiye (very much the Millwall in our league, they even play south of the river). It’s an eight point gap now between Concordia and the table toppers and I fully expect them to announce in the coming days they won’t be applying for promotion to the Regionalliga anyway, even if they could still qualify results-wise in theory – the deadline is at the end of this week.
Promotion would have been nice, but what’s the point really if you don’t have the money, the stadium and the backing of the fans to make the next step?
You don’t want to put your club at financial risk just so you can draw maybe another 100 fans on average for home games.
So, it’s off to Hull next (will the post make another MOTM worthy appearance or is he suspended ?), a game that unfortunately I will not be able to watch, not live anyway, as my best friend is getting married and I somehow couldn’t convince him to switch the date because of a West Ham game. Then again, we are all way past 40, so it will not be a massive do anyway, the banter will be more important than the booze, so maybe I will watch highlights or a rerun online later that night or the next day.
Wishing you all a pleasant week and counting down the days until my next trip over which will be the Spurs game, with flights and accommodation already sorted. COYI!
Welcome to a (potential) new series of articles designed to fill the gap created by international weekends – a look back at former Hammers players who wore the Three Lions of England.
Today, as England prepare to host Lithuania at Wembley, we look back to West Ham’s legendary centre-half Ken Brown. Ken was born in Forest Gate on 16th February 1934 – he played for local Dagenham side Neville United before signing professional forms with West Ham. He made his debut for the Hammers five days after his 19th birthday as a replacement for Malcolm Allison in a 1-1 draw at Rotherham on 21st February 1953 and made his first appearance at Upton Park a week later, helping the Irons to a clean sheet in a 0-0 draw with Blackburn in front of 19,542. Ken made four appearances in 1952/53, playing alongside the likes of Ernie Gregory and Frank O’Farrell as West Ham finished 14th in the Second Division.
Ken struggled for games over the following four seasons, not making a single appearance in 1953/54 due to national service before playing 23 matches in 1954/55. He played a total of seven league games in the following two seasons before emerging as a regular at centre-half in the 1957/58 season. By now 25 years old, Ken became a mainstay of the side that won promotion back to the top flight as Second Division champions – Ken only missed one league game in that triumphant campaign.
1958/59 gave Ken the opportunity to pit his wits against the finest strikers in the land, and he was an ever-present as the Hammers finished sixth in their first season back in the First Division after a 26-year absence. September 1958 had seen Ken play alongside a 17-year-old debutant by the name of Bobby Moore in a 3-2 home win over Manchester United that briefly saw West Ham top of the table. Ken was voted Hammer of the Year in 1959.
On 18th November 1959, the 27-year-old Ken deservedly won an England cap, wearing the number 5 shirt as England beat Northern Ireland 2-1 in a Home International Championship match in front of 60,000 at Wembley. In the previous year’s World Cup, held in Sweden, England had been eliminated at the group stage while Northern Ireland had reached the quarter-finals before losing 4-0 to a Just Fontaine-inspired France. Ken was given his opportunity by manager Walter Winterbottom, who was seeking a long-term replacement for the legendary Billy Wright.
England took the lead in the 16th minute through Hibs centre-forward Joe Baker. The Liverpool-born Baker had spent virtually his entire childhood growing up in Motherwell, Scotland and is notable for being the first player to have played for England without having previously played in the English league system. He went on to play for Torino, Arsenal, Nottingham Forest, Sunderland, Hibs again and Raith Rovers before two spells as manager of Albion Rovers.
Burnley legend Jimmy McIlroy saw a first-half penalty saved by Sheffield Wednesday’s Ron Springett, who was also making his England debut, but Luton’s Billy Bingham did score an equaliser with just two minutes remaining. The Three Lions were not to be denied though, Bolton’s inside-forward Ray Parry scoring in the last seconds. Parry was an FA Cup winner with the Trotters in 1958 before later moving on to Blackpool and Bury.
England: Ron Springett (Sheff Wed), Don Howe (West Brom), Tony Allen (Stoke), Ronnie Clayton (captain, Blackburn), Ken Brown (West Ham), Ron Flowers (Wolves), John Connelly (Burnley), Johnny Haynes (Fulham), Joe Baker (Hibs), Ray Parry (Bolton), Eddie Holliday (Middlesbrough).
Northern Ireland: Harry Gregg (Man Utd), Richard Keith (Newcastle), Alfred McMichael (Newcastle), Danny Blanchflower (captain, Tottenham), Willie Cunningham (Leicester), Bertie Peacock (Celtic), Billy Bingham (Luton), Johnny Crossan (Sparta Rotterdam), Wilbur Cush (Leeds), Jimmy McIlroy (Burnley), Peter McParland (Aston Villa).
Both England goalscorers passed away in 2003, Parry aged 67 and Baker after suffering a heart attack during a charity golf tournament at the age of 63. England’s captain in this game, Ronnie Clayton, passed away in 2010 while Johnny Haynes died in 2005 and John Connelly in 2012. Springett and Don Howe both passed away in 2015.
After winning his sole England cap, Ken went on to bigger and better things at club level. He was again ever-present in 1960/61 before ending his long wait for his first Hammers goal on 6th October 1962 in a 5-0 home win over Birmingham. He only had to wait five months for his second, that coming in a 3-1 home victory over Manchester United on 18th March 1963. Ken became an FA Cup winner at the age of 30 in 1964 before winning the European Cup Winners’ Cup the following season – he played in each and every game en route to these significant successes, including both Finals at Wembley. His two other goals in a Hammers shirt came in a 2-1 home win over Blackpool on 23rd April 1965 and a 2-1 defeat at Northampton on 23rd October 1965. Ken was also part of the side which reached the semi-finals of the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1966 and the two-legged League Cup Final in the same year as the Hammers were beaten on aggregate by Borussia Dortmund and West Brom in the respective competitions.
Ken’s final game for the Hammers was also against West Brom in the League Cup, this time in the second leg of the semi-final on 8th February 1967. The game at Upton Park was a 2-2 draw but, having been defeated in the first leg, the Irons lost 6-2 on aggregate. Ken Brown made 474 appearances over 14 years for West Ham United in all competitions, scoring four goals – he received a testimonial in May 1967 before departing, at the age of 33, for Torquay for a fee of £4,000 where he teamed up with friend and former team-mate John Bond.
Ken played 42 league games for Torquay, scoring once, before moving to Hereford in May 1969 for one final season as a player. Ken became John Bond’s trainer at Bournemouth in 1970 before following Bond again, this time to Norwich in November 1973. Ken was assistant manager at Carrow Road until October 1980 when Bond moved to Manchester City and Ken was promoted to manager at Norwich. Although unable to prevent relegation in his first season, Ken led the Canaries back to the top flight at the first attempt in 1981/82 and won the League Cup in 1985, although relegation followed later that year. Norwich bounced back again as Second Division champions in 1985/86 and Ken led the club to fifth place in the top flight the following season, at that point the highest finishing position in the club’s history. Brown was sacked in November 1987 after a poor run of form but his legacy of spotting talent in the lower leagues and in the reserve sides of top flight clubs had given Norwich the likes of Bryan Gunn, Dave Watson, Steve Bruce, Ian Crook and Mike Phelan.
Ken had one game in caretaker charge of Shrewsbury in December 1987 but decided against taking the job permanently. He was appointed manager of Plymouth in the summer of 1988 and signed his son, Kenny, from Norwich who would later be sold to West Ham. Ken was controversially sacked in February 1990. He later worked as a scout for England managers Terry Venables, Glenn Hoddle and Kevin Keegan, whilst maintaining his business interest in the Lakenham Leisure Centre in Norwich.
As well as being father to Kenny, Ken also has a daughter, Amanda, a former tennis international and twice winner of the Australian Open Girls’ singles championships. Ken, now 83, had his medals from the 1964 FA Cup Final, 1965 European Cup Winners’ Cup Final and 1985 League Cup Final stolen after a burglary at his home in April 2015. He is pictured below at the Sunderland game last season with Sir Geoff Hurst.
England take on Lithuania this weekend in a World Cup 2018 qualifier. The two nations have met just twice before, in qualification for the 2016 European Championships. England won their previous match at Wembley against the Lithuanians 4-0 – Wayne Rooney opened the scoring in the seventh minute before Danny Welbeck struck right on half-time. Raheem Sterling scored the third in the 58th minute and Harry Kane completed the scoring in the 73rd minute barely two minutes after coming on for his England debut.
England: Joe Hart, Nathaniel Clyne, Phil Jones, Gary Cahill, Leighton Baines, Jordan Henderson (Harry Kane), Michael Carrick, Fabian Delph, Raheem Sterling, Danny Welbeck (Theo Walcott), Wayne Rooney (Ross Barkley).
Lithuania: Giedrius Arlauskis, Tomas Mikuckis, Tadas Kijanskas, Georgas Freidgeimas, Vytautas Andriuskevicius, Marius Zaliukas, Arturas Zulpa, Karolis Chvedukas, Saulius Mikoliunas, Deivydas Matulevicius, Fiodor Cernych.
P.S. Thanks to Kenny Brown for his assistance with a couple of points in this article. I’m delighted that Kenny has agreed to do an interview with me for the site, so keep an eye out for that in the future!