Dan Coker's Match Preview
Blast from the past
23rd February 1980 – Kenny Rogers was number one with ‘Coward Of The County’, Star Trek: The Motion Picture was in UK cinemas and, in the week which saw the broadcast of the first ever episode of Yes Minister, the Hammers defeated the Foxes at Upton Park in front of 27,762 spectators.
Geoff Pike (pictured above) and Pat Holland both notched their fifth goals of the season, while 29-year-old David Cross bagged his 16th of the campaign as West Ham United beat Leicester 3-1 – ‘Psycho’ Cross would be the Irons’ top goalscorer with 18 goals in 53 matches in 1979/80. Scottish forward Alan Young scored the visitors’ consolation goal.
The win was the Hammers’ sixth consecutive triumph in all competitions but they would not win in the league again for another seven games, until 5th April. West Ham would go on to finish 7th in a 1979/80 campaign that saw them win the FA Cup with a 1-0 triumph over Arsenal at Wembley. 21-year-old centre-back Alvin Martin was voted the Hammer of the Year with 20-year-old right-back Ray Stewart runner-up. The Foxes finished eight points clear of the Hammers and won the Second Division title to ensure promotion to the top flight, alongside Sunderland and Birmingham.
West Ham United: Phil Parkes, Ray Stewart, Paul Brush, Alvin Martin, Frank Lampard, Pat Holland, Geoff Pike, Trevor Brooking, Paul Allen, Alan Devonshire, David Cross.
Leicester City: Mark Wallington, Tommy Williams, Geoff Scott, John O’Neill, Larry May, Bobby Smith, Andy Peake, Eddie Kelly, Mark Goodwin, Martin Henderson, Alan Young.
Players who have represented both the Hammers and the Foxes include:
Goalkeepers: George Hebden, Colin Mackleworth.
Defenders: Gary Charles, Chris Powell, Rufus Brevett, Paul Konchesky, Dai Jones, Matthew Upson, Clive Clarke, Billy Oakes.
Midfielders: Andy Impey, Shaun Newton, Nolberto Solano, Franz Carr, Sid Bishop.
Strikers: David Connolly, Mike Newell, Brian Deane, Paul Kitson, Norman Proctor, Les Ferdinand, David Kelly, Tony Cottee, Jimmy Quinn.
Frank O’Farrell, Martin Allen and Jimmy Bloomfield have played for the Hammers and managed the Foxes.
Today’s focus though is on a player who was brought to English football by West Ham United and ended his time on these shores with Leicester City. John Paintsil was born in Berekum in the Brong Ahafo region of south Ghana on the 15th June 1981 and started his career in his native Ghana at Berekum Arsenal and Liberty Professionals between 2000 and 2002 before moving to Israeli club Maccabi Tel Aviv where he won the title. He signed for Hapoel Tel Aviv in December 2004, helping them to win the Israeli State Cup and to runners-up spot in the league.
Israeli international and then-Hammer Yossi Benayoun recommended Paintsil to Alan Pardew after loan right-back Lionel Scaloni’s departure from the club. Pardew gave the 25-year-old Paintsil a trial during a pre-season tour of Sweden before completing the £1m signing in August 2006. He was given the number 14 shirt with ‘Pantsil’ on the back – the new signing insisted that the club had spelt his name wrong despite all the official documentation in his transfer referring to him as such. John’s family name is Paintsil but, at birth, it was registered as ‘Pantsil’. This then appeared on his passport and his subsequent registration with the Premier League. Pardew had brought in two other right-backs that summer in Tyrone Mears and Jonathan Spector and it was Mears who got the nod to start the opening game of the 2006/07 season against Charlton. However, Paintsil came off the bench at half-time to replace Mears with the Irons 1-0 down to the ten-man Addicks and the Hammers went on to win the match 3-1. Paintsil would start the next two games, at Watford and Liverpool, but appearances would be few and far between, the right-back only registering four starts and three substitute appearances in total in his first season in east London.
Having started two matches in two days at Tottenham and Chesterfield in October 2006 under Pardew, Paintsil would not make another start for the Hammers until a trip to Arsenal on New Year’s Day 2008. Alan Curbishley had been in charge for just over a year, with Lucas Neill establishing himself as Curbs’ first-choice right-back. Another start followed four days later in a goalless FA Cup third round draw at home to Manchester City but Paintsil’s stop-start Hammers career was put on hold again and he did not feature at all for another two months. A string of appearances from the bench in the early spring was followed by three consecutive starts at the tail-end of 2007/08, in a 2-1 home win over Derby, a 2-2 home draw with Newcastle and a 4-1 defeat at Manchester United. Paintsil’s final appearance for the Hammers was as a half-time substitute for George McCartney in a 2-2 home draw with Aston Villa on the 11th May 2008, the final day of the season.
After 24 appearances and no goals in his two seasons at West Ham United, Paintsil moved to Fulham along with Bobby Zamora for a combined fee of £6.3m on 15th July 2008. After three years at Craven Cottage, Paintsil was released and joined Championship side Leicester on a free transfer on 21st July 2011. The 30 year-old made seven appearances for the Foxes under Sven-Goran Eriksson but did not play a single match following the appointment of new boss Nigel Pearson just three months into the 2011/12 campaign. He was subsequently released in May 2012 and returned to Hapoel Tel Aviv.
After a year back in Israel, Paintsil moved to Cape Town side Santos in South Africa in October 2013 before joining Maritzburg United in the summer of 2014. He was released on disciplinary grounds in January last year following a bust-up with manager Ernst Middendorp and retired from playing in June 2016.
In 2013, it was claimed Paintsil hit his wife, Richlove, and allegedly stabbed her in the eye, although complaints were later withdrawn. In May 2016, after Richlove accused Paintsil of stealing her car, Paintsil reportedly assaulted the investigating officer and the District Commander inside the police station. Paintsil, now 35, is the assistant manager of Johannesburg-based Kaizer Chiefs.
Saturday’s referee will be Roger East; the Wiltshire-based official has been taking charge of Premier League fixtures since 2012 but has only taken charge of one previous West Ham match in the top flight, that being the 1-1 home draw with Stoke in April 2015.
Most of East’s matches this season have been in the Championship. The 51-year-old most recently refereed the Hammers in the FA Cup, for the fourth round replay win over Liverpool in February 2016 and for the 2-1 quarter-final defeat to Manchester United last April.
West Ham United have lost only two of their last 29 home matches against Leicester stretching back to 1967, with 21 victories and 6 draws against the Foxes in that time. Slaven Bilic must decide whether to hand a starting berth to Andre Ayew, who has two goals and one assist in his last three substitute appearances. Mark Noble has been carrying a knock for the last two matches against Chelsea and Bournemouth – this was aggravated further during the match on the south coast and the skipper will subsequently sit out this weekend’s match. Diafra Sakho will step up his rehabilitation by training with the Development Squad next week. Angelo Ogbonna, Domingos Quina and Gokhan Tore are out.
Leicester City manager Craig Shakespeare will be without loanee defender Molla Wague, who dislocated his shoulder at Millwall last week. Midfielder Papy Mendy is back in training and is rated as 50-50 to make a return to the Foxes’ squad. West Ham have only recorded home victories against reigning Premier League champions on three previous occasions – all three were 2-1 wins, over Manchester United in December 2007, Manchester City in October 2014 and Chelsea in October 2015.
Possible West Ham United XI: Randolph; Byram, Fonte, Reid, Cresswell; Kouyate, Obiang; Antonio, Lanzini, Ayew; Carroll.
Possible Leicester City XI: Schmeichel; Simpson, Huth, Morgan, Fuchs; Mahrez, Drinkwater, Ndidi, Albrighton; Okazaki, Vardy.
Enjoy the game – Come On You Irons!