Nostalgia

On This Day, 15th May: Happy Birthday Paul Konchesky

Happy 39th Birthday Paul Konchesky

Paul Konchesky was born in Barking on 15th May 1981 (the exact same day as another former Hammers left-back, Patrice Evra) and went to school in Dagenham. He was a product of the Senrab club, which also produced the likes of John Terry and Jermain Defoe. Konchesky attended the West Ham United Academy as a youngster and was a season-ticket holder at the club who idolised Julian Dicks.

Konchesky joined Charlton at the age of 16 and became the club’s youngest ever player in 1997, a record since broken by Jonjo Shelvey. He sent a penalty over the bar against West Ham in a 2-0 defeat for Charlton at Upton Park in April 2002. The 21-year-old Konchesky made his England debut at the Boleyn Ground under Sven-Goran Eriksson in a 3-1 friendly defeat to Australia in February 2003. He joined Tottenham on loan in the summer of 2003 but was recalled in December of that year due to an injury crisis at his parent club.

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Konchesky remained at Charlton until the summer of 2005 when he signed for Alan Pardew’s newly-promoted West Ham United for a fee of £1.5m. The 24-year-old made his West Ham debut on the opening day of the 2005/06 season, in a 3-1 home win against Blackburn on 13th August 2005. He was sent off in his next game, a 0-0 draw at Newcastle the following week, although the red card was later rescinded. He won his second and final England cap in a 3-2 friendly win over Argentina in November 2005 and scored his first goal for West Ham in a 2-0 home win over Sunderland on 4th February 2006. His second and final goal for the club, in the 2006 FA Cup Final in Cardiff, so nearly saw the Hammers lift the trophy before Steven Gerrard’s late intervention; Konchesky saw his penalty saved in the shoot-out as Liverpool won the FA Cup following a 3-3 draw. Both of Konchesky’s goals for West Ham can be viewed in my video below.

Having made 45 appearances in his first season at West Ham, a loss of form for both Konchesky and the Hammers team saw him make just 25 appearances in 2006/07, with new signing George McCartney increasingly preferred in the starting line-up. Konchesky’s former manager at Charlton, Alan Curbishley, took over midway through the campaign and Konchesky was sent off in Curbishley’s second match in charge, a goalless draw at Fulham on 23rd December 2006. His final appearance for the club came in a 4-3 home defeat to Tottenham on 4th March 2007.

Konchesky signed for Fulham for a fee of £3.6m in July 2007, having scored two goals in 70 appearances for West Ham United. He scored the BBC’s Goal of the Month in January 2009 against his old club at Upton Park, a game which saw the Hammers triumph 3-1. Having appeared for Fulham in the Europa League Final against Atletico Madrid, Konchesky followed manager Roy Hodgson to Anfield, signing for Liverpool for £3.7m on August transfer deadline day in 2010.

With Kenny Dalglish taking over as Liverpool manager, Konchesky joined Nottingham Forest on loan in January 2011 for the second half of the 2010/11 season. He joined Leicester in a permanent move at the end of that season. Konchesky spent the 2015/16 campaign on loan at QPR and joined Gillingham in a permanent move in the summer of 2016. He dropped down to the Isthmian League Premier Division to join Billericay Town in February 2017 and had a short spell with East Thurrock United of the National League South in the summer of 2018.

39 today, Konchesky owns Konch’s Kafe in Brentwood and is a patron of Stacey’s Smiles, a charity which provides treats and wishes for children with neuroblastoma.


Nostalgia

On This Day, 13th May: The Great Escape & Remembering 'Budgie'

Born on this day, 13th May 1939: Johnny ‘Budgie’ Byrne

Johnny ‘Budgie’ Byrne was born in West Horsley, Surrey, exactly 81 years ago today, on 13th May 1939, to Irish immigrants. He played youth football for Epsom Town and Guildford City while working as an apprentice toolmaker before his schoolteacher and ex-Crystal Palace and West Ham goalkeeper Vincent Blore alerted Palace manager Cyril Spiers to the teenage Byrne’s talents.

Byrne signed a professional contract on his 17th birthday in 1956 and made his debut against Swindon while still on National Service – he played in the same Army XI as Alan Hodgkinson (Sheffield United), Bill Foulkes and Duncan Edwards (both Manchester United). Byrne went on to score seven times in 28 matches in the 1957/58 season as Palace finished in 14th place in the Third Division South. He scored 17 goals in 45 matches in the 1958/59 season as the club became founder members of the Fourth Division, new manager George Smith leading the ‘Glaziers’, as they were known, to a seventh-place finish. In 1959/60 Byrne scored 16 times in 42 matches as Palace finished eighth in Division Four. Byrne became a first team regular, and was popular with the Palace fans. A new breed of striker, standing only 5’8 but weighing 11.5 stone, Byrne was adept at dropping off his marker and finding space before either assisting a team-mate with an inspired pass or using his own skill, speed and powerful right foot to create opportunities for himself. In the 1960/61 season, Byrne scored 30 of Palace’s 110 goals as the club reached the Third Division. He left Crystal Palace in 1962 for West Ham United having scored 85 league goals in 203 appearances.

Ron Greenwood paid a fee of £65,000 to take the 22-year-old ‘Budgie’ to West Ham United, a record fee between two British clubs – a jovial character, the nickname ‘Budgie’ was the result of Byrne’s incessant, cheerful chattering. The fee was made up of £58,000 plus ex-Palace striker Ron Brett who was valued at £7,000. Brett was tragically killed five months after the move at the age of 24, when his car hit a lorry. Greenwood would later compare Byrne with Argentine footballer Alfredo Di Stefano. Byrne’s Hammers debut came on 17th March 1962 in a 0-0 draw at Sheffield Wednesday. He played 11 games in his first season, scoring a single goal, in a 4–1 home win against Cardiff in April 1962.

The 1962/63 season saw him score a hat-trick in a 6-0 League Cup win over Plymouth and end the season with 14 goals in all competitions, only one behind leading scorer Geoff Hurst. Byrne beat runner-up Bobby Moore in the Hammer of the Year voting in 1963/64 as the Hammers won the FA Cup. Byrne had amassed 33 goals from 45 games in all competitions for this season, overtaking Hurst as top goalscorer. This included a league hat-trick in a 4-3 win over Sheffield Wednesday and FA Cup goals in the fourth round against Leyton Orient, the fifth round against Swindon and two in the quarter-final against Burnley.

Byrne played for England at both youth and Under-23 levels, becoming the first Fourth Division player to win an Under-23 cap while with Crystal Palace. Byrne, however, might be described as a talented nearly man, missing out as he did on places in both the 1962 and 1966 England World Cup squads. First capped for the senior England team in 1961, for a game against Northern Ireland and while still at Crystal Palace, Byrne seemed likely to figure in the 1962 World Cup in Chile having been transferred across London for a sizeable fee in the months before the tournament. However, Byrne was involved in a post-match fracas with West Brom and former England right-back Don Howe in the tunnel at The Hawthorns on 31st March 1962. The story goes that influential figures at the Football Association – where a selection committee still carried great influence when picking the team – were unimpressed by this and consequently excluded him. Byrne notched his first England goals in June 1963 in an 8-1 away win over Switzerland but perhaps his finest Three Lions moment arrived in May 1964 when he scored three goals in Lisbon as England beat Eusebio’s Portugal 4-3, Byrne clinching his hat-trick with an 88th-minute winner.

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Byrne helped England beat Wales at Wembley the following season while playing at inside-left and started in the same position at Wembley again in April 1965 for a 2-2 draw against Scotland, in a season he comfortably ended as West Ham’s top goalscorer with 25 goals. For Byrne, a man with the world at his feet, one of the First Division’s top forwards, on the verge of a European final and now having the chance to re-establish himself in the England team a year before the World Cup finals, this proved to be the last of his 11 international caps. England were reduced to ten men against the Scots when Ray Wilson was forced off by injury. With no substitutes allowed, Byrne slotted in as emergency full back – however, Byrne himself then suffered an injury to his knee but gamely battled on with the Three Lions effectively down to nine men. Byrne’s injury, however, was serious with ligament damage to the knee and he had done himself no favours by playing on. He not only had to sit out the rest of the Hammers’ triumphant European campaign, but he was still not fit come the start of the following season. Byrne returned but could only show glimpses of his previous form and was hindered by injury throughout the 1965/66 campaign. His exceptional talents were never in doubt but, although he scored eight goals for England in his 11 appearances, he never fully established himself at international level.

Three of Byrne’s eight England goals can be viewed in my video below – the first two are against Uruguay in a 2-1 win at Wembley on 6th May 1964, while the other was scored against the Republic of Ireland in a 3-1 win in Dublin on 24th May 1964.

The 1964/65 season had opened with Byrne scoring as West Ham and champions Liverpool shared the Charity Shield having drawn the game 2–2. He also scored a hat-trick as the Hammers beat Tottenham 3-2 at Upton Park (his treble can be viewed in my video below). Byrne scored in the first round of the European Cup Winners’ Cup against La Gantoise, the third round against Lausanne and in the semi-final against Real Zaragoza. In the 1965/66 season West Ham were again involved in Europe as holders of the Cup Winners’ Cup and also reached the 1966 League Cup Final. Byrne was on the scoresheet in the Cup Winners’ Cup, in the second round against Olympiakos, the third round against Magedeburg and in the semi-final against Borussia Dortmund as the Hammers exited the competition. He scored five goals in six games in the League Cup including one in the first-leg of the final against West Brom which West Ham won 2–1. Albion won the second leg 4-1 at The Hawthorns though to take the trophy with a 5-3 aggregate win. Byrne finished the season with 17 goals in all competitions behind Geoff Hurst who, on the verge of his 1966 World Cup success, scored 40 goals in 59 games.

Byrne’s last appearance for the Irons came against Sunderland on 11th February 1967 – in a fitting farewell, he scored alongside Hurst in a 2-2 draw. The 27-year-old Budgie returned to Crystal Palace, by now in the Second Division, in February 1967 in a deal worth £45,000 – his five years of service to the Hammers, consisting of 206 appearances and 108 goals, had ended up costing the club just £13,000. He scored one goal from 14 appearances in his first season back at Palace and four goals in 22 appearances in 1967/68. Byrne was proving to be past his peak as a player and, only a year after rejoining the club, he was transferred to Fulham for £25,000 in March 1968. Byrne would eventually go to play in South Africa, where he also went into management at Durban City, who he led to South African League and Cup titles in the 1970s. Byrne would go on to manage Greek side Hellenic and was voted Coach of the Year in 1993, winning a trip back to England to watch Arsenal play Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup Final that year.

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Bobby Moore was a close friend of Byrne’s – according to acclaimed sports writer Brian Glanville, the two men once sat together on a warm South African night when Moore said, envisaging a partnership in management: “You and me, Budgie, you and me!” It was never to be. Moore passed away in February 1993 and Byrne died, aged 60, of a heart attack in Cape Town, South Africa on 27th October 1999. A minute’s silence was held for Byrne and his former team-mate Dave Bickles, who had died five days after ‘Budgie’, at the 0-0 UEFA Cup draw against Steaua Bucharest at Upton Park.

My video below contains six of Byrne’s 108 goals for West Ham United – his hat-trick against Tottenham on 12th September 1964, an FA Cup strike against Birmingham on 9th January 1965, a match-winning penalty against Arsenal on 27th March 1965 and a goal from the European Cup Winners’ Cup Semi-Final second leg against Borussia Dortmund on 13th April 1966.

Man Utd 0-1 West Ham, 13th May 2007

13th May 2007, exactly 13 years ago today: West Ham met Manchester United at Old Trafford, McFly were number one with ‘Baby’s Coming Back/Transylvania’ and Spider-Man 3 topped the UK box office.

Future Hammers defender Patrice Evra lined up for the hosts, as did former Hammer Michael Carrick. Jonathan Spector would make an appearance from the bench for the visitors to face his former club, while Carlos Tevez was playing his final game for the Irons before joining the Red Devils that summer.

A weakened Manchester United side were without Gary Neville and Rio Ferdinand while Nemanja Vidic, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and Cristiano Ronaldo were all named on the bench ahead of the FA Cup Final against Chelsea. The hosts were celebrating their 16th English league title against a Hammers team who needed a point to guarantee their top flight status. The visitors suffered a blow when left-back George McCartney succumbed to injury and had to be replaced by Spector. The American substitute blocked well from Alan Smith before Yossi Benayoun cleared an effort from the same player off the line and blocked the rebound from Kieran Richardson. Hanging on against the new champions, the Hammers then stunned Old Trafford with a goal right on half-time; Robert Green’s long kick upfield was won in the air by Bobby Zamora and brought down by Carlos Tevez. The Argentine played a short pass to his strike partner and went for the return; Zamora’s pass was slightly overhit and as Tevez attempted to control it, the ball spun into the air from the challenge of Wes Brown. With Edwin van der Sar rushing out, Tevez sent a superbly-executed finish under the goalkeeper’s body and into the corner to give the Irons a priceless lead. Tevez is pictured below, celebrating his goal.

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By the hour mark, Sir Alex Ferguson had seen enough with Scholes, Ronaldo and Giggs all entering the fray. Green saved superbly with his feet from a pointblank Ronaldo header and stood up well to save a left-foot strike from the Portuguese superstar with his chest. In a frantic sequence, John O’Shea was denied by Green, with Spector blocking Solskjaer’s follow-up; the ball fell to Giggs who curled wide. Green later tipped a fierce long-range effort from Scholes over the bar. Martin Atkinson’s final whistle confirmed the Hammers had secured their survival following one of the greatest of escapes. The action from this game can be viewed on the WHTID social media pages.

Alan Curbishley’s Hammers finished the 2006/07 season in 15th place, while Manchester United had already won the Premier League title. Bobby Zamora ended the campaign as the Irons’ top goalscorer with 11 goals from 37 appearances. Tevez had already been voted Hammer of the Year with Zamora runner-up. Chelsea won the FA Cup.

Manchester United: Edwin van der Sar, John O’Shea, Wes Brown, Gabriel Heinze, Patrice Evra (Ryan Giggs), Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Michael Carrick (Paul Scholes), Darren Fletcher, Kieran Richardson, Alan Smith (Cristiano Ronaldo), Wayne Rooney.

West Ham United: Robert Green, Lucas Neill, James Collins, Anton Ferdinand, George McCartney (Jonathan Spector), Yossi Benayoun, Nigel Reo-Coker, Mark Noble, Luis Boa Morte, Carlos Tevez (Hayden Mullins), Bobby Zamora (Marlon Harewood).


Nostalgia

On This Day, 9th May: Hammers Relegate Man City & Happy Birthday Don Hutchison

West Ham 2-0 Man City, 9th May 1987

9th May 1987, exactly 33 years ago today – Ireland’s Johnny Logan won the 1987 Eurovision Song Contest with ‘Hold Me Now’, Starship were number one with ‘Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now’, Platoon was in UK cinemas and West Ham United emerged victorious from a First Division encounter against Manchester City with a 2-0 win in front of 18,413 on the final day of the 1986/87 season.

Before kick-off, Mark Ward was named runner-up in the Hammer of the Year voting with Billy Bonds claiming the main prize for the fourth and final time. City arrived at Upton Park knowing that only a win would be enough in their bid to survive in the First Division – it was the Irons who started the brighter though, Steve Potts creating an early chance for Stewart Robson which the midfielder blazed over. Kevin Keen had an effort saved by Eric Nixon after good work from Liam Brady before Paul Ince, playing as an emergency left-back, struck the crossbar, with Mark Ward having his header from the rebound saved. Brady then shot tamely at Nixon as the Hammers dominated, although City forward Paul Stewart did force Tom McAlister into action at the other end.

The Hammers finally made the breakthrough in the 33rd minute – Potts, who had celebrated his 20th birthday just two days previously, popped up with some neat work on the left flank and found Frank McAvennie. His cross was diverted by Republic of Ireland international Mick McCarthy into the path of Ward whose low shot was turned in by top scorer Tony Cottee (pictured below), poaching his 29th goal of the season in his 51st match.

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McAlister made a routine save from Paul Moulden in the opening exchanges of the second half before McAvennie was denied by a combination of Nixon and left-back Clive Wilson in the 50th minute. The Hammers doubled their lead from the resulting corner, Ward finding Brady who worked his way into the penalty area before firing low and left-footed across Nixon and into the far corner of the net. McAvennie again went close and Stewart hit the post for the visitors before 19-year-old Eamonn Dolan came on to make his West Ham debut – Dolan sadly passed away in June 2016 at the age of 48. With Dolan joining Potts, Ince and Keen in the action, West Ham ended the match with four players aged 20 or under on the pitch. The highlights from this match can be seen in my video below.

John Lyall’s Hammers finished in 15th place in the 1986/87 Division One season while Jimmy Frizzell’s City ended up relegated in 21st place. Everton won the league title and Coventry won the FA Cup.

West Ham United: Tom McAlister, Steve Potts, Gary Strodder, Neil Orr, Paul Ince, Mark Ward (Eamonn Dolan), Stewart Robson, Liam Brady, Kevin Keen, Frank McAvennie, Tony Cottee.

Manchester City: Eric Nixon, Kenny Clements, Steve Redmond, Mick McCarthy (David White), Clive Wilson, Andy May, Neil McNab, Kevin Langley, Paul Simpson, Paul Stewart, Paul Moulden.

Happy 49th Birthday Don Hutchison

Don Hutchison was born in Gateshead on 9th May 1971 – he first caught the eye while playing for Paul Gascoigne’s former club, Redheugh Boys, but started his professional career at Hartlepool. The gangling ‘Hutch’ was used either as a striker or central defender before settling into an attacking midfield role. He played his last game for the club in November 1990 before signing for Liverpool after his talents were quickly spotted by bigger clubs. After almost four years at Anfield, and some controversial off-field antics which earned him a somewhat dubious reputation early on his career, Hutchison joined Harry Redknapp’s Hammers in a club-record £1.5m deal in August 1994.

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The 23-year-old Hutchison converted a penalty on his debut in a 3-1 defeat to Newcastle, the club he supported as a boy, at the Boleyn on 31st August 1994 and scored in successive home games in October, a 2-0 League Cup second round second leg win over Walsall and the only goal in a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace. He also scored the winner in a 1-0 League Cup third round win against Chelsea on 26th October 1994. Disciplinary and injury issues were never far away in Hutchison’s early days in east London though, and he was sent off after receiving two yellow cards in the first half of a home game against Leicester on 5th November – the Hammers’ ten men went on to win the match 1-0 but Hutchison wouldn’t return to the side until January 1995. He scored in a 2-1 home defeat to Chelsea the following month and bagged the only goal of the game in a 1-0 win at Arsenal on 5th March 1995. He also scored in a 1-1 draw at Southampton ten days later and was on the scoresheet again three days after that in a 2-0 win at Aston Villa.

With the Hammers in a relegation battle, ‘Deadly Don’ scored in a 2-0 home win over eventual champions Blackburn on 30th April 1995 and bagged a brace against former club Liverpool in a 3-0 win at Upton Park on 10th May, a victory which secured the club’s survival in the Premier League. Hutchison scored a thumping free-kick in a 1-1 home draw with Tottenham at the start of the 1995/96 season, on 30th August 1995, and also scored in a 3-1 home defeat to Chelsea on 11th September 1995. His final game of his first spell in claret and blue came in a 2-1 defeat at Manchester City on New Year’s Day 1996 – he had scored 13 goals in 39 appearances. He moved to First Division Sheffield United, then managed by Howard Kendall, later that month for £1.2m.

After scoring six goals in 91 appearances for Sheffield United, Hutchison returned to the Premier League in February 1998, teaming up again with Kendall at Everton and joining a group of players to have played for both Merseyside clubs. He moved on to Sunderland in the summer of 2000 and returned to West Ham in August 2001, again setting a club-record fee, this time of £5m. By now, Glenn Roeder was Hammers manager and Hutchison was an international player for Scotland, having made his debut in 1999 – he would win 26 caps for Scotland, scoring six goals, including one against England at Wembley in a Euro 2000 Play-Off.

The 30-year-old ‘Hutch’ made his second debut for the Hammers in a goalless draw at Derby on 8th September 2001 and scored in a 3-0 home win over Newcastle on 23rd September 2001, the same side he’d scored his first ever Hammers goal against seven years earlier. Hutchison suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury in February 2002 which would keep him out for ten months. The midfielder’s ten appearances in 2002/03 all came as a substitute and he was unable to prevent the Irons’ relegation to the First Division at the end of the campaign.

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Hutchison scored a late winner under caretaker manager Trevor Brooking in a 1-0 win at Derby on 4th October 2003 and preserved Brooking’s unbeaten home record in his last match as manager by bagging a late equaliser in a 2-2 draw with Burnley at Upton Park on 18th October 2003. His final goals for the Hammers came on 1st May 2004, scoring twice in a 4-0 home win over Watford under Alan Pardew. Hutchison’s last appearance for West Ham came in a 1-0 home defeat to Brighton on 13th November 2004 and he left the club at the end of the 2004/05 promotion campaign after his contract expired, signing for Millwall. He had made 71 appearances in his second spell, scoring five goals – this took his Hammers totals across both his spells to 18 goals in 110 appearances.

Hutchison moved to Coventry in January 2006 before joining Luton in the summer of 2007. He was released at the end of the 2007/08 season and announced his retirement. Hutchison, who turns 49 today, now works in the media.


Nostalgia

On This Day, 7th May: Lasagne-Gate & Happy Birthday Ian Pearce

Happy 46th Birthday Ian Pearce

Ian Pearce was born in Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk on 7th May 1974. He started his career at Oxted & District before signing for Chelsea during the 1991/92 season. Pearce was part of the England Under-20 team that came third in the 1993 FIFA World Youth Championship in Australia, playing in all six matches and scoring one goal. He was capped three times for England at Under-21 level in the mid-1990s but would never make the senior side. Pearce moved to Blackburn in October 1993, scoring the winning goal for Rovers in a 2-1 win at West Ham in April 1994 before winning the Premier League title the following season.

The 23-year-old Pearce joined Harry Redknapp’s upwardly-mobile West Ham United for a fee of £2.3m in September 1997. He made his Hammers debut in a 1-0 home defeat to Newcastle on 20th September 1997 and quickly forged a young, promising central defensive trio alongside Rio Ferdinand and fellow new boy David Unsworth. Pearce scored his first goal for his boyhood club in a 1-1 FA Cup quarter-final draw at eventual Double winners Arsenal on 8th March 1998. He scored his first league goal in claret and blue in a 3-0 win over Leeds at Upton Park on 30th March 1998, a match which saw Pearce playing at right wing-back. Pearce made 39 appearances in 1997/98 as the Hammers finished eighth (their highest position for 12 years) and reached the quarter-finals in both cup competitions.

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Pearce made 36 appearances and was runner-up to Shaka Hislop in the Hammer of the Year voting in 1998/99 as the Irons finished fifth and qualified for the InterToto Cup. He scored in a 2-1 home win over Nottingham Forest on 13th February 1999 and bagged his second of the campaign in his next home game, a 2-0 win over former club Blackburn two weeks later. Pearce played in both legs of the InterToto Cup semi-final against Heerenveen in the summer of 1999 before injuring knee ligaments 37 minutes into the opening day of the Premier League season in a 1-0 win over Tottenham – he was to be ruled out for 14 months.

Making his comeback in October 2000 in a 1-0 home win over Newcastle, Pearce made 17 appearances in 2000/01, scoring his only goal of the season in a 4-1 home win over Manchester City on 11th November 2000. He was injured again in April 2001 and would be out for ten months, making only nine appearances under new manager Glenn Roeder in 2001/02 – he did, however, score a stunning and dramatic last-minute equaliser at White Hart Lane on 13th April 2002, lashing home a left-footed piledriver from distance. His second goal of the season was the final act of the campaign, a late winner in a 2-1 home triumph against Bolton on the final day of the season.

Pearce made 33 appearances in 2002/03 as the Hammers were ultimately relegated from the top flight. He was sent off in a 3-2 defeat at Tottenham on 15th September 2002 for a professional foul on future Hammer Robbie Keane and was forced to play as an emergency striker in a winter which saw the Hammers deprived of Paolo Di Canio and Frederic Kanoute. He scored two goals during his stint up front, in a 2-2 draw at Middlesbrough on 7th December 2002 and in a 1-1 home draw with Bolton two weeks later. Pearce was red carded for the second time in a crucial and infamous 1-0 defeat at Bolton on 19th April 2003 – his late tackle on Pierre-Yves Andre led to a melee and, minutes later when the match had ended, a subsequent fracas in the tunnel.

The first half of the 2003/04 First Division campaign saw Pearce make 26 appearances under three different managers – Roeder, caretaker Trevor Brooking and Alan Pardew. His final goal for the club was the winner in a 3-2 home win over Sunderland on 13th December 2003, completing a Hammers comeback from 2-0 down. He made his last appearance in claret and blue in a 2-1 home defeat to Preston on 10th January 2004 – after scoring ten goals in 163 appearances for West Ham United, the 29-year-old Pearce returned to the Premier League, signing for Fulham with £1m and Andy Melville heading the other way to east London. All of Pearce’s ten goals in claret and blue can be viewed in my video below:

After just over four years with the Cottagers, Pearce joined Championship side Southampton on a month’s loan in February 2008. He returned to the club where it all began for him, Oxted & District, in the Surrey South Eastern Combination League in August 2008. He signed for Isthmian League Premier Division outfit Kingstonian in August 2009 but joined Lincoln as player-assistant manager to former Blackburn team-mate Chris Sutton two months later. He left when Sutton resigned in September 2010 and returned to Kingstonian in March 2011; he also played for Surrey-based Lingfield later that year. Pearce, 46 today, joined Brighton as a scout in 2014 and is currently Head of Recruitment at West Brom.

West Ham 2-1 Tottenham, 7th May 2006

Let’s also travel back exactly 14 years, to the 7th May 2006 – Mission: Impossible III topped the UK box office, Gnarls Barkley were number one with ‘Crazy’ and Middlesbrough manager Steve McClaren had just agreed to become the next England manager after the 2006 World Cup. FA Cup Finalists West Ham United, meanwhile, secured a 2-1 victory over Martin Jol’s Tottenham Hotspur in front of 34,970 at Upton Park.

Paul Konchesky, Teddy Sheringham and Bobby Zamora all lined up for the hosts against their former club. Calum Davenport, Michael Carrick and Jermain Defoe were all returning to the home of their old club – Davenport would return for a second spell with the Hammers. Robbie Keane would also go on to represent West Ham later in his career.

The game is, of course, famous for most of the Tottenham squad suffering from food poisoning after a dodgy lasagne at their hotel the previous evening; there were even fears on the morning of the game that the match wouldn’t go ahead. Tottenham and Arsenal were locked in a final-day fight for fourth place and the final Champions League position, with the Gunners needing to better Spurs’ result to leapfrog them in the table. The Hammers started brightly with Nigel Reo-Coker flashing an effort wide via the head of team-mate Anton Ferdinand. With ten minutes played, the hosts took the lead, Carl Fletcher (pictured below) winning possession before striding forward unchallenged and fizzing a firm strike from distance beyond the dive of England goalkeeper Paul Robinson and into the net. Spurs were level ten minutes before half-time though when two former Hammers combined to fashion an equaliser, Michael Carrick threading a pass through for Jermain Defoe to turn and fire an exquisite finish beyond Shaka Hislop. With Wigan holding Arsenal 2-2 at Highbury, Tottenham were in the Champions League box seat at half-time.

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West Ham had a great chance to regain the lead six minutes into the second half when Bobby Zamora was brought down for a penalty. Sheringham, however, saw his spot-kick saved by Robinson low to the goalkeeper’s right. The game’s deciding moment came with ten minutes remaining – Reo-Coker’s backheel found Yossi Benayoun, who sidestepped Michael Dawson and fired into the top corner. With Arsenal winning 4-2 against Wigan, Tottenham’s Champions League dreams were dashed – Hammers fans have “laughed ourselves to bits” over Lasagne-Gate ever since..! The goals from this match can be viewed on the WHTID social media pages.

West Ham ended up ninth at the end of the 2005/06 season; Tottenham finished in fifth position. Danny Gabbidon was voted Hammer of the Year, with Marlon Harewood runner-up; Harewood was leading scorer with 16 goals in 46 matches. Chelsea were Premier League champions and Liverpool beat the Irons on penalties to win the FA Cup.

West Ham United: Shaka Hislop, Lionel Scaloni, Anton Ferdinand, Danny Gabbidon, Paul Konchesky, Shaun Newton, Carl Fletcher, Nigel Reo-Coker, Yossi Benayoun (Kyel Reid), Teddy Sheringham (Marlon Harewood), Bobby Zamora.

Tottenham Hotspur: Paul Robinson, Stephen Kelly, Michael Dawson, Anthony Gardner, Lee Young-Pyo (Lee Barnard), Aaron Lennon, Michael Carrick (Andy Reid), Edgar Davids, Teemu Tainio (Calum Davenport), Robbie Keane, Jermain Defoe.


Nostalgia

On This Day, 5th May: Upton Park Swansongs for Brady & Tevez

West Ham 4-0 Wolves, 5th May 1990

Saturday 5th May 1990, exactly 30 years ago today – eleven days before the deaths of American entertainers Sammy Davis Jr and Jim Henson, Madonna was number one with ‘Vogue’ and Look Who’s Talking topped the UK box office as West Ham United rounded off the 1989/90 season with a 4-0 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers in front of 22,509 at the Boleyn Ground.

The pre-match presentations for this final game of the campaign saw Trevor Morley voted in third place of the Hammer of the Year running, with Stuart Slater runner-up and captain Julian Dicks claiming the award for the first time. Liam Brady was also recognised by chairman Martin Cearns before the last game of a career which had taken in Arsenal, Juventus, Sampdoria, Inter Milan, Ascoli and, since March 1987, West Ham United. He had also won 72 caps for the Republic of Ireland.

The Hammers opened the scoring in the 18th minute – a move involving Steve Potts, Stuart Slater, Martin Allen and Kevin Keen ended with Allen dinking in a cross from the right for Keen to nod home a brave diving header against the club he would go on to join three years later. It was Keen’s 13th goal of the season. The Irons doubled their advantage six minutes before half-time – another move down the right involved Keen, Potts and Stewart Robson with Potts evading a two-footed lunge to cross for Morley (pictured below) to net a second diving header of the afternoon and his tenth of the campaign.

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The second half saw the Hammers’ ex-Arsenal midfield men come to the fore. First Robson broke from midfield to fire in the third with a blistering strike into the far corner from distance just two minutes after the interval – it was his only goal of an injury-hit campaign. Then, right at the end of the game, substitute Brady picked up the ball after good work from Tony Gale and a neat pass from Robson, and advanced to the edge of the Wolves penalty area before unleashing an unstoppable drive to bring down the curtain appropriately on a superb career. He was engulfed by delirious supporters in the then-customary end-of-season pitch invasion. My video below shows the presentations and goals from this game, as well as an interview with manager Billy Bonds.

Bonds’ Hammers would finish the 1989/90 Second Division season in seventh place, with Wolves ending up in tenth position. Leeds topped the Second Division, Liverpool won the title and Manchester United won the FA Cup.

West Ham United: Ludek Miklosko, Steve Potts, Colin Foster, Tony Gale, Julian Dicks, Kevin Keen (Liam Brady), Martin Allen, Stewart Robson, Stuart Slater, Trevor Morley (Jimmy Quinn), Leroy Rosenior.

West Ham 3-1 Bolton, 5th May 2007

5th May 2007, exactly 13 years ago today: West Ham met Bolton at the Boleyn Ground, Beyonce featuring Shakira was number one with ‘Beautiful Liar’ and Next topped the UK box office.

Future Hammers boss Sam Allardyce had just left Bolton, leaving Sammy Lee to take charge of his first match for the Trotters. Jussi Jaaskelainen and Kevin Nolan were both in Lee’s starting line-up and would of course go on to represent West Ham later in their careers, while future Hammer Ricardo Vaz Te would also make an appearance from the bench.

The Hammers started brightly in front of a crowd of 34,404, with Hammer of the Year Carlos Tevez curling home a delightful free-kick after just nine minutes. It was 2-0 just over ten minutes later when Mark Noble released Luis Boa Morte who squared unselfishly for Tevez to tap home his second and send Upton Park into raptures. The Argentine then delivered a perfect cross to the back post for the onrushing Noble to thunder home a volley beyond the aforementioned Jaaskelainen to put the Irons three up with less than half an hour played. Tevez is pictured below, celebrating his second goal.

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The second half saw Bolton score a consolation when the late Gary Speed beat Robert Green with a left-foot shot in the 67th minute. It was a third successive win for the Hammers and took them out of the relegation zone for the first time since December; the goals from this match can be viewed on the WHTID social media pages. The Irons went on to secure their survival with a victory at Old Trafford against champions Manchester United the following weekend.

Alan Curbishley’s Hammers went on to finish the 2006/07 season in 15th place, while Bolton ended up seventh. Bobby Zamora would end the campaign as the Irons’ top goalscorer with 11 goals from 37 appearances. Tevez was voted Hammer of the Year with Zamora runner-up. Manchester United won the First Division title and Chelsea won the FA Cup.

West Ham United: Robert Green, Lucas Neill, Anton Ferdinand, James Collins, George McCartney, Yossi Benayoun, Nigel Reo-Coker (Hayden Mullins), Mark Noble, Luis Boa Morte (Jonathan Spector), Carlos Tevez, Bobby Zamora (Marlon Harewood).

Bolton Wanderers: Jussi Jaaskelainen, Ivan Campo, Abdoulaye Meite, Lubomir Michalik, Ricardo Gardner (Stelios Giannakopoulos), David Thompson (James Sinclair), Gary Speed, Andranik Teymourian (Ricardo Vaz Te), Kevin Nolan, Nicolas Anelka, Kevin Davies.


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