Dan Coker's Match Preview

Match Preview: Liverpool v West Ham

Blast from the past

29th August 2015 saw West Ham United’s first win at Anfield in 52 years; the 3-0 victory was only our fourth ever league win at the home of Liverpool since 1928! Rachel Platten was number one with ‘Fight Song’, and Paper Towns topped the UK box office.

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West Ham took the lead in the third minute – Dimitri Payet’s cross was headed out by Martin Skrtel only as far as Aaron Cresswell, whose low centre was stabbed home from close range by Manuel Lanzini. The lead was doubled after 29 minutes when Lanzini hustled and harried Dejan Lovren on the right touchline, won possession and centred for Diafra Sakho – the ball broke to the edge of the penalty area for captain Mark Noble (pictured above) to slot home beyond a static Simon Mignolet to put the Hammers in dreamland.

The Hammers went into the interval with a 2-0 advantage and the afternoon got worse for the Reds eight minutes before the hour mark when Philippe Coutinho was sent off for a second bookable offence after fouling Payet. Referee Kevin Friend made it ten-a-side when he issued a straight red card to Noble with twelve minutes remaining for a challenge on Danny Ings – a decision which was later rescinded. By that point Liverpool had registered what was to be their only shot on target – Darren Randolph easily saving a Lovren shot – and it was the Hammers who would put the gloss on a memorable and historic victory, Sakho picking up Cheikhou Kouyate’s deflected pass two minutes into added time and guiding a low left-footed shot beyond Mignolet at his near post.

The three goals the Hammers scored on this famous day at Anfield were the first Liverpool had conceded in the 2015/16 season, having kept three clean sheets at the start of the campaign. West Ham manager Super Slaven Bilic famously stated after the game that the Irons had “parked the bus, but didn’t put the handbrake on”.

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers was sacked five weeks later, to be replaced by current boss Jurgen Klopp. The Reds went on to finish eighth in the Premier League, one place and two points behind the Hammers. The Irons would go on to record their highest-ever Premier League points tally and first positive top-flight goal difference since the record-breaking campaign of 1985/86. Payet was voted Hammer of the Year, having also finished as the club’s top scorer with 12 goals in 38 appearances in all competitions, with Michail Antonio runner-up.

Liverpool: Simon Mignolet, Nathaniel Clyne, Martin Skrtel, Dejan Lovren, Joe Gomez (Jordon Ibe), Emre Can (Alberto Moreno), Lucas, James Milner, Roberto Firmino (Danny Ings), Philippe Coutinho, Christian Benteke.

West Ham United: Darren Randolph, James Tomkins, Winston Reid, Angelo Ogbonna, Aaron Cresswell, Cheikhou Kouyate, Mark Noble, Pedro Obiang, Manuel Lanzini (Reece Oxford), Dimitri Payet (Matt Jarvis), Diafra Sakho (Josh Cullen).

Club Connections

Andy Carroll is unavailable for the trip to his former club. A whole host of players join the striker in having turned out for both West Ham United and Liverpool, particularly over the last 25 years. These include:

Goalkeeper: Charles Cotton.

Defenders: Alvaro Arbeloa, Rob Jones, David Burrows, Glen Johnson, Paul Konchesky, Julian Dicks, Rigobert Song, Neil Ruddock, Thomas Stanley.

Midfielders: Don Hutchison, Yossi Benayoun, Joe Cole, Victor Moses, Paul Ince, Ray Houghton, Javier Mascherano, Stewart Downing, Mike Marsh.

Strikers: Craig Bellamy, Peter Kyle, Titi Camara, Robbie Keane, David Speedie, Neil Mellor, Charlie Satterthwaite, Danny Shone, Tom Bradshaw.

George Kay made 237 league appearances for the Hammers between 1919 and 1926, becoming the first-ever player to play more than 200 league matches for the club. Kay was also the West Ham captain in the 1923 FA Cup Final. He went on to manage Liverpool between 1936 and 1951, winning the First Division title in 1947.

Today’s focus falls on a former England goalkeeper who first appeared in the top flight for Liverpool before later playing for West Ham. David James was born in Welwyn Garden City on 1st August 1970 and grew up as a Luton supporter. He signed for Watford though and, after helping the Hornets win the FA Youth Cup, made his full debut in August 1990 at the age of 20. He earned 10 caps for England Under-21s before moving to Grame Souness’ Liverpool in the summer of 1992 for £1m.

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James made his Liverpool debut in August 1992 in a 1-0 defeat against Nottingham Forest. After conceding 20 goals in 11 games at the start of the 1993/94 season, James lost his first-team place to veteran ‘keeper Bruce Grobbelaar. He won the League Cup in 1995, starting in the Final against Bolton at Wembley, and received an FA Cup runners-up medal the following year before making his England debut under Glenn Hoddle in a friendly against Mexico on 29th March 1997. After being a regular under Roy Evans and making a total of 277 appearances for the Reds, James left Liverpool for Aston Villa in a £1.8m deal in June 1999. He was once again on the losing side in an FA Cup Final, this time in 2000, the last Final to be played at the old Wembley.

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James signed for Glenn Roeder’s West Ham United in July 2001 for £3.5m but a serious knee injury picked up in a collision with Martin Keown whilst playing for England against the Netherlands at White Hart Lane would keep him out until late autumn. The 31-year-old finally made his Hammers debut in a 1-0 home defeat to Tottenham on 24th November 2001 – he went on to keep ten clean sheets in 29 appearances in his first season, a campaign which saw no other Premier League team win more matches at home than the Hammers. The club finished seventh but were to nosedive the following season, culminating in relegation. James was an ever-present in 2002/03, keeping nine clean sheets in 42 appearances during a season in which he became England’s first-choice goalkeeper, replacing David Seaman.

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James remained with the club for the first half of the First Division campaign of 2003/04, seeing many of his team-mates depart in a fire sale and playing under three managers – Roeder, caretaker boss Trevor Brooking and Alan Pardew – as the Hammers adjusted to life in the second tier. ‘Jamo’ kept ten clean sheets in 31 games before returning to the Premier League with Manchester City in a £2m deal in January 2004. He had made 102 appearances for West Ham in all competitions, his final match being a 2-1 home defeat to Preston on 10th January 2004. James had retained his position as Sven-Goran Eriksson’s England number one but his return to the top flight all but secured his place as England’s goalkeeper at the upcoming Euro 2004 tournament in Portugal. My video below is a compilation of some of his saves in a West Ham shirt.

After two and a half years with City, James returned south to join Portsmouth in the summer of 2006. While with Pompey, he broke the Premier League record for clean sheets and consecutive appearances. He stands fourth in the all-time Premier League appearances list with 572 games played – only Ryan Giggs, Gareth Barry and ex-Hammer Frank Lampard have played more. James moved to Bristol City in the summer of 2010 having captained Portsmouth in the FA Cup Final, James again picking up a runners-up medal after defeat at Wembley to Chelsea. The goalkeeper also played three of England’s four matches at the 2010 World Cup, having lost his place to Paul Robinson during qualification for the 2006 World Cup – former Hammer James replaced then-Hammers custodian Rob Green in the tournament held in South Africa after Green’s unfortunate error against the USA.

The 42-year-old James was released by Bristol City in the summer of 2012 and signed for Bournemouth in September of that year. His final appearance for Bournemouth, and in English football, was against Walsall in a 3-1 defeat at the Bescot Stadium on 19th January 2013.

James went on to play in Iceland for IBV, teaming up with former team-mate Hermann Hreidarsson in order to gain coaching experience. James was also player-manager of Indian Super League side Kerala Blasters, owned by Sachin Tendulkar, in 2014, helping the side to runners-up position in the inaugural campaign of the ISL. James played 956 matches during his career and, now 47, has returned for a second spell in charge of Kerala Blasters – he replaced former Fulham manager Rene Meulensteen as the club’s head coach on January 3rd this year. The Blasters, who have former Blackpool goalkeeper Paul Rachubka and former Leicester striker Iain Hume in their ranks alongside big names Wes Brown and Dimitar Berbatov, are currently fifth in the ISL, out of ten teams. Other managers in the ISL include former Hammers boss Avram Grant (NorthEast United), former Manchester United and England winger Steve Coppell (Jamshedpur), ex-Aston Villa boss John Gregory (Chennaiyin) and former Crewe and Sheffield Wednesday defender Ashley Westwood (ATK).

Referee

The referee on Saturday will be Stuart Attwell. The Birmingham-based official will take charge of a West Ham game for only the fourth time – he has sent off a Hammers striker in two of his other three games officiating the Hammers. He refereed our 1-0 victory at Wigan in March 2009 and our 3-1 win at Blackpool in February 2011. The 35-year-old sent off the Latics’ Lee Cattermole for a shocking challenge on Scott Parker, while the Hammers’ Carlton Cole also received his marching orders during the aforementioned win at Wigan. Even Latics boss Steve Bruce criticised the decision to dismiss the Irons striker.

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Attwell also awarded an infamous ‘phantom’ goal for Reading in a Championship match against Watford in September 2008. He was the youngest-ever Premier League referee but was demoted from the Select Group in 2012. He most recently refereed the Hammers in October in our 1-1 draw at Burnley when he issued a first-half red card to Andy Carroll.

Possible line-ups

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is without Nathaniel Clyne. Emre Can is one yellow card away from a two-match suspension. The Reds are the Premier League’s second highest scorers with 61 goals scored in 27 games. They are unbeaten at Anfield in the Premier League and Champions League this season, with their only home defeat coming in the FA Cup against West Brom last month.

West Ham boss David Moyes is without the banned Arthur Masuaku while Pedro Obiang, Edimilson Fernandes and Andy Carroll all miss out through injury. Winston Reid and Manuel Lanzini should be fit enough to make the bench at least.

Possible Liverpool XI: Karius; Alexander-Arnold, van Dijk, Lovren, Robertson; Miner, Wijnaldum, Henderson; Salah, Firmino, Mane.

Possible West Ham United XI: Adrian; Collins, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Zabaleta, Kouyate, Mario, Noble, Antonio; Arnautovic, Chicharito.

Enjoy the game – Come On You Irons!

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Guest Post

West Ham Groups United Meeting with West Ham United

Guest Post by WHUISA Committee

Written by Mr Palermo and reproduced here with kind permission from KUMB

Myself and UtJ attended a meeting that had been called between the club and the RWHFAG at the stadium to which ourselves at KUMB and other WHU supporters social media outlets had been invited such as Hammers Chat, West Ham Fans TV, and WHUISA.

First point is everyone was on the same page, all were supportive of the RWHFAG.

The meeting was attended by club representatives, Karren Brady (Vice Chair and full Board member), Tara Warren (Executive Marketing Director and full Board member) and Ben Illingworth (Matchday Operations Director).

Apologies for non-attendance came from David Sullivan due to illness. Karren stated towards the end of the meeting that David Gold was unaware the meeting was going ahead and, when challenged, immediately contradicted herself and said she had spoken to him about it yesterday morning.

Draw your own conclusions as to why someone with 35% of the club’s shares would not attend. As for Mr Sullivan, I’ll give the benefit of the doubt to but understand fully why others may not be so generous in spirit.

The meeting covered a number of points and I’d rather stick to the issues than who on the supporters’ side said what.

1. Who’s running the show?

Given the illness to Mr Sullivan and Mr Gold’s age, a question was asked as to who would run the club in their absence due to a sustained period of illness? The point was made our manager is out of contract in four months’ time and we have recently parted company with our head of recruitment. Karren had already admitted she has no involvement with transfers.

Karren’s reply that she felt sure the owners had made their wishes known to the appropriate people as to where their shares would go obviously did not answer the question ……. we had to explain it again and in truth never got a satisfactory answer.

2. A request was made for a copy of the club’s financial results for the period ending May 2017 (eight months ago).

The request was refused by KB and, when pushed on the matter, with it being pointed out they would be a matter of public record in 10 days time anyway, KB admitted it was more a case of won’t share the information rather than can’t ………..we made the point that was hardly about building trust.

At the heart of the request for the financial data was to explore the club’s increases in revenue since the move in three specific areas – match day income, sponsorship & commercial revenue and profit on player sales. These three areas are vital when understanding how much leeway the club has when paying wages under the PL short term cost control measures (Financial Fair Play rules). The club is restricted to staying within a players’ salary cap of a £7m season on season increase plus whatever additional money it makes from its own revenue streams (the three listed above) .

We pushed for the finances because the whole point of the move was to allow us to make more money and sign the better players we were led to believe would be joining us – the absence of which is a major bone of contention for supporters.

The only concession KB would make in this area is that all revenue streams had grown, but the specific numbers would not be shared .

We’ll have them on March 1st regardless.

The point was made to Karren that given the general lack of investment in the club by the two major shareholders which she confirmed at £48m in equity – a number not dissimilar to what the Icelandics put in – that they should set a realistic price for their shares and sell the club .

This point was made a few times throughout the course of the meeting. KB repeatedly stated they have no desire to sell.

KB made the point our owners were UK taxpayers. Good for them.

3. The badge

A long discussion took place concerning the badge and in particular the word ‘London’ and that it caused significant upset to our supporters, abandoning our East London roots and heritage.

TW spoke at length about all sorts of surveys and exhibitions of different designs that they had gone through as part of the consultation process and that 76% had voted for the new badge.

Nobody in attendance had any recollection of ever being asked / shown a different design, but TW was happy to share the data etc.

Either way the club agreed to look at it again. Progress made.

4. Our History

Numerous complaints were made about the cavalier way in which the club’s history appeared to have been abandoned, in particular the museum and old memorabilia.

KB stated a considerable amount was in storage and that a temporary display was being set up in the lower part of the club shop to honour Bobby Moore.

The point that we have nowhere to appropriately display the clubs history was not answered adequately.

A discussion took place concerning the commissioning of a new statue(s), rather than move the current one on the Barking Road, took place but KB informed us they were expensive. Seemingly the junction of Barking Road and Boundary Road is getting redesigned and the World Cup Winners statue will have to move (somewhere) anyhow.

The discussion continued with how the ground can be more ‘West Ham’ in terms of large graphics of the likes of Ron Greenwood and John Lyall as well as former great players.

The practicalities of getting even large banners donated by supporters laid out was also discussed, with the clear issue being the agreement with the LLDC making it a sea of red tape to get anything done.

Given the revelations made by the LLDC that they had spent £3.5m defending litigation against WHU, the club were asked how much the club had spent, and KB confirmed a figure of £0.5m .

Happy families.

Numerous comments were made by the supporters’ groups as to the unsuitable nature of the deal and the fact it should never have been signed .

The specific question as to why we moved was asked and the answer given by KB was “the opportunity”, without ever explaining who or what for.

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5. Stewarding

There was a lot of discussion about the stewards .The comments generally were about their lack of experience, their lack of empathy with our supporters and one of them seemingly wears a Charlton shirt under his jacket. I prayed for his soul last night.

KB stated the club had tried to get the Boleyn stewards back offering to pay for their NVQ training etc but one of the issues was there are 1,200 stewards at the new place compared with the 285 or so we had at our ground.

The on-going issue of fans from other clubs wearing colours in our parts of the ground was discussed and a firm commitment was made by Ben Illingworth to ensure that will not be allowed to happen again. There was one report of a 65-year-old man wearing a Chelsea baseball cap.

6. Boxing Day fixtures

KB denied emphatically that we would be unable to ever host a Boxing Day fixture ever again, but it all depended upon how the fixtures fell, and on what the Met had to say about it.

Given the fact there were WHUISA representatives in the room and they have good links with the FSF that will be an easily verifiable comment.

7. The Memorial garden at the Boleyn.

Representatives complained bitterly and vociferously with regards the state the memorial garden had been allowed to get in to and, while since tidied up, the point was made that was as a result of supporters’ complaints and action and that it was a dereliction of duty by the club to have allowed the gardens to become unkempt once the bulldozers moved in to demolish our home of over 100 years.

8. “Amnesties” for those ejected but not charged

Attempts were made by representatives to get supporters who have been arrested, ejected but not charged to have away travel points reinstated and any bans etc to be lifted. This in the main related to supporters in 114.

Ben Illingworth pointed out only six supporters had been ejected from block 114 all season, and KB gave a commitment that each case would be judged on its individual merits .

9.Ticket prices

KB stated that ticket prices for next year would be frozen.

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10.Media comments by the owners, their children and their employees

The representatives asked that greater care be taken in the discussion of club affairs by the above, to which KB replied that Mr Sullivan’s children had significantly scaled back their involvement.

Karren made the statement she would do anything to make WHU fans happy, to which we asked her to give up her column in The Sun which she refused point blank to even consider .

Representatives were able to illustrate that her comments with regards the Leicester City Chairman prevented us from signing one of their players in the recent transfer window.

Despite this KB refused, point blank, to stop writing her column. She stated it was her decision to make which begs the question as to the terms of her employment contract at WHU.

11. The walk to and from – hot dog sellers etc

The point about the soulless walk past pretty much nothing to get to the stadium was a major problem was made, and again the discussion ended up concerning what the club could and could not control etc. KB gave a tentative indication they may be able to discuss it again but frankly, look at the new buildings opposite The Cow pub, do they want a hot dog stand there 23 weeks a year?

12. David Sullivan and Jim White

Strenuous complaints were made by several representatives as to the recent comments the Chairman made to Jim White concerning the alleged jostling at Wigan. There was considerable annoyance that our own club Chairman was painting our supporters in a bad light and how strange it was that he was well enough to talk to White, attend the Liverpool match this coming Saturday but not well enough to meet with supporters.

KB again repeated how seriously ill DS was, which kind of takes us back to point 1 ……although given the statement from Karren that prior to buying the club they undertook no due diligence, maybe that shouldn’t worry us.

Overall, some progress made , and it’s for the RWHFAG to decide whether there has been enough of it but, at the time of writing, the march on 10th March proceeds.

A big thanks to Andy, Micky and the rest of the RWHFAG, Mark and Paul from WHUISA and to all the other reps there yesterday – apologies for not mentioning you all by name but everyone did the supporters proud.

Submit your prediction for the Liverpool game

Book Review

Kieron Dyer: Craig Bellamy, Lee Bowyer & My Injury Hell

Kieron Dyer’s autobiography, Old Too Soon, Smart Too Late, is currently being serialised in the Daily Mail. Passages relating to former Hammers Craig Bellamy and Lee Bowyer, and Dyer’s own time in east London have been collated here.

Craig Bellamy

“There was one game where Sir Bobby Robson brought Craig Bellamy off early because he thought the game was won and he wanted to save Craig’s legs. When we got back to the changing room, Craig was cursing about how he was always the first one to be hooked. Sir Bobby grew exasperated and said: ‘Will you shut up.’ Craig kept jabbering away about the injustice and finally Sir Bobby snapped. ’I’ll squash you, son, like an ant.’ Craig looked a bit taken aback but after a brief pause, started complaining again. ‘Who are you?’ Sir Bobby said. ‘Ronaldo, Romario, Stoichkov, Hagi, Guardiola, Luis Enrique, Gascoigne: these are the people I deal with. And who are you?’ The changing room went quiet. Even Craig went quiet. And then Craig looked over at me and said: ’He’s got a point, hasn’t he?’”

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“We had played Charlton and Graeme Souness had substituted Craig Bellamy. The TV cameras caught Craig muttering ‘f****** p****’ in his direction as he walked off. Souness didn’t see or hear it, but when he was shown footage, he was livid. Craig had been warned by Dean Saunders, Souey’s assistant, not to answer back, but it wasn’t in Craig’s make-up to keep quiet. He started protesting that there hadn’t been any argument. ‘See, this is the problem,’ Souness said. I could see he was about to go. He mentioned a few of the trophies he had won and some of the clubs he had played for. ‘And then someone like you calls me a f****** p****,’ he said to Craig. ‘I’ll f****** knock you out.’ He tried to grab Craig by the throat. ‘In the gym now,’ he said. ‘Let’s sort this out like men.’ Alan Shearer had to pull Souness off him. That was the first time in my life I’ve seen Bellers completely speechless. They never made it to the gym, but it knocked the stuffing out of Craig. Souness had put down a marker.”

With Souness and Bellamy’s relationship reaching breaking point (and after David Gold talked up a potential move for Bellamy to Birmingham in January 2005, saying personal terms and a medical were a mere formality), the Welshman joined Celtic on loan. After spells at Blackburn and Liverpool, Bellamy joined the Hammers in the summer of 2007; his nine goals for the club can be viewed in my video below:

Lee Bowyer

Dyer famously had an on-pitch brawl with Bowyer in April 2005, during a Newcastle match against Aston Villa at St James’ Park. Bowyer had played for the Hammers in the second half of the 2002/03 campaign and returned to Upton Park in the summer of 2006, departing for Birmingham in 2009.

“I could see him marching towards me, eyes bulging. Graeme Souness was shouting ‘don’t do it’ from the touchline but Lee Bowyer kept on coming. I grabbed him by the shoulders and the neck to keep him off me and then he started raining in punches. It was like slow motion. When the punches were hitting me in the head, I was thinking: ‘I cannot believe he is hitting me in front of 52,000 people. What the f*** is he thinking?’ I was trying to let him punch himself out. I thought it was just going to be handbags. It’s the kind of thing that might happen in training but not in a match. No one in their right mind would do that — but Bow had lost his mind. I think he hit me four times. The punches didn’t hurt but by the time the fourth punch came in, I thought ‘f*** this’ and launched one back at him. Gareth Barry rushed in to restrain Bow and drag him away. Bow’s shirt was ripped down to his chest and he was still snarling and snapping and trying to get himself free. I was relatively calm, but I looked over at Bow again and he was frothing and raging. I didn’t realise that you could get sent off for fighting your team-mate. The referee came over and showed me the red card. Then he sent Bow off, too. The crowd had been on our case because we were 3-0 down at home to Aston Villa. On the pitch, tempers were fraying. Bowyer had come to show for the ball. He was available, but I thought there were better options and passed to another team-mate. Bowyer went crazy. ‘F****** pass me the ball,’ he screamed. ‘What are you talking about?’ I said. ‘You never pass me the ball,’ he said. I told him to do one but he chuntered a bit more. A few minutes later, he wanted me to lay it square to him. I thought there were better options. It wasn’t personal. Bow went absolutely nuts. ‘F****** hell,’ he yelled, ‘you never pass me the ball.’ ‘The reason I don’t pass you the ball,’ I said, ‘is because you’re f****** s***.’ His whole demeanour changed. He had gone and I knew he had gone. I’d always got on well with him. I still do. The media have portrayed him in a certain way, and sure, he had his moments.”

Injury Hell

The 28-year-old Dyer signed for West Ham United on 16th August 2007 in a deal believed to be worth in the region of £6m. He played the full 90 minutes in his first two games in claret and blue, a 1-0 win at Birmingham and 1-1 home draw with Wigan, but disaster struck at Bristol Rovers in a League Cup second round match when Dyer broke both the tibia and fibula of his right leg following a tackle by Joe Jacobsen.

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“Breaking my leg in 2007 was the beginning of a long, debilitating, dispiriting process that killed my career. It led to the West Ham hierarchy trying to shame me, because I played so few games for the club. I’d tell any young injured player to get the best person available to look after you. West Ham didn’t feel it was necessary to do that. I wish I’d taken control and stuck up for myself. You start to hate yourself because you can’t get back to doing the thing you love – and you get slammed by the press, owners and fans.”

Dyer made his return just over 16 months later as a substitute in a 3-0 FA Cup third round home win against Barnsley. He didn’t start a match until April 2009. He didn’t score in 35 appearances for the club and donned the claret and blue for the final time as a substitute in a 3-1 League Cup semi-final second leg defeat at Birmingham in January 2011.

“After I left West Ham, joint chairman David Gold said I had cost the club £16million in fees and wages. That was a classy touch. When Gold and David Sullivan bought the club they talked about the extraordinary wages West Ham were paying and how one player who had barely played ought to have the decency to retire. The arrow was pointing right at me. West Ham fans would say what a waste of money I was. I didn’t score a goal for them in four years and didn’t play four or five games on the trot, ever. But you know what? Every time I went out there, they were brilliant with me and I will always remember that. It kills me that they didn’t even see a fraction of what I once was.”

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Dyer goes on to discuss how he became embarrassed to say he had an injury, saying that he had played on after suffering an injury on more than one occasion to avoid the “shame” of walking off the pitch.

“Later at West Ham I felt my thigh pop with my last kick of training. My heart sank. I was in pain but it was nothing compared to the dread, disappointment and embarrassment flooding over me. I couldn’t tell the physio so I said my thigh was tight, even though I knew I’d pulled it. I was trying to convince myself too. On the morning of our first game of the 2009/10 season [at Wolves] we did a fitness test in the hotel corridor. Stabbing pains were shooting through my thigh with every stride I took but somehow I passed and played with a grade one tear in my thigh.”

Dyer had a loan spell at Ipswich in 2011 as the Hammers struggled vainly against relegation and moved permanently to QPR on a free transfer in the summer of that year.

“After QPR, I knew it was over. I wasn’t sad when I stopped. People ask if I miss playing and the answer is that I don’t. Not because I didn’t love the game, but because in the last five years of my career, I was never fit and always doing rehab. It was miserable. I got used to missing football. It’s not like it all came to a sudden stop. I was delighted that I didn’t have to feel embarrassed in front of my family any more. I was relieved I didn’t have to feel embarrassed about myself in front of the fans any more. I was delighted I wouldn’t be embarrassed in front of the physios any more. I’d had enough of letting people down. When people pour scorn on players like Darren Anderton, Michael Owen and Daniel Sturridge because of their injury record, I don’t think they realise how much embarrassment there is when you injure yourself.”

Dyer, now 39, retired after a short spell at Middlesbrough in 2013.

Adapted from Old Too Soon, Smart Too Late by Kieron Dyer with Oliver Holt, published on February 22 by Headline at £20. As serialised in the Daily Mail.

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Dan Coker's Match Preview

Match Preview: West Ham v Watford

Following the midweek signing of Patrice Evra, today’s match preview carries a distinct left-back theme…

Blast from the past

With Black Box at number one with ‘Ride On Time’ and Dead Poets Society in UK cinemas, West Ham United took on Watford in a Division Two fixture on the 23rd September 1989. A 1-0 victory in front of 21,525 was recorded to give Lou Macari’s Hammers their third win in seven league games at the start of the 1989/90 campaign.

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Having signed from Nottingham Forest for £750,000, centre-back Colin Foster made his West Ham debut in this game against the club he would leave the Hammers for four and a half years later. Foster would go on to make 110 appearances in claret and blue. A first ever Hammers goal from the penalty spot for Julian Dicks (pictured above) was enough to take the Hammers to fifth in the Second Division table. Stuart Slater’s 17th-minute run and cross earned the penalty, awarded for handball. Dicks would be voted Hammer of the Year (the first of four occasions that he would win the prestigious prize), with Slater runner-up. Dicks would also finish as top scorer with 14 goals from 52 matches. My video below shows the goal from this game.

West Ham United would finish the 1989/90 Division Two season in seventh position, two points adrift of the play-offs despite finishing as the division’s joint highest scorers with 80 goals, while Watford would end up in 15th. Leeds won the Second Division, Liverpool won the First Division title and Manchester United won the FA Cup.

West Ham United: Phil Parkes, Steve Potts, Alvin Martin, Colin Foster, Tony Gale, Julian Dicks, Kevin Keen, Martin Allen, George Parris, Stuart Slater, Eamonn Dolan (Leroy Rosenior).

Club Connections

Former Hammer Mauro Zarate is now on Watford’s books, although the Argentine forward is currently on loan in his home country with Velez Sarsfield for the rest of the season.

Other players to have represented both clubs, divided by position, include:

Goalkeepers: Joe Webster, Billy Biggar, Ted Hufton, David James, Perry Suckling, Manuel Almunia, Jack Rutherford.

Defenders: Jon Harley, Calum Davenport, Lucas Neill, James McCrae, Colin Foster.

Midfielders: Henri Lansbury, Alan Devonshire, Alessandro Diamanti, Stuart Slater, Jobi McAnuff, Jimmy Lindsay, Joe Blythe, David Noble, Jimmy Carr, Mark Robson, Valon Behrami, Carl Fletcher.

Strikers: James Reid, David Connolly, Jack Foster, Roger Hugo, Billy Jennings, Peter Kyle, Bertie Lyon.

Len Goulden played for West Ham and managed Watford, while Malky Mackay played for both clubs and went on to manage the Vicarage Road club. Glenn Roeder played for the Hornets and managed both clubs; Gianfranco Zola has managed both the Hammers and the Hornets.

Today’s focus is on a former Hammers left-back who went on to play for the Hornets. Chris Powell was born in Lambeth on the 8th September 1969; he started his career with Crystal Palace and was sent out on loan to Aldershot before moving on to Southend in 1990. He moved to Derby in 1996 after nearly 300 appearances for the Shrimpers. He signed for former Hammer Alan Curbishley’s Charlton in 1998, playing over 200 games for the club and winning five England caps, before moving to West Ham United initially on loan before making the move permanent.

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Powell made his West Ham United debut under Alan Pardew at the age of 35 on the 14th September 2004 in a 1-0 home win over Rotherham – the left-back had known Pardew from their days at Crystal Palace. The Hammers had struggled in the left-back position the previous season with Rufus Brevett suffering a season-ending foot injury in just the second league game of the 2003/04 campaign. Wayne Quinn and Jon Harley temporarily filled the void with Hayden Mullins venturing out of position to play at left-back as the Irons missed out on a Premier League place via the play-offs. Brevett had returned for the start of the 2004/05 season but Powell was to take over, making 42 appearances for the Hammers – his final match in claret and blue was the Play-Off Final win over Preston in Cardiff to secure the Irons’ return to the top flight at the second attempt.

Powell’s dad had been a West Ham supporter but sadly passed away before he could see his son turn out for the club. The young Chris found a role model at Upton Park who inspired him to strive for a career in the game. Speaking a year before joining the Hammers, Powell said:

“Black and Asian people enjoy football, it’s a massive sport and they need to be encouraged to make headway. They need those role models. I would not have enjoyed my football if it wasn’t for my father supporting West Ham because of Clyde Best. That’s the link. There is always a link. People can look back and see why they supported a particular club, and generally for black fans it tends to be because of black players, like Ian Wright. The teenagers around that time were all supporting Arsenal. Now they’ve got Thierry Henry. I always feel there is something that a fan wants to pin their hat on and say, ‘I like them because of him’.”

Powell’s experience was crucial in the development of youngsters Anton Ferdinand, Elliott Ward and Mark Noble but he couldn’t agree on a contract with the club at the end of the season and instead returned to Charlton, replacing Paul Konchesky who signed for the Hammers.

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After a season back at Charlton, Powell signed for Aidy Boothroyd’s newly-promoted Watford in the summer of 2006. He made 18 appearances for the Hornets before returning to Charlton for a third spell in the 2007/08 season, again playing under Alan Pardew in the Championship. He joined Leicester on a six-month contract in August 2008 and ended his playing career with the Foxes, retiring in the summer of 2010.

Powell had one game as caretaker manager at Leicester before landing his first managerial post at former club Charlton in January 2011. He won the League One title with the club in 2011/12, his first full season in management, but was sacked in March 2014 with the club bottom of the Championship. He was named manager of Huddersfield in September 2014; he was sacked 14 months later. Powell was appointed assistant manager at another former club, Derby, in May 2016 and would remain in post for ten months under two managers, Nigel Pearson and Steve McClaren. Powell, now 48, returned to management last month at former club Southend in League One – in a link back to a player who played in today’s featured ‘Blast from the past’ match, Powell has since named former Hammer Kevin Keen as his assistant.

Referee

This Saturday’s referee is 49-year-old Graham Scott. The Oxfordshire-based official will be taking charge of only his third Premier League match involving the Hammers, his first appointment being our 3-1 win at Southampton in February last year. His most recent game in charge of the Hammers was our 3-0 win at Stoke in December – Scott’s decision to award Manuel Lanzini a first-half penalty saw the Argentine retrospectively banned for two matches.

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Scott was also the man in the middle for our 2-1 League Cup victory over Cheltenham in August 2013 and is pictured above sending off Callum McNaughton in the defender’s only Hammers appearance as the club were knocked out of the same competition by Aldershot in August 2011.

Possible line-ups

For West Ham United, new signing Patrice Evra could make his debut. Pedro Obiang, Edimilson Fernandes, Manuel Lanzini and Andy Carroll miss out through injury, while Arthur Masuaku sits out the third game of his six-match ban. Marko Arnautovic remains a doubt.

Northern Ireland international centre-back Craig Cathcart is set to return for Watford, while midfielder Tom Cleverley could also be available. Right-back Kiko Femenia and centre-backs Molla Wague, Christian Kabasele, Miguel Britos, Younes Kaboul and Tommie Hoban are all out injured, as are midfielders Nathaniel Chalobah and Will Hughes. Goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes is also a major doubt.

Possible West Ham United XI: Adrian; Zabaleta, Fonte, Ogbonna, Reid, Cresswell; Kouyate, Mario, Noble; Antonio, Chicharito.

Possible Watford XI: Karnezis; Janmaat, Cathcart, Prodl, Holebas, Zeegelaar; Capoue, Doucoure; Deulofeu, Richarlison; Deeney.

Enjoy the game – Come On You Irons!

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Dan Coker's Match Preview

Match Preview: Brighton v West Ham

Blast from the past

Today’s blast from the past features a 1-0 victory at the Goldstone Ground against tomorrow’s opponents, Brighton. It arrived just over 104 years ago, on the 13th December 1913 in front of 6,000 spectators. H. H. Asquith was Prime Minister and, the day before, the stolen Mona Lisa was recovered in Florence after Vincenzo Perugia was arrested while trying to sell it. Music hall singer Alec Hurley had died the previous week – Hurley was the second husband of music hall singer and comedienne Marie Lloyd, who was best known for her performances of ‘My Old Man (Said Follow The Van)’.

22-year-old Lincolnshire-born forward Dick Leafe (pictured), formerly of Boston Town, Grimsby and Sheffield United, scored the only goal of the game as the Hammers ran out 1-0 winners – it was Leafe’s tenth goal in 15 games since making his debut three months earlier. When Leafe retired from playing in 1922, having scored 44 goals in 106 appearances for West Ham United, he took on the job of assistant secretary at the club until the management was forced to reduce the staff at the outbreak of World War Two.

Syd King’s Hammers ended the 1913/14 season sixth in the Southern League First Division; Leafe finished the season as the club’s top scorer with 21 goals in 37 matches. Brighton were to finish seventh. Swindon won the Southern League First Division, Blackburn won the league title and Burnley won the FA Cup.

West Ham United: Tommy Lonsdale, Tom Brandon, George Irvine, Tommy Randall, Bill Askew, Dan Woodards, Herbert Ashton, Syd Puddefoot, Bertie Denyer, Dick Leafe, George Hilsdon.

Club Connections

Brighton manager Chris Hughton and striker Sam Baldock welcome their former club to the AMEX Stadium. Other players who have appeared for both clubs include:

Goalkeeper: Harry Medhurst.

Defenders: Len Young, Dennis Burnett, Mauricio Taricco, Tommy McAteer, Matthew Upson, Keith McPherson, William Kelly and Wayne Bridge.

Midfielders: Sebastien Carole, Bertie Lutton, John Payne, George Parris and Tony Stokes.

Strikers: Brian Dear, Tommy Dixon, Justin Fashanu, Greg Campbell, Sam Jennings, Sam Small, Herbert Lyon, Bobby Zamora, Dave Sexton and Mike Small.

In addition, Alan Curbishley played for both clubs and managed West Ham. Ex-Hammers Archie Macaulay and Liam Brady have managed Brighton.

This week’s focus though is on a player who spent just over five years with the Hammers before enjoying a season with the Seagulls. Paul Kitson was born in Murton, County Durham on 9th January 1971 and started his career at Leicester, where he won England Under-21 caps. He joined Derby in March 1992 for a club record £1.3m before moving to Newcastle in September 1994 for £2.25m.

The arrivals of Les Ferdinand, Faustino Asprilla and Alan Shearer restricted Kitson’s gametime however and the 26-year-old striker agreed to move to Harry Redknapp’s struggling West Ham United in February 1997 for a fee of £2.3m, alongside fellow new striker signing John Hartson who arrived from Arsenal. The pair made their debuts in a 1-0 defeat at Kitson’s former club Derby on 15th February 1997 but quickly struck up a lethal partnership which would steer the Irons to Premier League survival. Both scored on their home debuts, a 4-3 win over Tottenham at Upton Park on 24th February 1997, while Kitson’s double against Chelsea on 12th March included an injury-time winner in a 3-2 home victory. Another brace followed on 19th April, this time against Everton – the Hammers were 2-0 up but a missed penalty by Kitson, who had been handed the ball by Hartson to complete his hat-trick, gave the Toffees the impetus to come back and claim a point in a 2-2 draw. The crowning glory came on 3rd May when a Kitson hat-trick and Hartson double downed Sheffield Wednesday 5-1 to all but secure the Hammers’ safety.

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Kitson scored his first Hammers goal away from Upton Park in a 1-1 draw at Coventry on 27th August 1997 but an injury picked up in mid-September would keep him out for three months. The Hammers left their relegation worries of the previous season behind them to finish eighth in 1997/98 but Kitson would make only 17 appearances. He scored three goals in four games on his return in December, all of them winners in a 1-0 victory over Sheffield Wednesday, 1-0 win over Coventry on Boxing Day and 2-1 triumph at Wimbledon. He was also on the scoresheet in a 2-2 FA Cup fifth round home draw with Blackburn on 14th February 1998.

A similar story followed in 1998/99, with Kitson again making 17 appearances and scoring three goals as the Irons finished fifth – he scored in a 3-2 home win over former club Leicester on 14th November 1998, notched the winner at Stamford Bridge in a 1-0 Hammers victory on 13th March 1999 and scored the second in a 2-0 win over another former club, Newcastle, the following week. Kitson scored the first West Ham goal of 1999/2000 in a 1-0 home win over Finnish side Jokerit in the first leg of the InterToto Cup third round on 17th July 1999. The Hammers won the competition and Kitson’s next goal would come in the UEFA Cup, in a 3-1 first round second leg win in Croatia against Osijek on 30th September. He also came off the bench to score a late equaliser at Birmingham in the League Cup fourth round on 30th November, the Hammers going on to win 3-2. Kitson would spend a period on loan at First Division Charlton later in the season.

Another loan spell followed in the first half of 2000/01, this time at Crystal Palace. With Glenn Roeder taking over from Redknapp at the end of that season, Kitson found himself with a renewed opportunity at West Ham and made his first start in claret and blue for 21 months at Charlton on 19th November 2001. Almost two years on from his previous goal for the club, Kitson astonishingly bagged a hat-trick at The Valley in a topsy-turvy 4-4 draw. He made four more starts in 2001/02 but was released at the end of his contract in the summer. Kitson had scored 22 goals in 81 appearances in his five years at the club.

The 31-year-old Kitson joined First Division Brighton on a free transfer, teaming up with future Hammers striker Bobby Zamora at the Withdean Stadium. Kitson scored two goals in ten appearances as the Seagulls failed to maintain their second tier status – he notched the winner in a 2-1 triumph at Reading on 4th April 2003 and also scored in a 4-0 home victory over Watford on 26th April.

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Kitson moved to Second Division Rushden and Diamonds for the 2003/04 campaign, scoring five goals in 28 matches and ended his career at Aldershot the following year. Now 47, Kitson was last known to be living in Teesside where he co-owned a company away from football with his wife and her brother.

Referee

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 four previous West Ham matches in the top flight, those being the 1-1 home draw with Stoke in April 2015, the 3-2 home defeat to Leicester in last March, the 0-0 draw with Everton last April and, most recently, our 1-0 home win over Swansea in September.

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The 52-year-old has also 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 replay defeat to Manchester United in April of the same year. He also sent off Portsmouth’s Liam Lawrence and West Ham’s Frederic Piquionne in the Irons’ 4-3 home win over Pompey in September 2011.

Possible line-ups

Brighton are likely to be without midfielder Steve Sidwell, winger Jiri Skalak and striker Jurgen Locadia.

West Ham United are without the injured Pedro Obiang, Edimilson Fernandes, Manuel Lanzini, Marko Arnautovic and Andy Carroll as well as Arthur Masuaku, who serves the second game of his six-match ban. Michail Antonio should return to the squad but Winston Reid is a major doubt. New signing Jordan Hugill comes into the squad.

Possible Brighton XI: Ryan; Schelotto, Dunk, Duffy, Boog; March, Propper, Stephens, Izquierdo; Gross; Murray.

Possible West Ham United XI: Adrian; Byram, Collins, Ogbonna, Rice, Cresswell; Zabaleta, Kouyate, Noble; Mario; Chicharito.

Enjoy the game – Up The Hammers!

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