Dan Coker's Match Preview
Blast from the past
Today’s blast from the past features a 4-0 victory at Upton Park against this weekend’s opponents, Crystal Palace; it arrived just over 46 years ago, on the 28th of October 1972 in front of 28,894 spectators. Lieutenant Pigeon’s ‘Mouldy Old Dough’ was number one and Barry Crocker, Barry Humphries, Peter Cook and Spike Milligan were in UK cinemas in The Adventures of Barry McKenzie while, six days previously, England goalkeeper Gordon Banks was involved in the car accident that led to his retirement. In East London, legendary Hammer Trevor Brooking (pictured below) scored twice against our south London neighbours, while ‘Pop’ Robson and John McDowell completed the Irons’ goalscoring.
Ron Greenwood’s Hammers ended the 1972/73 season in sixth place in the First Division while Crystal Palace ended up relegated in 21st. Liverpool won the league title and Sunderland won the FA Cup. Robson finished the season as the club’s top scorer with 28 goals in 46 appearances in all competitions – he would also be voted Hammer of the Year, with Billy Bonds runner-up.
West Ham United: Bobby Ferguson, John McDowell, Tommy Taylor, Bobby Moore, Frank Lampard, Johnny Ayris, Pat Holland, Trevor Brooking, Clive Charles, Bryan ‘Pop’ Robson, Clyde Best.
West Ham United Academy product and 2012 Hammer of the Year runner-up James Tomkins could feature for Crystal Palace, as could fellow former Hammer Cheikhou Kouyate. A large group of players have turned out for the Hammers and the Eagles. Divided here by position, they include:
Goalkeepers: Perry Suckling, Steve Mautone, Vincent Blore.
Defenders: Eddie Presland, Kenny Brown, Malcolm Pyke, Alf Noakes, Bill Roberts, Neil Ruddock, Paul Brush, Danny Gabbidon, Jose Fonte, Chris Powell, Alan Stephenson, Tony Gale, Darren Powell.
Midfielders: Victor Moses, Jimmy Wood, Anton Otulakowski, Hayden Mullins, Derek Jackman, Carl Fletcher, Harry Gunning, Jobi McAnuff, Fred Norris, Trevor Dawkins, Kyel Reid, Ray Houghton, Michael Hughes.
Strikers: Joe Johnson, Ron Williams, Freddie Sears, Ian Wright, Andy Smillie, Jeroen Boere, Johnny Cartwright, Johnny Byrne, Peter Simpson, Clive Allen, Dave Swindlehurst, Paul Kitson, Ron Brett, Dave Sexton, Marouane Chamakh, George Petchey.
Malcolm Allison and Jack Tresadern played for the Hammers and managed the Eagles, while Iain Dowie played for both clubs and also managed Palace. Alan Pardew played for the Eagles and managed both clubs. Sam Allardyce has also managed both clubs.
Today’s focus though is on a former Hammers defender and captain who had a loan spell with the Eagles. Matthew Upson was born in Suffolk on 18th April 1979. Originally at Ipswich’s School of Excellence, Upson joined Luton as a trainee after Ipswich youth coach, and current West Ham United Academy Director, Terry Westley moved to the Hatters. Upson joined Arsenal in 1997 after just one league appearance for Luton. After a year out with an anterior cruciate ligament injury, the centre-half spent a short loan spell with Nottingham Forest.
Upson moved to Alan Smith’s Crystal Palace on loan in the spring of 2001, making his debut in a 2-0 home defeat to Preston on 3rd March 2001. He was on the losing side in each of his first four appearances for the Eagles as the First Division outfit battled against relegation but he tasted success in his fifth match, a 1-0 win over Crewe at Selhurst Park. He helped the Eagles to another clean sheet in his next match, a goalless draw with Huddersfield which ultimately relegated the Terriers, with Palace surviving at their expense by a single point. His seventh and final appearance for Crystal Palace came in a 2-2 draw at Watford on 7th April 2001.
Upson spent the 2001/02 season back at Highbury, making 14 Premier League appearances which earnt him a title winners’ medal at the end of the campaign. He broke his leg in February 2002 and joined Reading on loan in September 2002 to aid his recovery and return to action. He signed permanently for David Sullivan and David Gold’s Birmingham in January 2003 and spent four years with the Blues, winning seven England caps during his time at St Andrew’s.
The 27-year-old Upson signed for Alan Curbishley’s West Ham United in January 2007 for an initial fee of £6m, rising to £7.5m depending on appearances. Birmingham boss Steve Bruce later claimed that he was forced to sell Upson by Karren Brady, Birmingham’s managing director at the time. Upson made his debut for the relegation-threatened Hammers at Aston Villa on 3rd February 2007, but had to be withdrawn with a calf injury 30 minutes into the 1-0 defeat. He lasted just 11 minutes of his comeback match a month later against Tottenham before again succumbing to injury in a match the Irons would eventually lose 4-3.
West Ham eventually pulled off the Great Escape without Upson but he was to have a much bigger impact throughout the rest of his career in claret and blue. He made 33 appearances in a 2007/08 season which saw West Ham finish tenth in Curbishley’s only full campaign in charge – his first goal for the Hammers was the winner in a 2-1 triumph over Manchester United at Upton Park on 29th December 2007. Upson also made a return to the England side under Fabio Capello in a 2-1 win over Switzerland in February 2008, becoming the first Hammers centre-half to wear the Three Lions since Rio Ferdinand eight years earlier.
In July 2008, Upson’s squad number of 6 was retired by the club in memory of Bobby Moore, after which he took the number 15 shirt. Gianfranco Zola took over early on in a 2008/09 campaign which saw Upson make 41 appearances in all competitions as the Irons finished ninth – he also won a further seven England caps, becoming a mainstay of Capello’s defence and making five starts. He was named Man of the Match and scored his first goal for his country in a 2-1 win in Germany in November 2008. Upson was linked with a £10m move to Manchester City and Tottenham in the January window of 2009, but Zola and the board opted to cash in on Craig Bellamy instead.
The 2009/10 season began with Upson being appointed captain after the departure of Lucas Neill. Upson scored in the season’s opening match, a 2-0 win at Wolves, but bigger clubs had again been sniffing around, with a £15m bid from Liverpool reportedly rejected, while interest from Fiorentina, Arsenal and Aston Villa was also rebuffed. The club opted to sell James Collins instead. Upson made 35 appearances during the campaign, scoring a further two goals – in a 2-1 defeat at Stoke on 17th October 2009 and in a 1-1 draw at Avram Grant’s Portsmouth on 26th January 2010, which was to prove to be his final goal for the Hammers. The cash-strapped Irons avoided relegation by the skin of their teeth but Upson had still impressed sufficiently to travel to South Africa as part of England’s 2010 World Cup squad – he would end the tournament as the Three Lions’ joint-top goalscorer, thanks to his header in the 4-1 second round defeat to Germany (that one is for our visiting German friends this weekend, Hamburg Hammer and ebiwhu!). It was to be Upson’s second goal in his 21st and final cap for his country.
The 2010/11 season would be an unmitigated disaster for West Ham United. Grant joined the club as manager from Portsmouth, the first appointment by Upson’s former Birmingham employers Sullivan and Gold. He made 35 appearances as the Hammers were relegated in bottom position – his final match in claret and blue came in a 2-1 defeat at Manchester City on 1st May 2011. The 32-year-old Upson left the club on a free transfer later that summer, opting to remain in the Premier League with Stoke. Upson had made 145 appearances for West Ham United, scoring four goals – each of these four goals can be viewed in my video below.
After a year and a half with Stoke, Upson dropped down to the Championship to sign for Brighton, initially on loan before making the move permanent in the summer of 2013. He returned to the top flight with Leicester a year later before signing for Championship side MK Dons in the summer of 2015. He retired from playing in 2016. Now 39, Upson is currently working as a pundit for the BBC – he has a son, Elijah, with his wife Ellie, a British runner.
The referee on Saturday will be Anthony Taylor – his most recent Irons appointment was for our 4-0 opening-day defeat at Liverpool. The Hammers were only allocated the 40-year-old once last season, for our 1-0 home win over Chelsea in December 2017. In 2016/17, Taylor took charge of our 2-0 defeat at Everton in October 2016 and our 2-1 opening-day defeat at Chelsea in August 2016, awarding the home side a penalty and later controversially failing to issue a second yellow card to Diego Costa for an awful lunge at Adrian – Costa remained on the pitch to score the 89th-minute winner. He also refereed our 1-0 defeat at Leicester on New Year’s Eve 2016 and our 1-0 win over Tottenham in May 2017. Taylor officiated the Irons on five occasions in 2015/16 as he took charge of our defeat at Tottenham, as well as our home win over Newcastle which came just three games after he had controversially sent off Adrian against Leicester. He was also the man in the middle for our FA Cup third round win over Wolves and our 3-2 win at Everton in March 2016.
Indeed, controversy and incident are never far away when the Cheshire-based official is the referee for a West Ham United match. Taylor was in charge when the Hammers took on Liverpool at Upton Park in April 2014, awarding a controversial and ultimately match-winning penalty to the Reds. There was also controversy surrounding Guy Demel’s equaliser for West Ham in that game. Taylor is also the referee who had not one, but two red cards rescinded from the same game after he had sent off Carlton Cole and Darron Gibson in the Hammers’ 2-1 home defeat to Everton in December 2012. He sent off the home side’s Kevin Mirallas against the Hammers at Goodison Park in March 2016 and awarded the Toffees a penalty which Romelu Lukaku saw saved by Adrian.
West Ham United are without Ryan Fredericks, Winston Reid, Aaron Cresswell, Carlos Sanchez, Jack Wilshere, Manuel Lanzini, Andriy Yarmolenko and Marko Arnautovic. Pablo Zabaleta is one yellow card away from a one-match suspension. West Ham are unbeaten in their last six Premier League matches against Crystal Palace, winning three and drawing three.
Crystal Palace will be without Scott Dann, Connor Wickham and Christian Benteke.
Looking ahead to our next match against Fulham, Aleksandar Mitrovic is one yellow card away from missing our trip to Craven Cottage – Fulham face Manchester United at Old Trafford on Saturday.
Possible West Ham United XI: Fabianski; Zabaleta, Balbuena, Diop, Masuaku; Snodgrass, Rice, Noble, Anderson; Perez, Chicharito.
Possible Crystal Palace XI: Hennessey; Wan-Bissaka, Tomkins, Sakho, van Aanholt; McArthur, Milivojevic, Kouyate, Meyer; Zaha, Townsend.
Enjoy the game – Up The Hammers!