Dan Coker's Match Preview
Blast from the past
West Ham United had opened the 1977/78 campaign with three defeats from their first three games and been knocked out of the League Cup by Nottingham Forest in a 5-0 defeat when they travelled to Newcastle United on 3rd September 1977 – Elvis Presley had died just over two weeks previously but was number one with ‘Way Down’, Roger Moore’s James Bond was in UK cinemas in The Spy Who Loved Me and the Hammers bagged maximum points with a 3-2 First Division victory over the Magpies in front of 26,983 at St James’ Park.
The Irons went into the fixture 41 years ago with a major injury crisis (what’s new?!) and were without both Billy Bonds and Trevor Brooking. The visitors found themselves 2-0 down as Newcastle took control through goals from striker Micky Burns and a long-range stunner by Northern Ireland international midfielder Tommy Cassidy. The Hammers pulled one back before half-time, Billy Jennings rifling home a ‘Pop’ Robson cross after expertly controlling on his chest.
West Ham were level within four minutes of the restart when Pat Holland’s low cross was turned in by Alan Taylor. The comeback was complete when Frank Lampard’s free-kick was headed home by Robson (pictured above), returning to his former club. All the goals from this match, plus an interview with John Lyall, can be seen in my video below.
Lyall’s Hammers would end the 1977/78 Division One season in 20th position and were relegated after finishing a solitary point behind QPR, while Newcastle would also suffer the drop as they finished one place and ten points behind the Irons. Robson would be the Hammers’ top scorer with 11 goals from 41 appearances, while Brooking would be voted Hammer of the Year for the fourth time. Nottingham Forest won the league title and Ipswich won the FA Cup.
Newcastle United: Mick Mahoney, Ray Blackhall, John Bird, Kenny Mitchell (Irving Nattrass), Aiden McCaffrey, Alan Kennedy, Graham Oates, Tommy Cassidy, David McLean, Tommy Craig, Micky Burns.
West Ham United: Mervyn Day, Frank Lampard, Kevin Lock, Tommy Taylor, Paul Brush, Alan Curbishley, Pat Holland, Alan Devonshire, Billy Jennings, Alan Taylor, Bryan ‘Pop’ Robson.
West Ham United and Newcastle United have shared a multitude of personnel over the years. Andy Carroll could face his former employers on Saturday, while Mohamed Diame welcomes his former club to St James’ Park. A brief run-through of others who have represented both clubs is best served by dividing them by playing position.
Goalkeepers: Shaka Hislop, Matt Kingsley and Ike Tate.
Defenders: Tommy Bamlett, Abdoulaye Faye, Wayne Quinn, Dave Gardner, Dickie Pudan, James Jackson and Stuart Pearce.
Midfielders: Kevin Nolan, Scott Parker, Lee Bowyer, Rob Lee, Nolberto Solano, Kieron Dyer and Franz Carr.
Strikers: James Loughlin, Paul Goddard, Les Ferdinand, John Dowsey, Bryan ‘Pop’ Robson, Justin Fashanu, Demba Ba, Marlon Harewood, David Kelly, Keith Robson, Vic Keeble, Craig Bellamy and Paul Kitson.
Chris Hughton also played for the Hammers and managed the Magpies while Alan Pardew and Sam Allardyce have managed both clubs. Glenn Roeder also played for Newcastle and managed both clubs.
This week’s focus though is on a goalkeeper who played for both clubs. Pavel Srnicek was born in Ostrava, Czechoslovakia on 10th March 1968 – the son of a woodcutter, he started his working life with a period of service in the Czechoslovak People’s Army. He began his footballing career with Banik Ostrava in 1990, replacing a certain Ludek Miklosko who had just moved to England to sign for West Ham United.
The 22-year-old Srnicek signed for Jim Smith’s Newcastle in January 1991 for £350,000 and made his debut under newly-appointed boss Ossie Ardiles in a 1-0 home win over Sheffield Wednesday on 17th April 1991. He played the final seven matches of the season as the Magpies finished 11th in Division Two. A tough start to the 1991/92 season saw Srnicek concede 32 goals in his first 15 matches of the campaign as he struggled to deal with crosses and with the language barrier; Ardiles dropped him in favour of Tommy Wright. Newcastle struggled, with Ardiles being sacked in February 1992 and replaced with Kevin Keegan – they secured safety, finishing 20th.
6’2, agile, acrobatic and often unorthodox, Srnicek quickly became a popular figure with fans and players alike, playing 32 matches in 1992/93 as the Magpies stormed to the newly-named First Division title and promotion to the Premier League. Mike Hooper was brought in from Liverpool to provide competition for Srnicek but the Czech still made 22 appearances as Newcastle finished in an impressive third place in their first Premier League campaign. He played 52 matches in 1994/95 as the Magpies made a return to European football in the UEFA Cup and finished sixth in the league.
Keegan signed future Hammer Shaka Hislop in the summer of 1995 and he displaced Srnicek from the side at the start of the 1995/96 campaign as Newcastle stormed to the top of the Premier League. Hislop was injured in December, with Srnicek taking over for the rest of the season – he played 19 games as the Magpies subsequently let a 12-point lead slip and were beaten to the title by Manchester United. Srnicek kept his place for the start of the 1996/97 season, playing 30 matches in all competitions before a dip in form saw Hislop take over again midway through the campaign.
Now under the management of Kenny Dalglish, the 1997/98 season saw Shay Given brought in as added competition to Srnicek and Hislop. The Czech goalkeeper made only one appearance during the campaign and left Newcastle at the end of the season – the 30-year-old had made 179 appearances for the club. He rejoined hometown club Banik Ostrava, playing six matches, before returning to England to sign for Sheffield Wednesday in October 1998. He remained at Hillsborough until the summer of 2000 when he moved to Italy, signing for Brescia. He stayed with the club for three years before a brief spell with Cosenza. Srnicek also won 49 caps for the Czech Republic and started all of his country’s matches at Euro 2000.
Srnicek returned to England in September 2003, signing for Harry Redknapp’s Portsmouth where he was reunited with Hislop. The 35-year-old Srnicek joined West Ham United, initially on loan in February 2004, as cover for Stephen Bywater after the departure of David James to Manchester City. When Bywater was sent off at Millwall with the Hammers 3-1 down, Srnicek’s first action as a substitute was to see Tim Cahill fire a penalty off target. He could do nothing about Millwall’s fourth in their 4-1 win with his hapless fellow Czech Tomas Repka at fault for Nick Chadwick’s goal.
Srnicek made his move to the Boleyn Ground permanent on a free transfer and made his first start against Derby on 10th April 2004 – he kept a clean sheet in his only Upton Park appearance for the club in an Easter Saturday goalless draw. His third and final appearance for West Ham United came in a 1-0 defeat at Crystal Palace two days later. He left the club in the summer of 2004, moving to Portugal where he spent two years with Beira-Mar.
Injuries to Tim Krul, Shay Given and Steve Harper in the autumn of 2006 led Newcastle manager Glenn Roeder to take the 38-year-old Srnicek back to Tyneside. He made his second debut for the club as an 87th-minute substitute in a 3-1 win over Tottenham, receiving a tremendous reception from the Geordie faithful. He started in a 2-1 defeat at Bolton on Boxing Day 2006 – this was his second and final game of his second spell at St James’ Park and his 181st appearance in total for the Magpies. It was also his final match in professional football.
After retiring, Srnicek began the Srnicek School of Goalkeeping in the Czech Republic, offering youngsters from around the world the opportunity to learn from his coaching. He was also involved in a number of charity organisations. Srnicek also joined the coaching staff at Sparta Prague in January 2012. A regular visitor to the North East after his retirement from playing, Srnicek returned to Tyneside in December 2015 to promote his autobiography, Pavel is a Geordie, named after the song the Newcastle faithful sang for him.
Just weeks after visiting his former club, Srnicek suffered a cardiac arrest while out jogging in his native Ostrava on 20th December 2015. He was put into an induced coma but sadly passed away nine days later at the age of 47. Srnicek’s funeral was held in his hometown on 4th January 2016, with his former Newcastle understudy Steve Harper and Czech team-mate Pavel Nedved among the mourners.
Saturday’s referee is 37-year-old Paul Tierney. The Lancashire-based official has refereed the Hammers on three previous occasions, with all three matches ending in draws. His most recent Hammers appointment was our 0-0 FA Cup third round draw at Shrewsbury in January of this year.
Tierney’s first West Ham appointment was for the 1-1 draw with Everton in November 2015 which saw James McCarthy’s tackle on Dimitri Payet put the Frenchman out of action for two months. His other Irons game was our 0-0 draw at West Brom in September 2017, when he chose to issue just a yellow card to Ben Foster for his late tackle on Chicharito.
Newcastle United are set to be without Florian Lejeune and Paul Dummett for the visit of the Hammers. Karl Darlow, Jamaal Lascelles and Yoshinori Muto could be available. Newcastle have kept four clean sheets in the Hammers’ last six trips to St James’ Park.
West Ham United will be without the injured Ryan Fredericks, Winston Reid, Carlos Sanchez, Manuel Lanzini and Andriy Yarmolenko but Jack Wilshere could return and Marko Arnautovic is available. The Hammers have not won away at Newcastle since November 2012.
Possible Newcastle United XI: Dubravka; Yedlin, Lascelles, Fernandez, Clark; Ritchie, Ki, Diame, Kenedy; Perez; Rondon.
Possible West Ham United XI: Fabianski; Zabaleta, Balbuena, Diop, Cresswell; Rice, Noble, Obiang; Antonio, Anderson; Arnautovic.
Enjoy the game – Up The Hammers!