Dan Coker's Match Preview

Match Preview: Arsenal

Blast from the past

Saturday 5th November 1960 was to prove an exceptional day for a player who enjoyed a brief career with West Ham United. Dave Dunmore, who had arrived from Tottenham the previous season and would go on to play over 100 games for Leyton Orient, provided the Bonfire Night fireworks by bagging a hat-trick as the Hammers defeated Arsenal by a resounding six goals to nil in front of 29,375.

The other three goals came courtesy of John Dick, Andy Malcolm and Phil Woosnam. The Hammers also managed to keep a clean sheet against a side containing David Herd, a Scottish international forward who would score 29 goals for the Gunners to be the First Division’s second-highest goalscorer that season.

West Ham would finish the 1960/61 season in 16th position, while Arsenal would end up in 11th.

West Ham United: Brian Rhodes, John Bond, Bobby Moore, Ken Brown, John Lyall, Derek Woodley, Andy Malcolm, Mike Grice, Phil Woosnam, Dave Dunmore, John Dick.

Arsenal: Jack Kelsey, Len Wills, John Snedden, Billy McCullough, Tommy Docherty, John Barnwell, Vic Groves, Geoff Strong, David Herd, Mel Charles, Joe Haverty.

Club Connections

A large group of players have turned out for West Ham United and Arsenal. Carl Jenkinson is currently on loan from the Gunners but will be unable to play against his parent club on Sunday. Alex Song played for Arsenal before signing for Barcelona, from whom he is on loan at the Hammers. Other players to have represented both clubs have been divided by position.

Goalkeepers: Richard Wright, Manuel Almunia, Jim Standen.

Defenders: Matthew Upson, Nigel Winterburn, Bernard Joy, Steve Walford, Eddie Hapgood, Bob Stevenson.

Midfielders: Liam Brady, Stewart Robson, Yossi Benayoun, Archie Macauley, David Bentley, Les Henley, James Bigden, Luis Boa Morte, Roddy McEachrane, Jimmy Jackson, Henri Lansbury, Fred Kemp, Fredrik Ljungberg.

Strikers: Bobby Gould, Jeremie Aliadiere, Jimmy Marshall, Kaba Diawara, Jimmy Bloomfield, Charlie Satterthwaite, Marouane Chamakh, Lee Chapman, Tom Lee, John Hartson, Ted Drake, John Radford, Ian Wright, Davor Suker.

Ron Greenwood was also assistant manager at Arsenal before becoming manager of West Ham.

Today’s focus though falls on a star Hammer from the latter half of the 1920s who signed for the Irons from the Gunners. Stan Earle was born on the 6th September 1897 in Stratford and played for England Schoolboys before signing as an amateur with Clapton. He played there with future Hammers team-mate Viv Gibbins but also turned out for Arsenal, still as an amateur, between 1922 and 1924. He played four games for Arsenal in two years, scoring three goals. Despite such limited playing time with his club, Earle made his international debut for England against France on 17th May 1924. He continued to play for Clapton, winning the 1924 FA Amateur Cup.

Three months after his England debut, Earle signed for West Ham United and scored 6 goals in 18 games in his first season. He played in 37 of the 42 league games the following season, 1925/26, as the Hammers developed a fine forward line of Earle, Vic Watson and Jimmy Ruffell, the trio notching 41 goals between them that season. Earle impressed sufficiently to earn his second England cap on 22nd October 1927, against Northern Ireland. After eight seasons at the Boleyn Ground, Earle departed at the end of the 1931/32 campaign having scored 58 goals in 273 appearances in all competitions. He ended his career back at Clapton before coaching amateur club Walthamstow Avenue and managing Leyton FC. Earle died in Colchester on the 26th September 1971 at the age of 74.

Referee

Sunday’s referee will be Neil Swarbrick. The Lancashire-based official took charge of two of West Ham United’s highlights from last season, the 0-0 draw against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and the 2-1 League Cup quarter-final victory against Tottenham at White Hart Lane. He also took charge of two league matches involving the Hammers in 2012/13, those being the 4-1 home win over Southampton and the 3-0 defeat at Sunderland.

Possible line-ups

West Ham United will be without Arsenal loanee Carl Jenkinson who is unavailable due to Premier League rules; Joey O’Brien is the likely replacement, with Guy Demel another option. Alex Song is likely to start against his former club while Sam Allardyce will hope that James Tomkins can recover from his hamstring strain in time to face the lively and mobile Arsenal attack, with James Collins the man likely to make way. Big Sam may go for a midfield and forward line consisting of players who did not play 90 minutes at Chelsea on Boxing Day, meaning Cheikhou Kouyate, Kevin Nolan and Enner Valencia could drop to the bench.

Arsenal could recall Calum Chambers at centre-back if Laurent Koscielny loses his fitness battle. Tomas Rosicky scored on his first start of the season on Boxing Day but Francis Coquelin could start in midfield if it is deemed that starting two games in two days is beyond Rosicky after his recent recovery from injury. Olivier Giroud is suspended after his red card against QPR; Danny Welbeck could consequently play in his preferred position of centre-forward while Theo Walcott could start. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Yaya Sanogo will face late fitness tests but Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Ozil, Mikel Arteta and Jack Wilshere are all out.

Possible West Ham United XI: Adrian; O’Brien, Tomkins, Reid, Cresswell; Song, Noble, Amalfitano; Downing; Sakho, Carroll.

Possible Arsenal XI: Szczesny; Debuchy, Chambers, Mertesacker, Gibbs; Flamini, Coquelin; Walcott, Sanchez, Cazorla; Welbeck.

Enjoy the game – Up The Hammers!


Dan Coker's Match Preview

Match Preview: Chelsea

Firstly, I’d like to take this opportunity to wish all West Ham Till I Die readers a very Merry Christmas!

Blast from the past

Stamford Bridge, 29th March 1986 – the scene of one of West Ham United’s more memorable afternoons. Chelsea went into the match six days after winning the Full Members Cup, after beating Manchester City 5-4 at Wembley. The Hammers arrived in west London in sixth position but having suffered three defeats in their previous five league games.

Alan Devonshire gave John Lyall’s men a 1-0 half-time advantage in front of 29,955, the England international being allowed time and space to travel infield after receiving a short free-kick from Tony Gale before rifling a rising long-range effort into the top corner of Steve Francis’ goal.

The second half saw West Ham blitz the Blues with three goals in thirteen minutes as the match became the Cottee and McAvennie show. The second goal arrived on 55 minutes, George Parris breaking clear with the ball from left-back which, via contributions from Cottee and Dickens in the build-up, culminated in a cut-back to an unmarked Cottee who gleefully sidefooted the ball into the far corner.

A third goal arrived on 64 minutes: Mark Ward played a sliderule pass in behind Chelsea’s high defensive line and McAvennie was in the clear. The Scotsman unselfishly squared the ball to his strike partner and Cottee dutifully tucked it away. McAvennie was to get on the scoresheet himself four minutes later, Cottee trying a speculative shot from distance which turned into the perfect pass for McAvennie to volley into the roof of Francis’ net.

The Hammers, of course, went on to finish in third place that season while Chelsea ended up thirteen points behind in sixth.

The video below shows the goals from this match, courtesy of KUMB’s excellent 100 Greatest Moments series.

Chelsea: Steve Francis, Colin Pates, Colin Lee, Doug Rougvie, Darren Wood, Joe McLaughlin, John Bumstead (Micky Hazard), Nigel Spackman, Pat Nevin, David Speedie, Kevin McAllister.

West Ham United: Phil Parkes, Ray Stewart, Tony Gale, Paul Hilton, George Parris, Mark Ward, Alan Dickens, Geoff Pike, Alan Devonshire (Neil Orr), Tony Cottee, Frank McAvennie.

Club Connections

A decent number of players have represented both West Ham United and Chelsea. These include: Craig Forrest, Tal Ben Haim, Len Goulden, Wayne Bridge, Frank Lampard Junior, Demba Ba, Alan Dickens, Clive Allen, Scott Minto, Joe Cole, Scott Parker, George Hilsdon, Peter Brabrook, Yossi Benayoun, Ian Pearce, Jimmy Greaves, Joe Kirkup, Pop Robson, Ron Tindall, Glen Johnson, John Sissons and Jon Harley.

Ron Greenwood and Gianfranco Zola played for Chelsea and managed West Ham, while Sir Geoff Hurst and Dave Sexton both played for the Hammers and managed the Blues. Avram Grant has managed both clubs.

Today’s focus though is on a striker who came through Chelsea’s youth system and currently stands second in the charts of West Ham United’s all-time highest Premier League goalscorers. Carlton Cole was born in Croydon on the 12th October 1983 and joined Chelsea as a 12-year-old schoolboy. He made his first-team debut at the age of 18, as a substitute for Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink in a 3-0 home win over Everton. He scored in his first start three weeks later in a 2-0 victory at Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium. Cole began the 2002/03 season on the bench as Chelsea opened their campaign at Charlton. He entered the fray with 16 minutes to go with the Blues 2-1 down; Cole scored the equaliser with six minutes left after a surging run and then set up Frank Lampard to notch the winner with a minute remaining. He suffered a hairline fracture in his leg before the end of August though but returned in November to score both goals in a 2-1 League Cup victory against Gillingham, prompting manager Claudio Ranieri to state, “I’ve never coached a young player like Carlton. He’s fantastic even though he hasn’t really started his career yet. He has a very long contract, and, in my opinion, a very big future at Chelsea”. With competition for places in the form of the aforementioned Hasselbaink, Gianfranco Zola (Cole’s future manager at West Ham United) and Eidur Gudjohnsen, Cole found first-team football in a two-month loan spell at Wolves.

Cole signed a six-year contract when Roman Abramovich took over the club in the summer of 2003 but, while Zola had departed, a fresh rival for a striking place had arrived in the shape of Adrian Mutu. Cole headed to south London for a season-long loan with Charlton. He was expected to remain at The Valley for a second season as part of the deal which had taken Scott Parker in the opposite direction but instead joined Aston Villa for the 2004/05 campaign. Cole spent the 2005/06 season back at Chelsea but international stars Didier Drogba and Hernan Crespo blocked his path to regular first-team action. Cole, who also scored 6 goals in 19 matches for England Under-21s while on Chelsea’s books, was offered an exit route by Alan Pardew in the summer of 2006.

Cole’s career at Upton Park got off to a dream start, scoring within 24 seconds of his West Ham debut as a substitute against former club Charlton to seal a 3-1 opening day home win. With Dean Ashton ruled out through long-term injury and Craig Bellamy enduring a stop-start campaign, Cole earned more playing time the following season under his former manager at Charlton, Alan Curbishley, scoring six goals and making nine assists. 2008/09 saw Gianfranco Zola arrive as Curbishley’s replacement and Cole’s career finally kicked into gear. He bagged 12 goals in all competitions and made four assists, as well as making his full England debut under Fabio Capello on 11th February 2009 in a 2-0 defeat against European champions Spain in Seville, appearing as a substitute for Gabriel Agbonlahor. He almost scored for the Three Lions too, rounding Pepe Reina but seeing his effort cleared off the line by Gerard Pique. Cole went on to win 7 caps and holds the record for the most England appearances as a substitute without ever starting a game.

While Zola’s time at West Ham took a downward spiral, Cole remained a positive point for the manager, scoring 10 goals in a 2009/10 campaign that saw the Hammers finish in 17th position. As Cole flourished under the tutelage of Zola and the Hammers descended deeper into financial chaos, the big striker was linked with a £20m transfer to both Liverpool and Manchester United in January 2010. Before the end of that year, Cole notched a brace in a 4-0 League Cup quarter-final win over the Red Devils and also bagged his first Premier League double in a 3-1 Boxing Day triumph at Fulham.

The Hammers were relegated at the end of 2010/11 though and, despite offers from Galatasaray and Stoke, Cole took a 50% pay cut to stay in east London and aid the Irons’ promotion push. He scored West Ham’s 2,000th away league goal in the 2-1 victory at Coventry and his 50th goal for the club in the 1-1 draw at Birmingham. Cole scored the first and made the second as the Hammers beat Blackpool 2-1 in the Play-Off Final at Wembley to secure their return to the top flight under Sam Allardyce.

Cole struggled for game time after the arrival of Andy Carroll in 2012/13 but did head the equaliser against former club (and European champions) Chelsea in a match the Hammers went on to win 3-1. He was released by the club the following summer but returned following an injury to Carroll and the lack of adequate back-up – Cole’s first goal since re-signing was in similar style to his first appearance back in 2006, scoring within a minute of coming on, this time in a 3-0 home win over Fulham. Cole, who has a contract which runs until this summer, has scored two goals in four starts this season. His current West Ham figures stand at 67 goals in 277 appearances in all competitions.

Carlton has always been a favourite amongst the Hammers’ diehard travelling support and the video below, created after his initial departure in 2013, displays his talent as well as his love and commitment to our club.

Referee

The referee on Boxing Day will be Michael Oliver; the match at Stamford Bridge will be Oliver’s 100th in the Premier League at the age of just 29. Since West Ham United achieved promotion back to the top flight in 2012 Oliver has refereed five of our league matches, officiating in one win for the Hammers and four defeats. He was the man in the middle for the Irons’ 2-0 reverse in this fixture two seasons ago, harshly disallowing an Andy Carroll goal for a ‘push’ on David Luiz. Oliver also sent off Kevin Nolan at Anfield last season.

Possible line-ups

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho could be without Belgian playmaker Eden Hazard after a knock picked up in the victory at Stoke on Monday night. World Cup winner Andre Schurrle could be called into the starting XI as a replacement. Jon Obi Mikel was employed in midfield for the trip to the Britannia but it is likely that the more offensive Oscar will take his place for the home game against the Hammers.

Sam Allardyce could be without captain Kevin Nolan who picked up a knock in training earlier this week. Mark Noble faces a fitness test and may not be risked from the start with the home game against Arsenal taking place only 48 hours after the final whistle at Stamford Bridge. Morgan Amalfitano is a fit and available option. James Tomkins, who remains one yellow card away from a one-match suspension, has a hamstring strain and may not be risked considering the close proximity of the Arsenal fixture. A pacey pairing of Diafra Sakho and Enner Valencia would certainly, on paper, cause Gary Cahill and John Terry more problems than an aerial duel with Andy Carroll but, after three goals in three games, it would be very difficult to leave the England striker out of the starting line-up. If the game is precariously poised in the second half, the option of Valencia from the bench is a tantalising one. Whatever the Boxing Day results, West Ham will not drop out of the top five.

Looking ahead to the home clash with Arsenal on Sunday, Santi Cazorla and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain both face QPR at the Emirates on Boxing Day in the knowledge they are one yellow card away from being suspended for the trip to the Boleyn Ground.

Possible Chelsea XI: Courtois; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta; Matic, Fabregas; Schurrle, Oscar, Willian; Diego Costa.

Possible West Ham United XI: Adrian; Jenkinson, Collins, Reid, Cresswell; Song, Kouyate, Amalfitano; Downing; Carroll, Sakho.

Enjoy the game – Come On You Irons!


Dan Coker's Match Preview

Match Preview: Leicester City

Blast from the past

19th August 1972 – Alice Cooper was number one with ‘School’s Out’ and Leicester City’s luck was out as they were defeated at Upton Park in front of 25,490 spectators.

Goals from Len Glover and Mike Stringfellow had ensured Leicester had kept the game at 2-2 at half-time but the Hammers blew them away in the second half and ran out 5-2 winners. ‘Pop’ Robson grabbed a double, while Dudley Tyler, Bobby Moore and Ade Coker also found themselves on the scoresheet.

The win put West Ham fifth in the fledgling First Division table. The Hammers would go on to equal their (at the time) highest-ever position of sixth in a campaign that saw Moore overtake Jimmy Ruffell’s record number of league appearances for the club, a record that had stood unbeaten since 1936.

Robson, who bagged a brace against the Foxes, finished 1972/73 as the leading goal-scorer in England’s top four divisions, with twenty-eight goals from forty-two appearances, winning him the Adidas-sponsored Golden Boot award. Twenty-six of these goals were from open play, with only two from the penalty spot. He was also, unsurprisingly, that season’s recipient of the Hammer of the Year award.

West Ham United: Bobby Ferguson, John McDowell, Bobby Moore, Tommy Taylor, Frank Lampard, Billy Bonds, Trevor Brooking, Dudley Tyler, Pop Robson, Ade Coker, Clyde Best.

Leicester City: Peter Shilton, Steve Whitworth, David Nish, Alan Woollett, John Sjoberg, Mike Stringfellow, Graham Cross, Jon Sammels, Keith Weller, Len Glover, John Farrington.

Club Connections

A large number of players have represented both West Ham United and Leicester City. Paul Konchesky returns to Upton Park, the home of his boyhood idols, this weekend. Konchesky was seconds away from joining Ronnie Boyce, Alan Taylor and Trevor Brooking in etching his name in West Ham United’s FA Cup Final folklore before Steven Gerrard spoiled the party back in 2006. Ex-Hammers captain Matthew Upson is also currently on the Foxes’ books but is yet to make an appearance due to a lengthy absence with an ankle injury.

Other players to have represented both clubs include: Andy Impey, John Pantsil, David Connolly, Mike Newell, Gary Charles, Brian Deane, Clive Clarke, Paul Kitson, Shaun Newton, Chris Powell, Dai Jones, Rufus Brevett, Nolberto Solano, Norman Proctor, Les Ferdinand, George Hebden, Franz Carr, William Oakes, Tony Cottee, Colin Mackleworth, Jimmy Quinn and Syd Bishop.

Frank O’Farrell, Jimmy Bloomfield and Martin Allen have played for the Hammers and managed the Foxes.

Today’s focus though is on a much-travelled striker who got his big break with West Ham but departed for Leicester. David Kelly suffered from Perthes Disease (a hip disorder) as a child but began his nomadic career with Walsall in 1983 after they plucked him from the local Cadbury’s factory. His record of 150 appearances and over 60 goals in his five seasons with the Saddlers earned him a £600,000 move to First Division West Ham United in August 1988, the Hammers having a striker-shaped hole and money to spend after the £2.2m sale of Tony Cottee to Everton the previous week. He made a bright start, scoring 9 goals in his first 16 games in all competitions but only notched 2 goals in his remaining 23 appearances of the season as The Irons were relegated. Kelly only managed 3 goals in 25 appearances in 1989/90 and was sent off in an early-season match at Hull as the Hammers adapted to life in the second tier; he was transferred to Leicester City for £300,000 on deadline day in March 1990 after less than two seasons at The Boleyn Ground.

His goals at Filbert Street helped the club maintain their Second Division status in 1990/91 and mount a challenge for promotion in 1991/92. After 22 goals in 66 appearances for the Foxes, Kelly fell out with incoming manager Brian Little and opted to swap the upper echelons of the Second Division for a relegation scrap at the other, signing for Ossie Ardiles’ Newcastle United in November 1991. Kelly went on to represent Wolves, Sunderland, Tranmere, Sheffield United, Motherwell, Mansfield and Derry City.

Although born in Birmingham, Kelly was capped for the Republic of Ireland, bagging a hat-trick on his debut against Israel in November 1987 and scoring 9 times in total in his 26 appearances for his adopted country. He was a member of the Irish squad at Euro ’88, as well as the 1990 and 1994 World Cups.

Kelly has had extensive coaching experience since retiring from playing, first as Assistant Manager at Tranmere Rovers and he has regularly teamed up with Billy Davies at Preston North End, Derby County and Nottingham Forest. Now aged 49, he is currently assistant manager at Scunthorpe United.

Referee

Saturday’s referee will be Martin Atkinson; 2014/15 is Atkinson’s tenth as a Premier League referee. Since West Ham United achieved promotion back to the top flight in 2012 Atkinson has refereed seven of our league matches, officiating in three wins for the Hammers, one draw and three defeats. Atkinson was the man in the middle for the Irons’ 2-2 draw at Hull earlier this season, as well as our 2-1 home victory over Manchester City.

Possible line-ups

Sam Allardyce has an unbeaten record against Leicester City as a manager; in seven matches at both Bolton Wanderers and West Ham United, Big Sam has guided his teams to four victories and three draws against the Foxes. Allardyce has made it clear he will look to rotate his squad over the festive period. Mark Noble has been ruled out by Big Sam but could be fit for the visit to Chelsea on Boxing Day. Morgan Amalfitano and Enner Valencia may be in line for recalls if Allardyce decides to rest any of his midfielders or strikers ahead of the London derbies against Chelsea and Arsenal. James Tomkins is one yellow card away from a one-match suspension. Whatever the weekend’s results, West Ham will not drop out of the top six.

Leicester manager Nigel Pearson, who was Allardyce’s assistant at Newcastle, will be without injured duo Matthew Upson and Kaspar Schmeichel. Ritchie De Laet (illness) and David Nugent (ankle) are also struggling for fitness ahead of Saturday’s match. Foxes trio Liam Moore, Anthony Knockaert and Leonardo Ulloa are all pushing for first-team places after starting last weekend’s home defeat to Manchester City on the bench.

Possible West Ham United XI: Adrian; Jenkinson, Tomkins, Reid, Cresswell; Song, Kouyate, Amalfitano; Downing; Carroll, Sakho.

Possible Leicester City XI: Hamer; Simpson, Moore, Morgan, Konchesky; Knockaert, Cambiasso, Drinkwater, King, Schlupp; Ulloa.

Enjoy the game – Come On You Irons!


Dan Coker's Match Preview

Preview: Sunderland

Blast from the past

The 1960s were a good time for West Ham United to take on Sunderland. The two sides met 12 times during the decade, with the Irons notching 29 goals. September 9th 1967 was no exception – Engelbert Humperdinck was number one with ‘The Last Waltz’ and the Hammers certainly led the Wearsiders on a merry dance in the second half of this particular match in front of 39,772 at Roker Park.

Sunderland, who were yet to suffer defeat that season until the Hammers’ visit, were undone in a second period which saw the east Londoners score five goals in the space of 16 minutes to record a 5-1 win. At the forefront of the victory were West Ham’s three World Cup winners: Bobby Moore, Sir Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters.

After 12 minutes West Ham found themselves 1-0 behind through an own-goal after Moore put a cross beyond Jim Standen. The Mackems led at the break but the recovery began on the hour, Peters putting the Hammers back on level terms. The turnaround was complete barely a minute later, Hurst striking the Hammers into the lead. Harry Redknapp’s 30-yarder then made it an astonishing three goals in three minutes to put the Irons into an unassailable 3-1 lead. Hurst added his second of the afternoon on 75 minutes and Moore atoned for his first-half own-goal by completing the scoring a minute later with a long-range strike.

The Hammers would go on to finish the 1967/68 season in 12th place, with the Mackems ending up in 15th position.

West Ham United: Jim Standen, John Charles, Bobby Moore, John Cushley, Bill Kitchener, Harry Redknapp, Martin Peters, Ronnie Boyce, Peter Brabrook, Trevor Brooking, Geoff Hurst.

Club Connections

A large number of players have worn the shirts of both Sunderland and West Ham United. Of the current crop, Stewart Downing will be facing the team he spent a successful loan period with back in 2003. A brief run-through of some others who have represented both clubs is best served by dividing them by playing position.

Defenders: Danny Collins, Matt Kilgallon, Keith Coleman, Gary Breen, Mick McGiven, Tal Ben Haim, Wayne Bridge, George McCartney, Calum Davenport, Andy Melville, Anton Ferdinand, Clive Clarke.

Midfielders: Harry Hooper, Don Hutchison.

Strikers: Billy Moore, David Bellion, Lee Chapman, Brian Deane, Pop Robson, David Kelly, Dave Swindlehurst, David Connolly, Jack Foster, Dick Bell.

Paolo Di Canio also played for the Hammers and managed the Black Cats.

Today’s focus though is on a left-back who made his name at Sunderland in the 1920s before briefly turning out for the Hammers. Ernie England was born in Shirebrook, Derbyshire on February 3rd 1901. Sunderland signed him from Shirebrook for a fee of £100 in December 1919; he made his debut in a 1-0 defeat that month against Manchester City. In the post-war Football League, England was a tough but reliable right-footed left-back; he developed a right-footed slide tackle that was invariably perfectly timed. England made 30 or more appearances in eight seasons during the 1920s and was an ever-present in all competitions in 1922/23 as Sunderland finished runners-up to Liverpool in Division One. England made 352 appearances in all competitions for the Mackems, without scoring.

West Ham paid £500 to bring England to Upton Park in October 1930 and he made his debut on 3rd January 1931 in a 5-5 draw with Aston Villa. England played four more matches for the club as the Hammers slipped from 6th to 12th between January and March 1931 – he appeared in a 3-2 home victory over Newcastle, a 4-3 home defeat to Grimsby, a 2-1 home loss to Birmingham and, finally a 3-0 defeat at Leeds.

England spent only five months in east London before moving to Mansfield, for whom he made over 150 appearances and finally scored a handful of goals. He joined Frickley in 1936 and became club captain. Playing against Scarborough in the Midland League in 1936, he showed just how hard he was: midway through the second half England headed the ball and was temporarily dazed by the impact. He finished the game but collapsed upon entering the dressing room and was rushed to hospital in South Elmsall, where he remained in a semi-conscious state. He later had no recollection of the incident that caused his injury or that he had completed the game. England returned to Mansfield as assistant trainer after hanging up his boots, later moving to Notts County in a similar role. He died on the 22nd February 1982, at the age of 81.

Referee

Saturday’s referee will be Phil Dowd, who will be taking charge of his first West Ham game this season. Since the Irons achieved promotion back to the top flight in 2012 Dowd has refereed eight of our league matches, officiating in one win, four draws (all goalless) and three defeats. His last match involving the Hammers was the 2-0 victory over Tottenham in the final home game of last season.

Possible line-ups

Sunderland manager Gus Poyet will be without injured trio Billy Jones, Patrick van Aanholt and Emanuele Giaccherini. Lee Cattermole, Jack Rodwell and Steven Fletcher could all return to the side after being benched for the Wearsiders last time out at Liverpool following defeat at home to Manchester City. Argentinian international midfielder Ricardo Alvarez, on loan from Inter Milan, is also pushing for a start.

Sam Allardyce may hand top scorer Diafra Sakho a recall to the starting line-up following his goalscoring return from the bench against Swansea last Sunday. Enner Valencia may have to be content with a place amongst the substitutes after Andy Carroll bagged a brace last week. Mark Noble has been ruled out by Big Sam but Carl Jenkinson should be fit after a hamstring scare. James Tomkins is one yellow card away from a one-match suspension. The Hammers could return to third with victory as Manchester United do not play until Sunday, at Old Trafford against Liverpool. Whatever the weekend’s results, West Ham will not drop out of the top five.

Possible Sunderland XI: Pantilimon; Vergini, O’Shea, Brown, Réveillère; Cattermole, Rodwell, Larsson; Johnson, Wickham; Fletcher.

Possible West Ham United XI: Adrian; Jenkinson, Tomkins, Reid, Cresswell; Song, Kouyate, Nolan; Downing; Sakho, Carroll.

Enjoy the game – Up The Hammers!


Dan Coker's Match Preview

Preview: Swansea City

Blast from the past

Christmas Eve 1955 – Dickie Valentine was number one with ‘Christmas Alphabet’ and another Dickie, West Ham United’s John Dick, was amongst the goals in a 5-1 victory over this weekend’s opponents Swansea City (or Swansea Town as they were known then) in front of 15,857 at the Boleyn Ground.

Dick signed for the Hammers in the summer of 1953, later recalling: “Arthur Rowe and Bill Nicholson [Tottenham’s manager and first-team coach respectively at the time] drove to my mother’s house in Glasgow to offer me a professional contract, but I had already agreed to join the Hammers. The Spurs people were not too happy about that after such a long journey but I didn’t fancy Spurs. Ted Fenton had got in first, so I became a West Ham player – something I never had any cause to regret”. Dick, it seems, was on the road to becoming a Hammers legend before he had even kicked a ball for the club!

Dick went on to score 166 goals in 351 league and cup appearances, placing him joint third with Jimmy Ruffell in the list of the Hammers’ all-time top goalscorers. Only Vic Watson and Sir Geoff Hurst have scored more. He departed for Brentford in September 1962 and went on to manage West Ham Juniors. Dick died in 2000 at the age of 70.

Dick was joined on the scoresheet that Christmas Eve afternoon by Harry Hooper, Billy Dare, John Bond and Ken Tucker. The Hammers would finish 16th in the Second Division in 1955/56, while Swansea would end the campaign in 10th.

West Ham United: Ernie Gregory, John Bond, Malcolm Allison, Noel Cantwell, Frank O’Farrell, Andy Malcolm, Harry Hooper, Billy Dare, Ken Tucker, Brian Moore, John Dick.

Club Connections

A small number of players have worn the shirts of both West Ham United and Swansea City. These include: Lee Chapman, Andy Melville, Frank Lampard Junior, Shaun Byrne, Frank Nouble and Noel Dwyer. John Bond also represented both clubs, playing for the Hammers and managing the Swans.

Today’s focus though is on a homegrown Hammers product who returned from a short stint at Swansea to kickstart his Upton Park career. Matthew Rush was a right-winger who came through the Academy at West Ham United. He made his debut as a 19-year-old under Billy Bonds in a 7-1 victory over Hull in October 1990, a game famous for Steve Potts’ solitary Hammers’ strike. Bonzo’s boys achieved promotion at the end of that season, a campaign which also saw Rush pick up Under-21 international honours for the Republic of Ireland, for whom he qualified through his Irish mother. He scored his first goals for the Hammers in April 1992, a double in a 4-0 win over Norwich, but the Hammers would ultimately yo-yo back to the second tier. Rush endured a testing two-year period when it appeared his Hammers career was fading and dying. His only appearances in the promotion campaign of 1992/93 came in the now-defunct Anglo-Italian Cup and he had a spell on loan at Cambridge United towards the end of that season.

Rush remained out in the cold as the Hammers set about establishing themselves in their first season in the Premier League. He joined Swansea City for a two-month loan spell in January 1994 and played 13 matches, helping them to the semi-finals of the Autoglass Trophy (now known as the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy). He was handed a surprise start by Bonds on Easter Saturday 1994 against Ipswich at Upton Park and scored a stunning, dipping volley from distance to put the Irons on their way to a 2-1 victory, their first win since New Year’s Day (you can watch this goal in the video below, although the video’s creator is a season out in claiming it was scored in 1994/95). Rush signed a three-year contract that summer, rejecting overtures from Kevin Keegan’s upwardly-mobile Newcastle United. He found opportunities increasingly sparse under Harry Redknapp in 1994/95 but did score in successive matches in October 1994, a 2-0 win over Southampton and a 3-1 defeat at Tottenham. His searing pace also played a major part in a barnstorming 2-0 victory over champions-in-waiting Blackburn Rovers, Rush streaking away from Colin Hendry late on to lay on a cross which led to Don Hutchison sealing the points in the Hammers’ ultimately successful quest for survival.

Having scored 5 goals in 48 league appearances for West Ham, Rush was sold to Norwich in the summer of 1995 for £350,000. On his debut for the Canaries, against Sunderland, he badly ruptured his knee. He sought to gain fitness in a loan spell at Northampton and eventually joined Oldham in March 1997 having made just three appearances for Norwich in his 18 months at Carrow Road. Rush sustained cruciate ligament damage in a match against Carlisle in April 1998 and was forced to retire from the game at the age of just 27. He is now a sports scientist.

Referee

Sunday’s referee will be Chris Foy; the Liverpool-based official has been taking charge of Premier League fixtures since 2001. Since West Ham United achieved promotion back to the top flight in 2012 Foy has refereed six of our league matches, officiating in no wins, three draws and three defeats for the Hammers. He has been the man in the middle twice for the Irons already this season, against Tottenham in the 1-0 loss at Upton Park and the 2-2 draw at Stoke.

Possible line-ups

Sam Allardyce should have summer signing sensations Diafra Sakho and Alex Song back in the squad after injury. Neither has turned out in claret and blue since the goalless draw with Aston Villa a month ago and, as with Enner Valencia at West Brom in midweek, Sam Allardyce may decide to introduce both from the bench rather than risk further injury with the busy festive schedule just around the corner. Song is the likelier starter, with Mark Noble still struggling. Kevin Nolan scored on his return to the starting XI at The Hawthorns and could be rewarded by retaining his place against a side he bagged a brace against in the corresponding fixture last season. West Ham could field their two most expensive signings, Valencia and Andy Carroll, up front together for the first time. James Tomkins is one yellow card away from a one-match suspension. With Southampton and Manchester United not playing each other until Monday night, the Hammers could go third with victory on Sunday.

Swansea City will be without suspended left-back Neil Taylor who picked up his fifth booking of the season in the midweek victory over QPR. Fellow defender Federico Fernandez may also be sidelined with a calf injury. Taylor could be replaced by 20-year-old Stephen Kingsley who is yet to make his Premier League debut for the club but has 92 appearances for Falkirk under his belt. Alternatively, Spanish centre-half Jordi Amat could move across to cover for Taylor. Angel Rangel and Jonjo Shelvey were rested in midweek and could return in place of Ashley Richards and Leon Britton respectively.

Possible West Ham United XI: Adrian; Jenkinson, Tomkins, Reid, Cresswell; Song, Kouyate, Nolan; Downing; Valencia, Carroll.

Possible Swansea City XI: Fabianski; Rangel, Williams, Bartley, Amat; Shelvey, Ki; Routledge, Sigurdsson, Montero; Bony.

Enjoy the game – Up The Hammers!


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