Dan Coker's Match Preview

Preview: West Bromwich Albion

Blast from the past

West Ham United arrived at the home of West Bromwich Albion for a Second Division fixture on Wednesday 4th April 1990 having recorded one win in their previous four matches, denting the club’s promotion aspirations. Billy Bonds had only recently taken over the managerial position from Lou Macari and victory in front of 11,556 at The Hawthorns helped get the Hammers back on track.

Jimmy Quinn opened the scoring after six minutes, powering a free-kick into the Baggies’ net via a slight deflection. For the second, Trevor Morley held the ball up after a lofted pass forward from Gary Strodder, who was making what would transpire to be his final appearance for West Ham before he moved, ironically, to The Hawthorns in the summer. George Parris’ cross after Morley’s lay-off was headed down by Quinn for Ian Bishop to stoop and nod in his first Hammers goal.

Albion replied before half-time through a Don Goodman header after an in-swinging corner from the right wasn’t dealt with. The Irons sealed the points in the second half when Bishop’s defence-splitting through-ball sent Morley racing clear, his chip nodded home at the far post by future Baggies joint assistant head coach Kevin Keen. The win put West Ham back within four points of the play-offs but they would eventually lose out on this lottery by one place. Promotion would be achieved automatically the following season, Bonds’ first full campaign in charge.

To see the goals from this 1989/90 victory at West Brom, skip to 1:48:29 of the video below.

West Ham United: Ludek Miklosko, George Parris, Gary Strodder, Tony Gale, Julian Dicks, Stuart Slater, Ian Bishop, Martin Allen, Kevin Keen, Jimmy Quinn, Trevor Morley.

Club Connections

West Ham United and West Bromwich Albion have shared a decent number of players over the years; Morgan Amalfitano is one of these and he should face the club he spent a season with on loan last term. Other players to represent both clubs include: Sir Geoff Hurst, Jeroen Boere, Alan Dickens, David Burrows, John Hartson, Franz Carr, Steve Walford, Gary Strodder, Peter Butler, Frank Nouble, David Cross and Nigel Quashie.

Archie Macauley played for West Ham and managed West Brom, while Bobby Gould played for the Hammers and the Baggies and also spent a period as manager at The Hawthorns.

Today’s focus though is on a player who is recognised as one of West Ham United’s best centre-backs of the last ten years but started his career as a right-back with West Bromwich Albion. Danny Gabbidon made his debut for the Baggies on 20th March 1999 in a 1-0 defeat against Ipswich Town at The Hawthorns. After 27 appearances in all competitions, he found himself surplus to requirements after the appointment of Gary Megson as manager and the recruitment of Des Lyttle. He found himself on loan at Cardiff at the start of 2000/01, a move which was swiftly made permanent for a fee approaching £500,000.

2002 was an impressive year for Gabbidon – he helped Cardiff reach the Division Two play-offs, made his international debut for Wales and won the Welsh clubman of the year award. The Bluebirds won promotion to Division One the following season – Gabbidon was named in the First Division Team of the Season for 2003/04 and won the Player of the Month award in January 2005 after the competition had been re-named as the Championship. Despite chairman Sam Hammam’s regular assurances that Gabbidon was the future of Cardiff City, he was sold (along with James Collins) to West Ham United in July 2005 in an effort to trim the club’s wage bill.

Gabbidon quickly built up an effective partnership with Hammers’ homegrown product Anton Ferdinand as West Ham embarked on an exciting and memorable 2005/06 campaign. The Hammers finished ninth under the guidance of Alan Pardew and came within seconds of winning the FA Cup. Gabbidon’s contribution to that terrific campaign was recognised by the club’s supporters as he beat off strong competition to become the recipient of the Hammer of the Year award that season. Hamstring and groin problems during the following season restricted Gabbidon’s contribution to The Greatest Escape and the signing of Matthew Upson, coupled with Gabbidon’s increasing injury issues, led to tougher times for the Welsh international; indeed, injury ensured Gabbidon would not play a single match between December 2007 and August 2009. After 96 league appearances over six seasons with West Ham, Gabbidon was released after relegation in the summer of 2011. He has had spells with QPR and Crystal Palace since and is now back at Cardiff as a player/coach. He was joint-interim manager earlier this season following the departure of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Referee

West Ham United have been unfortunate enough to see Mike Jones allocated as Tuesday’s referee. Jones was in the spotlight as recently as Sunday when he failed to award Manchester City a clear penalty at Southampton and instead booked Sergio Aguero for diving. Jones’ last two Premier League games officiating West Ham have both come at Old Trafford – the 3-1 defeat last term and the 1-0 loss the season before. He is perhaps more infamous for a shocking display during our FA Cup quarter-final defeat at Stoke in 2011, when he allowed both goals for the home side to stand despite blatant infringements on Matthew Upson and Thomas Hitzlsperger respectively. He also awarded the Potters a penalty for a Matthew Etherington dive (which was saved by Rob Green) and gave Stoke a free-kick for a tangle which should have seen James Tomkins awarded a penalty.

Possible line-ups

Belgian international left-back Sebastien Pocognoli could miss out for West Brom after being taken off against Arsenal on Saturday with a thigh injury. He was replaced by Costa Rican right-back Cristian Gamboa who could play out of position on the left against the Hammers as Pocognoli’s replacement. The alternative for the Baggies is Australian left-back Jason Davidson, who has only appeared in two Premier League matches so far. Claudio Yacob is suspended.

For West Ham United, reports suggest Alex Song and Enner Valencia will miss Tuesday’s encounter, while Diafra Sakho is set for an extended spell on the sidelines. Sam Allardyce’s biggest call then will be whether or not to restore Winston Reid to the starting line-up after suspension ruled him out of Saturday’s victory over Newcastle. James Tomkins was my Man of the Match against the Magpies, while James Collins was also excellent in ensuring the Hammers kept a clean sheet. Allardyce could revert to a back three to accommodate Reid, as he did at Everton, which would see Carl Jenkinson and Aaron Cresswell employed as wing-backs and could facilitate a start for Mauro Zarate as a second striker. On the other hand, Big Sam may opt to stick with a winning team.

Looking ahead to our home clash with Swansea on Sunday, the Swans could be without up to half of their backline should Ashley Williams and Neil Taylor pick up their fifth yellow cards of the season against QPR on Tuesday.

Possible West Bromwich Albion XI: Foster; Wisdom, Dawson, Lescott, Gamboa; Mulumbu, Gardner; Dorrans, Sessegnon, Brunt; Berahino.

Possible West Ham United XI: Adrian; Jenkinson, Collins, Tomkins, Cresswell; Noble, Kouyate; Amalfitano, Downing, Jarvis; Carroll.

Enjoy the game – Up the Hammers!


Dan Coker's Match Preview

Preview: Newcastle

Blast from the past

April 1986 surely goes down as one of the most relentlessly exciting months in West Ham United’s history. Beginning with a 2-1 defeat at Nottingham Forest, the Hammers reinvigorated their title charge by winning eight of their next nine matches. The most outstanding and amazing game in this unforgettable run has to be the incredible 8-1 victory over this weekend’s opponents, Newcastle United.

It was Monday the 21st of April 1986 and the goals began to flow after just three minutes. Alan Devonshire’s floated free-kick from the left was prodded home by an unmarked Alvin Martin for his first on what would turn out to be a remarkable personal night for ‘Stretch’. It was 2-0 after 11 minutes as Mark Ward found Ray Stewart overlapping on the right wing – Tonka’s cross-cum-shot was fumbled over his goalline by the Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Thomas, who had been suffering from injury before the game. On 36 minutes Devonshire played a short pass to Neil Orr who hit a rasping 30-yarder which deceived Thomas in mid-air and found the net for the Hammers’ third. Shortly before half-time, Stewart’s long throw sparked a spot of head tennis in the Newcastle penalty area, which culminated in future West Ham manager Glenn Roeder flicking the ball off his heel and into his own net to give the Irons an ultimately unassailable 4-0 half-time lead.

Thomas’ race was run and he was substituted at half-time with outfield player Chris Hedworth taking the goalkeeper’s jersey in his stead. Hedworth himself was soon injured in a collision with Tony Cottee but stayed between the sticks to see Martin notch his second of the game, and the Hammers’ fifth, after Tony Gale had flicked a cross into the path of his central defensive partner’s run. Hedworth succumbed to injury, with Newcastle consequently being reduced to ten men and Peter Beardsley becoming their third custodian of the evening. Hedworth never played for Newcastle again. Billy Whitehurst fired a consolation for the Magpies but the Hammers were soon back on the attack and grabbing a sixth. Devonshire and George Parris combined down the left, with Devonshire’s dinked cross to the far post being nodded in by the onrushing substitute Paul Goddard (who would go on to sign for Newcastle six months later). Goddard then released Cottee down the left and his cross was headed in by Frank McAvennie to make it seven.

There was still time for an eighth. Ward’s cross found Cottee in the area, the PFA Young Player of the Year-in-waiting being bundled to the ground by Roeder. With the majority of a buoyant Boleyn crowd of 24,735 chanting ‘Alvin, Alvin’, penalty king Stewart passed on responsibilities to his captain and the man of the moment… who didn’t disappoint, Martin completing a very unique hat-trick not just because it came from a defender, but because each strike was registered against a different goalkeeper. Cottee, who must have been desperate to add his own name to the scoresheet, hit the bar with a header late on, with the Hammers having to settle for just the eight goals.

West Ham won their next four matches, keeping their title hopes alive until Liverpool clinched the championship with a win at Chelsea. In the final-game decider for the runners-up position, Everton beat the Hammers 3-1 at Goodison Park to leave the Irons in third place, still our highest ever League position. Unfortunately there was no prize of a European place in 1986/87 following the Heysel ban on English clubs in Europe.

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

Newcastle: Martin Thomas (Ian Stewart), Neil McDonald, Glenn Roeder, John Anderson, John Bailey, Paul Stephenson, David McCreery, Chris Hedworth, Tony Cunningham, Peter Beardsley, Billy Whitehurst.

Club Connections

West Ham United and Newcastle United have shared a multitude of personnel over the years. This Saturday, both Sam Allardyce and Alan Pardew will be facing clubs they have formerly managed while Kevin Nolan and Andy Carroll could both face the North East club they served with distinction. West Ham assistant manager Neil McDonald also played for Newcastle, appearing in the aforementioned match. A brief run-through of some others who have represented both clubs is best served by dividing them by playing position.

Goalkeepers: Shaka Hislop and Pavel Srnicek.

Defenders: Abdoulaye Faye, Wayne Quinn, Dave Gardner and Stuart Pearce.

Midfielders: Scott Parker, Lee Bowyer, Rob Lee, Nolberto Solano and Kieron Dyer.

Strikers: Paul Goddard, Les Ferdinand, Demba Ba, Marlon Harewood, David Kelly, Keith Robson, Vic Keeble, Craig Bellamy, Pop Robson and Paul Kitson.

Chris Hughton also played for the Hammers and managed the Magpies while Glenn Roeder played for the Tynesiders but managed the Irons.

This week’s focus though is on a player who had a relatively short stint at Upton Park but, in a previous meeting between the two clubs, was to be involved in one of the lowest points in the career of a Hammers legend.

Franz Carr was a winger who could run the 100m in 10.02 seconds but who his ex-Nottingham Forest manager Brian Clough described as “the best bloody corner-flag hitter in the country”. He won the League Cup with Forest in 1989 and 1990 but the writing was on the wall when he was locked in a City Ground boiler room by Clough after a dismal performance against Oldham. He had a 12-game loan spell at Sheffield Wednesday before joining the Hammers in March 1991 after injury had sidelined Trevor Morley. Despite the Hammers enjoying a successful season which would end in promotion for Billy Bonds’ side, Carr did not taste victory in any of his three matches as a West Ham player. His only start came in a 2-1 defeat at Oxford; he made substitute appearances in a 3-1 home loss to Sheffield Wednesday and a 0-0 draw at Hull. He would return to his parent club who would go on to beat the Hammers in the FA Cup semi-final the following month.

Carr, who also scored one goal in nine matches for England Under-21s, left the City Ground later that summer to sign for Ossie Ardiles’ Newcastle for a fee of £250,000. He made a promising start to his career at St James’ Park but a knee injury kept him out for the majority of 1991/92. He returned for the final three games of that campaign, by which time Kevin Keegan had replaced Ardiles as manager. Three games into the following season, the Magpies led West Ham by two goals to nil at St James’ Park (the second coming from David Kelly) when Julian Dicks was given his first red card of three in 1992/93. Julian takes up the story about what he describes as his only regret in football: “I remember playing at Newcastle one day and little Franz Carr was giving me the runaround. He could give me seven yards start and still beat me over 10. In the end I remember him coming towards me and I just decided to elbow him in the face. I remember it so clearly, I just had to do it. It was so premeditated and right in front of the Newcastle fans. I didn’t bother waiting for the red card, I just walked off!”

Keegan’s signing of future Hammer Rob Lee from Charlton would spell the beginning of the end for Carr on Tyneside, having scored 3 goals in 25 games. He departed for Sheffield United in January 1993 and would go on to play for Leicester, Aston Villa, Reggiana, Bolton, West Brom and Pittsburgh Riverhounds. Carr now works in sports management.

Referee

Saturday’s referee will be Mike Dean; 2014/15 is Dean’s fifteenth as a Premier League referee. Since West Ham United achieved promotion back to the top flight in 2012 Dean has refereed nine of our league matches, officiating in five wins for the Hammers, two draws and two defeats. Dean was the man in the middle for our 3-1 home loss to Southampton earlier this season.

Possible line-ups

For West Ham United, a number of key players are playing a fitness waiting game for the visit of one of the Premier League’s in-form sides. Cheikhou Kouyate and Stewart Downing trained yesterday, while Enner Valencia could also be in contention. Alex Song, Mark Noble and Diafra Sakho will face late fitness tests on Saturday, while Winston Reid is unavailable through suspension. Andy Carroll will not be expected to get through three sets of 90 minutes in the upcoming eight days so could possibly start on the bench.

Newcastle are also suffering their fair share of injury problems, although Alan Pardew could welcome back up to four key men for the trip to East London. Steven Taylor, Fabricio Coloccini, Cheick Tiote and Emmanuel Riviere have all returned to training but goalkeeper Tim Krul has emerged as a late doubt. Rob Elliot is standing by to take the Dutchman’s place. Davide Santon, Ryan Taylor, Curtis Good, Siem De Jong, Rolando Aarons, Jonas Gutierrez, Gabriel Obertan and Mehdi Abeid are all sidelined.

Possible West Ham United XI: Adrian; Jenkinson, Tomkins, Collins, Cresswell; Kouyate, Noble, Amalfitano; Downing; Zarate, Valencia.

Possible Newcastle XI: Elliot; Janmaat, Williamson, Taylor, Haidara; Tiote, Colback; Cabella, Sissoko, Gouffran; Riviere.

Enjoy the game – Up the Hammers!


Dan Coker's Match Preview

Match Preview: Everton

Blast from the past

Almost 42 years ago to the day, West Ham United recorded one of only seven post-war league wins at Goodison Park. It was the 25th November 1972 – Trevor Brooking and Clyde Best were the Hammers’ goalscorers in a 2-1 victory in front of 27,558, while Bernie Wright struck for Everton. The Irons went on to finish in 6th place that season, with Brooking and Best scoring 20 goals between them.

Everton are certainly the Hammers’ bogey side of late – we haven’t beaten the Toffees, home or away, since April 2007, drawing four and losing nine in all competitions since then. We have only recorded two wins at Goodison Park since 1983 (in January 1994 and December 2005).

Everton: David Lawson, Peter Scott, John Hurst, Roger Kenyon, Terry Darracott, Henry Newton, Colin Harvey, Howard Kendall, John Connolly, Rod Belfitt, Bernie Wright.

West Ham United: Bobby Ferguson, John McDowell, Bobby Moore, Tommy Taylor, Frank Lampard (Kevin Lock), Billy Bonds, Trevor Brooking, Pat Holland, Dudley Tyler, Pop Robson, Clyde Best.

Club Connections

Considering they have spent the majority of their respective histories at a reasonably similar level, West Ham United and Everton have shared relatively few players. Those who have appeared for both clubs include: Don Hutchison, David Burrows, Mark Ward, Thomas Hitzlsperger, Joe Blythe, George Eccles, William Wildman, David Unsworth, Ray Atteveld, George Kitchen, Danny Williamson, Richard Wright, Niclas Alexandersson, Mike Newell, Ian Bishop, Lars Jacobsen, Lucas Neill and Slaven Bilic.

Perhaps the most notable Hammer to have also represented the Toffees is legendary goalscorer Tony Cottee. Famously scoring on his debut at Upton Park against Tottenham as a 17-year-old prodigy on New Year’s Day 1983, TC won the PFA Young Player of the Year Award as a 20-year-old in 1986 having helped the Hammers to their best-ever finish of third. He scored 20 league goals in that season, taking his tally to 57 in three-and-a-half years. He improved his personal record in 1986/87, notching 22 league goals, but West Ham plummeted to a 15th-placed finish. He scored a further 13 in his final season and, at this stage in his Hammers career, Cottee had scored 92 league goals in 212 games.

West Ham avoided relegation in 1988 on goal difference; Everton, meanwhile, had finished fourth and they swooped for the Hammers’ home-grown goal machine in a British record £2.2m deal that summer. Cottee made an incredible start to his spell at Goodison Park, scoring a hat-trick on his debut – an opening-day 4-0 win over Newcastle. Cottee appeared in two Wembley finals in his first season with the Blues, scoring twice in a 4-3 defeat to Nottingham Forest in the Full Members Cup, before playing in a 3-2 defeat to Merseyside neighbours Liverpool in the FA Cup Final. Cottee scored 13 goals in each of his first two seasons with Everton and, in February 1991, scored a dramatic late equaliser in a 4-4 draw with Liverpool in the FA Cup fifth round (first replay). Everton triumphed in the second replay to set up a quarter-final date with West Ham at the Boleyn Ground, a game the Hammers won through strikes from Colin Foster and Stuart Slater. Cottee would appear from the bench at the home of his boyhood heroes, incidentally replacing the current assistant manager of the Hammers, Neil McDonald. Everton continued to decline from being a major force in English football in the 1980s to being perennial relegation strugglers in the 1990s.

Following 72 goals in 184 matches for the Toffees, Cottee headed back to East London in September 1994 in a swap deal with David Burrows to join up with new Hammers manager Harry Redknapp. Cottee faced a mixed start on his return to the claret and blue – he was sent off on his second debut for the club after scything down Rob Jones in a 0-0 draw at Liverpool but followed that up by notching a late winner on his first match back at Upton Park, a typical poacher’s effort in a 1-0 victory over Aston Villa. Cottee hit a rich vein of form around Christmas, scoring six goals in five matches, including a hat-trick in a 3-0 home win over Manchester City. He grabbed his 100th Hammers goal with a solo effort in a 2-1 win at Leicester in February 1995 before hitting a double in a 2-2 draw with former club Everton in his next match. TC’s 13 goals ensured he finished the campaign as West Ham’s top scorer and this contribution went a long way towards securing survival that season. His 10 league goals the following year helped the Hammers to a first top ten finish since the Cottee-inspired 85/86.

With the inception of ‘West Ham United Nations’ in 1996/97, Cottee was deemed surplus to requirements and left for Selangor of Malaysia. He had played in 279 league matches for the Hammers in total, scoring 115 goals. In all competitions, he scored 145 goals in 335 games. After less than a year at the Shah Alam Stadium, he was back in the Premier League with Leicester, scoring the only goal in a 1-0 win at Old Trafford in January 1998. He won his first major trophy two years later as the Foxes beat Tranmere in the League Cup Final. Alongside a loan spell at Birmingham, Cottee went on to play for Norwich and Millwall, with a short period as player-manager at Barnet sandwiched in between. He also won 7 caps for England.

Referee

“We want Mark Clattenburg” sing the Hammers faithful whenever another dodgy ref gives an absurd decision against us – well, this Saturday, we get our man! Clattenburg’s record when officiating Hammers’ matches generally bodes well for us – he was the man in the middle for our 3-1 victory at Crystal Palace earlier in this campaign. He also refereed our 3-1 home win over Southampton last season and, in the previous year, took charge in 2-1 wins at QPR and at home against Norwich. On the flip side, he had no choice but to send off Kevin Nolan in a 2-1 defeat at Fulham last season and was also the man in black for a woeful away showing at Villa Park in a 2-1 defeat in February 2013.

Possible line-ups

Much has been made of a potential Hammers injury crisis, but Everton face their fair share of difficulties too. Full-backs Seamus Coleman and Leighton Baines, midfielders Darron Gibson and James McCarthy and winger Steven Pienaar all face late fitness tests while Antolin Alcaraz, John Stones, Arouna Kone, Kevin Mirallas, Bryan Oviedo and Gareth Barry are all set to be ruled out.

For West Ham United, a number of key players are set to be touch-and-go for the tough trip to Merseyside. Defenders Guy Demel and Winston Reid are doubts, as are Stewart Downing and Diafra Sakho after the pair reported back from international duty with knee and back issues respectively. Alex Song and Enner Valencia are also reported to be suffering from knocks.

Looking ahead to our home encounter with Newcastle next week, should Jack Colback or Daryl Janmaat pick up a yellow card against QPR, they will subsequently miss our game on 29th November.

Possible Everton XI: Howard; Coleman, Jagielka, Distin, Hibbert; Gibson, McCarthy, Barkley, McGeady; Eto’o, Lukaku.

Possible West Ham United XI: Adrian; Jenkinson, Collins, Tomkins, Cresswell; Noble, Kouyate, Song; Amalfitano; Cole, Sakho.

Enjoy the game – Come On You Irons!


Dan Coker's Match Preview

Preview: Aston Villa

Blast from the past

By scoring in his last appearance, the winner against champions Manchester City, Diafra Sakho took his goalscoring exploits in consecutive matches beyond the likes of Hammers legends Johnny Byrne, David Cross, John Dick, Tony Cottee and Pop Robson. His seventh goal in seven games (6 Premier League, 1 League Cup) also equalled the efforts of Jimmy Ruffell and Sir Geoff Hurst. Sakho should return from injury against Aston Villa this weekend but will still not be able to match the efforts of West Ham United’s all-time greatest goalscorer even if he continues his remarkable baptism to English football by notching in this weekend’s fixture.

Vic Watson is, without question, the most prolific striker East London has ever seen. He scored 298 league goals in 462 appearances, bagging a further 28 goals in the FA Cup, making him the club’s record goalscorer with 326. He scored six goals in one match, against Leeds in an 8-2 win in February 1929, scored four in one game on three occasions and scored a further 13 hat-tricks. Watson scored in nine consecutive games (6 in Division One, 3 in the FA Cup) in 1930, currently placing him two ahead of Sakho.

Victor Martin Watson was born in Girton, Cambridgeshire on 10th November 1897 – next Monday would have been his 117th birthday. He fought in the British Army during World War One, reaching the rank of sergeant. Syd King signed Watson for a fee of £25 in 1920 as cover for Hammers hero Syd Puddefoot (who scored in 18 consecutive matches in the Wartime London Combination). Watson consequently started his West Ham career at outside-left – it wasn’t until two years later, when King sold Puddefoot for a British record fee of £5,000 to Falkirk, that Watson took his place at centre-forward. The rest is Hammers history. The following season, we reached the FA Cup Final and won promotion to the First Division. Watson’s goal celebration was to pick a blade of grass from the turf and put it between his teeth – no wonder the grass didn’t seem to grow back at Upton Park until the mid-1990s!

Watson ended his career at Southampton before running a fruit and vegetable small holding back in Cambridgeshire. He died at the age of 90 in his hometown of Girton on 3rd August 1988, nine days after West Ham sold one of his goalscoring successors, Tony Cottee, to Everton and six days after fellow Hammers legend Billy Bonds retired.

So, why Vic Watson? Why now? Well, apart from Sakho’s recent, almost comparable, form, Watson scored 18 goals in 15 matches against this weekend’s opponents, Aston Villa. This statistic included three hat-tricks, the first of which came in a First Division fixture almost 88 years ago, on the 13th November 1926 in front of 7,647. A trio from Watson that afternoon was supplemented by strikes from England colleague Stan Earle and Thomas Yews, with Arthur Dorrell replying for the visitors as the Hammers recorded a 5-1 home victory.

West Ham would end the 1926/27 season in 6th position, while Aston Villa would close the campaign in 10th place.

West Ham United: Ted Hufton, Thomas Hodgson, John Hebden, James Collins, Jim Barrett, George Carter, Jimmy Ruffell, Thomas Yews, Viv Gibbins, Vic Watson, Stan Earle.

Aston Villa: Tommy Jackson, Tommy Smart, Tommy Mort, Victor Milne, Frank Moss, Billy Kingdon, Arthur Dorrell, Richard York, Billy Walker, George Ternent Stephenson, Walter Harris.

Club Connections

Stewart Downing, Carlton Cole and James Collins could all face their former club on Saturday, while Hammers favourite Joe Cole returns to Upton Park for the first time since departing for the Villans in the summer.

Other players who have appeared for both clubs include Thomas Hitzlsperger, John Carew, David James, Nigel Reo-Coker, Marlon Harewood, Ray Houghton, Robbie Keane, Franz Carr, Nolberto Solano, Tony Scott, Gary Charles, Frank McAvennie, Mervyn Day, Les Sealey and Phil Woosnam.

Today’s focus, though, falls on a player who turned out for Aston Villa but came through the Academy at West Ham United and later returned to manage the club. Alan Curbishley was born a mile from West Ham station – as a spot of trivia, his elder brother, Bill, was manager of The Who and one of the pallbearers at Reggie Kray’s funeral. ‘Curbs’ joined West Ham straight from school and made his debut in March 1975 in a 1-0 home defeat against Chelsea. At the end of that season, he was part of the West Ham youth team that was defeated 5-1 on aggregate by Ipswich in the FA Youth Cup Final; his team-mates in that side included Geoff Pike, Paul Brush and Alvin Martin. Aged 18, Curbishley appeared in both legs of the European Cup Winners’ Cup tie against Den Haag. He scored 5 goals from midfield in 85 matches for West Ham but left for Birmingham the season after relegation, in April 1979, for £225,000.

Following 11 goals in 131 appearances for the Blues, and a promotion to the First Division in 1980 as his old side won the FA Cup, Curbishley joined their cross-city rivals, Aston Villa, in 1983. His stay at Villa Park was shortlived, departing after just 36 games, having scored one goal. He signed for Charlton in 1984 – while his former club north of the River Thames was finishing third in the top flight in 1985/86, Curbishley was again enjoying success of his own as his Addicks side was promoted to the First Division. He scored 6 goals in 63 matches for Charlton before joining Brighton in 1987 where he would score 13 goals in 116 appearances and again enjoy a promotion campaign, this time to the Second Division in 1988.

Curbishley rejoined Charlton as player-coach in 1990 and became joint-manager (alongside Steve Gritt) a year later. He enjoyed a remarkable 15-year spell as Charlton manager, including two promotions to the Premier League, the first via the play-offs in 1998 and the second as champions in 2000. Charlton finished the 2000/01 campaign in 9th place, enjoying home wins over Chelsea and Arsenal. Curbishley continued to consolidate Charlton as a Premier League outfit, finishing 7th in 2003/04 – following this campaign, he was strongly linked to the vacant managerial role at Liverpool but lost out to Rafa Benitez. With Steve McClaren being preferred in the race for another blue riband job, that of England manager in spring 2006, Curbishley brought the curtain down on his successful reign as Charlton manager. The season after his departure, the Addicks were relegated from the Premier League and were demoted again two years later to the third tier of English football, highlighting further the achievements during Curbishley’s tenure.

After a brief sabbatical, Curbishley jumped at the opportunity to return to the game in the form of the top job at his boyhood team, West Ham United, 27 years after he had left the club as a player. Winning his first game at home against Manchester United, he completed ‘The Greatest Escape’ with a run-in that included victories at The Emirates (Arsenal’s first defeat at their new home) and Old Trafford. Despite great upheaval involving the playing staff and a catalogue of injuries, Curbishley led the Hammers to a top-half finish in his only full season in charge, as well as to the quarter-finals of the League Cup. After three league matches of 2008/09, with the Hammers fourth in the league after a 4-1 win over Paul Ince’s Blackburn had secured a best start to a season for nine years, Curbishley resigned after half of his back four, Anton Ferdinand and George McCartney, were sold against his wishes. Perhaps Curbs’ greatest legacy at the club was the £7m signing of his former Charlton protégé Scott Parker, who went on to win the Hammer of the Year prize three times and pick up a Football Writers’ Player of the Year Award during his time at the club. Curbishley most recently spent two months as technical director at Fulham before Felix Magath joined the club.

Referee

Saturday’s referee will be Jonathan Moss. West Ham lost all three games in which Moss officiated last season – the 1-0 home defeat to Stoke, the 3-1 loss at Norwich and the 1-0 reverse at Everton. Moss was the man in the middle for our 1-0 victory at Stoke the season before.

Possible line-ups

Diafra Sakho trained on Thursday and is almost certain to return to the starting line-up. Winston Reid only participated in light training following his dead leg at Stoke last weekend and is more of a doubt, with James Tomkins more than capable of stepping up to replace the New Zealand international. Reid remains one yellow card away from a one-match suspension. Andy Carroll could make the bench for the first time this season if there are no issues for the England striker in Friday’s training session.

Aston Villa will be without the suspended Christian Benteke, along with the injured Libor Kozak, Fabian Delph and Alan Hutton. Gabriel Agbonlahor is the player most likely to replace the Belgian striker in the starting XI, being a player who is particularly suited to Villa’s counter-attacking style which can pay dividends on their travels, as proved at Anfield this season.

Looking ahead to our post-international break trip to Goodison Park for a moment, should Steven Naismith or Gareth Barry pick up a yellow card at the Stadium of Light this Sunday, they will subsequently miss our game with Everton on 22nd November.

Possible West Ham United XI: Adrian; Jenkinson, Collins, Tomkins, Cresswell; Noble, Kouyate, Song; Downing; Sakho, Valencia.

Possible Aston Villa XI: Guzan; Lowton, Vlaar, Baker, Cissokho; Cleverley, Sanchez, Westwood; Agbonlahor, Weimann, N’Zogbia.

Enjoy the game – Up The Hammers!


Dan Coker's Match Preview

Preview: Stoke City

Blast from the past

Just over 30 years ago, on the 20th October 1984, English football was introduced to its first ever big screen – it was at Highbury as Arsenal defeated Sunderland 3-2 to retain top spot in Division One. On the same day, Everton recorded their first win at Anfield in 14 years, Sheffield Wednesday beat Leicester 5-0 and West Ham United triumphed 4-2 at The Victoria Ground, the former home of Stoke City, in front of 9,945 spectators.

Paul Allen, a product of the West Ham Academy and a player who would later turn out 17 times for Stoke in a loan spell from Southampton some 11 years later, gave the Hammers a half-time lead before a goal feast in the second half. Mark Chamberlain (father of Arsenal’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain) and Ian Painter netted for the Potters, but strikes from Tony Cottee and Paul Goddard, along with an own goal by City’s George Berry, ensured maximum points headed safely back to East London.

West Ham would finish the season two points clear of the drop in 16th place, while Stoke would be relegated in bottom position, picking up only 17 points and conceding 91 goals along the way.

Stoke City: Peter Fox, Wayne Ebanks, Steve Bould, Paul Dyson, George Berry, Chris Hemming, Sammy McIlroy (Steve Parkin), Mark Chamberlain, Phil Heath, Brendan O’Callaghan, Ian Painter.

West Ham United: Tom McAlister, Ray Stewart, Tony Gale, Alvin Martin, Steve Walford, Billy Bonds, Paul Allen, Geoff Pike (Neil Orr), Paul Goddard, Tony Cottee, Steve Whitton.

Club Connections

A reasonable number of players have worn the shirts of both Stoke City and West Ham United. These include: Lee Chapman, Sir Geoff Hurst, Steve Banks, Abdoulaye Faye, Clive Clarke, Matthew Etherington, Kevin Keen, John Carew, Henri Camara, Paul Allen, Danny Collins, Frank Richardson, Lawrie Leslie, Bob Dixon, Matthew Upson and Nicky Morgan. Lou Macari has also managed both clubs, with two spells in charge of the Potters.

Today’s focus, though, falls on a player who enjoyed spells at both clubs in the middle part of the last decade. Luke Chadwick began his career at Manchester United, scoring two goals in 25 appearances for the Red Devils, while also spending loan periods with Antwerp, Reading and Burnley. Chadwick signed for Alan Pardew’s West Ham at the start of the 2004/05 season and played the majority of games before Christmas on the right wing. He scored his only goal for the club in a 1-1 draw with Leeds United in a televised Friday night match, opening the scoring by bundling home after a Marlon Harewood header had been blocked. Leeds ruined Chadwick’s night however, equalising through an injury-time penalty by David Healy after the Northern Ireland striker had blatantly dived to win the spot-kick. Injury disrupted the rest of Chadwick’s season as the Hammers won promotion back to the top flight by beating Preston in the play-off final in Cardiff.

After 32 appearances for West Ham, Chadwick joined Stoke, initially on loan at the start of the 2005/06 season. Following impressive performances, this move was made permanent the following January for a fee of £100,000. Chadwick won many admirers amongst the Stoke faithful but fitness issues again caught up with him, fainting due to dehydration against Southend on the opening day of the 2006/07 season. Chadwick’s former assistant manager at Upton Park, Peter Grant, took the winger to Norwich as Stoke more than doubled their money on the England Under-21 international. He scored 5 goals in 51 matches for the Potters.

After leaving Norwich in 2008, Chadwick made 210 appearances for MK Dons, scoring 17 goals, before getting his dream move to boyhood club Cambridge United last spring. Discussing his debut for Cambridge against Welling in March this year, Chadwick told BBC Radio Cambridgeshire: “I remember coming on in a Champions League quarter-final against Munich. That was quite a nerve-wracking and an incredible experience. But this is the biggest one now. The missus buys me the Cambridge kit every Christmas or my birthday. I’ve had it the last 10 to 15 years, so to wear one in a proper game was a great feeling. I still think I’ve got years left in me. My body will tell me when it is time to stop. Ideally, I’ve got three, four, five or six years left. You never know in this game, I just want to be successful here.” Chadwick helped Cambridge win promotion back into the Football League in May after a nine-year exile for the club and has scored one goal in ten league matches so far for them this season.

Referee

Saturday’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 five of our league matches with the Hammers yet to win – he has officiated in two draws and three defeats. Foy was the man in the middle on the opening day of the season against Tottenham at Upton Park, awarding the Hammers a first half penalty and sending off Kyle Naughton, only for us to lose the match 1-0. James Collins was also shown a red card in that game.

Possible line-ups

Stoke will be without Peter Odemwingie and Glenn Whelan through long-term injuries, while Robert Huth is also sidelined. Phil Bardsley and Peter Crouch picked up suspensions in the League Cup tie in midweek, depleting Mark Hughes’ resources still further.

Sam Allardyce will give Diafra Sakho until Saturday morning to prove he is fit enough to play after suffering heavy bruising to his shoulder in last week’s stunning victory over champions Manchester City. Sakho has reportedly progressed from a 30% chance of playing earlier this week to 50-50 as of Thursday. Should Big Sam decide to start the striker, who is brimming with confidence and self-belief, it is unlikely he will last anywhere near 90 minutes. It will be expected that Carlton Cole will certainly see action at some stage in Saturday’s match. James Tomkins and Matt Jarvis should return to the matchday 18. Winston Reid is one yellow card away from accumulating five bookings and therefore a one-match suspension.

Possible Stoke City XI: Begovic; Cameron, Shawcross, Wilson, Pieters; N’Zonzi, Adam; Walters, Arnautovic, Moses; Diouf.

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

Enjoy the game – Come On You Irons!


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