Dan Coker's Match Preview

Crossed Hammers & Three Lions: Scott Parker

Welcome to the latest in a series of articles designed for international matches – a look back at former Hammers players who wore the Three Lions of England.

Today, with England facing Bulgaria in Euro 2020 qualifying in Sofia this evening, we look back at a former Hammers and England midfielder. Scott Parker was born in Lambeth on 13th October 1980; a Lilleshall graduate, Parker was the 13-year-old keepie-uppie star of a McDonalds advert during the 1994 World Cup. He began his professional career at Charlton, making his debut in 1997; he also had a brief loan spell with Norwich in 2000. Parker made his full England debut under Sven-Goran Eriksson in a 3-2 defeat to Denmark in a friendly at Old Trafford on 16th November 2003.

Parker, who had been consistently linked with moves away from Charlton for several years, finally left the Valley just before the January transfer deadline in 2004 to join Chelsea on a four-and-a-half-year contract for a fee of £10m after a protracted and acrimonious transfer saga. Parker was initially signed to compete with Claude Makelele and Frank Lampard but did not get too many opportunities to play in his preferred position. He scored his only goal for Chelsea in a 2-0 win against Portsmouth at Fratton Park on 11th February 2004. Parker won his second England cap in a 1-0 friendly defeat to Sweden on 31st March 2004 and was named as the PFA Young Player of the Year at the end of the 2003/04 season.

Following the summer signings of Arjen Robben and Tiago Mendes, Parker’s first team opportunities were extremely limited during the 2004/05 season, although he was a regular starter in Chelsea’s League Cup matches, a competition where he played in three consecutive victories against West Ham, Newcastle and Fulham. His difficulties were compounded when he broke a metatarsal in a game against Norwich. Parker consequently missed both legs of the League Cup semi-final against Manchester United and the final against Liverpool, although he was awarded a winner’s medal during the trophy presentation. Chelsea went on to won the title for the first time in 50 years –having made only four league appearances for Chelsea during the season, he did not receive a Premier League winner’s medal as he did not make the required ten appearances to be eligible, though Chelsea did have a replica medal made. After scoring one goal in 28 matches in all competitions for the Blues, but having found first team opportunities hard to come by, Parker signed for Newcastle in July 2005 for £6.5m.

Scott became a regular in the Newcastle first team and was one of the few players at the club to show any consistency during an often difficult 2005/06 season in which the Magpies finished in seventh place, despite suffering a poor start under Graeme Souness. His first Newcastle goal came against his former club Charlton in a 3-1 defeat on 25th March 2006. Later that month he was diagnosed with glandular fever, putting an end to his season. The timing was especially unfortunate for Parker; he had been playing well but the illness ended any hopes he may have had of forcing his way into the England squad for the 2006 World Cup.

New manager Glenn Roeder named Parker as his captain In July 2006, succeeding the retired Alan Shearer. Despite Newcastle’s poor form, his performances earned him a recall to the England squad after an absence of more than two years – Steve McClaren gave Parker his third cap in a 2-0 European Championship qualifying defeat to Croatia in Zagreb on 11th October 2006. After six goals in 73 matches for Newcastle, Parker left for West Ham United to be reunited with his former Charlton manager, Alan Curbishley, in a £7m deal in the summer of 2007.

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Injury played a large part in Parker’s early career in east London, with the midfielder unable to make his debut until a League Cup win over Plymouth at the Boleyn Ground in late September. Three days later Parker was injured again during a home defeat to Arsenal and ruled out for a further two months. His first goal for the club came three days before Christmas, the last-minute winner in West Ham’s first ever victory at Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium.

Parker’s second goal for the club was over a year later, from close range in a 2-1 defeat at Bolton in February 2009, by which time Gianfranco Zola had taken over from Curbishley. His season was ended by injury the following month but he had still done enough to win the 2008/09 Hammer of the Year prize. The Irons struggled in 2009/10 and were second bottom of the Premier League when Parker was sent off for two yellow cards in the 2-2 home draw with Arsenal in October. His first goal of that season was a stunning, dipping half-volley from distance to bring the Hammers level at the home of his old club Chelsea in March, although the match would ultimately be lost 4-1. His only other goal that season was infinitely more significant, the winner in a tense 3-2 victory over Wigan on 24th April which secured the Hammers’ survival – Parker’s sensational 77th-minute strike from 25 yards was followed by an emotionally-charged celebration. Two weeks later, he would become the first player to retain the Hammer of the Year trophy since Julian Dicks in 1997.

A 17th-placed finish in 2009/10 resulted in Zola being replaced by Avram Grant and the Hammers would endure a turbulent 2010/11 campaign. Parker was the bright light shining in the east end gloom as he displayed the fight, determination and character sadly lacking in many of his team-mates – he was often mistaken as the club’s captain by an inattentive national media. This was epitomised by his best goalscoring season during his time with the club, Parker opening with three goals in his first six games (the injury-time winner against Oxford in the League Cup, a wonderfully-lofted volley in a 3-1 defeat to Chelsea and a scrambled effort in a 1-1 draw at Stoke). Another three-goals-in-six-games spell followed in October/November as he scored a late headed equaliser in a 3-1 extra-time win over the Potters in the League Cup, struck a thunderbolt in a 2-2 draw with West Brom and grabbed the clincher in a 3-1 win over Wigan.

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On 9th February 2011, he became the first England player to receive his first four full caps whilst playing for four different teams, coming on as a second-half substitute for Frank Lampard in a 2-1 friendly win for Fabio Capello’s England against Denmark in Copenhagen. Parker was to score once more for the Hammers that season, a beautifully-executed effort with the outside of his right foot from the edge of the area in a 3-1 home victory over Liverpool in late February. The following month, he played in a 0-0 draw at Tottenham hours after the death of his father. He also started in England’s 2-0 European Championship qualification victory over Wales at the Millennium Stadium on 26th March 2011. Parker would again be crowned Hammer of the Year, the only player other than Sir Trevor Brooking to claim the award three seasons in a row. He was also named as the Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year, an incredible feat considering his club were relegated in bottom place. In doing so, he became the second Hammer to win the award, following in the footsteps of the great Bobby Moore.

Parker won his sixth England cap, and his third whilst a Hammer, in a 2-2 Wembley draw with Switzerland in Euro 2012 qualification on 4th June 2011. He started West Ham’s 2011/12 Championship campaign, notching one goal in four league appearances, this coming in a 4-0 win at Watford. His final appearance in claret and blue came in a 2-2 draw with Leeds at Upton Park on 21st August 2011. At the age of 30, Parker knew he may only have one opportunity left to play in an international tournament and, with Euro 2012 on the horizon, was aware that he would have to be playing Premier League football. With his children in school in the local area, Parker opted to remain in London and signed for close rivals Tottenham for a fee of £5.5m. Parker made 129 appearances for West Ham in all competitions, scoring 12 goals – all 12 of these goals can be viewed on the WHTID social media pages.

Parker was named Tottenham’s Player of the Year in his first season with the club, playing in 29 league matches as the club finished fourth but were denied Champions League qualification as Chelsea won that competition and would compete as holders despite finishing sixth in the Premier League. Parker’s move to Spurs paid off in that he cemented his England place, being named Man of the Match in a friendly against European and World champions Spain in November 2011 and appearing as captain of his country against the Netherlands in February 2012. He was also voted by his peers into the PFA’s Premier League Team of the Year for 2011/12 and was voted by supporters as England’s Player of the Year for 2011. Parker started all four matches at Euro 2012 as England made the quarter-finals; he won his 18th and final England cap in an 8-0 World Cup qualifying win in San Marino on 22nd March 2013. After 63 matches without scoring for Tottenham, he was on the move to Fulham in August 2013 – he retired in the summer of 2017. Parker, who turned 39 yesterday, is now the manager at Craven Cottage.

Scott Parker, disappointingly, received a mixed reception when he returned to Upton Park as a Tottenham player in February 2013. I was one of the many, however, who gave him a standing ovation when he left the field that night, remembering his four years of exceptional service rather than focusing on the club he left us for. For me, Parker was a perfect picture of passion, perseverance and pirouettes and I am sure he will be long remembered as a West Ham United great. I wish Super Scotty all the very best in his role at Fulham.

Bulgaria v England

England face Bulgaria tonight in a Euro 2020 qualifier – it will be the 12th meeting between the two nations. Parker played in the previous match between the two on Bulgarian soil – a 3-0 win for England in a Euro 2012 qualifier in front of 36,521 on 2nd September 2011. Olly Murs featuring Rizzle Kicks was number one with ‘Heart Skips A Beat’, The Inbetweeners Movie topped the UK box office and, the following evening, the first episode of The Jonathan Ross Show aired on ITV, just over a year after the presenter’s departure from the BBC.

Future Hammers Joe Hart and Stewart Downing joined Parker in Fabio Capello’s starting line-up two days after the midfielder had signed for Tottenham; former Iron Frank Lampard Junior also made an appearance from the bench. Manchester United’s Chris Smalling made his England debut at right-back. 25-year-old Bolton centre-half Gary Cahill was off the mark for his first England goal after 13 minutes, guiding home a clipped ball from Gareth Barry.

Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney rose to head home Downing’s 21st-minute corner and then rounded off a sweeping counter-attack involving Theo Walcott and Ashley Young to wrap up the victory seconds before the break for his 28th goal in his 71st international appearance.

Bulgaria: Nikolay Mihaylov (Twente), Petar Zanev (Litex Lovech), Ivan Bandalovski (CSKA Sofia), Ivan Ivanov (Partizan Belgrade) Nikolay Bodurov (Litex Lovech), Zhivko Milanov (Vaslui), Blagoy Georgiev (Terek Grozny), Stiliyan Petrov (captain, Aston Villa), Ivelin Popov (Gaziantepspor), Martin Petrov (Bolton), Tsvetan Genkov (Wisla Krakow).

Subs: Georgi Sarmov (Kasimpasa) for Bandalovski; Georgi Bozhilov (Cherno More) for Genkov, Marquinhos (Anorthosis Famagusta) for Popov.

England: Joe Hart (Man City), Chris Smalling (Man Utd), Gary Cahill (Bolton), John Terry (captain, Chelsea), Ashley Cole (Chelsea), Scott Parker (Tottenham), Gareth Barry (Man City), Theo Walcott (Arsenal), Ashley Young (Man Utd), Stewart Downing (Liverpool), Wayne Rooney (Man Utd).

Subs: James Milner (Man City) for Young, Frank Lampard Junior (Chelsea) for Barry, Adam Johnson (Man City) for Walcott.

The previous articles in the series are:

Vic Watson
Jack Tresadern
Billy Moore
Jackie Morton
Ken Brown
Bobby Moore
Johnny ‘Budgie’ Byrne
Sir Geoff Hurst
Martin Peters
Frank Lampard Senior
Sir Trevor Brooking
Alan Devonshire
Alvin Martin
Paul Goddard
Rio Ferdinand
Stuart Pearce
Frank Lampard Junior
Joe Cole
David James
Kieron Dyer
Robert Green
Stewart Downing
Joe Hart

Dan Coker's Match Preview

West Ham's Czech Connections: Part Two

With England’s upcoming match against the Czech Republic on Friday, here’s the second part of my look back at the Hammers’ Czech contingent.

Tomas Repka

Tomas Repka was born in Slavicin, Czechoslovakia on 2nd January 1974 – he began his professional career with Banik Ostrava in 1991 and made his sole appearance for Czechoslovakia in 1993. He joined Sparta Prague in 1995, having already made his first appearance for the Czech Republic, and moved to Italy’s Serie A with Fiorentina in 1998. He missed Euro ’96 through suspension but did play for his country in Euro 2000. He won 46 caps for the Czech Republic between 1994 and 2001, scoring once.

The 27-year-old Repka signed for Glenn Roeder’s West Ham United in September 2001 for a club record £5.5m after team-mate Alessandro Pierini failed to secure his own switch from Florence to east London. Repka was sent off on his debut in a 2-0 defeat at Middlesbrough on 15th September 2001 and was sent off again in his third appearance for his new club, a 7-1 defeat at Blackburn. He made 34 appearances, mostly at centre-back, as the Irons finished seventh. He was part of a porous Hammers backline which played a large part in the club’s relegation in 2002/03 – Repka was sent off for a third time in claret and blue in a 1-1 home draw with Fulham on Boxing Day 2002.

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Repka gradually reverted to the right-back position under Alan Pardew, making 47 appearances as the Hammers failed to secure promotion at the first time of asking in 2003/04. He was red-carded again on 5th March 2005 for a first-half headbutt with the Hammers already trailing at home to Preston and desperate for points in their hunt for a play-off place – the match would be lost 2-1. Promotion was eventually secured via the play-offs as Repka returned to the Premier League with the Irons. He left the club midway through the 2005/06 season – his last appearance for the club coming in a 2-1 home win over Fulham on 23rd January 2006. He had played 188 games for the club without scoring, been sent off four times and booked on 53 occasions.

Repka returned to his homeland, rejoining Sparta Prague. He remained there for five years before joining Dynamo Ceske Budejovice. He ended his career with a brief spell at Hvozdnice. Now 45, Repka is currently in jail for a combination of offences, including fraud and driving under the influence.

Pavel Srnicek

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. The goalkeeper 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. ‘Ludo’ featured in Part 1 of my Czech connections, which can be viewed here.

The 22-year-old Srnicek signed for Jim Smith’s Newcastle in January 1991 for £350,000 and 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. 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, the aforementioned Tomas Repka, at fault for Nick Chadwick’s goal.

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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.

Former Hammers boss and then-Newcastle manager Glenn Roeder took the 38-year-old Srnicek back to Tyneside in 2006 – he played two matches to take his Magpies total to 181 appearances. 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.

Jan Lastuvka

Jan Lastuvka was born on 7th July 1982 in Havirov and began his career with Karvina before moving to Banik Ostrava in 2000. He signed for Ukrainian club Shakhtar Donetsk in 2004 and spent the 2006/07 season on loan at Fulham. A goalkeeper, Lastuvka spent the following season on loan at German side VfL Bochum, making 64 appearances, before spending the the 2008/09 season on loan at West Ham United, with whom he played one match under Gianfranco Zola, a 1-0 League Cup third round defeat at Watford on 23rd September 2008. The only goal of the game came when Lastuvka rashly raced off his line to claim a high ball, missed it and then watched it rebound into the net off the unfortunate Hayden Mullins.

The 27-year-old Lastuvka left Shakhtar permanently in the summer of 2009 to sign for Ukrainian rivals Dnipro. He won three senior caps for the Czech Republic whilst with Dnipro, and was part of their Euro 2012 squad. He returned to first club Karvina in 2016 and joined Slavia Prague a year later. Now 37, Lastuvka is currently at Banik Ostrava, who he rejoined last year.

Radoslav Kovac

Radoslav Kovac was born in Sumperk, Czechoslovakia on 27th November 1979 – he came through the ranks at Sigma Olomouc and made his debut in 1997. He joined Sparta Prague in 2003 and made his first appearance for the Czech Republic in 2004, before moving to Spartak Moscow in 2005. He represented his country at the World Cup in 2006 and at Euro 2008, winning 30 caps in total between 2004 and 2009, and scoring two goals.

The 29-year-old Kovac signed for Gianfranco Zola’s West Ham United on loan in January 2009. A defensive midfielder, he made his debut in a 2-0 FA Cup fifth round replay defeat at Middlesbrough on 25th February 2009 and scored his first goal for the club – a cracking long-range strike – in a 3-1 defeat at Everton on 16th May 2009. He joined the Hammers in a permanent move three months later. Kovac was sent off in a 2-2 draw at Sunderland on Hallowe’en 2009 but scored a match-clinching header in a 2-0 triumph over Portsmouth at Upton Park on Boxing Day two months later.

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Kovac scored a crucial goal, again a header, in the 3-2 victory over Wigan which secured the Hammers’ survival towards the end of a turbulent 2009/10 season – his last appearance for the club came as a substitute under Avram Grant in a 3-1 win at Blackpool on 2nd February 2011. He had played 62 games for the club, scoring three goals, all of which can be viewed in my video below.

Kovac signed for Swiss side Basel in the summer of 2011, with whom he won a league and cup double, but returned to his homeland with Slovan Liberec the following year. He ended his career with a spell back at Sparta Prague between 2013 and 2016 – he is now 39.

Marek Stech

Marek Stech was born on 28th January 1990 in Prague and began his career as a trainee with Sparta Prague before moving to West Ham United at the age of 16 in August 2006. After loan spells with Wycombe and Bournemouth, the goalkeeper made his Hammers debut under Avram Grant aged 20 on 24th August 2010 in a 1-0 League Cup second round win over Oxford at Upton Park – he went on to play in the 2-1 third round win at Sunderland and the 3-1 fourth round win over Stoke at the Boleyn on 27th October 2010. This third appearance was also his last for the club as Robert Green replaced him for the quarter-final win over Manchester United in a snowy east London. Stech has the distinction of a 100% winning record in a West Ham shirt.

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Loan spells at Yeovil and Leyton Orient followed before he signed for Yeovil permanently in 2012. He won promotion to the Championship via the League One play-offs in 2013 and earned his first (and currently only) senior cap for the Czech Republic a year later, shortly before he returned to his homeland by signing for Sparta Prague. He signed for League Two Luton in 2017 and was named in the PFA League Two Team of the Year at the end of his first season, which culminated in promotion. Now 29, Stech is still at Luton, who are now in the Championship.

Dan Coker's Match Preview

Match Preview: West Ham v Crystal Palace

Blast from the past

Today’s blast from the past features a 3-0 victory at Upton Park against this weekend’s opponents, Crystal Palace; it arrived just over 16 years ago, on the 1st of October 2003 in front of 31,861 spectators. The Black Eyed Peas were number one with ‘Where Is The Love?’ and Calendar Girls topped the UK box office while, two evenings previously, Leslie Grantham’s character Den Watts returned to EastEnders, 14 years after he had been supposedly killed off.

The Eagles arrived in east London with former Hammer Michael Hughes in their starting eleven; Hayden Mullins and Darren Powell, who would both go on to represent the Hammers, also played for the visitors in this evening encounter under the lights at the Boleyn Ground. Jermain Defoe opened the scoring with his eighth strike of the season in the 19th minute – a poor backpass by Hughes let the 20-year-old striker in and he slotted into the net after dummying his way round goalkeeper Cedric Berthelin. Despite leaving the club for Tottenham in January 2004, Defoe finished the season as West Ham’s top scorer with 15 goals in 22 appearances in all competitions.

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Neil Mellor (pictured above with Defoe and Kevin Horlock) had an effort saved moments later before opening his Hammers account after 32 minutes. Robert Lee sprayed a pass out to Matthew Etherington on the left wing, and he hung up a cross for Mellor to head beyond Berthelin. Mellor, on loan from Liverpool, made it three when he converted Wayne Quinn’s low cross from the left on 56 minutes. These would prove to be Mellor’s only goals for the Irons in his 21 appearances between August 2003 and February 2004. The win was Trevor Brooking’s sixth victory in the eighth game of his second spell as caretaker manager. The defeat left Palace with just two points from seven matches and put further pressure on boss Steve Kember – he was eventually replaced by former Hammer Iain Dowie, who would oversee a remarkable upturn in form. The goals from this game can be viewed in my video below.

The Hammers ended the 2003/04 season in fourth place in the First Division while Crystal Palace ended up sneaking into the Play-Offs in sixth place, only due to a late Brian Deane goal for West Ham at Wigan ousting the Latics from the top six. The Irons would, of course, go on to lose 1-0 to the Eagles in the Play-Off Final in Cardiff. Norwich topped the division, Arsenal won the league title and Manchester United won the FA Cup. Etherington was voted Hammer of the Year, with Michael Carrick runner-up.

West Ham United: David James, Tomas Repka, Christian Dailly, Ian Pearce, Wayne Quinn (Matthew Kilgallon), Robert Lee (Anton Ferdinand), Kevin Horlock, Matthew Etherington, Neil Mellor (Niclas Alexandersson), David Connolly, Jermain Defoe.

Crystal Palace: Cedric Berthelin, Jamie Smith (Gary Borrowdale), Darren Powell (Curtis Fleming), Hayden Mullins, Danny Butterfield, Aki Riihilahti, Michael Hughes, Shaun Derry, Andy Johnson, Dougie Freedman, Neil Shipperley (Wayne Routledge).

Club Connections

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, Matthew Upson, 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, 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 is on a former England international striker who enjoyed success with Crystal Palace before moving to West Ham United late in his career. Ian Wright was born on the 3rd November 1963 in Woolwich and began his professional career with Steve Coppell’s Crystal Palace, joining from Greenwich Borough at the age of 21 in the summer of 1985. He scored nine goals in 36 appearances in the Second Division of 1985/86 and scored the same amount of goals the following season. The arrival of Mark Bright from Leicester in 1986 led to a fruitful partnership and Wright scored 23 goals in 1987/88. It was largely the Wright and Bright double act which took Palace back to the top flight via the play-offs in 1989 – Wright was particularly instrumental that season, scoring 24 goals in the Second Division and 33 in all competitions as the Eagles swapped places with West Ham, John Lyall’s side being relegated at the end of 1988/89.

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13 goals followed in an injury-hit 1989/90 campaign but he made a dramatic appearance in the 1990 FA Cup Final against Manchester United, equalising for Palace a few minutes after coming onto the field to force extra time before later putting them ahead. The Red Devils levelled the game at 3-3, with the Eagles losing the replay 1-0. Wright scored 25 goals in 52 appearances in 1990/91 as the club finished in their highest-ever league position of third place in the top flight; he also scored twice as Palace beat Everton to win the Full Members Cup at Wembley. Wright scored 117 goals in 277 appearances during just over six seasons for Crystal Palace in all competitions, making him the club’s record post-war goalscorer and third on the all-time list. In 2005, he was voted into the Eagles’ Centenary XI and was named as their Player of The Century. He moved to George Graham’s Arsenal for a club record £2.5m in September 1991, winning the Golden Boot in his first season – he scored 29 league goals in 1991/92, five of which had been scored for Palace, and 31 in all competitions. He had made his England debut in February 1991 while still at Selhurst Park but, despite his goalscoring exploits, was left out of England’s Euro ’92 squad by Graham Taylor.

Wright went on to be Arsenal’s top scorer for six consecutive seasons, playing a major part in the club’s success during the 1990s, winning an FA Cup and League Cup double in 1993 and scoring in both the FA Cup Final and replay against Sheffield Wednesday. He also helped Arsenal reach the 1993/94 Cup Winners’ Cup Final, although he was suspended for the Final in which Arsenal beat Parma 1–0. He scored five goals in England’s qualification campaign for the 1994 World Cup, the first a key equaliser in a 1-1 draw in Poland and four in a 7-1 victory in San Marino, but the Three Lions failed to qualify for the tournament. Wright also made one start and three substitute appearances in Terry Venables’ first five games as England manager but thereafter never played under Venables again.

Wright scored a total of 185 goals for Arsenal before moving to the Hammers in July 1998 at the age of 34 for £500,000 and scored the winner on his debut in a 1-0 win at Sheffield Wednesday on 15th August 1998. He followed that up with two goals on his home debut but the Irons threw away a 3-0 lead to lose 4-3 to Wimbledon. He scored the winner in a 1-0 home win over Southampton, a goal made famous for its celebration as Wright and Neil Ruddock parodied Paolo Di Canio’s push on referee Paul Alcock – Di Canio was to join them as a team-mate four months later! A brace followed in a 3-0 Hallowe’en win at Newcastle and Wright closed 1998 with a goal in a 2-0 home win over Coventry. Injury kept Wright on the sidelines for three months at the start of 1999 but he scored as a substitute in his second game back, a 5-1 triumph over Derby on 17th April, before scoring the opener a week later in a fine 2-1 win at Tottenham. Wright was sent off the following week in a 5-1 home defeat to Leeds and vandalised the referee’s room on his way to an early bath – the Hammers finished with eight men as Shaka Hislop and Steve Lomas were also dismissed by Rob Harris.

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Wright also won his final two England caps while playing for West Ham, in a Euro 2000 qualifier in Luxembourg and a home friendly against the Czech Republic. He won 33 caps for England, scoring nine goals – only Mick Channon has played more times for England without being taken to a major tournament. Wright’s final appearance for the Hammers came as a substitute in the 1-0 InterToto Cup third round first leg win over Jokerit of Finland at Upton Park on 17th July 1999. He scored nine goals in 26 appearances for West Ham United – all nine of these goals can be viewed on the West Ham Till I Die social media pages.

Wright went on to have a loan spell with Nottingham Forest before departing the Hammers permanently for Celtic and ending his career at Burnley. He was awarded an MBE in 2000. Now 55, he has since been Director of Football at Ashford Town and first-team coach at MK Dons. He is now a regular pundit on Match of the Day and ITV’s coverage of England internationals.


The referee on Saturday will be Michael Oliver. Oliver has refereed 19 of our matches, officiating in five wins for the Hammers, five draws and nine defeats.

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Oliver most recently refereed the Irons in our 1-1 draw at Leicester last October, when he sent off Mark Noble. His only previous red card issued to a West Ham player came six seasons ago, when he sent off Kevin Nolan in our 4-1 defeat to Liverpool at Anfield in December 2013. Oliver also refereed our 3-1 home win over Manchester United last season.

Possible line-ups

West Ham United are without Lukasz Fabianski, Winston Reid and Michail Antonio. Roberto is in line to make his home debut for the Hammers. West Ham are unbeaten in their last eight Premier League matches against Crystal Palace, winning four and drawing four.

Crystal Palace will be without the suspended Luka Milivojevic, while Mamadou Sakho is a doubt.

Possible West Ham United XI: Roberto; Fredericks, Diop, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Rice; Yarmolenko, Noble, Fornals, Anderson; Haller.

Possible Crystal Palace XI: Guaita; Ward, Cahill, Sakho, van Aanholt; Zaha, McArthur, Kouyate, McCarthy, Schlupp; Ayew.

Enjoy the game – Come On You Irons!

Dan Coker's Match Preview

Match Preview: Bournemouth v West Ham

Blast from the past

In today’s preview, we travel back the short distance to 12th January 2016: Justin Bieber’s ‘Love Yourself’ topped the charts; Star Wars: The Force Awakens was in UK cinemas; David Bowie had died two days previously with Alan Rickman to pass away two days later; and West Ham United beat Bournemouth away from home for the first (and currently only) time ever.

Super Slav’s Hammers picked up a 3-1 win in front of 11,071 spectators for a Tuesday night encounter at the Vitality Stadium. Andy Carroll was forced off through injury after just 15 minutes, with Nikica Jelavic entering the fray in his stead. Within two minutes of the switch, the Irons were behind when Cherries midfielder Harry Arter, former Hammer Scott Parker’s brother-in-law, fired home from 25 yards to give his side their first goal in four league games. The hosts’ new signing, striker Benik Afobe, squandered two glorious chances to extend Bournemouth’s lead, heading over from six yards and being denied by Adrian after hesitating when clean through on goal.

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West Ham were much improved after the break and the equaliser arrived with 23 minutes left to play, a sublime free-kick from Frenchman Dimitri Payet, making his first start in over two months after recovering from an ankle injury. Just seven minutes later, the visitors were in front – substitute Carl Jenkinson’s quick throw-in found Payet who squirmed between two defenders before cutting back for Enner Valencia to slam the ball home. The Ecuadorian (pictured above) claimed his second in the 84th minute, cracking a stunning free-kick over the wall and beating Artur Boruc at his near post to claim his first Hammers brace.

The victory equalled a club-record eighth match unbeaten in the Premier League and took West Ham above Manchester United and into fifth, within a point of Tottenham in the final Champions League position. The Hammers would end the 2015/16 campaign in seventh place in the Premier League, while Bournemouth would finish 16th. Leicester won the Premier League, Manchester United won the FA Cup and Payet was named Hammer of the Year, with Michail Antonio runner-up.

Bournemouth: Artur Boruc, Adam Smith, Simon Francis, Steve Cook, Charlie Daniels, Dan Gosling, Andrew Surman, Harry Arter (Glenn Murray), Matt Ritchie (Juan Iturbe), Junior Stanislas, Benik Afobe (Lewis Grabban).

West Ham United: Adrian, James Tomkins (Carl Jenkinson), James Collins, Angelo Ogbonna, Aaron Cresswell, Pedro Obiang, Mark Noble, Michail Antonio, Dimitri Payet (Alex Song), Enner Valencia, Andy Carroll (Nikica Jelavic).

Club Connections

A decent number of players have turned out for both West Ham United and Bournemouth. Ex-Bournemouth loanee Jack Wilshere is now at West Ham; Jermain Defoe (currently on loan at Rangers) and Hammers Academy product Junior Stanislas are currently on Bournemouth’s books while Carl Fletcher played for both clubs and is currently youth team manager with the Cherries. Ex-Bournemouth midfielder Paul Mitchell, who made one league appearance for the Hammers in 1994, is back with the Cherries as a correspondent for Opta Sports. Other players to have appeared for both clubs include:

Goalkeepers: David James, Stephen Henderson and Marek Stech.

Defenders: Everald La Ronde, Bill Kitchener, Rio Ferdinand, Reg Parker, Keith Miller, Keith Rowland, Elliott Ward, Bobby Howe and Horace Glover.

Midfielders: Trevor Hartley, Ian Bishop, Bobby Barnes, Tommy Southren, Jimmy Neighbour, Emmanuel Omoyinmi, Tony Scott, Anthony Edgar, Scott Mean, Matty Holmes, Dale Gordon, Jack Collison and Patsy Holland.

Strikers: Nicky Morgan, John Arnott, Mark Watson, Zavon Hines, Steve Jones and Ted MacDougall.

Former Hammers player John Bond went on to manage Bournemouth, while Harry Redknapp played for and managed both clubs. Jimmy Quinn played for both clubs and also managed the Cherries.

Today’s focus is on a Hammers youth product who represented the Cherries with distinction. Phil Brignull (pictured) was born in Stratford on 2nd October 1960 and was an England schoolboy international. At the age of 18, he made his sole appearance for the Hammers as an 80th-minute substitute for John McDowell in a 0-0 Second Division draw at Cardiff on 11th May 1979, the penultimate match of the 1978/79 season. At the time, those 600 seconds at Ninian Park gave him the shortest-ever West Ham first team career, a record he held for 15 years until Paul Marquis’ two-minute appearance at Manchester City in February 1994 replaced him.

Brignull, a centre-half, moved to Fourth Division Bournemouth in August 1981. With his first-team opportunities having been extremely limited with the presence of Billy Bonds and Alvin Martin, he signed for the Cherries, then managed by his cousin, former Chelsea star David Webb. Bournemouth were promoted at the end of Brignull’s first season and consolidated their Third Division status in 1982/83 with a 14th-placed finish, Don Megson taking over as manager midway through the campaign. The Cherries struggled at the start of 1983/84 and former Hammer Harry Redknapp took over as manager in October 1983. Arguably Brignull’s most memorable moment as a Bournemouth player came in January 1984 when he was one of the cornerstones of Redknapp’s side which knocked holders Manchester United out of the FA Cup. He also played as Bournemouth won the inaugural Associate Members’ Cup (now the EFL Trophy) by beating Hull in the final.

Bournemouth finished 17th at the end of that season and 10th in 1984/85. Redknapp loaned Brignull to Wrexham for part of the 1985/86 season and the defender departed permanently for Cardiff that winter – he had made 129 league appearances for Bournemouth. He later made it a hat-trick of Welsh clubs by signing for Newport in 1987, before ending his career with a spell at Weymouth.

Phil, now 58, is the uncle of former Leicestershire cricketer David Brignull and still classes himself as a West Ham fan who “can’t stand Spurs”! Brignull now lives in Cheltenham and works in financial services, a career he began when injury cut short his playing career. He also held a voluntary post helping to manage Cardiff & Met Hockey Club – his son, Liam Brignull, played for Wales’ hockey team at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and also played for the Great Britain Under-21 team.


The referee on Saturday will be Stuart Attwell. The Birmingham-based official will take charge of a West Ham game for only the ninth time – he has sent off a Hammers striker in two of his other eight games officiating the Irons. He refereed our 1-0 victory at Wigan in March 2009 and our 3-1 win at Blackpool in February 2011. The 36-year-old sent off the Latics’ Lee Cattermole for a shocking challenge on Scott Parker, while the Hammers’ Carlton Cole also received his marching orders during the aforementioned win at Wigan. Even Latics boss Steve Bruce criticised the decision to dismiss the Irons striker. Attwell also issued a first-half red card to Andy Carroll in our 1-1 draw at Burnley in October 2017.

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Attwell also awarded an infamous ‘phantom’ goal for Reading in a Championship match against Watford in September 2008. He was the youngest-ever Premier League referee but was demoted from the Select Group in 2012. He refereed the Hammers in August 2018 in our 2-1 home defeat to Bournemouth, when he awarded the Irons a penalty which was converted by Marko Arnautovic, and in our 3-1 League Cup home defeat to Tottenham last October. Attwell awarded a dubious match-winning penalty to Manchester City at the Etihad in February. His most recent Hammers appointment was for our 3-0 home win over Southampton in May.

The VAR Official is Andrew Madley.

Possible line-ups

Bournemouth will be without the injured Adam Smith, Charlie Daniels, Dan Gosling, David Brooks and Junior Stanislas. Callum Wilson has scored six goals in his six league games against West Ham. Bournemouth’s 2-0 win over the Hammers in January’s corresponding fixture was only their fourth win in the 13 games they have played against West Ham in all competitions. However, all four of the Cherries’ wins against the Hammers have come in the Premier League, more than against any other side.

This weekend’s match will be only the sixth time Bournemouth and West Ham United have met on the south coast for a league fixture – the Hammers’ only win away to the Cherries, in 2016, is detailed above. Manuel Pellegrini continues to be without Winston Reid, Manuel Lanzini and Michail Antonio while Ryan Fredericks could be a doubt. The side scoring first has only won three of the eight Premier League meetings between Bournemouth and West Ham. With Manchester City not kicking off until 5.30pm, and Leicester and Arsenal playing on Sunday and Monday respectively, the Hammers could briefly move into second place with a win.

Possible Bournemouth XI: Ramsdale; Stacey, Steve Cook, Ake, Rico; Harry Wilson, Billing, Lerma, King; Solanke, Callum Wilson.

Possible West Ham United XI: Fabianski; Zabaleta, Diop, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Rice, Noble; Yarmolenko, Fornals, Anderson; Haller.

Enjoy the game – Up The Hammers!

Dan Coker's Match Preview

Match Preview: Oxford v West Ham

Blast from the past

West Ham United have met Oxford United in the League Cup on three previous occasions. The first of these meetings was in the fourth round in east London in front of 20,530 on the 18th November 1986, the day Ian Brady and Myra Hindley confessed to the murders of Pauline Reade and Keith Bennett over 20 years after their Moors Murders convictions. Berlin were number one with ‘Take My Breath Away’, Woody Allen and Michael Caine were in UK cinemas in Hannah and Her Sisters and four days later, the first-ever episode of ITV’s Beadle’s About was aired.

The Hammers emerged victorious against Maurice Evans’ Oxford in this all-First Division encounter with a 1-0 win. Indeed, Oxford were League Cup holders having won the competition in its last season as the Milk Cup before its rebranding as the Littlewoods Cup in this 1986/87 campaign. The visitors had the game’s first opportunity after just 32 seconds when former Hammer Ray Houghton scampered clear but clipped the outside of Phil Parkes’ left-hand upright. Alan Dickens and Frank McAvennie both fired wide for the hosts before the latter saw a fiercely-struck shot from distance well held by Oxford ‘keeper Steve Hardwick. McAvennie again shot wide when well-placed in the penalty area before Mark Ward’s cross created a mini-melee which neither McAvennie nor Tony Cottee could profit from.

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The second half began in similar fashion with McAvennie slicing a volley wide. A deft touch from Cottee (pictured above) was patted away by Hardwick before delightful build-up play involving Alan Devonshire, Kevin Keen, Ward and George Parris saw Ward flash a cross across the six-yard box which again eluded Cottee and McAvennie. The Hammers kept probing, with Keen denied by Hardwick, but calamitous defending by Paul Hilton, Parris and Tony Gale presented Dave Leworthy with a chance which was well-saved low down to his right by Parkes. The breakthrough finally came with ten minutes remaining – Ward found McAvennie who was brought down for a penalty which was converted by Cottee in the absence of regular spot-kick king Ray Stewart. TC would go on to be the Irons’ top scorer in 1986/87 with 29 goals from 54 matches. It wasn’t to be McAvennie’s night as his late back-post header was superbly clawed out by Hardwick. The highlights from this match can be viewed in my video below.

John Lyall’s Hammers progressed to the quarter-finals, where they were knocked out by Tottenham, losing the replay 5-0 at White Hart Lane after a 1-1 draw at Upton Park. Arsenal would win the 1987 League Cup, beating Liverpool 2-1 in the Final courtesy of a Charlie Nicholas brace. Billy Bonds was voted Hammer of the Year for the fourth time, with Mark Ward runner-up.

West Ham United: Phil Parkes, George Parris, Tony Gale, Paul Hilton, Steve Walford (Billy Bonds), Mark Ward, Alan Dickens, Alan Devonshire, Kevin Keen, Tony Cottee, Frank McAvennie.

Aside from this fourth round victory in 1986, West Ham’s remaining League Cup record against Oxford is as follows:
1990 – Oxford 2-1 West Ham (3rd round)
2010 – West Ham 1-0 Oxford (2nd round)

Club Connections

Robert Hall welcomes his former club to the Kassam Stadium. Others who have turned out for West Ham United and Oxford United include:

Goalkeeper – Tony Parks.

Defender – Andy Melville.

Midfielders – Ray Houghton, Marcus Browne, Josh Payne.

Strikers – Toni Martinez, David Connolly, Manny Omoyinmi.

Today’s focus though is on a player who joined West Ham United in the latter stages of his career before going on to finish his career at Oxford United. Rufus Brevett was born in Derby on the 24th September 1969 and started his career at Doncaster before joining QPR in 1991. After seven years at Loftus Road, Brevett moved to west London neighbours Fulham. A committed left-back standing at 5’8 tall, Brevett moved to relegation-threatened West Ham in January 2003 at the age of 33 on a two-and-a-half year contract. With Nigel Winterburn ruled out with a wrist injury, Brevett was signed by Glenn Roeder for an undisclosed fee on transfer deadline day, passing a medical at 5am and finalising his transfer at lunchtime so he could be registered in time to make his debut against Liverpool, which he did as a substitute in a 3-0 defeat at Upton Park on the 2nd February 2003. Brevett made the left-back position his own and the added experience offered by him and fellow January recruit and former QPR team-mate Les Ferdinand almost helped the Hammers pull off an incredible escape.

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As it was, the Irons were relegated but worse luck was to follow for Brevett. In just the second league game of 2003/04, at home against Sheffield United, an innocuous slip forced Brevett off after just 29 minutes – it was later revealed that he had broken a bone in his foot and he was initially ruled out for five months, although a further operation meant he would not play again that season.

Brevett made his long-awaited comeback on the opening day of the 2004/05 season at Leicester – Alan Pardew’s Hammers gained a point in a 0-0 draw but Brevett was sent off in the closing minutes for a second bookable offence. The left-back had received his first yellow card for an altercation with Dion Dublin in the 18th minute which resulted in the Leicester striker being dismissed. Happier times were round the corner for Brevett, however, as he scored his only Hammers goal on the 21st August 2004, the third goal in a 3-2 win at Crewe. Brevett’s strike from distance after 30 minutes took a deflection on its way in – the game also saw future Hammer Dean Ashton score twice for the hosts. Brevett’s final game in claret and blue came on the 2nd November 2004 in a 4-1 defeat at Cardiff. Following Stuart Pearce, Winterburn and Brevett, Chris Powell had become the latest veteran left-back to sign for West Ham and Brevett was finding first-team opportunities to be limited. After scoring one goal in 29 appearances, he moved on to Plymouth.

After a handful of appearances for Plymouth, Brevett moved to Leicester for a two-month loan spell. Thereafter he dropped into the Conference and moved to non-league Oxford, signing for Jim Smith’s newly-relegated side in September 2006. Brevett made 21 league appearances for Oxford as they finished second to Dagenham & Redbridge in the race for automatic promotion back to League Two, but lost to Exeter on penalties in the play-off semi-finals. Brevett opted to pull down the curtain on his playing career at the end of the campaign.

Since his retirement, Brevett was briefly sporting director at Swindon before a period as assistant manager at Bedfont. From November 2013 to December 2014 he was manager and director of football at Arlesey Town before being made first-team coach at Banbury United in February 2015. He returned to football management at Combined Counties League side Hanworth Villa between May 2016 and December 2018. Brevett turned 50 yesterday and currently teaches PE at an Oxfordshire school.


Wednesday’s referee will be Merseyside-based Robert Jones, who will take on his first ever senior Hammers appointment – his only other match involving West Ham was the 3-1 win for our Under-21 side at Bristol Rovers in the EFL Trophy in October 2017. Toni Martinez, a player with West Ham and Oxford connections, converted a penalty in that match.

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Jones has refereed seven matches so far in 2019/20 – five in the Championship and two in the League Cup. He has dished out 27 yellow cards in those seven games and awarded three penalties.

Possible line-ups

Oxford United manager Karl Robinson should have centre-back Elliott Moore available after the Leicester Academy product recovered from a back spasm. Former Hammer Robert Hall, an unused substitute in the 6-0 win at Lincoln at the weekend, could come into the side. Right-back Sam Long, midfielders George Thorne, Shandon Baptiste and Mark Sykes, and winger Anthony Forde are also in contention as Robinson looks to shuffle his squad and prioritise Saturday’s League One game against Gillingham. The club also have a 19-year-old centre-back on their books by the name of Sam Allardyce. Another 19-year-old, Welsh international Ben Woodburn, is on loan from Liverpool. Striker Jamie Mackie has played in the Premier League for QPR. Oxford are currently 12th in the third tier – they beat Peterborough 1-0 at home in the first round and secured this tie with the Hammers by beating Millwall on penalties at the Kassam Stadium in the second round. It’s 21 years since Oxford reached the fourth round of the League Cup.

West Ham United have Winston Reid and Michail Antonio on the injury list, while Ryan Fredericks and Manuel Lanzini are unlikely to be risked. Arthur Masuaku is available after suspension. It is five years since the Hammers were knocked out of the League Cup by a lower division side, when Sheffield United won on penalties at the Boleyn Ground in the second round in 2014.

Possible Oxford United XI: Eastwood; Long, Mousinho, Moore, Ruffels; Thorne, Baptiste, Sykes; Hall, Mackie, Forde.

Possible West Ham United XI: Roberto; Zabaleta, Balbuena, Diop, Masuaku; Sanchez, Wilshere; Snodgrass, Fornals, Holland; Ajeti.

Enjoy the game – Come On You Irons!

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