Talking Point

Fifty Years Since Swiss Side Seen Off As Sakho Sinks Sunderland

West Ham United returned to winning ways on Saturday with a welcome 1-0 triumph over struggling Sunderland. The Wearsiders were always going to be a different proposition from the side that lost 4-0 at home to Aston Villa the previous weekend, with Gus Poyet sacked and a new manager appointed in the experienced Dick Advocaat. The Hammers dominated the game, particularly in the second half, and deserved the victory, although admittedly lacking somewhat in creativity against a defensive rearguard who would have been content to claim a point. The home side should have been awarded a penalty when Kevin Nolan was judged to be in an offside position when wrestled to the ground by Santiago Vergini, despite the knock-on coming from a Sunderland player in John O’Shea – another example of ineptitude from the match officials which is becoming all too familiar, not just at Upton Park but across the country this season. Diafra Sakho, who worked tirelessly on Saturday and at the Emirates last weekend, was rewarded for his efforts when the ball broke for him in the 88th minute and he finished clinically. It was great to see West Ham securing points in the latter stages after being the victims of recent late strikes against Manchester United and Tottenham. The win puts the Hammers on 42 points, the earliest stage we have hit that number of Premier League points since 2006 when we went on to finish ninth.

The Sunday papers linked West Ham United with moves for Tottenham’s Emmanuel Adebayor and Newcastle’s Cheick Tiote. Any move for the latter would suggest the Hammers would be unsuccessful in their efforts to permanently sign loanee Alex Song, with a fee of £7.5m mooted for the Ivory Coast midfielder who, at 29 this summer, is two years older than Song. While Song has been out of sorts since Christmas, he is undoubtedly a superior option to Tiote if his transfer fee and wage demands are realistic. The season-long loan move for Adebayor could be a strategy designed to enhance the club’s chances of keeping Song with the pair reported as being close friends from their time together at Arsenal. With crowd favourite Carlton Cole set to be released in the summer, Adebayor could be seen as an upgrade having scored at a rate of one in two in four of his last eight seasons. His league record at Tottenham stands at:

2011/12 – 17 goals in 33 matches
2012/13 – 5 goals in 25 matches
2013/14 – 11 goals in 21 matches
2014/15 so far – 2 goals in 8 matches

Elsewhere, the 23rd March marks the 50th anniversary of the Hammers’ European Cup Winners’ Cup quarter-final second leg against Lausanne of Switzerland. With the Londoners 2-1 up from the first leg, 31,780 supporters crammed into the Boleyn Ground with the vast majority concerned to see Dutch international striker Pierre Kerkhoffs give the visitors the lead on 37 minutes to level the tie on aggregate. The Hammers would take a firm grip on the tie by half-time though, an Ely Tacchella own goal on 41 minutes restoring the aggregate lead before Brian Dear struck on the stroke of half-time to put West Ham 2-1 up on the night and 4-2 ahead on aggregate.

The second half saw no end to the drama, Charles Hertig putting the tie back in the balance with a goal in the 49th minute. Martin Peters eased the home side’s nerves with a strike on the hour but Norbert Eschmann scored with ten minutes remaining to ensure a tense finish. One more goal for Lausanne would see the tie go to a play-off but Dear had the final word with a minute to go, making it 4-3 with his second of the night and his third over the tie to seal the Hammers’ passage to the semi-finals, 6-4 on aggregate.

The other quarter-final second leg results were:

Cardiff City 0-1 Real Zaragoza (2-3 on aggregate)
1860 Munich 0-0 Legia Warsaw (4-0 on aggregate)
Dinamo Zagreb 1-2 Torino (2-3 on aggregate)

West Ham United: Jim Standen, Bobby Moore, Ken Brown, Joe Kirkup, Alan Sealey, Martin Peters, Ronnie Boyce, Johnny Sissons, Geoff Hurst, Johnny Byrne, Brian Dear.

Lausanne: Rene Kunzi, Kurt Hunziker, Heinz Schneiter, Ely Tacchella, Andre Grobety, Kurt Armbruster, Richard Durr, Charles Hertig, Pierre Kerkhoffs, Norbert Eschmann, Robert Hosp.


Dan Coker's Match Preview

Match Preview: Sunderland

Blast from the past

Queen Elizabeth II once remarked that “1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure. In the words of one of my more sympathetic correspondents, it has turned out to be an Annus Horribilis” – Her Majesty could have been referring to Prince Andrew separating from Fergie, Princess Anne divorcing Captain Mark Phillips, the release of Princess Diana’s revealing book or Windsor Castle catching fire. Much more likely, however, is the possibility that at the forefront of her chagrin was the dwindling fortune of her beloved bubble-blowers as the Hammers suffered a calendar year which included a disastrous relegation from the top flight, the ignominy of being taken to an FA Cup replay by non-league Farnborough and a League Cup exit at the first hurdle at the hands of Third Division Crewe.

As Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle ran away with the First Division title from the outset, West Ham had done enough in the closing months of 1992 to position themselves amongst the pack hunting the second automatic promotion spot to the newly-formed Promised Land known as the Premier League. The Hammers underlined their credentials as promotion candidates with a thoroughly convincing win on Sunday 11th October 1992 when this weekend’s visitors to Upton Park, Sunderland, rolled into town for a game televised live on ITV.

The Shamen were number one with ‘Ebeneezer Goode’ and the Irons were more than good enough in notching up a 6-0 win over the Wearsiders, 24 years after the 8-0 triumph over the same opposition which was the subject of an excellent piece by Tony Hanna earlier this week. Further to the three points and boost to the goals-scored column, which would ultimately prove to be priceless in the Hammers’ successful promotion push, the emphatic result acted as revenge for a 5th round FA Cup exit the season before – Sunderland went all the way to the 1992 Final before being defeated 2-0 by Liverpool.

Sunderland had already gone close through their danger man, Don Goodman, before the striker was forced off to receive stitches for a wound above an eye suffered in a collision with Alvin Martin. By the time he returned to the action, his side were two goals down. Kevin Keen cut inside from the left after a short corner routine and fired a stinging effort beyond Tim Carter at the goalkeeper’s near post after 24 minutes before Trevor Morley pounced on defensive indecision to fire home from close in four minutes later. Martin Allen sprung a poor excuse of an offside trap on 39 minutes to deftly lob over the stranded Carter with the outside of his right foot to give the Hammers a commanding three-goal half-time lead.

Goal number four arrived just four minutes into the second half when Alvin Martin stabbed home after a corner and Mark Robson, recently appointed first-team coach at Aston Villa, clipped a fifth over Carter after 62 minutes. Goodman had an 85th-minute opportunity to provide the visiting support with some cheer after Steve Potts brought down Gary Owers and referee Roger Milford pointed to the spot, but his penalty was brilliantly kept out low to his left by Ludek Miklosko to preserve the Hammers’ clean sheet. Robson rounded off the rout in the final minute, scoring his second and West Ham’s sixth with a rebound into an empty net after the exposed Carter could only parry Keen’s shot.

A crowd of just 10,326 turned out for the victory, the lowest at the Boleyn Ground for 35 years. Attendances would improve as the Hammers went on to finish the 1992/93 season in 2nd place, achieving automatic promotion by virtue of scoring one more goal than Portsmouth. Sunderland closed the campaign in 21st position, one point clear of relegation.

West Ham United: Ludek Miklosko, Tim Breacker, Steve Potts, Alvin Martin, Julian Dicks, Mark Robson, Peter Butler, Martin Allen, Kevin Keen, Trevor Morley, Clive Allen.

Sunderland: Tim Carter, John Kay, Gary Bennett, Kevin Ball, Anton Rogan, Shaun Cunnington (David Rush), Gary Owers, Martin Gray, Gordon Armstrong (Brian Atkinson),
Don Goodman, Peter Davenport.

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 while Hammers manager Sam Allardyce also played for the Wearsiders. Jermain Defoe will return to his former club. 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, Ernie England, 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 frizzy-haired centre-half who made his name at Sunderland in the early 1970s before turning out for the Hammers. Mick McGiven was born in Newcastle on the 7th February 1951. He joined Sunderland as a schoolboy and was thrown into the team as an 18-year-old by manager Alan Brown, featuring in every league game in his first full season as Sunderland suffered relegation from Division One in 1969/70. McGiven played 15 times in the second tier during the following campaign, chipping in with three goals, two of which were winners against Norwich and Bristol City at Roker Park. 1971/72 was much improved for Sunderland as they finished fifth in the table, missing out on promotion by only four points – McGiven featured more prominently too as he recorded 38 appearances in all competitions, scoring four goals. After a poor start to the 1972-73 campaign, manager Brown was replaced by Bob Stokoe. McGiven played 20 games in one of the most memorable years in Sunderland’s history but didn’t play in the latter rounds of the FA Cup-winning campaign, though he did feature in both games against Notts County in the third round. McGiven played five more games for Sunderland during the 1973-74 campaign before joining West Ham United on loan – a move he would later make permanent for £20,000 after playing 113 games for Sunderland, scoring 9 goals.

McGiven made his Hammers debut on 1st December 1973 in the annual Anfield defeat, with the Irons only losing 1-0 on this occasion. He made 21 league appearances in the remainder of the campaign, as well as playing in both games in the FA Cup third round as Hereford shocked the Hammers. McGiven missed the entire 1974/75 season through injury, returning in an FA Cup third round home defeat to Liverpool on 3rd January 1976 as the FA Cup-holding Hammers relinquished their grip on the trophy at the first hurdle. He appeared on nine further occasions in 1975/76, including both legs against Den Haag in the European Cup Winners’ Cup. McGiven played 18 matches in all competitions in 1976/77 but only managed 4 the following season. His final match was the 0-0 home draw with Nottingham Forest on 8th October 1977 – after 56 goalless appearances for West Ham United, McGiven’s career was prematurely cut short by injury.

John Lyall handed McGiven a position on the coaching staff and, along with Ronnie Boyce, led the Hammers to FA Cup success in 1980, promotion in 1981 and a third-placed finish in the top flight in 1986. Following relegation and Lyall’s sacking in 1989, McGiven remained under new manager Lou Macari but walked out on 4th January 1990 after becoming disillusioned with the new manager’s regime. He spent nine months working with Chelsea’s youth team before teaming up again with Lyall at Ipswich, helping the Tractor Boys to the 1992 Second Division title and a place in the inaugural Premier League. He returned to Chelsea in the mid-1990s, playing his part in the development of former England captain John Terry. Now 64, McGiven is currently Chelsea’s Senior Opposition Scout.

Referee

Saturday’s referee will be Lee Mason from Greater Manchester. Mason refereed four of our games last season, sending off two of our players (Mark Noble against Everton and James Tomkins at Cardiff) and disallowing a perfectly good Stewart Downing equaliser at Crystal Palace. He has officiated in one Hammers Premier League match this term, that being the 2-1 defeat at Old Trafford when he sent off Wayne Rooney, denied the Hammers a penalty when Morgan Amalfitano’s cross struck Radamel Falcao’s arm and disallowed Kevin Nolan’s last-minute strike for a marginal offside. Mason was also the man in the middle for our 1-0 FA Cup win at Bristol City in January.

Possible line-ups

Sam Allardyce will have Carl Jenkinson back and may be able to call on Winston Reid, who will have a late fitness test on Saturday morning. Enner Valencia, James Tomkins and Andy Carroll all remain unavailable though.

New Sunderland manager Dick Advocaat will be without the injured Emanuele Giaccherini but Will Buckley could return. Adam Johnson is back in contention after his club suspension was lifted earlier this week. Ageing centre-back pairing John O’Shea and Wes Brown could be the first casualties of Advocaat’s reign after last week’s 4-0 home humiliation at the hands of Aston Villa. Lee Cattermole is suspended.

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

Possible Sunderland XI: Pantilimon; Jones, Vergini, Coates, van Aanholt; Johnson, Rodwell, Larsson, Alvarez; Wickham, Defoe.

Enjoy the game – Up The Hammers!


Talking Point

Arsenal & Anniversaries

Three first-choice defenders unavailable. Three strikers also marooned in the treatment room. And away to a blue riband side who have smashed eight goals past us on our previous two visits to N5. A side containing the pace of Theo Walcott, the guile of Mesut Ozil, the trickery of Alexis Sanchez and the goalscoring ability (particularly against us) of Olivier Giroud. Needless to say, I feared for us on Saturday and hoped that my prediction of a 3-0 defeat for the Hammers would actually see the Gunners treating us with charitable kindness ahead of their midweek trip to Monaco. A cricket score did not seem beyond the realms of possibility.

As it transpired, the makeshift Irons gave it a darn good go. We had done enough to remain in the game until our recent knack of conceding late goals extended from the latter stages of a second half to the first when Giroud rifled beyond the excellent Adrian with just five seconds of first-half added time remaining. It could even be argued that we were the better side for 35 minutes of the second half, although clear-cut chances were admittedly at a premium. The best fell to Matt Jarvis, who one could have expected to find it tough to adjust to being brought in from the almost-Arctic cold of his recent first-team hiatus into the comparatively red-hot furnace of the Emirates (the phrase ‘red-hot furnace’ here undoubtedly has more to do with the opposition he was facing rather than the ‘atmosphere’ created by the home supporters…). In fact Jarvis, in my opinion, was our best outfield player on Saturday and has certainly staked his claim to retain his starting spot against Sunderland next weekend. For long periods we went toe-to-toe with Arsenal despite being forced to field an under-strength side and there was no shame to be found in our performance. My photo from the end of the game shows Cheikhou Kouyate running over to what remained of the Hammers’ travelling support to pass his shirt to one lucky fan.

In other news, 2015 sees the 50th anniversary of West Ham United’s only European triumph – the European Cup Winners’ Cup success of 1965. It is to be hoped that the club will be prioritising a commemoration of the greatest achievement in our history when we face Everton in our final home game of the season – the visit of the Toffees on Saturday 16th May falls three days before the half-century celebration of the final. Between now and the end of the season, I will be marking the anniversary of each game between the quarter-final first leg and the final itself with a brief run-down of each match.

Having disposed of Belgian side Gent (2-1 on aggregate) and Czech outfit Sparta Prague (3-2 on aggregate) in the earlier rounds, the Hammers travelled to Lausanne of Switzerland for the first leg of their quarter-final on the 16th March 1965. 20,000 supporters in the Stade Olympique de la Pontais, a venue for five games during the 1954 World Cup, saw Brian Dear give the visiting side a 21st-minute lead. Johnny Byrne doubled the Hammers’ advantage in the 53rd minute but Robert Hosp’s 80th-minute strike ensured, in typical West Ham fashion, that the second leg would be far from a formality.

The other quarter-final first leg results were:
Real Zaragoza 2-2 Cardiff City
Legia Warsaw 0-4 1860 Munich
Torino 1-1 Dinamo Zagreb

Lausanne: Rene Kunzi, Kurt Hunziker, Heinz Schneiter, Ely Tacchella, Andre Grobety, Kurt Armbruster, Richard Durr, Charles Hertig, Pierre Kerkhoffs, Norbert Eschmann, Robert Hosp.

West Ham United: Jim Standen, Bobby Moore, Ken Brown, Joe Kirkup, Alan Sealey, Martin Peters, Ronnie Boyce, Johnny Sissons, Geoff Hurst, Johnny Byrne, Brian Dear.


Dan Coker's Match Preview

Match Preview: Arsenal

Blast from the past

14th November 1964 – The Supremes were number one with ‘Baby Love’ and Johnny Byrne, Martin Peters and Sir Geoff Hurst were amongst the goals in a 3-0 victory for FA Cup holders West Ham United over this weekend’s opponents Arsenal in front of 36,026 at Highbury.

The Hammers would finish 9th in the First Division in 1964/65 and go on to win the European Cup Winners’ Cup, while the Gunners would end the campaign in 13th.

Arsenal: Tony Burns, Don Howe, Frank McLintock, Terry Neill, Billy McCullough, George Armstrong, David Court, Alan Skirton, John Radford, Joe Baker, George Eastham.

West Ham United: Jim Standen, John Bond, Eddie Bovington, Ken Brown, Jack Burkett, Alan Sealey, Ronnie Boyce, Martin Peters, Johnny Sissons, Johnny Byrne, Geoff Hurst.

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 include:

Goalkeepers: Richard Wright, Manuel Almunia, Jim Standen.

Defenders: Matthew Upson, Nigel Winterburn, Bernard Joy, Steve Walford, 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, Stan Earle.

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

Today’s focus though falls on a star Gunner from the first half of the 20th century who appeared for the Hammers during the Second World War. Eddie Hapgood was born on the 24th September 1908 and juggled amateur football with his milk round in Bristol in the mid-1920s. Kettering handed him an opportunity before Herbert Chapman signed him for Arsenal. Hapgood, a left-back, worked on bulking up his slight physique and became a regular in the Gunners’ first team in early 1929, keeping his place for ten years before the outbreak of war. Having already won one FA Cup, he was appointed captain in the early 1930s and led the team to five league titles and another FA Cup triumph. Hapgood made 440 appearances for Arsenal, scoring two goals. He also won 30 England caps, 21 of them as captain; he was England skipper for the infamous match against Germany in Berlin on 14th May 1938, when Hapgood and the England players were made to give the Nazi salute before the match, under pressure from British diplomats. He was only 30 when war effectively cut short his footballing career.

Hapgood served in the Royal Air Force and made two war-time guest appearances for West Ham United in June 1940, a 2-1 home defeat to Millwall and a 0-0 draw at Charlton. In 1945, he wrote one of the first footballing autobiographies, ‘Football Ambassador’. After the war he moved into management, enjoying stints in charge of Blackburn, Watford and Bath City. After that he left football completely. Falling on hard times and having never been given a testimonial match, he wrote back to his old club Arsenal asking for financial assistance; the club sent him £30. He spent his later years running YMCA hostels in Harwell, Berkshire and Weymouth, Dorset. Eddie Hapgood died in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, on Good Friday 1973 at the age of 64.

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 seven of our league matches, officiating in one win, three draws and three defeats for the Hammers. He has been the man in the middle for the Irons on three occasions already this season: against Tottenham in the 1-0 loss at Upton Park, the 2-2 draw at Stoke and the 3-1 home win over Swansea.

Possible line-ups

Arsenal will be without the injured Gabriel, Mathieu Debuchy, Jack Wilshere and Mikel Arteta, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Tomas Rosicky, and Mathieu Flamini are doubts. There is the possibility that Arsene Wenger could rest players ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League do-or-die tie in Monaco – this has to be considered unlikely though, given the cut-throat nature of the battle for top four places in this season’s Premier League.

For West Ham United, Winston Reid, Andy Carroll and Carlton Cole are all out, while Enner Valencia is a major doubt. Unconfirmed reports on twitter (which I belatedly joined this week) also suggest James Tomkins has suffered a serious shoulder injury – at the time of writing, this speculation was unsubstantiated but, if proved true, could see Cheikhou Kouyate moved to centre-back. Sam Allardyce must decide whether to restore Alex Song to the starting XI against his former club. Kevin Nolan was superb against Chelsea and will expect to keep his place, particularly if Kouyate is forced into the back four. Carl Jenkinson is unavailable against his parent club.

Possible Arsenal XI: Ospina; Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal; Coquelin, Ramsey; Cazorla, Ozil, Sanchez; Welbeck.

Possible West Ham United XI: Adrian; O’Brien, Collins, Tomkins, Cresswell; Song, Kouyate, Noble; Downing; Nene, Sakho.

Enjoy the game – Come On You Irons!


Dan Coker's Match Preview

Match Preview: Chelsea

Blast from the past

Upton Park, 14th February 1981 – proof that West Ham United aren’t always on the receiving end of Valentine’s Day Massacres. Fresh from reaching the League Cup final four days earlier, the Hammers maintained the feel-good factor with a chastening of Chelsea in front of 35,164. Sir Trevor Brooking scored twice, while there was a goal apiece for David Cross and Alan Devonshire.

The Hammers would go on to be crowned champions of Division Two by 13 points while Chelsea would finish 12th.

West Ham United: Phil Parkes, Ray Stewart, Alvin Martin, Billy Bonds, Frank Lampard, Jimmy Neighbour, Geoff Pike, Trevor Brooking, Alan Devonshire, Paul Goddard, David Cross.

Chelsea: Petar Borota, Gary Locke, Mickey Droy, Gary Chivers, Dennis Rofe, Timmy Elmes (Phil Driver), John Bumstead, Mike Fillery, Peter Rhoades-Brown, Colin Lee, Alan Mayes.

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, Carlton Cole, 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 had a highly successful six years at Chelsea sandwiched in between two spells with West Ham United. George Hilsdon was born in Bromley-by-Bow on the 10th August 1885 and made a goalscoring debut for the Southern League Hammers on 11th February 1905 in a 2-0 home win against New Brompton. On 17th April 1905, after scoring in a 3-0 win against Fulham, Hilsdon was injured and unable to play for the rest of the season. However, his record of four goals in seven games represented an outstanding start to his football career. Hilsdon’s injury problems persisted in 1905/06 and, with the signing of fellow centre-forward Harry Stapley, he was restricted to nine league games, scoring three times. Following 7 goals in 18 matches in all competitions, usually-shrewd manager Syd King allowed Hilsdon to move across London to Chelsea on a free transfer.

Hilsdon made an immediate impact for Chelsea, who were playing in the Second Division of the Football League at the time, scoring five goals on his debut in a 9-2 win over Glossop. In November 1906, just a few months after his move to Stamford Bridge, Hilsdon was given the nickname ‘Gatling Gun George’ for his “simply unstoppable” shots. He helped Chelsea to promotion to the First Division in his first season, while earning £4 a week, and scored six goals in an FA Cup tie against Worksop the following campaign (a club record which remains unequalled). He was the First Division’s joint second highest scorer in his debut season in the top flight.

Between February 1907 and April 1909 Hilsdon scored an incredible 14 goals in just 8 international appearances for England. Chelsea were relegated in 1909/10 and Hilsdon struggled for form with rumours circulating of a serious drink problem. After scoring 107 goals in 164 games for Chelsea, becoming the first player to reach the 100-goal mark for the club, Hilsdon was allowed to return to West Ham in June 1912. A weather vane modelled on Hilsdon is still a feature of Stamford Bridge – it was said to cause great misfortune if removed and, when it had to be removed during renovation in the late 1970s, Chelsea suffered both financial and footballing difficulties.

The East Ham Echo reported that, during his first home game back in east London, Hilsdon “had to run the gauntlet of some very uncomplimentary remarks from part of the stand” but responded by being the Hammers’ top scorer in 1912/13. The excellent form of Syd Puddefoot, the new kid on the block the following season, saw Hilsdon lose his place in the side. He returned to score twice against Millwall in a 3-2 home win in April 1914 but the outbreak of World War One that year would curtail Hilsdon’s career – he scored 28 goals in 78 appearances in all competitions during his second spell with the Hammers, giving him an overall record of 35 goals in 96 matches for the club.

After trying to avoid active service and being caught by the police hiding in a chicken run, Hilsdon joined the East Surrey Regiment and served on the Western Front. A mustard gas attack at Arras in 1917 badly damaged Hilsdon’s lungs and, although he had a brief spell playing for Chatham Town after the war, he was forced to retire from the game. He scraped a living in various ways including working as a teaboy on building sites and a period spent with Fred Karno’s Troup, a popular travelling vaudeville act. He was also known to go around several East End pubs raffling boxes of chocolates but arranging for the prize to be won on every occasion by his wife. George Hilsdon died in Leicester on 10th September 1941 at the age of 56. Only four people (his son, daughter, son-in-law and grandson) attended his funeral, which was paid for by the Football Association. There is no stone to mark his grave.

Referee

The referee on Wednesday will be Andre Marriner; Chelsea’s visit to Upton Park will be Marriner’s second match in charge of the Hammers this term, following our 2-0 defeat at Anfield. Since we achieved promotion back to the top flight in 2012 the Birmingham-based official has refereed seven of our league matches, officiating in one win for the Hammers, two draws and four defeats.

Possible line-ups

Sam Allardyce will be without the injured Carlton Cole and Andy Carroll while Morgan Amalfitano serves the final match of his three-game suspension.

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho is without the suspended Nemanja Matic and the injured Jon Obi Mikel. Brazilian midfielder Ramires is expected to keep his place, while his compatriot Oscar could be restored to the side in place of Kurt Zouma.

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

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

Enjoy the game – Up The Hammers!


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