Nostalgia

Nostalgia Series; Ron Ticker Boyce

Ronnie “Ticker” Boyce grew up in East Ham, just a few miles from the Upton Park ground. He was part of the youth set up before signing professional terms at the age of 17. A year later, in 1960, he made his debut in a 5-2 win against Preston NE. He was a one club man and made 342 appearances which included the FA Cup final win in 1964 and the European Cup Winners Cup final the following year. Following on from his last game in 1972 he worked under John Lyall on the coaching staff during which time West Ham won two FA Cups in 1975 and 1980. His last five years at the club were in the role of chief scout, a position he relinquished in 1995. His most important goal was almost certainly the last minute winner in the 1964 FA Cup final which brought the prized trophy back to the East End for the first time in the clubs history. Ron himself said that goal was the proudest moment in his life. He also said that the greatest game he played in was the ECWC final. “They had a team full of internationals and we really had to raise our game. It was a brilliant match, with great passing and end to end football – without doubt the best game I ever played in.”

One of the most amazing goals I have ever seen was also scored by Ronnie Boyce. It was a game away to Manchester City and it was played on a mud bath. West Ham had just swapped Martin Peters for Spurs player Jimmy Greaves, plus a sum of cash in a deal most Hammer fans were more than a little sceptical about. The Hammers won 5-1 that day and Jimmy Greaves scored twice on debut. However, when City keeper Joe Corrigan moved to the right sided edge of the box and kicked clear, Ticker from 40 yards out volleyed the ball straight back into an empty City net!

Ronnie was a firm favourite with Hammer fans in the sixties. The nickname “Ticker” was given to him because of his work rate and how he blended the team together – he made the team “tick”. Ron was not a natural athlete but he was a perceptive reader of the game and an exceptional passer of the ball. When he played well, West Ham played well. He was a local lad and supported the team from behind the goals when he was a boy. He played twice for England schoolboys and was courted by Arsenal before being signed by Wally St Pier. He was one of the young players that would join the likes Of Lyall, Hurst, Peters and Joe Kirkup in Cassettari’s café to discuss football and tactics with Cantwell, Allison and John Bond.

Like many players, he liked to stick to his same pre-game ritual and he had his superstitions. He would always be first to the ground and would pop chewing gum into his mouth before he went into the dressing room. Ticker was always first to change (once he knew he was in the team), and always sat in the same spot in the changing room. He also made sure he was right behind Bobby Moore when the team ran out onto the pitch. Ron was a big worrier. He always worried before games that he would not be picked. Then later he would have trouble sleeping after games as he relived every moment of the day’s match in his head. These were all traits that had followed him throughout his life. Ron was to say; “I was such a nervous, weepy kid. I would rather hide in the garden than go to a party. My dad had to push me, get me in the car and just make me get on with it. Things could have been so different if it wasn’t for my dad. I owe a lot to him.”

In today’s game where all too often agents rule and players move from club to club, it is nice to remember “Ticker”. He was 14 when he first trained with the Hammers and it was 37 years later that he said his last goodbyes as an employee of West Ham. He never had ambitions for management but when Lou Macari’s brief spell as West Ham manager came to an end Ron did take up the caretaker manager role for a single game. A loyal servant to West Ham, a one club man, he was integral to the way West Ham played in the 60’s.


Tony Hanna's Musings

What the Bookies Say

When the bookmakers make a market on any event they are normally well informed and have done their homework. Well, that was certainly the case in years gone by when they were very profitable and had the money to hire teams of analysts and experts in most fields. Scouring data and using their contacts they were ahead of the field. With their profits being erased by smarter punters and competition in the modern era they now often just follow the exchanges like Betfair where most of the “smart money” is placed. Any punter placing a large bet on a market they (the bookmakers) are not on top of can cause chaos and often lead to customer bet restrictions. Such is the case with the bookies making their markets nowadays on football transfer betting. In a nutshell, they offer their odds on this market but the prices can take huge changes based on relatively small wagers compared to what they take on large markets like horse racing or the Premier League match results. The pool on any transfer market can be very small and a large bet is obviously not desirable in balancing their books.

However, as a starting point their prices do afford us a glimpse of what is more likely to happen than not in the football transfer market. So, with many names being linked to West Ham let’s have a look at how the bookies rate the chances of any of them happening. Some of you may not understand bookies odds so I will also translate the odds into the percentage chance of the transfer taking place. I have not included any player rated at 12/1 (7.69% chance) or worse. I have also not included Adama Traore as the bookies have suspended betting on this market. Read into that what you will but it generally means the deal is close but as we know, player transfers are rarely straight forward. This Traore by the way,( there are so many Traore’s and Dembeles), is the Middlesbrough player who had such a fine game against us at the Riverside last season. On the downside he has played in relegated sides two seasons running now, playing for Villa the season before last.

Aaron Cresswell and Robert Snodgrass Firstly, I will start with the two players they have priced up with the potential to leaving West Ham. The only deal they see as being realistic for Cressy is a move to Liverpool. On this one they make him 2/7 to stay at West Ham. That is around a 78% chance of staying. Snodgrass is 2/5 (71%) to stay at West Ham next season with quite a few clubs showing some interest.

Das Bost . Rated at 4/1 (20%) to join West Ham, he is favourite to stay at his current club Sporting CP and Newcastle are ahead of us if he does make any move. The Dutch forward, plying his trade in Portugal at present, has made 15 appearances for the Netherlands scoring one goal.

Bertrand Traore . The Chelsea forward looks nailed on to go to Lyon as that move is priced at 1/10 (90%) and the Hammers are at 10/1 (9%).

Chris Smalling Even money (50%) to stay at Moanchester United and we are the shortest price of any other club if he does move. Bookies price him at 11/4 (26%) to move to West Ham.

Jack Wilshere The bookies rate him 8/13 (62%) to stay at Arsenal although that does include him being loaned out and not actually being transferred from Arsenal. West Ham are just 2/1 (33%) to sign the midfielder. It would not be surprising to see us move in with a loan deal for the former England International.

Joe Hart West Ham lead a huge posse of clubs that may be interested in signing the Manchester City keeper. We are priced at 6/4 (40%) which seems very short considering we are most likely to spend our transfer funds in other areas of the field. My bet would be we may sign a second or third choice keeper and our money will be spent on two forwards, a winger and another central defender. Any other signings will be loans.

Josh King Rated at 1-4 (80%) to stay at Bournemouth, the Hammers are 9/1 (10%) to sign the forward. If, as many predict, we fail to secure our big money targets, it may well be that Josh King is the sort of player we will throw money at in a last minute flurry before the window closes.

Jota 15/8 (35%) to stay at Brentford the odds of him coming to West Ham are 7/1 (12.5%). Don’t you just love these players with one name? The attacking Spanish midfielder, Jose Ignacio Peleteiro Ramallo is one I must admit I have never seen play before and is an interesting one?

Kelechi Iheanacho Already tagged on this site as “Nacho”, this is the one signing I would love to happen out of all the current rumours. This player will score goals wherever he plays and is young, has quick feet and bags of potential. He is 6/4 (40%) to join us although apparently Leicester lead the chase at even money (50%).

Mitchy Batshuayi Considering he is apparently one of our main targets it is initially surprising to see him priced at 7/1 (12.5%) to join the Hammers. Newcastle lead the chase but the 6/4 (40%) favourite is he is likely to remain a Chelsea player. This is of course because the most likely event is “Bats” will probably be loaned out next season and remain one of the plethora of players Chelsea have on their books but are loaned out elsewhere.

Olivier Giroud The ITK’s suggest this player is the main target for West Ham this window and we are prepared to match any offer? West Ham are 5/1 (16%) for his signature and he is 2/7 (78%) to stay at the Emirates. Perhaps the bookies feel that the most likely scenario here is that he will be loaned rather than sold? I find this unlikely though as they would get upward of 20m pounds for the player and at aged 30 that would be a terrific return for them.

Ross Barkley 4/1 (20%) to join West Ham, we are 3rd favourites behind Spurs and the player remaining at Everton. Personally, for reasons stated before, I just don’t see us spending the amount of money it would take to bring the midfielder to West Ham. I am sure our money will be directed towards other priorities.

Daniel Sturridge There was a lot of rumour some months ago about West Ham making Sturridge our big signing this window. It has all gone a bit cold and we are 8/1 (11%) for his signature now. He is 2/9 (81%) to remain at Liverpool.


Tony Hanna's Musings

Missed Opportunities

I was asked the other day – why have West Ham never won the league – especially when you consider the Moore, Hurst and Peters era and the Golden generation of Lampard, Ferdinand, Cole and Carrick? Realistically, the mid to late 60’s, the late 90’s/ early 2000’s and 1986 were the only opportunities in my fifty plus years of watching West Ham. I can certainly put forward the case on why the sixties team didn’t become Champions as I saw that team play on many occasions. I emigrated to Australia in 1980 and because of the demands of a young man trying to make a better life for himself in a foreign country it was a decade before I returned to the UK on holiday. Those years were like a time warp with no internet and only a one hour goals TV program on each week so most of you will have more of a clue regarding the 1986 campaign. My interpretation is that we were a little unlucky that year but our side probably overachieved on the back of the Cottee and McAvennie goal scoring partnership which banged in goals for fun. A bit like Shearer and Sutton for Blackburn in their 1994/95 glory season. The time warp for me was based on two things. Meeting old friends after a decade was not too startling as they were instantly recognisable despite most of them being a few pounds heavier and the hair being either absent or a little greyer. But meeting their kids, who many had been about six years old when I left and now they were sixteen – it left me thinking I might as well have been on a different planet. The second thing was where was my North Bank – and South Bank? Gone forever and for me Upton Park was never the same.

After that initial drought I became a regular visitor back and most of the holidays since have been structured around the West Ham fixture list. My best friend in the UK was married to Eddie Bailey’s daughter and tickets were always fairly easy to obtain. But what was very informative for me were my conversations with Eddie about the Golden generation. Eddie had of course played for Spurs and England but he was chief scout at West Ham then. I remember one conversation I had with him when I was wax lyrical about Joe Cole.”Carrick will have a better future” said Eddie. “Joe is very flash and has loads of talent but he won’t put his head down and work hard – he thinks it will all come too easily for him”. Whilst Joe Cole had a great career he never really did fulfil his true potential in my opinion and looking at what Michael Carrick has achieved I guess Eddie was right? Joe for me, could have potentially been one of the best players this country has ever produced. His move to Chelsea was not as productive for him as Frank Lampard’s.

One thing that was told to me was that the quartet of Ferdinand, Cole, Carrick and Lampard had made a pact to stay at West Ham and try to bring the club the honours it had always craved. They had come up through the Academy and it was clearly evident to all that this was the Golden Generation for the Hammers. These four players wanted to do it together. Many a good plan can come unstuck though and in November 2000 West Ham succumbed to money bags Leeds who came in with an incredible 18m pound offer for Rio and the club pushed the move through with all their might. It was a new British transfer record and a World record for a defender. He was only 22 and at the age of 19 had won Hammer of the Year. The first domino had fallen. The previous three seasons, West Ham under Harry Redknapp had finished in the top half of the League each season but 2000/01 was a very different story. The club finished 15th and Redknapp, unable to obtain the funds he wanted for new players left the club. His assistant Frank Lampard Snr also left and young Frank Jnr put in a transfer request on the back of his dads departure. Two seasons later the club were relegated with 42 points! Carrick and Cole were both soon to leave and what should have been the most promising time in West Ham’s history had become a nightmare. All four players went on to have distinguished careers elsewhere and to think we let them all go for a combined fee total of 39m pounds is laughable, accept it isn’t funny. Carrick went for just 3.5m and Cole for 6.6m!

So bad luck and bad management stopped that era from any chance of becoming Champions. What about the World Cup generation? We had three outstanding players in the shape of Moore, Hurst and Peters and we had been good enough to win the FA Cup and the ECWC? Well, basically the truth of the matter is that the rest of the team were too often not good enough. And our style of play was far too generous to be successful over a 42 game season playing on mud pitches for much of the season. The team always had enough in it to be good for a Cup run but the League was a different matter. The League was certainly much more open in those days – between 1965/6 and 1970 when Peters left for Spurs, a different club had finished Champions every year but we only managed a top half finish (8th) once! With three WC winners in the team? Two of the big problems that were never resolved were finding a decent centre half to partner Bobby Moore and also a solid goal keeper. If you read my article on Ron Greenwood recently you would know he missed a golden opportunity in signing Gordon Banks? Instead he signed Bobby Ferguson and he never lived up to expectations. Centre halves were signed – Alan Stephenson and John Cushley – but neither of them were what was required either. Whilst we could play teams off the park on our day, our day was all too far between. The five different Champions of the mid to late sixties had all been Northern teams and it was no secret that back in those days Southern teams were considered too soft. Perhaps the London drinking culture was one reason, another was that the Northern teams played with more hunger week in week out. Whilst Greenwood was making sure our players were not hurting anyone, the Northern teams were knocking the living daylights out of us to stop us from playing our cultured style. If that’s what it took, they did it.

So, we had three opportunities in the past 50 years. The first one saw us have three great players but that does not make a great team. The second saw us have four great players that were all too young at the time of their departure from the club and the team of ’86 was a once off throw at the stumps that nearly paid off. The question that then has to be asked is what was our Cup winning side of 1980 doing in the old second division? Now, that is a question that is harder to answer!


Nostalgia

Nostalgia Series; Our Finest Moment?

In 1964 West Ham won their first ever FA Cup. This success meant that for the first time in the clubs history, we would be representing England in the European Cup Winners Cup. The added bonus that year (1965) was that the final was to be held at Wembley. The Hammers started their first European campaign well and in the first double header leg we advanced beating Gent 2-1 on aggregate. The trip to Belgium was not so easy as today’s players would enjoy, with a coach, train, boat and coach trip via Ostend providing an endurance test before the game itself. Ronnie Boyce scored the only goal of the game and in the return leg at Upton Park Johnny Byrne scored in a 1-1 draw and that was enough to progress. The second round saw us beat the highly regarded Czech team Sparta Prague 2-0 at home with goals from Alan Sealey and John Bond and lose 2-1 away to progress 3-2 on aggregate. John Sissons had saved the day with a late goal which completely rattled the home side. The Sparta side displayed the ugly side of football with some rugged tackling that displeased the Hammers and Ron Greenwood in particular but thankfully we came through relatively unscathed. Bobby Moore had missed both games and Greenwood played Ronnie Boyce as a sweeper – a great tactical move by the great man as “Ticker” played a couple of blinders.

In the quarter finals we beat Lausanne Sport of Switzerland 2-1 and followed up with a 4-3 win at home. Three of our six goals in that round were scored by Brian Dear. We were perhaps a bit fortunate to have him in the side as the day of the first match Geoff Hurst saved Brian’s life in a swimming pool incident. It is not a good idea to stumble into the deep end when you can’t swim! Good job Sir Geoff was on hand to save the day again! Indeed we were probably lucky to have Bobby Moore in the side as well. He had recovered from testicular cancer the year before after having a testicle removed. Dear and Byrne had scored in the away leg victory while Dear’s brace together with a Martin Peters strike and an own goal saw us through in the second leg.

The semi final saw us play Real Zaragoza. The Spanish team were beaten 2-1 at Upton Park with goals again from Dear and Byrne. John Sissons popped up with another vital goal in the second leg which finished 1-1 to see West Ham through to the final. Zaragoza had been the hot favourites to win the trophy and were famous for having an impressive forward line known as the “The Magnificent Five”. Their side showcased some of the greatest players that played in Spain during that decade.

The opponents for the final were the German team Munich 1860. It was an opportunity for the Hammers to become only the second English team to win a European trophy. Munich 1860 were still to play a semi-final play off match against Torino in Zurich to decide the other finalist. Greenwood suggested the whole team travel to Zurich to watch the match and insisted that “it was too good an opportunity to miss”. Despite sitting in the open in appalling weather the players were grateful to be able to watch their final opponents and gain invaluable insight on the strengths and weaknesses of their upcoming opponents. This was an era where little was known of foreign opposition – an era well before the internet or World Wide TV coverage of football. The German side won 2-0 and the following season were to go on and win the Bundesliga, proving they were a very decent team indeed.

In its time the ’65 ECWC Final was remembered as a game for the purists. The game was considered to be one of the best matches ever played at Wembley as both teams played magnificently. Unfortunately Budgie Byrne had been ruled out with injury which was a major blow to the Hammers. John Sissons missed an excellent early chance and whilst the German side looked more refined in their attacks it was West Ham that looked the more dangerous. Munich’s midfielder Bena was having an impressive match and Bobby Moore was equally as impressive breaking up the slower German attacks. The match was end to end stuff and played in a tremendous spirit – a far cry than Inter Milans cynical display later that month in winning the European Cup. Two goals in two second half minutes from Alan Sealey secured a 2-0 winning score line and “Bubbles” rang around Wembley for the second successive year. The two goal hero was to break a leg a few weeks later, playing an impromptu game of cricket at Chadwell Heath. He only played four more times for West Ham and his career took a spiralling downward turn after the injury.

Much of the success of the campaign has to go to the manager Ron Greenwood. He changed normal tactics to counter the European game, especially the away legs. Bobby Moore would play as a deeper sweeper and Geoff Hurst was dropped back into a deeper role behind either Budgie Byrne or Brian Dear. The wingers also fell back to help defensively in a 4-4-1-1 system. As winners the Hammers had automatic entry to the competition the following year and just failed by going down in the semi-finals to eventual winners Borussia Dortmund. The win in 1965 was considered to be manager Ron Greenwood’s finest moment. At the end of the year West Ham were voted the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year Team Award.


Tony Hanna's Musings

West Ham Player Ratings 2016/17

Last season was quite a disappointment compared to the season before. Many fans say we are just back to where we normally are? The plan to bring in quantity rather than quality, basically to cope with the Europa League, did not work out in our best interests. There were quite a few players that either under performed or struggled with injury last season and not many came out of the season with many plaudits. So, how do you rate the players on last seasons efforts? I have put together my ratings and it will be interesting to see if you agree or disagree. I have not rated players unless they had a fair amount of playing time and I have not included Payet, Tore or Zaza who have all left the club, nor Sakho who was another player with too limited game time.

Adrian 6/10; Even when he was in the flying form of past seasons we all knew he had an erratic side to him that could come back and haunt us. After a few poor performances he was dropped for Randolph but it is staggering that he was not reinstated earlier. His form was solid when his chance came at the end of the season and I would be surprised if we did not start next season with him between the sticks,

Randolph 4.5/10; Had his moments but overall I just don’t think he is a Premier League keeper. What other keeper in the PL was poorer than him?

Byram 5/10; Jury still out on the youngster. He shows promise but also a tendency to get booked quite regularly. Looks better as a wing back when we play three at the back than as a full back with four at the back.

Fonte 5.5/10; I honestly expected more from Jose and he was guilty of being the wrong side of opposition players too often, especially in his earlier games. As he got used to Bilics three at the back he got better and he is normally excellent when in possession.

Collins 7/10; Only really used when injuries to others demanded. But time and time again Ginge gives his all and the blocks and headers he wins are outstanding. No one ever questions this players commitment and nor should they. The downside is his passing.

Reid 7.5/10; Probably our most consistent defender and is another one that wears his heart on his sleeve. Unfortunately he is prone to hamstring injuries.

Ogbonna 6/10; Played with injury for a share of this season and is another player who looks best in a back three. Good on the ball but his blatant holding at corners is a concern.

Cresswell 4/10; I have perhaps controversially marked Aaron very low but for me he has been really poor this past season. His work in tandem with Payet the season before was brilliant but his defensive qualities have never been strong. Normally, the best part of his game, his crossing, has generally been quite poor this season.

Masuaku 7/10; After his horror showing at West Brom I doubted we would ever get see Mas back in a West Ham shirt. However, injury to Cresswell gave him his chance and in the games he played he was outstanding. Not enough games to get more than 7/10 and it will be interesting to see if he is first choice left back next season?

Kouyate 7/10; At his best is an absolute bull but inconsistency plagued his form this season. Playing in central defence and right back probably did not help his form overall but along with Antonio is the only real box to box player in the squad.

Noble 6/10; Is he the glue that holds the side together? Maybe, maybe not? Whatever, his lack of pace is disturbing but his desire to lead his West Ham is not.

Obiang 7/10; Was one player who improved on the previous season and is probably the surprise package of the season. He has developed into a quality PL player and it was sad to see his season end just when he was really starting to impose himself.

Fernandes 6/10; Promising youngster who shows a deal of talent but also a rawness to his game. The defensive side of his game must improve if he wants game time next season, unless of course we are struck with an abundance of injuries again.

Antonio 8/10; The right back experiment didn’t work out this season and neither did the centre forward project. But Antonio is an absolute nightmare for opposition defences who have no idea what he is going to do next, which is not surprising as the lad himself does not know either! Always a danger in the air in the box as well, Antonio was HOTY and must be continued to play wide for best results.

Lanzini 8/10; A very good season for the Argentinian. The exit of Payet allowed Lanzini to come out of the shadows and he certainly did. At times last season he looked the only player we had who was capable of unlocking opposition defences. The downside is he does tend to drift out of games but his work rate is often underestimated.

Feghouli 6/10; Probably the most inconsistent player of the season. Brilliant at times and at others so frustrating. Can see why some want him to stay and perhaps with a PL season under his belt he will improve?

Snodgrass 4/10; A score of four is probably a bit generous? When he came in after Payets departure it was expected he would be our set piece alternative but the Scot has never really got going in claret and blue. The effort seems to be there and noises are we are going to keep him so we really need to see better form from him next season.

Nordtveit 4/10; Played a couple of excellent games for us but also some shockers. I still can’t forgive that penalty he gave away at Spuds and his performance at home to Liverpool was simply dreadful. With several youngsters knocking on the door next season I really see no place for him at West Ham next season. His distinct lack of pace makes him unsuitable for the PL in my opinion.

Carroll 7/10; What can you say? Our best forward and he does score goals when he gets a decent run of games under his belt. The injury plagued player spends far too much time in the treatment room to be considered a first choice striker so it is imperative we bring in at least two strikers before next season. Andy leaves it all on the pitch for the Hammers but surely next season it can only be as an impact sub where his defensive heading in our own box also comes in handy.

Andre Ayew 6/10; Frustrating that we lost Ayew to injury in our first game of the season. It took a while before we saw him back in a Hammers shirt and he did score goals once he got a run in the side. Like Antonio before him, I was really excited when he joined West Ham but unlike Antonio, he has not made the same impact yet. I do see Ayew being an integral part of the team next season but he needs to step up.

Calleri 4/10; Not his style but he struggled to hold the ball up when played as a lone striker. Lacks pace and despite getting himself in good positions, failed to score goals. Has he gone yet? If not he needs to – sorry!

Fletcher 4/10; Like Calleri is just not good enough and whilst he looks like being at the club next season I sincerely hope we are not relying on Fletcher to score goals for us any time soon.

Bilic 6/10; Kept it all together under really difficult circumstances last season. The new stadium teething problems, the Payet saga, the collapse of his Antonio experiment, Sakho missing just about all season, losing Ayew in the first game of the season for the remainder of the year, the ongoing Carroll injury problems, his own hip pain and the misfiring Zaza! After all that for a man who is visibly very passionate about our club I think he deserves another shot next season?


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