Parish Notice

Is Ravel the old Joe Cole?

At the tender age of just 17, West Ham gave the much touted wonder kid Joe Cole his first team debut in 1999. Touted as the hottest property in English football it was reported that Manchester United had made a seven figure bid for him the previous year. The buzz around was that the Hammers had unearthed a new superstar. The kid had scored seven goals in one match against Spain in a youth match and the anticipation was growing as Hammers fans longed to see him play in the first team. Four years later he was captaining West Ham in a season where the club were relegated despite him being named “Hammer of the Year”. The inevitable happened and Joe was sold.

After a lengthy spell with Chelsea, followed by shorter stints at Liverpool and Lille, Joe returned to his football home last season, Upton Park. The return certainly seems to have had a positive effect on the player as he is visibly sleeker and fitter and playing well. There seems little doubt he is enjoying the sunset of his career back at West Ham. However, ten goals in 56 appearances for England is probably below what most of us expected of him back in 1999. Joe could only seem to fit into the Chelsea and England sides in a wide role where most people seem to think he is less effective? Back now at West Ham it seems that this is the only likely position he will hold down as well. Would Joe have been better served in a more central role? What else could have contributed to Joe not reaching his full potential? A good career should certainly have been a great one, or so we thought.

In 2002 I had a discussion with the late Eddie Baily, former chief scout at West Ham. I was drooling over the prospect of the young Joe Cole and I was surprised that Eddie was adamant that Michael Carrick would become the better player despite not being as gifted. At the time that seemed absurd. Even now trying to evaluate who has had the better career would bring different opinions to the table. However, without going into details, Eddie explained that Carrick had certain traits that would help him fulfil his true potential whilst Cole lacked some of the same characteristics and that would inhibit him from truly fulfilling his. In the end, Eddie was right (IMO).

So now again in 2013 do we have a new wonder kid in our realms? Sir Alex Ferguson believed Ravel was the “jewel in the crown” of his latest generation of starlets, but unloaded the youngster to West Ham as he became continually frustrated with the lad. Off field problems have been well documented and Sam sent Ravel off to Birmingham City for a loan spell. It is believed Kevin Nolan has taken the lad under his wing for some guidance and help. The question beckons – when Ravel does secure his first team place will he be used to his full potential, or will he be fitted into the side, and out of position, as Joe was for much of his career? Will this young prodigy make the most of his undoubted talent or will it be a case of “if only”?

Time will tell but one thing is for sure. The anticipation at West Ham is bubbling again.


Nostalgia

Remembering "Ticker" Boyce

Ronnie Boyce

Ronnie Boyce, fondly known as Ticker, played for the Hammers for twelve years after making his professional debut in October 1960. 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.

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, 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”. He was born in West Ham 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. Ron was also 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.

Like many players, he liked to stick to the same pre-game ritual. He would always be first to the ground and would pop chewing gum into his mouth before he went into the dressing room. He was always first to change (once he knew he was in the team), and always sat in the same spot in the changing room. Ron also made sure he was right behind Bobby Moore when the team ran out onto the pitch.

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 15 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 even managed to be caretaker manager for a single game in 1990 after the infamous Lou Macari reign had come to an end. Ron is 70 now and I am sure he is not forgotten by fans who watched him play.

Enjoy a trip down memory lane and I wonder how City’s pitch curator felt when he came to work the following Monday?


Transfer Gossip

Is Roger Rojas Our New Striker?

Roger Rojas

According to reports (including HERE on KUMB) West Ham are about to sign Honduran striker Roger Rojas on a season long loan with view to a permanent deal at the end of the season. Is this just another name to add to the long list of failed attempts to add to our strike force this window? Conversely, if he is the signing we have been waiting for, is he what we are really after?

Born in the city of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, the 23yo has scored 53 goals in 101 games for his club side Olimpia who are current Champions in the HPNFL. He has played 18 times for the Honduras national side, scoring three times. The goal he scored on debut for his country against El Salvador in 2010 made him the youngest ever goal scorer in the Honduran national team’s history. His full name is Roger Fabricio Rojas Lazo but is known to his team mates and fans as RoRo.

Standing 5’8” (172cm) and weighing 71kg, he is not exactly the strong tall target man some feel we need to deputise when Andy Carroll is out. The 18 appearances for his national side would suggest a work permit would not be a problem.


Nostalgia

F.A.Cup Final 1980 Memories

Since the death of the Old Division One and the ensuing inception of the Premier League, no team from outside the top flight has been able to lift the FA Cup. The appetite for the competition seems to have waned in recent years and indeed if you offered the clubs, players, and probably most fans the choice of either, surely nearly all would prefer to finish 4th in the EPL to capture a Champions League spot? I presume we all know that our club, West Ham, were indeed the last team to win the FA Cup from the lower leagues. It is now 33 years since that wonderful day in the sun at Wembley in 1980 when the Hammers beat Arsenal 1-0.

What got me reminiscing back to the great day was when I was picking my “Best West Ham Team Ever” for the WHTID profile site. My selections for this hypothetical team included six players from the team that played in that 1980 Cup Final. I think Parkes, Bonds, Martin, Lampard, Brooking and Devonshire would be on most fans radar to be considered for their own best team? However, what on earth were this group of players doing in the old second division? After our relegation in the 77/78 season we would have to wait until the season after our Wembley win before we graced the top flight again. Certainly in todays game, no team would be able to keep quality players of this ilk in the lower leagues?

The day itself started with a sense of being robbed. A newspaper strike on the Saturday meant that the day was not starting with that special feeling of reading all about your teams great achievement of reaching the Final – and knowing everyone else would be reading the same. The day before, Brian Clough had made the headlines, twisting a famous Muhammad Ali quote. Cloughie wrote that Trevor Brooking “floated like a butterfly – and stung like one too”. Trevor certainly made “old Big Head” look a little foolish after his winning goal the following day.

Similar to current tactics, the Hammers played 4-5-1 with David Cross playing as a lone striker and Stuart Pearson in a role most similar to what Kevin Nolan plays nowadays. It was not a fantastic game but it was a fantastic result with two main highlights from the game. Brooking’s goal in the 13th minute was made more exceptional by the fact he scored it with a header. Heading the ball was one thing that he did try to avoid for most of his career. The other flashpoint was when Willie Young hacked down Paul Allen late in the game when clean through with only the keeper to beat. A certain send off in todays game but back then a mere yellow was considered enough.

To the current season and I think most fans agree that the likelihood of relegation is unlikely, anything’s possible with West Ham, but unlikely. If come January we look safe, would it not be wonderful to see Big Fab Sam really launch an effort for Cup glory once again? A bit of luck with the draw would help, but I think West Ham fans don’t deserve such a long wait for our next Major trophy.

If you want a trip down memory lane…


Nostalgia

The East End Knees Up

The date was Monday 26th August 1968. An evening kick off at Upton Park and the opposition was Burnley. This was a special fixture for me in two ways. The first game I had ever been to was the season before at Upton Park and the opposition that day had also been Burnley. The other special thing for West Ham that night was, because it was a Monday and the other teams in the old 1st Division were playing their catch up game the following days, a win would send us top of the league albeit for a day or two. This was West Ham’s sixth game of the season after three wins, a draw and a defeat in the first five.
West Ham won 5-0 that night with two goals from Hurst and Brooking and one from Peters. It did not matter that Leeds, who were second, had two games in hand…We Were Top!! What happened on Green Street that night has forever been etched in my memory. Being August it was still light as the fans moved from the ground and onto Green St. Hammers fans formed rows and rows stretched right across the road, locked arms and started the biggest Knees Up Mother Brown I have ever seen. The high kicking rows moved onward and upward towards Upton Park train station, singing their song as raucously as they could and a little 12yo boy, who had told his mum that he was going to the match with a friend and his dad (fib), was having the time of his life!

Those who remember the days when the crowd swirls and collapses behind the goal were common may also recall that the song the North Bank faithful used to sing to start the push from the back, was indeed Knees Up Mother Brown. “Oh my what a rotten song” may have been one of the verses but it was an iconic song to the East End and also for West Ham United. Whilst “Bubbles” has been our own anthem for many years now, I guess the all seated stadiums have put an end to the jig that simply must accompany the singing of the Knees Up, so in effect it is not heard anymore in the ground. I wonder if that famous jig will be repeated down Green Street after the last ever match at the Boleyn in 2015/16?


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