If you started to follow West Ham in the sixties, there is a good chance that Jim Standen was in goal for the Hammers in the first match you saw. Jim was born in Edmonton, London in 1935 and he made 35 appearances between the sticks for Arsenal between 1953 and 1960. His lack of first team opportunities were due to the presence of the Gunners first choice keeper Jack Kelsey who was one of the best around at that time. Jim moved on to Luton in 1960 but again he was forced to play understudy, this time to Ron Baynham who was considered good enough to play for England. When West Ham goalkeeper Lawrie Leslie broke his leg in 1962, Jim Standen was signed in what was basically an emergency situation for the East London club.
This move was to prove the turning point in Jim’s career. Over the next six seasons the Hammers, with Jim in goal, were to win the FA Cup in 1964 and the European Cup Winners Cup the following year. He made his debut in November 1962 in a 3-1 victory against Sheffield Wednesday and he was to play his last game in a 3-0 victory over Sheffield United in December 1967. Jim always seemed to excel in the big games and it was no different in the ECWC Final against 1860 Munich. Whilst Bobby Moore and Alan Sealey made the headlines in that famous victory, it was Jim who brought off a brilliant save with his legs which could have turned the match on it’s head.
However, times were a changing at Upton Park during the 1967/68 season, a season that saw the opening of the new East Stand which replaced the iconic old Chicken Run. West Ham also broke the World record fee for a goalkeeper by signing Bobby Ferguson for 65,000 pounds from Kilmarnock. Ron Greenwood had actually made an offer for England keeper Gordon Banks a few months prior to signing Ferguson. The offer was rejected which saw Ron make his move for Ferguson. The deal was agreed verbally but Kilmarnock asked Ron to delay the transfer until they were knocked out of the European Fairs Cup. While Ron was waiting Leicester City rang the West Ham boss to inform him that Banks was now available. However, Ron Greenwood stuck to his word with Kilmarnock which eventuated with Banks signing for Stoke City and Ferguson signing for West Ham.
Ferguson’s start for the Hammers was dreadful. In the first six games of the season the Hammers only picked up three points and 18 goals had been conceded! Jim Standen was brought back for three games that saw a steadying of the ship with two 5-1 victories against Sunderland and Walsall before a 2-1 loss to Wolves. Ferguson regained his place after the enforced exile and Jim Standen was to only make one more appearance for West Ham before transferring to Detroit Cougars and finally finishing his career at Millwall and later Portsmouth. In all, he made 236 appearances for the Hammers.
Jim was also a first class cricketer. He won a Championship medal with Worcester in 1964 bowling right arm medium pace. He took 52 wickets that season at an average of 14.42 and topped the National first class bowling averages. In all he took 313 first class wickets between 1959 and 1970 at an average of 25.34. Whether anyone can repeat Jim’s outstanding feat of winning an FA Cup final winning medal and four months later add a County Championship winning medal is unlikely to say the least. He was also the last West Ham goalkeeper to savour victory at Anfield. Jim Standen made a penalty save that day which helped secure a famous 2-1 victory over Liverpool.