Dan Coker's Match Preview

Blast from the past

13th January 2018 – West Ham United recorded a 4-1 win at Huddersfield, Ed Sheeran was number one with ‘Perfect’, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle topped the UK box office and, the following day, former West Brom, Coventry and England striker Cyrille Regis died after suffering a heart attack.

West Ham captain Mark Noble gave the Hammers the lead after 25 minutes at the John Smith’s Stadium in front of 24,105, setting the side on their way to only our third league win away to the Terriers by pouncing on a poor pass by Town goalkeeper Jonas Lossl, advancing into the penalty area and finishing with aplomb beyond the Danish international. The Terriers levelled with five minutes remaining of the first half when Joe Lolley cut inside from the left to curl a superb shot past Adrian.

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The Hammers regained the lead within seconds of the restart when Cheikhou Kouyate nodded on a long ball and Marko Arnautovic turned to fire a sizzling strike low into the net. The Irons ran away with the game and the points in the following 15 minutes, with Manuel Lanzini (pictured above) scoring twice. First, Arnautovic sent the Argentine clean through on goal to put the visitors 3-1 up on 56 minutes. Five minutes later, it was four, Lanzini finishing unerringly after Arnautovic’s strength had taken him into the penalty area. The victory ensured Hammers boss David Moyes became the fourth manager to win 200 Premier League matches.

The Hammers went on to finish the 2017/18 Premier League season in 13th place, while David Wagner’s Huddersfield ended up 16th. Arnautovic was the Irons’ top goalscorer with 11 goals from 35 appearances. Manchester City won the league and Chelsea won the FA Cup.

Huddersfield Town: Jonas Lossl, Tommy Smith (Terence Kongolo), Christopher Schindler, Zanka, Scott Malone, Jonathan Hogg, Aaron Mooy, Tom Ince, Joe Lolley (Alex Pritchard), Rajiv van La Parra, Laurent Depoitre.

West Ham United: Adrian, Pablo Zabaleta, James Collins, Angelo Ogbonna, Aaron Cresswell, Arthur Masuaku, Cheikhou Kouyate, Mark Noble, Pedro Obiang, Manuel Lanzini (Declan Rice), Marko Arnautovic (Andre Ayew).

Club Connections

A small number of players have worn the shirts of both West Ham United and Huddersfield Town. These include:

Defenders: Kenny Brown, Dickie Pudan, Archie Taylor, Simon Webster, Elliott Ward, David Unsworth, Steve Walford.

Midfielders: Peter Butler, Diego Poyet, Mark Ward.

Strikers: Dave Mangnall, Jack Foster.

Lou Macari managed both clubs, while Chris Powell played for West Ham and managed Huddersfield. Sam Allardyce played for the Terriers and managed the Hammers.

Today’s focus though falls on a former Hammers forward who had a brief spell at Huddersfield. George Crowther was born in 1892 in Bishop Middleham, County Durham and began his career with local club Shildon before joining Manchester United in 1911. After failing to make an official appearance for the Red Devils, Crowther signed for Huddersfield in 1912 and made two appearances in the Second Division. He left the club in 1913 and briefly turned out for Rotherham Town, Halifax and Hurst (now known as Ashton United).

World War One was to interrupt Crowther’s footballing career though – he had three years active service, serving as a Private in the 17th (Service) Battalion of the Duke of Cambridge’s Own (Middlesex Regiment). This infantry battalion was a ‘Pals battalion’ – a specially constituted battalion of the British Army comprising men who had enlisted together in local recruiting drives, with the promise that they would be able to serve alongside their friends, neighbours and colleagues (‘pals’), rather than being arbitrarily allocated to battalions. Crowther’s particular battalion was known as the ‘Football Battalion’.

During the First World War there had been an initial push by clubs for professional football to continue, in order to keep the public’s spirits up. This stance was not widely agreed with and public opinion turned against professional footballers. One soldier, serving in France, wrote to a British newspaper to complain that “hundreds of thousands of able-bodied young roughs were watching hirelings playing football” while others were serving their country. The suggestion was even made that King George V should cease being a patron of The Football Association. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, writer and creator of Sherlock Holmes, publicly objected and appealed for footballers to volunteer for service, saying “If a footballer has strength of limb, let them serve and march in the field of battle”.

Conservative MP for Brentford and future Home Secretary William Joynson-Hicks formed the battalion on 12th December 1914 at Fulham Town Hall after a suggestion by Secretary of State for War Lord Kitchener. England international Frank Buckley became the first player to join with a further 30 players who signed up at its formation. The formation was announced to the general public on 1st January 1915 and approximately 150 more enlisted over the next few months, the battalion’s ranks further swelled by numerous amateur players, officials and fans. Former West Ham goalkeepers Joe Webster and Tommy Lonsdale also signed up. Press complaints continued though, as there were some 1,800 eligible footballers – I have previously told the story of how George Hilsdon, formerly of West Ham and Chelsea, hid in a chicken run to avoid active service. Many footballers deliberately chose to avoid the battalion by joining other regiments, causing the War Office to initially have difficulties filling the ‘Football Battalion’.

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Crowther (pictured) survived the Great War and returned to football in 1919, playing for Bradford Park Avenue. He signed for West Ham United in 1920, making his debut at inside-left in a 1-0 home win over Wolves on 6th September 1920. He made two more appearances for the Second Division Hammers, both also in September 1920, in a 0-0 draw at Fulham and a 2-0 win over the same opposition in the reverse fixture at Upton Park.

Crowther left West Ham after these three appearances, moving to Hartlepools United in 1921. He found his goalscoring boots in the Third Division North, scoring ten goals in 25 games, before ending his career with Tranmere in 1922. George Crowther died in 1957 at the age of 64 or 65.

Referee

The referee on Saturday will be Christopher Kavanagh. The Manchester-born official has refereed the Hammers on three previous occasions, most recently for our 1-0 home defeat to Wolves in September. He was the man in the middle for our 2-0 win at Leicester in May and also issued Arthur Masuaku with a red card for spitting in January’s FA Cup fourth round defeat at Wigan.

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Kavanagh has been the man in the middle for seven Premier League matches so far in 2018/19, issuing 20 yellow cards in those games and awarding two penalties.

Possible line-ups

David Wagner is likely to be missing right-back Erik Durm and defensive midfielder Danny Williams through injury. Midfielder Philip Billing looked set to miss the match through suspension after seemingly picking up his fifth yellow card of the season against Fulham on Monday – it has since been confirmed that referee Anthony Taylor actually issued the booking to Isaac Mbenza for kicking the ball away, meaning Billing will be available for the match this weekend.

Manuel Pellegrini is without the injured Winston Reid, Carlos Sanchez, Jack Wilshere, Manuel Lanzini, Andriy Yarmolenko and Andy Carroll, while Mark Noble completes his three-match ban. Robert Snodgrass remains one booking away from a one-match suspension.

Possible Huddersfield Town XI: Lossl; Hadergjonaj, Kongolo, Zanka, Schindler, Lowe; Billing, Mooy, Hogg; Pritchard; Mounie.

Possible West Ham United XI: Fabianski; Zabaleta, Balbuena, Diop, Cresswell; Rice, Obiang, Snodgrass; Diangana, Anderson; Arnautovic.

Enjoy the game – Up The Hammers!