Dan Coker's Match Preview

Blast from the past

4th February 2017 – Ed Sheeran was number one with ‘Shape Of You’, Sing topped the UK box office and Coleen Nolan had just won the 19th series of Celebrity Big Brother. West Ham United, meanwhile, were defeating Southampton 3-1 in front of 31,891 at St Mary’s.

The Hammers fell behind after 12 minutes on the South Coast when Manolo Gabbiadini blasted in at the near post from a tight angle beyond a statuesque Darren Randolph – it was the Italian’s Saints debut after a £14m move from Napoli on transfer deadline day. The Irons were level within two minutes after Pedro Obiang’s through ball found Andy Carroll who slotted home a right-footed equaliser – Carroll (pictured below) has scored in both of his Hammers starts at St Mary’s.

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West Ham took the lead a minute before the break when Obiang scored his first goal in claret and blue to add to his earlier expert assist. Following a half-cleared corner, the Spanish-born midfielder was given time and space to drill in a low shot from 30 yards out, which went through a crowded penalty area and crept beyond Fraser Forster. The Hammers clinched the points seven minutes into the second half when Mark Noble’s free-kick found the net via a deflection from Steven Davis.

West Ham United would finish the 2016/17 Premier League season in 11th position, while Southampton would end up eighth in a campaign which saw Chelsea win the title and Arsenal win the FA Cup. Michail Antonio would finish as the Hammers’ top scorer with nine goals in 37 matches; he would also be voted Hammer of the Year, with Manuel Lanzini runner-up.

Southampton: Fraser Forster, Cedric Soares, Jack Stephens, Maya Yoshida, Ryan Bertrand, Oriol Romeu, Steven Davis, James Ward-Prowse, Sofiane Boufal (Shane Long), Manolo Gabbiadini, Jay Rodriguez (Nathan Redmond).

West Ham United: Darren Randolph, Cheikhou Kouyate (James Collins), Jose Fonte, Winston Reid, Aaron Cresswell, Sofiane Feghouli (Jonathan Calleri), Mark Noble, Pedro Obiang, Robert Snodgrass, Michail Antonio, Andy Carroll (Manuel Lanzini).

Club Connections

Michail Antonio travels to the home of his former club. An array of West Ham United’s good, bad and ugly have also turned out for Southampton:

Goalkeepers: Richard Wright, George Kitchen.

Defenders: Richard Hall, Christian Dailly, Joe Kirkup, Wayne Bridge, Neil Ruddock, Bill Adams, Ian Pearce, Darren Powell, Albie Roles, Jose Fonte, Horace Glover, Calum Davenport.

Midfielders: Jimmy Carr, Bobby Weale, Luis Boa Morte, Nigel Quashie, Eyal Berkovic, Robbie Slater, Peter Cowper, Paul Allen.

Strikers: Vic Watson, Justin Fashanu, David Speedie, David Connolly, Viv Gibbins, Iain Dowie, Ted MacDougall, Henri Camara, Alex McDonald, Frank Costello, Fred Harrison, Walter Pollard, Arthur Wilson, Jimmy Harris, Jack Foster, Jack Farrell.

In addition, Harry Redknapp and Alan Pardew have managed both clubs.

Today’s focus is on a famous West Ham captain who went on to manage Southampton. George Kay was born in Manchester on 21st September 1891. He started his career with Bolton in 1911 and joined Belfast club Distillery later that year. Kay served on the Western Front as a Sergeant with the Royal Garrison Artillery during World War One before being sent home suffering from shellshock and the effects of gas. Kay played for the Hammers while on leave, making his debut in a 2-1 home win over Arsenal in the London Combination on 2nd September 1916. He scored his first goal in a 2-1 win at Tottenham on 28th September 1916 and bagged a hat-trick in the reverse fixture on 4th November 1916. He also scored in a 2-0 home win over Luton on 2nd December 1916 – the Hammers would go on to win the 1916/17 London Combination.

Kay joined West Ham United officially at the end of the war for a fee of £100. Kenny Davenport, the man who had discovered Kay at Bolton, declared Kay to be as “strong as I’ve seen of a lad of his years. Nothing passed him. He’s a big chap, but fast and bright.” The 27-year-old Kay made his Second Division debut for the Hammers in a 2-0 home defeat to Barnsley on 8th September 1919, the opening day of the 1919/20 season. He scored his first league goal in a 1-0 win at Birmingham the following month and also bagged the only goal of the game against Bury at the Boleyn Ground on 24th January 1920. He was sent off in the reverse fixture at Bury the following month but rounded off the campaign with a goal in a 3-0 home win over Stockport on 1st May 1920. The Irons ended their first Football League season with a seventh-placed finish in the Second Division. Kay scored one goal in 1920/21, in a 2-0 home win over Fulham on 18th September 1920, as the Hammers finished fifth. The Irons continued to progress, finishing fourth in 1921/22 – Kay scored five goals in this campaign, in a 2-0 home win over Wolves on 5th November 1921, a 3-1 defeat at Derby on Christmas Eve, a 1-1 home draw with Hull on 11th February 1922, a 2-1 home defeat to Rotherham the following month and in a 2-0 home win over Sheffield Wednesday on 1st April 1922.

Impressing manager Syd King with his committed performances and natural leadership, centre-half Kay replaced Billy Cope as skipper in 1922 and, under the Mancunian’s captaincy, the Hammers entered an exciting period – promotion to the top flight for the first time ever was secured at the end of 1922/23 and the Irons also appeared in Wembley’s first ever FA Cup Final at the end of the same season (Kay is pictured below with his Bolton counterpart Joe Smith). Kay scored four goals in the Hammers’ first top-flight campaign on the way to a 13th-placed finish in 1923/24 – he scored in successive autumn home wins against Chelsea (2-0) and Birmingham (4-1), as well as a 3-2 home win over Nottingham Forest on 22nd December 1923 and in a 1-1 home draw with Leeds in the FA Cup second round two months later.

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In 1924/25, Kay became the first West Ham player to reach 200 league and cup games. He scored three goals during the campaign as the Hammers again finished 13th – his first came in a Christmas Day 3-2 home win over Cardiff, his second in a 1-0 FA Cup first round replay win over Arsenal (a match played at Stamford Bridge) and the third in a 2-1 home win over West Brom on 21st March 1925.

Having played over 40 matches in each of his previous four seasons, Kay’s final year at West Ham saw him make just 18 appearances. The club struggled to cope with the loss of their leader, finishing 18th. Kay’s final goal in claret and blue was scored in a 3-1 home win over Tottenham on 20th March 1926, with his last appearance for the club coming at the age of 34 in a 2-0 home defeat to Bury on 1st May 1926. Kay had made 282 appearances for West Ham United, scoring 22 goals. He had played alongside the likes of Jack Tresadern, Jimmy Ruffell, Syd Puddefoot and Vic Watson, captaining the club with inspirational leadership during their best period in the first half of the 20th century – he was widely regarded as being the best Hammer to never play for England, until Billy Bonds half a century later.

Kay ended his playing career with a couple of matches for Stockport in 1927 before becoming coach, and eventually manager, at Luton in the Third Division South. He joined Southampton in May 1931 at the age of 39 following the resignation of Arthur Chadwick, who had stood down after Saints had embarked on a policy of selling their best players to survive financially. Kay nurtured a younger generation of players at Saints, including Ted Drake (who later joined Arsenal and played for England) and Charlie Sillett (father of John and Peter).

Kay “was tremendously enthusiastic and he worked hard throughout his stay at The Dell, using up a considerable amount of nervous energy at every match. He ‘played’ every kick and his body would visibly vibrate to the stresses and strains on the playing field”. He started his Southampton career with an opening day victory over Burnley on 29th August 1931 but injuries resulted in the club sliding down the table to finish 14th. Despite the financial difficulties faced by the club and several players leaving in the summer of 1932 in order to balance the books, Kay’s team improved slightly on the previous season and ended 1932/33 in 12th place. The Saints won a club record 15 out of 21 home matches, but only registered three away victories. Supporters became disillusioned with further player sales though and attendances dropped to record lows. Kay is pictured (suited) below with his 1933 side, on the far left at the end of the middle row.

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Southampton equalled the record of 15 home victories in the 1933/34 season but their away record worsened, yielding no wins and only six draws on the road, resulting in a 14th-placed finish. Drake, the jewel in the crown, was sold for a record fee of £6,000 to Arsenal in March 1934. Kay struggled to fill the gap left by Drake and the 1934/35 season started badly although the team did end their run of 33 away games without a win and finished the season in 19th place. The club’s finances were now so dire that the supporters’ club had to make a loan of £200 to help finance the summer wage bill.

1935/36 was Southampton’s 50th season since their original formation in 1885; Kay returned to his former club to sign legendary Hammers centre-forward Vic Watson. The Saints made a superb start to the season but this form could not be sustained and the slump was only partially relieved by a 7-2 victory over Nottingham Forest on 15th February 1936. Saints suffered their heaviest-ever league defeat the following month, losing 8-0 at Tottenham and recorded their lowest ever home attendance for a league match two days later, when only 1,875 turned out to witness a 1-0 defeat against Port Vale. The directors again responded by selling their better players and Saints finished the season in a disappointing 17th position, with Watson top-scorer on 14 goals.

The entire board of directors resigned in June 1936, with a new board asking Kay to resign in order to reduce the company’s wage bill. In August 1936, Kay accepted an offer from First Division Liverpool, with whom he went on to win the league title in 1947 and reach the 1950 FA Cup Final. He brought Bob Paisley to the club as a player and also managed Sir Matt Busby, who would go on to say that Kay had a huge influence on his management style.

A chain-smoker who was always immaculately dressed, Kay suffered from ill health and felt the pressures and stresses of football management deeply. He was particularly sick in the run-up to the 1950 FA Cup Final against Arsenal and was confined to his bed until the day of the game when he proudly led his players out at Wembley for presentation to King George VI. He retired from football in February 1951 on medical advice and sadly passed away in April 1954, aged 62. Kay’s 1923 FA Cup medal was sold at auction in 2005 for £4,560. He was an inspirational captain and manager who represented his clubs with class and distinction and is fondly remembered in the record books.


Thursday’s referee will be Craig Pawson; 2018/19 is Pawson’s seventh as a Premier League referee. In 2014/15 he refereed West Ham’s 3-1 home win over Liverpool and sent off Adrian in our 0-0 draw at Southampton, a decision that was later overturned. His Hammers appointments in 2015/16 were both at the Boleyn Ground, for our 2-2 draw with Manchester City in January 2016 and the 3-3 draw with Arsenal three months later.

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Pawson did not referee the Hammers at all last season; his most recent Irons game was our 8-0 win over Macclesfield in September. His matches in charge of West Ham United in 2016/17 saw him send off Harry Arter as the Hammers defeated Bournemouth 1-0 in August 2016, while he also officiated in our 2-1 home win over Chelsea in the fourth round of the League Cup in two months later. He also refereed our 5-1 home defeat to Arsenal in December 2016. He awarded Watford a penalty and sent off Michail Antonio as the Irons drew 1-1 at Watford in February 2017.

Possible line-ups

Southampton left-back Ryan Bertrand is likely to miss out, while Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg is suspended. New manager Ralph Hasenhuttl has won two of his first three Premier League matches in charge of Southampton.

West Ham United travel to Southampton having lost just two of their last nine league matches and could welcome back Lucas Perez from injury, while Aaron Cresswell could claim a starting berth. Fabian Balbuena, Marko Arnautovic and Chicharito are doubts. The Hammers are without Ryan Fredericks, Winston Reid, Carlos Sanchez, Jack Wilshere, Manuel Lanzini and Andriy Yarmolenko. Pablo Zabaleta and Mark Noble are both one yellow card away from a one-match ban.

Possible Southampton XI: McCarthy; Yoshida, Bednarek, Vestergaard; Valery, Romeu, Lemina, Targett; Armstrong, Redmond; Ings.

Possible West Ham United XI: Fabianski; Antonio, Diop, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Snodgrass, Rice, Noble, Anderson; Carroll, Perez.

Enjoy the game – Come On You Irons!

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