Dan Coker's Match Preview

Blast from the past

28th September 1974: Ceefax was five days old, the football world was reeling from the ending of the short but turbulent tenure of Brian Clough at Elland Road, Carl Douglas was ‘Kung Fu Fighting’ at the top of the charts and the country was twelve days from its second General Election of the year. And West Ham United scored five goals in one match away from home. Heady times indeed.

Being West Ham, we didn’t make it easy – we let three in at this weekend’s destination, Turf Moor, that day in front of 17,613. But legends Brooking and Bonds were on target, supplemented by a Billy Jennings strike and a double from Keith Robson (pictured). The 5-3 victory was one of only three on the road in 1974/75.

Burnley would close the season in tenth position, while the Hammers would finish in thirteenth place and as FA Cup winners; Derby won the league title. Jennings was the Irons’ top scorer with 14 goals from 40 matches; Bonds was voted Hammer of the Year for the third time, with Mervyn Day runner-up.

West Ham United: Mervyn Day, John McDowell, Kevin Lock, Tommy Taylor, Frank Lampard, Billy Bonds, Trevor Brooking, Graham Paddon, Billy Jennings, Keith Robson, Bobby Gould.

Club Connections

Joe Hart welcomes his former club to Turf Moor. A small collection of players join him in having turned out for the Hammers and the Clarets. They include:

Goalkeepers: Tommy Hampson, Herman Conway and Frank Birchenough.

Defenders: Tyrone Mears, Joe Gallagher, David Unsworth, Tommy Dunn, Jack Tresadern, Jon Harley and Mitchell Thomas.

Midfielders: Junior Stanislas, Reg Attwell, Matt Taylor and Luke Chadwick.

Strikers: Bill Jenkinson, Sam Jennings, Walter Pollard, Ian Wright, Ian Moore and Zavon Hines.

John Bond played for the Hammers and managed the Clarets.

Today’s focus though falls on a player who earned a special place in West Ham folklore before playing for Burnley late in his career. Alan Taylor was born in Leicestershire on 14th November 1953 – rejected by Preston as a youth player, he drifted into non-league football in Lancashire. Eventually his goalscoring reputation with both Morecambe and Lancaster prompted Fourth Division Rochdale into making a move for him, taking Taylor into the professional game for the first time in 1973.

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West Ham United manager John Lyall signed the pacey striker for £40,000 a year later – he made his debut as a substitute in a 2-1 home win over First Division champions Leeds in December 1974. Taylor had been injured during Rochdale’s FA Cup ties in the early rounds and so was eligible to appear for West Ham in the competition in 1975. His fifth appearance for West Ham, his first for the club in the FA Cup, saw him score his first goals for his new side as he grabbed a double in the 2-0 quarter-final triumph over Arsenal at Highbury. ‘Sparrow’ followed that up with two goals in as many league games, in a 2-1 home win over Burnley and a 1-1 draw at Birmingham, before bagging another FA Cup brace in the 2-1 semi-final replay victory over Ipswich at Stamford Bridge. The 21-year-old’s romantic FA Cup tale continued all the way to the Final against Fulham at Wembley as he memorably scored another two goals to take the Cup back to east London.

Taylor opened the 1975/76 Division One season with five goals in three games – one in a 2-1 win at Stoke, two in a 2-2 draw at Liverpool and a further double in a 3-2 home win over Burnley. He also scored in both legs of the European Cup Winners’ Cup second round tie against Ararat Yerevan as well as scoring once in a 2-1 home win over Manchester United and the winning goals in 1-0 home victories over Arsenal and QPR. Taylor also scored in the 3-1 home win over Den Haag in the third round second leg of the ECWC as the Hammers overturned a 4-2 first leg deficit to triumph on away goals. Taylor appeared from the bench, for Frank Lampard, in the final against Anderlecht as the Hammers were defeated 4-2.

Having been the club’s top scorer in 1975/76 with 17 goals from 50 games, Taylor’s impact at the club began to wane due to injuries but he kept up his excellent record against Arsenal, notching another double at Highbury as the Hammers won 3-2 in February 1977. West Ham were relegated in 1978 and, after one season in the Second Division, he returned to the top flight with John Bond’s Norwich for £90,000 – his last goal for he Hammers came in a 4-0 home win over Blackburn on 30th December 1978 and his last game for the club came in a 1-0 defeat at Blackburn on 5th May 1979. Taylor left West Ham in 1979 having scored 36 goals in 124 appearances in all competitions – 15 of these goals can be viewed in my video below.

Taylor was on the move again within a year, first to Vancouver Whitecaps before a short spell at Cambridge United. He returned to Vancouver in 1981 where he stayed for three years before returning to England to join Third Division Hull’s 1983/84 promotion charge. That ended in failure when the Tigers needed to beat Burnley by three goals or more in the season’s final match – they could only win 2-0. After the game a story goes that Taylor joined the Burnley players in Turf Moor’s centre circle, informing them that his manager had resigned in the dressing room and that he’d agreed to sign for Burnley.

Clarets manager John Benson used Taylor sparingly however and, as the club slipped towards the Third Division trapdoor in 1984/85, there was no place for Taylor in the side (although he did continue his love affair with the FA Cup, scoring a hat-trick in a win at Penrith). Benson recalled Taylor towards the end of the season and he scored seven goals in nine games, including the winner in each of the last two away games at Swansea and Walsall. It was too little, too late – Taylor’s efforts and goals were to ultimately prove futile and Burnley were relegated to the Football League’s bottom tier. In the following season he was a regular and netted sixteen league goals and won the Supporters’ Club’s Player of the Year Award. Financial issues led to Taylor moving to Bury and, after two years at Gigg Lane, he returned to Norwich before hanging up his boots and running a newsagents in the city with his wife Jeanette. Now 65, Taylor occasionally leads tours of London Stadium.

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The referee on Sunday will be David Coote. The Nottingham-based official will take charge of a West Ham game for the first time.

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Coote has refereed four Premier League matches so far this season – he has issued seven yellow cards, no reds and awarded no penalties.

Possible line-ups

Burnley are without England internationals Nick Pope and Aaron Lennon, as well as Republic of Ireland left-back Stephen Ward; Steven Defour and Robbie Brady are doubts and Matt Lowton is suspended. Burnley’s only home victory against the Hammers in the last 40 years was a 2-1 win in February 2010. The Clarets have won just one of their last nine games against West Ham in all competitions. Burnley’s last seven top-flight goals have all been scored by different players.

West Ham United are without Ryan Fredericks, Fabian Balbuena, Winston Reid, Carlos Sanchez, Jack Wilshere, Manuel Lanzini and Andriy Yarmolenko, while Pablo Zabaleta, Marko Arnautovic and Chicharito are doubts. The Hammers have won 14, drawn four and lost just two of their last 20 matches against Burnley home and away in all competitions, stretching back to 1979. The last time the Hammers won four consecutive away matches in a single top-flight season was in 1985.

Possible Burnley XI: Hart; Bardsley, Gibson, Mee, Tarkowski, Taylor; Cork, Westwood; Hendrick; Vydra, Wood.

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

Enjoy the game – Come On You Irons!