Dan Coker's Match Preview

Blast from the past

Saturday 20th January 1968 – the Colour Television Licence had been introduced when a £5 ‘colour supplement’ was added to the £5 monochrome licence fee, Georgie Fame was number one with ‘The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde’, and Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor and Alec Guinness were in UK cinemas in The Comedians. West Ham United, meanwhile, were recording a 2-1 victory over tonight’s opponents Wolverhampton Wanderers in front of 32,273 at Molineux.

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The two Hammers goalscorers that day are pictured together, above, in more recent times – Brian Dear and Sir Geoff Hurst. 24-year-old Dear would score 16 goals in 30 matches in 1967/68, while Hurst was the Irons’ top goalscorer that season with 25 goals from 44 matches.

By the end of the 1967/68 season, Manchester United had recorded their first European Cup triumph, Manchester City won the First Division title and West Brom won the FA Cup. Ron Greenwood’s West Ham United claimed 12th place in the top flight, while Ronnie Allen’s Wolves finished 17th. Bobby Moore was voted Hammer of the Year, with Trevor Brooking runner-up.

West Ham United: Bobby Ferguson, Billy Bonds, Bobby Moore, John Cushley, Frank Lampard, Martin Peters, Ronnie Boyce, Trevor Brooking, Johnny Sissons, Brian Dear, Geoff Hurst.

Club Connections

West Ham United and Wolverhampton Wanderers have shared a number of players over the years. Those who have appeared for both clubs include:

Goalkeepers: Noel Dwyer, Jack Weare.

Defenders: Joe Gallagher, Jack Dowen, Gary Breen, Tommy Dunn, Roger Johnson.

Midfielders: Stan Burton, Bertie Lutton, Dick Richards, Kevin Keen, Ted Anderson, Paul Ince, Robbie Slater, Nigel Quashie, Matt Jarvis, Kyel Reid, Harry Hooper, Shaun Newton.

Strikers: Henri Camara, Jeremie Aliadiere, Robbie Keane, Frank Burrill, David Connolly, Bobby Gould, Carlton Cole, Frank Nouble, Mike Small, Tudor Martin, Bob Deacon, David Kelly, Marlon Harewood.

Today’s focus falls on a player who played for Wolves before later spending two seasons with the Hammers. George Eccles was born in Newcastle-under-Lyme in (it is believed) 1874 and played for Middleport before joining Burslem Port Vale in June 1893. He played six Second Division games in the 1893/94 campaign and made 27 league appearances in the 1894/95 season, also featuring once in the FA Cup. He scored one goal in a 4-4 draw with Newcastle at the Athletic Ground on 6th October 1894. On 26th February 1895, when heading for a match against Notts County at Trent Bridge, he misread the train timetables and selected a non-existent train that only ran on market days, thereby missing the game. He played 17 league and two FA Cup games in the 1895/96 season and broke his collarbone in February 1896. Eccles, a sturdy full-back, was sold to Wolves for a ‘considerable’ fee in May 1896 and finished tenth and third in the First Division in 1896/97 and 1897/98. Eccles scored one goal in 36 league games during his two years at Molineux before moving on to league rivals Everton.

Eccles spent three seasons at Goodison Park before switching to Preston. He did not feature in the Second Division for his new club in 1901/02, and instead transferred to Southern League West Ham United. Described as a player as being “a grand tackler and an untiring worker”, Eccles (pictured) made his debut in the opening fixture of the 1902/03 campaign, a 1-1 home draw against Reading in front of 7,000 at the Memorial Grounds on 6th September 1902. He made 26 appearances that season, helping the Hammers to a tenth-placed finish. Eccles made consistency his byword during his time with West Ham and was an ever-present the following season, making 38 appearances in 1903/04 with the Irons dropping to 12th. His final match for West Ham United, on the final day of the 1904/05 season in a 1-0 home defeat to Swindon on 30th April 1904, was the Hammers’ last-ever game at the Memorial Grounds before the move to the Boleyn Ground. His proud record could not save him from the ruthless purge on the playing staff which saw only five players retained and a major influx of new faces to coincide with the move to Upton Park. In total he made 64 appearances for the club, without scoring – he left to make a brief playing return to the Football League with Bolton, against doctors’ advice that the Lancastrian climate would not agree with his health.

Eccles married the trainer’s daughter and stayed at Bolton for 40 years as assistant and then trainer. Bolton’s directors had a special medal struck for Eccles in 1930 to commemorate his handling of three successful FA Cup teams, including the 1923 Final against West Ham. George Eccles died just before Christmas 1945, at the likely age of 71.

Referee

The referee on Tuesday will be David Coote. The Nottingham-based official will take charge of a West Ham game for only the second time – his only other Hammers appointment was for our 2-0 defeat at Burnley last month.

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Coote has refereed six Premier League matches so far this season – he has issued 17 yellow cards, no reds and awarded no penalties.

Possible line-ups

Wolverhampton Wanderers defender Willy Boly serves the final game of a three-match suspension. Wolves and West Ham have contested 59 league games over the last 99 years but a Wolves win would complete the double over the Hammers for the first time. Nuno Espirito Santo’s side have scored three stoppage-time winning goals in Premier League games this season (including the reverse fixture at London Stadium), more than any other club.

Manuel Pellegrini is without the injured Fabian Balbuena, Winston Reid, Carlos Sanchez, Jack Wilshere, Manuel Lanzini, Andriy Yarmolenko and Lucas Perez but Marko Arnautovic should be available. West Ham are unbeaten in their last eight Premier League games played on a Tuesday, winning six and drawing two, with their last Tuesday league defeat coming at Arsenal in 2014.

Possible Wolverhampton Wanderers XI: Patricio; Doherty, Bennett, Coady, Saiss, Castro; Neves, Dendoncker, Moutinho; Diogo Jota; Jimenez.

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

Enjoy the game – Up The Hammers!