Dan Coker's Match Preview

Blast from the past

Today’s blast from the past features a rare Premier League victory at the home of this weekend’s opponents, Manchester United. It arrived on the 8th December 2001, a 1-0 win at Old Trafford in front of 67,582 spectators. Daniel Bedingfield was number one with ‘Gotta Get Thru This’, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone topped the UK box office and George Harrison had died nine days earlier at the age of 58.

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The Hammers went into the game having failed to win in five matches, stretching back to 28th October. Don Hutchison forced an early save from Fabien Barthez, with Paul Scholes bringing England team-mate David James into similar action at the other end. The Irons’ goal came from 19-year-old striker Jermain Defoe (pictured), who met Paolo Di Canio’s dinked left-footed cross with a back-post header which beat Barthez from close range after 64 minutes. The brilliant James ensured the three points with a late stop from Mikael Silvestre. My video below shows the action from this match.

Glenn Roeder’s West Ham went on to finish 2001/02 in seventh place, while Manchester United finished third. Defoe was the club’s top scorer that season with 14 goals from 39 matches, only 17 of which were starts. Arsenal won a Premier League and FA Cup Double.

Manchester United: Fabien Barthez, Phil Neville, Gary Neville, John O’Shea, Mikael Silvestre, Luke Chadwick (David Beckham), Nicky Butt (Andy Cole), Roy Keane, Paul Scholes, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Dwight Yorke (Quinton Fortune).

West Ham United: David James, Sebastien Schemmel, Tomas Repka, Christian Dailly, Nigel Winterburn, Don Hutchison, Michael Carrick, Joe Cole, Trevor Sinclair, Paolo Di Canio, Jermain Defoe (Titi Camara).

Club Connections

Manchester United coach Michael Carrick welcomes his first professional club to Old Trafford, while Chicharito could feature for the Hammers at the home of his former club. A largely impressive list of players join the pair in having turned out for both West Ham United and Manchester United over the years. These include:

Goalkeepers: Roy Carroll, Les Sealey.

Defenders: Patrice Evra, Fred Milnes, Jonathan Spector, Rio Ferdinand.

Midfielders: James McCrae, Bill McCartney, Paul Ince, Ralph Milne, Luke Chadwick, Ravel Morrison.

Strikers: Charlie Mackie, Billy Grassam, Stuart Pearson, Ted MacDougall, Teddy Sheringham, David Bellion, Carlos Tevez.

In addition, David Moyes has managed both clubs while Dave Sexton and Frank O’Farrell both played for the Hammers before going on to manage the Red Devils. Lou Macari played for the Old Trafford club before managing the Irons.

Today’s focus is on an Irish international who signed for Manchester United from West Ham United. Noel Cantwell was born on the 28th February 1932 in Cork and educated at the Roman Catholic Presentation Brothers College. He was an outstanding young sportsman, excelling at rugby, athletics, cricket and football. He joined local Irish League side Cork Athletic at a time when West Ham had significant Irish representation in their ranks – Hammers players Frank O’Farrell and Tommy Moroney often used to turn out for Cork when they returned to Ireland and, on one such visit, played alongside Cantwell in a friendly against Birmingham. At the time, Cantwell was set to embark on an insurance role with the Norwich Union whilst playing amateur rugby but glowing reports from the Hammers’ representatives led to Ted Fenton persuading the teenager to move to east London – West Ham paid Cork £750 for the promising left-back.

Cantwell went into digs with Moroney, who became his mentor, and made his debut at the age of 20 in a 3-2 win at Colchester in the Essex Professional Cup on 13th November 1952. His league debut came in another 3-2 victory, this time at Fulham on 6th April 1953. He became a regular in the side in the 1953/54 campaign, defending with maturity, and soon earned the first of his 36 caps for the Republic of Ireland. He was sent off in a 1-1 draw at Bristol Rovers on 10th December 1955 but scored his first goal for the club the following season in a 3-2 win over Sheffield United at the Boleyn Ground on 9th February 1957. Cantwell also played cricket for Ireland five times between 1956 and 1959.

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The swashbuckling Cantwell replaced Malcolm Allison as club captain in the 1957/58 promotion season, having formed a successful full-back partnership with John Bond. He scored four goals in 38 appearances as he led the Hammers to the Second Division title. These goals were all scored in victories at Upton Park – 2-1 over Derby and 3-2 against Fulham (both in September 1957), 5-2 against Huddersfield two months later and 6-2 over Swansea in January 1958.

Cantwell played his own part in the development of arguably West Ham’s finest son, Bobby Moore (who would have been 78 today). With Allison recovering from tuberculosis and 17-year-old Moore waiting in the wings to replace him, manager Ted Fenton asked Cantwell for a recommendation on who to play against Manchester United on 8th September 1958. Cantwell, despite being a big friend of Allison’s, famously replied, “play the kid”. An attack-minded full-back who also played the occasional game for club and country as a forward, Cantwell scored four goals in 45 matches in his first season as a First Division player, scoring in a 6-3 win over Blackburn on 4th October 1958, a 2-1 win at Aston Villa on 3rd January 1959 and a 5-1 thrashing of Manchester City on 20th April 1959. He also scored in the Final of the Essex Professional Cup as the Irons defeated Leyton Orient by four goals to one on 21st September 1959. The hugely popular Cantwell scored three goals in 1959/60 – all penalties – in a 4-1 home win over Manchester City on 7th November 1959, a 5-2 home defeat to Burnley on 2nd January 1960 and a 5-3 loss at Manchester United on 18th April 1960, his last goal in claret and blue.

The 28-year-old Cantwell played his final match for West Ham in a 4-1 defeat at Everton on 24th September 1960. He had scored twelve goals in 278 appearances during his nine years with the Hammers. He departed east London for Manchester United, the team he had supported as a boy. Reconstructing his Red Devils team following the tragedy of the Munich air crash, Matt Busby spent £29,500 to take Cantwell to Old Trafford – a record fee at the time for a full-back. He made his Manchester United debut in a 3-0 defeat at Cardiff on 26th November 1960 and scored his first goal for the club in a 3-0 FA Cup win over Middlesbrough at Old Trafford on 7th January 1961. He scored a penalty in the next round in a 1-1 draw at Sheffield Wednesday.

Cantwell’s next goal didn’t arrive until April 1962, in a 3-1 win at Burnley. He only had to wait two days for his next goal, scored in a 3-2 home defeat to Arsenal. He only scored once in 1962/63, in a 3-0 home win over Bolton, but captained the side as they beat Leicester 3-1 in the 1963 FA Cup Final at Wembley. Cantwell was so highly regarded by his fellow professionals that he was elected chairman of the PFA in 1963. He made 35 appearances in 1963/64, the most of any of his seasons at the club, but failed to score. He missed a year of football between April 1964 and April 1965 but scored in his comeback match, a 4-2 win at Birmingham on 19th April 1965. He scored twice in 1965/66, both in April – once in a 1-1 draw at Aston Villa and the other, his last for Manchester United, came on familiar territory at Upton Park on 30th April 1966, but a Geoff Hurst double and a ‘Budgie’ Byrne penalty ensured the Hammers won the match 3-2.

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The 34-year-old Cantwell’s last appearance for Manchester United came in a 2-1 win at Southampton on 19th November 1966. He had made 146 appearances for the Red Devils, scoring eight goals. He managed Coventry between 1967 and 1972 before moving to the USA to briefly manage the New England Tea Men. He returned to England to manage Peterborough from 1972 to 1977 before returning to the New England Tea Men. He managed the Jacksonville Tea Men in the early 1980s before ending his management career back at Peterborough in 1988 after two years at the club. He became a publican in Peterborough and also did some scouting for Sven-Goran Eriksson’s England set-up. Noel Cantwell died of cancer at the age of 73 on 8th September 2005.


Tomorrow’s referee is 50-year-old Graham Scott. The Oxfordshire-based official will be taking charge of only his eighth Premier League match involving West Ham United – the Hammers have won five of the previous seven league matches he has officiated. His first Premier League appointment with the Irons was our 3-1 win at Southampton in February 2017. He also took charge of the Hammers for our 3-0 win at Stoke in December 2017 – Scott’s decision to award Manuel Lanzini a first-half penalty saw the Argentine retrospectively banned for two matches. He also refereed our 2-0 home win over Watford in February 2018, our 3-1 home win over Everton on the final day of last season and our 3-1 defeat at Arsenal in August.

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Scott was most recently the man in the middle for both our matches against Cardiff this season. The match at London Stadium saw him award a penalty to the visitors which Lukasz Fabianski saved as the Hammers went on to win 3-1. He also officiated our 2-0 defeat in the Welsh capital last month. Scott was also in charge for our 2-1 League Cup victory over Cheltenham in August 2013 and sent off Callum McNaughton in the defender’s only Hammers appearance as the club were knocked out of the same competition by Aldershot in August 2011.

Possible line-ups

Manchester United are without Luke Shaw and Ashley Young through suspension, while Matteo Darmian, Antonio Valencia and Eric Bailly are injured. Nemanja Matic and Ander Herrera are doubts but Alexis Sanchez should be available. The Red Devils are still in the hunt for a top-four finish but will also have one eye on their Champions League quarter-final second leg in Barcelona on Tuesday.

West Ham United are without Winston Reid, Carlos Sanchez, Jack Wilshere, Samir Nasri, Andriy Yarmolenko and Andy Carroll but Michail Antonio should be available. The Hammers have picked up just two points at Old Trafford in their last ten visits, stretching back to May 2007.

Possible Manchester United XI: De Gea; Dalot, Jones, Lindelof, Rojo; Fred, McTominay; Mata, Pereira, Sanchez; Lukaku.

Possible West Ham United XI: Fabianski; Fredericks, Balbuena, Diop, Cresswell; Rice, Obiang; Antonio, Lanzini, Anderson; Arnautovic.

Enjoy the game – Come On You Irons!