Dan Coker's Match Preview

Blast from the past

22nd August 1953 – Frankie Laine was number one with ‘I Believe’, Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn were in UK cinemas in Roman Holiday and, two days after Len Hutton’s England cricket team had defeated Australia to win The Ashes for the first time in 19 years, the Hammers defeated the Foxes at Upton Park in front of 22,157 spectators.

25-year-old Cork-born centre-forward Fred Kearns (pictured) was the star of the show, scoring a hat-trick in a 4-1 win for the Irons. Outside-left Jimmy Andrews was also on the scoresheet for the Hammers, while an Arthur Rowley penalty was all the visitors could muster in consolation.

These would be Kearns’ last goals for the club – the likeable Irishman had signed from Shamrock Rovers as a full-back but found brief fame and international recognition (he won one cap in 1954 against Luxembourg) when switched to centre-forward. He had made his Hammers debut on 8th October 1949 in a 1-1 home draw with Chesterfield and scored 16 goals in 48 appearances in the claret and blue, making his final appearance in a 2-1 home win over Doncaster on 20th March 1954 before transferring to Norwich in the summer of that year. He went on to play for Tonbridge, Margate and Deal Town, and was assistant manager of Ramsgate in 1980. Fred Kearns died in Margate, aged 59, on 7th January 1987.

West Ham would go on to finish in 13th place in the Second Division, while the Foxes recovered from this heavy early-season defeat to top the division and win promotion to Division One. Tommy Dixon, who didn’t feature in this victory, would be the Irons’ top goalscorer with 19 goals in 32 matches in 1953/54. Wolves won the First Division title and West Brom won the FA Cup.

West Ham United: Ernie Gregory, George Wright, Noel Cantwell, Derek Parker, Malcolm Allison, Frank O’Farrell, Tommy Southren, Dave Sexton, Fred Kearns, John Dick, Jimmy Andrews.

Leicester City: John Anderson, Ron Jackson, Arthur Lever, Tommy Dunne, Matt Gillies, Jimmy Baldwin, Mal Griffiths, Arthur Rowley, Derek Hines, Johnny Morris, Tommy Dryburgh.

Club Connections

Players who have represented both the Hammers and the Foxes include:

Goalkeepers: George Hebden, Colin Mackleworth.

Defenders: Gary Charles, Chris Powell, Dickie Pudan, Rufus Brevett, Paul Konchesky, Dai Jones, Matthew Upson, Clive Clarke, Billy Oakes, Fred Milnes, John Paintsil.

Midfielders: Andy Impey, Shaun Newton, Nolberto Solano, Franz Carr, Sid Bishop.

Strikers: David Connolly, Albert Carnelly, Brian Deane, Keith Robson, David Speedie, Bertie Lyon, Paul Kitson, Norman Proctor, Les Ferdinand, David Kelly, Tony Cottee, Jimmy Quinn.

Frank O’Farrell, Jimmy Bloomfield and Martin Allen have played for the Hammers and managed the Foxes.

Today’s focus is on a striker who played for Leicester City before a loan spell at West Ham United later in his career. Mike Newell was born in Liverpool on the 27th January 1965 and started his professional career at Crewe in 1982. He signed for Third Division Wigan in October 1983 and played in the 1985 Football League Trophy Final before joining David Pleat’s top flight Luton in January 1986. He played four times for England Under-21s before dropping down to the Second Division to sign for Leicester in September 1987 for a club record fee of £350,000. The 22-year-old Newell scored on his debut in a 4-1 win over Oldham at Filbert Street on 16th September 1987 and went on to notch four goals in his first five Foxes matches.

Managed by his former Wigan manager Bryan Hamilton, the Foxes had been relegated the previous season and were struggling in the early stages of the 1987/88 campaign when Hamilton was replaced by another of Newell’s old bosses, David Pleat, in December 1987. Newell was sent off twice in 1987/88 but scored 11 goals in 44 games as the Foxes finished 13th. There was an improvement in performances and results but Leicester lacked the consistency to maintain a promotion push and, after a total of 26 goals in 96 matches, Newell returned to the top flight in a £1.1m move to Everton in June 1989. He had been Leicester’s top scorer in both of his seasons at Filbert Street and scored in his final game for the club, in a 2-2 draw at Sunderland on 13th May 1989 as the Foxes finished 15th in the Second Division.

Newell played alongside Tony Cottee during his time at Goodison Park and was a runner-up in the Full Members’ Cup in 1991. He moved to Kenny Dalglish’s Blackburn in November 1991 and scored the winning goal in the Play-Off Final against former club Leicester to send Rovers into the inaugural Premier League. He stayed at Blackburn for five seasons, finishing fourth and second in the Premier League, before winning the Premier League title in 1995. He scored a nine-minute hat-trick in a Champions League fixture against Rosenborg.

The 31-year-old Newell left Blackburn to join David Sullivan, David Gold and Karren Brady at Birmingham in the summer of 1996. The drop into the First Division proved unsuccessful and Harry Redknapp brought him to West Ham on loan during a striker crisis in December 1996, with Florin Raducioiu out of favour and Iain Dowie and Steve Jones out of form. Newell made his debut in a 3-1 defeat at Chelsea on 21st December 1996 and appeared in his only Hammers victory a week later, a 2-0 home win over Sunderland. He failed to score in his seven appearances in claret and blue and made his final appearance for the Irons in a 2-1 defeat at former club Blackburn on 1st February 1997, a game which saw Rio Ferdinand score his first senior goal. Redknapp moved to bring in double act John Hartson and Paul Kitson, while Newell joined Bradford in another loan move the following month.

Newell left Birmingham permanently later in 1997, moving north of the border to join Aberdeen. He returned to first club Crewe in 1999 but his stay was shortlived before transferring to Doncaster later that year. He finished his playing career with Blackpool in 2001. Newell has since managed Hartlepool (with whom he won promotion from Division Three in 2003), Luton (winning League One in 2005) and Grimsby. He has also worked at Accrington and Saudi Arabian side Al-Shabab. Now 54, Newell is currently assistant manager to Bryan Hughes at Wrexham – the Dragons are currently fourth in the National League as they seek a return to the Football League.


Saturday’s referee will be Lee Probert, who will take on his first West Ham appointment since our goalless draw at Stoke in April 2017; his previous match in charge of the Hammers had been our 3-0 win at Tottenham in October 2013. He also refereed our 3-2 home defeat to Liverpool in December 2012, awarding the Hammers a penalty for a Joe Allen handball.

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Probert also took charge of our 1-0 home victory over Swansea in February 2013 and our 2-2 home draw with Manchester United in April 2013, when he allowed Robin van Persie’s late equaliser to stand despite the Dutchman being in an offside position. Probert sent off Matt Taylor for a push on Billy Sharp in the aftermath of awarding the Hammers a penalty in a 1-1 home draw with Southampton in February 2012. The 46-year-old Wiltshire-based official also issued a red card to Tamir Cohen in our 2-1 home defeat to Bolton in March 2010.

Possible line-ups

West Ham United have lost only three of their last 31 home matches against Leicester stretching back to 1967, with 21 victories and seven draws against the Foxes in that time. Manuel Pellegrini will be without Winston Reid, Carlos Sanchez, Manuel Lanzini, Samir Nasri, Andriy Yarmolenko and Andy Carroll. Marko Arnautovic is available, while late checks will be given to Aaron Cresswell, Jack Wilshere and Chicharito. Robert Snodgrass has been given a one-match ban but, like Wilfried Zaha earlier in the season, this does not come into effect while the player and club consider their right to appeal.

Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers will be without Daniel Amartey. The Foxes are unbeaten in their last three visits to east London.

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

Possible Leicester City XI: Schmeichel; Pereira, Morgan, Maguire, Chilwell; Ndidi; Gray, Tielemans, Maddison, Barnes; Vardy.

Enjoy the game – Up The Hammers!