Nigel Kahn’s Column

We all have our heroes, probably those we loved watching as a kid when football is such an easy game to watch. In later years we marvel at the players that may give their heart to the cause but maybe never get the glory – our heroes are our personal choices, many though are shared by us all. Billy Bonds, Trevor Brooking, Bobby Moore must make the top 3 of our all-time greats, but that reason is because those of us alive witnessed them, worshipped them, adored them. Even if we couldn’t get to the game or were born years after they played, they were in the TV era so we can always see just how the great they were. But what of the players that came before? Should they not be recognised in some way as, without the players that came before, we may not have had the Bonds, Devonshire’s or Pop Robson’s come and join us? Just imagine if the club had not been promoted in 1958 with the goals of Vic Keeble. Would we have progressed to the point where six years later the club embarked on the most trophy-laden period in its history?

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Every Cup West Ham has won was won in just a 16 year period. If you through the prism of achieving our highest league standing then its 22 years, a period though that defines this club still today, and made a majority of the players from that time, not just heroes, but legends.

So what can be done to honour all our players that have contributed to the history of this great club? Well, we’ve had the failed museum but we know there is nowhere at the athletics stadium to house another. The club has taken to putting up history boards around the ground but the problem with that is, they are all temporary as they have to be removed when athletics take the stadium and if you can’t get to all parts of the stadium you are stuck at looking at just the piece you see every game.

For me the answer is simple, THE WEST HAM UNITED HALL OF FAME.

When you look at other clubs and see how they revere their history and not just the successful era’s but their whole history, all the players that have played for them, not just the clubs chosen few, and to that end a dedicated hall of fame that inducts players from all eras that have contributed to the success of the club, as without Keeble’s goals, Bobby Moore may not have played top flight football for West Ham. Without the saves of Ernie Gregory, the goals of Vic Keeble would not have made the difference.

West Ham is approaching 125 years of existence if you include the Ironworks era. According to the West Ham Stats website this equates us to using 1233 players and yet we are invariably asked to choose our top 11. So much of our history is now unknown or not spoken about. Players that did so much for the club are ignored now and I believe a hall of fame will bring much of that back into life.

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The way I see it working is somehow we draw up a short list of inductees from each decade of the club’s history. Players that played in more than one decade would be put into the decade they made most appearances. Each player would have a bio as to why it’s believed they should be added to the Hall of Fame. That shortlist is then put to the public vote. They would vote one player from each decade into the hall of fame. Naturally, the 60s & 70s and 80s may need to have more than one inductee every year, but it would allow the unrecognised or unknown players from the past that all contributed to the club being what it is today getting recognised. The hall of fame would then have a permanent home on a website so everyone could then see and read the stories that make up the legends of our past.

There is already a national hall of fame for football, which has a permanent home at the National Football Museum in Manchester and I have found that some other premier league clubs have their own hall of fame as well. I must admit the Everton hall of fame I came across is the one that I liked the most when researching this article.

So what do you think you good folk of WHTID world? Shall we give it or go, or is the past as they say, best left where it is?