Dan Coker's Match Preview
Welcome to the latest in a series of articles designed for international matchdays – a look back at former Hammers players who wore the Three Lions of England.
Today, as England prepare to face the Netherlands in the Nations League Semi-Finals, we look back at a bona fide all-time Hammers legend. Sir Geoff Hurst was born in Ashton-under-Lyne on 8th December 1941. His family moved to Chelmsford when he was six years old and he became a West Ham apprentice at the age of 15, making his first appearance under Ted Fenton in the Southern Floodlit Cup on 15th December 1958 at the age of 17 – the Hammers beat Fulham 3-1. He made his First Division debut in a 3-1 defeat at Nottingham Forest in February 1960; however, he was torn between cricket and football, playing regularly for the Essex Second XI between 1962 and 1964 and missing pre-season training due to his cricketing commitments led to regular early-season fitness issues. He scored his first goal in claret and blue in a 4-2 home win over Wolves on 18th December 1961. Hurst, who began his career at left-half, was switched to a striking role by Ron Greenwood in September 1962, a move that was to totally change the course of his career. Forming a successful partnership with John ‘Budgie’ Byrne, Hurst would prove a key figure in the Hammers’ unprecedented success in the mid-1960s.
The 1962/63 season saw Hurst score 15 goals in 29 games and he bagged 26 goals in 50 appearances during a successful 1963/64 campaign, including 11 goals in just seven matches in January/February 1964. Greenwood named the same 11 players in each of the Hammers’ FA Cup matches as the club embarked on a run which took them all the way to Wembley in 1964. Hurst scored one goal in a 3-0 win over Charlton in the third round and then two in a 3-0 fourth round replay against Leyton Orient before notching another in a 3-1 win at Swindon in the fifth round. Hurst grabbed the match-clinching third in the 3-1 semi-final win over Manchester United in the Hillsborough mudbath and scored the second equaliser in the Final against Preston with a header that bounced off the crossbar and over the line – an incident that would be repeated on international duty at the same venue two years later. The Hammers would go on to win the Final 3-2. Hurst was also part of the side that won the European Cup Winners’ Cup at Wembley in 1965, scoring 20 goals in 54 matches in 1964/65.
Having scored 40 goals in 59 appearances in 1965/66, including his first hat-trick in a 4-3 win over Newcastle on 11th December 1965, Hurst won his first England cap in a 1-0 friendly win over West Germany at Wembley on 23rd February 1966. His first goal for the Three Lions came in his next international appearance, the opener in a 4-3 win against Scotland at Hampden Park. He was named in the England squad for the 1966 World Cup Finals but only broke into the side for the quarter-final against Argentina when future club team-mate Jimmy Greaves was injured – Hurst scored the winning goal to send England through to a semi-final with Portugal. Alf Ramsey stuck with Hurst for the Final against West Germany despite Greaves’ return to fitness and the Hammers man repaid the faith with a hat-trick; Upton Park team-mate Martin Peters also scored, with Bobby Moore completing the holy trinity by lifting the Jules Rimet trophy as captain.
Hurst was then the subject of a £200,000 bid from Manchester United’s Matt Busby. The offer would have smashed the British transfer record, almost doubling the standing record of the £115,000 the Red Devils had paid Torino for Denis Law four years previously. Greenwood rejected the offer. Hurst went on to score an incredible 41 goals in 49 games in 1966/67, including four against Fulham in a 6-1 home win and a hat-trick in his next match against the (at the time) mighty Leeds in a 7-0 League Cup triumph. This was the start of a run which saw Hurst score 14 goals in seven games in November/December 1966. 25 goals in 44 appearances in 1967/68 (including all four in a 4-1 League Cup third round win over Bolton at the Boleyn) was followed a goal in England’s Euro ’68 Third-Place Play-Off match against the Soviet Union in Rome’s Stadio Olimpico, a match England won 2-0. Hurst scored 31 goals in 48 matches in 1968/69 on the way to an eighth-placed Hammers finish, including an astonishing double hat-trick against Sunderland in October 1968. Hurst also scored a hat-trick in England’s 5-0 friendly win over France at Wembley on 12th March 1969.
Hurst scored 18 goals in 42 games in 1969/70, a season which would see his great friend Martin Peters depart for Tottenham as the Irons finished 17th. He scored once at the 1970 World Cup in Mexico, in a 1-0 group stage win over Romania. The Hammers would finish one place clear of relegation in 20th spot in 1970/71, with Hurst scoring 16 goals in 41 appearances. He scored his final goal for England in a 2-0 European Championship qualification match in Athens against Greece on 1st December 1971.
One of Hurst’s final acts as a Hammer was his biggest disappointment, however – having already scored a penalty in the 1971/72 League Cup semi-final first leg at Stoke, Hurst saw his powerful late spot-kick in the second leg brilliantly turned over the bar by England team-mate Gordon Banks in front of a stunned North Bank. The Hammers would miss out on a Wembley trip following two replays as the epic saga continued to unfold. Hurst scored his last goal for West Ham in a 3-1 defeat at Manchester City on 8th April 1972, with his last appearance for the club being a 2-0 home defeat to Liverpool seven days later. He had scored 16 goals in 48 matches in 1971/72. He won his 49th and final England cap later that month, in a 3-1 Wembley defeat to West Germany on 29th April 1972 – the same nation he had made his debut against and against whom he had enjoyed his finest hour.
Sir Geoff Hurst is, without doubt, West Ham United’s greatest post-war striker. He scored 249 goals for the club in 503 appearances in all competitions, placing him second behind Vic Watson in the list of the Hammers’ all-time highest goalscorers. During his twelve years as a professional in claret and blue he won all of his 49 England caps, scoring 24 international goals. He remains the only player to have scored a hat-trick on the biggest stage of them all, the World Cup Final. He also shares the record for the most League Cup goals in a career (49, with Ian Rush). He scored three goals in a game for the Hammers on six separate occasions, four goals on two occasions and six goals once. 37 of Sir Geoff’s 249 Hammers goals can be viewed in my video below.
Hurst left West Ham for Stoke in August 1972 for £80,000 and enjoyed a successful spell with the Potters, helping them to successive fifth-placed finishes in 1974 and 1975, higher than Hurst had ever finished with the Hammers. He signed for Johnny Giles’ West Bromwich Albion in the summer of 1975 for £20,000, scoring twice in ten Second Division matches before deciding to join Seattle Sounders in America, via Cork Celtic in Ireland. Hurst retired from playing in 1976. 21 of his 24 England goals can be viewed in my video below.
After calling time on a magnificent playing career Hurst went into management, first as assistant to Danny Blanchflower at Chelsea before being handed the top job at Stamford Bridge in 1979. An inconsistent time with the Blues ended with Hurst being sacked in April 1981 having failed to maintain a promotion push from the Second Division in either of his two seasons with the club. Hurst also assisted his former West Ham manager Ron Greenwood with England campaigns at the European Championships in 1980 and the World Cup in 1982. He went into the insurance trade after leaving Chelsea, taking two years out to manage in Kuwait between 1982 and 1984.
Hurst received an MBE in 1975 and was knighted in 1998. He is one of only five living footballing knights (the others being Sir Trevor Brooking, Sir Bobby Charlton, Sir Alex Ferguson and Sir Kenny Dalglish). He now lives in Cheltenham and celebrated his 50th wedding anniversary with his wife, Judith, in 2014. He was presented with West Ham United’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016.
Netherlands v England
England face the Netherlands this evening in the semi-finals of the 2019 Nations League – it will be the 22nd meeting between the two nations. The pair have met on three previous occasions at a major tournament, with the Three Lions emerging victorious just once, in the group stages at Euro ‘96 with a 4-1 win. The match was played in front of 76,798 at Wembley on 18th June 1996. Fugees were number one with ‘Killing Me Softly’, The Passion of Darkly Noon topped the UK box office and, four days previously, Top of the Pops moved from its traditional Thursday evening slot to Fridays after 32 years (excluding six months in 1973).
The Dutch were dealt a blow after 23 minutes when former West Ham midfielder Paul Ince was brought down for a penalty which was converted by Alan Shearer. Terry Venables’ England doubled their lead six minutes after the interval courtesy of a header from future Hammer Teddy Sheringham. Shearer made it three after excellent build-up play from Paul Gascoigne and Sheringham before, not to be outdone, Sheringham bagged his own brace just after the hour-mark, converting the rebound after Darren Anderton’s shot had been saved by Edwin van der Sar.
Guus Hiddink’s Netherlands side pulled one back with twelve minutes remaining courtesy of a goal from substitute Patrick Kluivert which eliminated Scotland from the tournament.
England: David Seaman (Arsenal), Gary Neville (Man Utd), Gareth Southgate (Aston Villa), Tony Adams (captain, Arsenal), Stuart Pearce (Nottingham Forest), Darren Anderton (Tottenham), Paul Ince (Inter Milan), Paul Gascoigne (Rangers), Steve McManaman (Liverpool), Teddy Sheringham (Tottenham), Alan Shearer (Blackburn).
Subs: David Platt (Arsenal) for Ince, Nick Barmby (Middlesbrough) for Sheringham, Robbie Fowler (Liverpool) for Shearer.
Netherlands: Edwin van der Sar (Ajax), Michael Reiziger (Ajax), Winston Bogarde (Ajax), Danny Blind (captain, Ajax), Jordi Cruyff (Barcelona), Clarence Seedorf (Sampdoria), Ronald de Boer (Ajax), Aron Winter (Lazio), Richard Witschge (Bordeaux), Peter Hoekstra (Ajax), Dennis Bergkamp (Arsenal).
Subs: Johan De Kock (Roda JC) for Witschge; Phillip Cocu (PSV) for Hoekstra, Patrick Kluivert (Ajax) for de Boer.
The previous articles in the series are:
Johnny ‘Budgie’ Byrne
Frank Lampard Senior
Sir Trevor Brooking
Frank Lampard Junior