Whilst researching former West Ham left-back Noel Cantwell for my preview of our match at Manchester United in April, I stumbled across this series of videos. Recorded at the famous Cassettari’s café, Hammers greats Malcolm Allison, John Bond and the aforementioned Cantwell take a nostalgic trip down Memory Lane to discuss life at West Ham United in the 1950s. I thought I’d save sharing the videos until the summer hiatus, when articles are harder to come by. Enjoy!
Born in Dartford on 5th September 1927, Allison left Charlton to join West Ham in 1951, a move replicated by Billy Bonds 16 years later. Centre-half Allison made 265 appearances in claret and blue, scoring 11 goals. He captained the club but only made five appearances in the promotion-winning campaign of 1957/58 after being struck down by tuberculosis, an illness which caused Allison to have a lung removed. A mentor to a young Bobby Moore, who would go on to take his place in the side, Allison went on to manage a raft of clubs, including Manchester City, Crystal Palace and Middlesbrough. He also coached in Canada, Turkey, Portugal and Kuwait. Malcolm Allison died on 14th October 2010 at the age of 83.
Bond made 449 appearances for West Ham, scoring 39 goals. A right-back, he made his debut in February 1952 and scored nine goals in 46 appearances in the promotion season of 1957/58. He played in every game of the Hammers’ run to the 1964 FA Cup Final, including the 3-2 Wembley win over Preston. Bond experienced European football in his 14th season with the Hammers, playing both legs against La Gantoise of Belgium and Czechoslovakia’s Sparta Prague, and scoring in the 2-0 second round first leg win at home against the Czechs. He played his last game for the Irons in April 1965 and moved to Torquay the following year, with whom he ended his playing career. He went on to manage Bournemouth, Norwich, Manchester City, Swansea, Birmingham and Shrewsbury. John Bond died on the 25th September 2012, at the age of 79.
Irish international Cantwell scored twelve goals in 278 appearances during his time with the Hammers, making his debut in November 1952. In the enforced absence of Allison, Cantwell captained the Hammers to the Second Division title in 1958 as they reclaimed the top flight place they had lost in 1932. The left-back’s last match in claret and blue came in September 1960 before he joined Manchester United – he captained the Red Devils to FA Cup glory in 1963. He went on to manage Coventry and Peterborough, as well as clubs in the United States. Noel Cantwell died of cancer at the age of 73 on 8th September 2005.