Dan Coker's Match Preview

Hello and welcome to my first preview of the 2019/20 campaign as I enter my sixth season of writing for WHTID. I’m also delighted to announce that my wife and I have welcomed our first baby into the world over the summer break. Our son, Joey, was born last Friday, 2nd August, at 7.16pm weighing 9lb 6oz. A new addition to the West Ham family!

Blast from the past

13th December 1930 – Ramsay MacDonald was Labour Prime Minister as the country navigated its way through the Great Depression, former Labour MP Gwyneth Dunwoody was born the day before and composer Peter Warlock died four days later as West Ham United emerged victorious from a First Division encounter against Manchester City with a 2-0 win in front of 19,875.

The Hammers came into the game on the back of a nine-game unbeaten run (consisting of six wins and three draws) which had started back in mid-October with a 5-1 home win over Manchester United. City arrived in east London with two England internationals in their team, centre-half Sam Cowan and outside-left Eric Brook, while future Manchester United manager Matt Busby played for the visitors at right-half. West Ham, meanwhile, were without two of their own England internationals, goalkeeper Ted Hufton and legendary goalscorer Vic Watson. Viv Gibbins, who would be the Irons’ top goalscorer in this 1930/31 season with 19 goals from 22 appearances, was also absent.

The hosts, however, did have their other three England internationals on display in Jim Barrett, Stan Earle and Jimmy Ruffell – indeed, it was outside-left Ruffell (pictured) who scored both West Ham’s goals in this 2-0 triumph over Manchester City. He would hit 13 goals in 38 appearances during the 1930/31 season. What was now a ten-match unbeaten run for the Irons came to an abrupt end the following week with a 6-1 savaging at Sunderland.

This victory over the Sky Blues though was West Ham’s tenth win from their first 19 fixtures of the 1930/31 campaign and elevated the club into third place in the First Division table 12 days before Christmas. However, only four victories from the remaining 23 fixtures saw Syd King’s Hammers slump to an eventual 18th-place finish, only five points clear of relegation. Peter Hodge’s City ended up in eighth place – Manchester United were relegated in bottom position. Arsenal won the league title and West Brom won the FA Cup.

West Ham United: Bob Dixon, Alfred Earl, Reg Wade, Jimmy Collins, Fred Norris, Albert Cadwell, Tommy Yews, Stan Earle, Jim Barrett, Wilf James, Jimmy Ruffell.

Manchester City: Len Langford, John Ridley, Laurie Barnett, Matt Busby, Sam Cowan, Jackie Bray, Ernie Toseland, Bobby Marshall, Dave Halliday, Fred Tilson, Eric Brook.

Club Connections

Pablo Zabaleta and Manuel Pellegrini welcome their former club. A large group of players join them in having represented West Ham United and Manchester City. Divided by playing position, they include:

Goalkeepers – Joe Hart, Perry Suckling, David James.

Defenders – Tal Ben Haim, Tyrone Mears, Wayne Bridge.

Midfielders – Samir Nasri, Marc-Vivien Foe, Kevin Horlock, Patrick Leonard, James Cumming, Eyal Berkovic, Steve Lomas, Frank Lampard Junior, John Payne, Michael Hughes, Ian Bishop, Trevor Sinclair.

Strikers – Paulo Wanchope, Bill Davidson, Carlos Tevez, Craig Bellamy, Phil Woosnam, Justin Fashanu, Trevor Morley, Clive Allen, Lionel Watson, David Cross, George Webb.

Stuart Pearce played for both clubs and has managed Manchester City. Malcolm Allison and John Bond were also West Ham players who went on to manage City.

Today’s focus though falls on a player who spent four-and-a-half seasons with West Ham before moving to Manchester City – Mark Ward. Born in Prescot, Lancashire on 10th October 1962, Ward started his career in the youth team at Everton but, at 5’6, was told he was too small to play top-flight football. He signed for non-league Northwich Victoria in 1981 and worked in a bakery. After two years with the Vics, Ward signed for Second Division Oldham in 1983 and spent two seasons at Boundary Park under Joe Royle. By the summer of 1985, John Lyall had seen enough of the tenacious 22-year-old right-winger to bring him to the Boleyn Ground for an initial fee of £225,000.

‘Wardie’ made his Hammers debut on the opening day of the 1985/86 campaign in a 1-0 defeat at Birmingham on 17th August 1985 and scored his first goal for the club in a 2-1 win at Oxford on 9th November 1985. Ward’s first Upton Park goal came a week later in another 2-1 win, this time over Watford. He played a prominent part in West Ham United’s highest-ever top-flight finish that season as the Hammers finished third – his ever-present record of 52 appearances in 1985/86 was the joint-most of any player in the squad, alongside Phil Parkes and Tony Gale. Surpassing 25 appearances ensured former club Oldham received an extra £25,000 as part of the transfer, taking the total fee to £250,000. Ward’s crosses created plenty of goals for sharp-shooters Tony Cottee and Frank McAvennie, while a strong work ethic ensured he tracked back to support Ray Stewart behind him at right-back. His third and final goal of the campaign came in a 2-1 home win over Manchester United on 2nd February 1986.

Ward was voted runner-up to Billy Bonds in the Hammer of the Year voting for 1986/87 but the Hammers slumped to a 15th-place finish – he made 49 appearances, again scoring three goals. Two of these strikes came in the League Cup, the first in a 1-1 second round first leg draw at Preston on 23rd September 1986 and the second in a 3-2 win at Watford in the next round on 29th October. His only league goal came in a 1-1 home draw against Newcastle on 2nd May 1987.

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The diminutive Ward was sent off twice before Christmas in the 1987/88 season, in a 1-1 draw at Wimbledon on 12th September and a 2-1 home win over Southampton on 5th December. He made 42 appearances during a campaign which saw the Irons finish 16th, scoring once, in a 1-1 home draw against Oxford on 5th March 1988. Ward made 41 appearances in 1988/89 but West Ham would be relegated from the top flight – he scored twice, the first in a 1-0 win at Wimbledon on 10th September 1988 and the other in a 2-1 victory at Newcastle on 3rd May 1989. He was sent off for the third time in his Hammers career in a 1-0 FA Cup fifth round win at Charlton on 18th February 1989.

With McAvennie and Cottee both departing before the 1988/89 season, and the sacking of Lyall at the end of that campaign, Ward became unsettled and ultimately clashed with new manager Lou Macari. Ward scored in a 1-1 draw at Hull on 2nd September 1989 and bagged a brace in a 2-0 triumph at Sheffield United on 14th October. Later that month, however, Ward missed the team coach travelling to Aston Villa for a League Cup third round tie and the PFA were called in to mediate. Ward went on to score in a 5-4 defeat at Blackburn on 25th November and scored his fifth goal of the season in a 2-1 defeat at Bradford on 9th December 1989 – it would be his final goal for the club. Determined to get away from Upton Park, his last appearance in a West Ham shirt came in a 1-0 defeat at Ipswich on Boxing Day 1989. After 14 goals in 209 appearances for West Ham United, Ward returned to the First Division to sign for Howard Kendall’s Manchester City in a £1m-rated swap deal that saw Ian Bishop and Trevor Morley move to east London. 11 of Ward’s 14 goals for West Ham United can be viewed in the video below.

Ward made his debut for City on 30th December 1989 in a 2-0 win over Millwall at Maine Road and scored his first goal for the club in a 2-1 victory at Aston Villa on 1st April 1990. He made it three goals in as many matches by also scoring in a 1-1 draw at Millwall the following weekend and in a 3-1 win at QPR four days after that. Ward only missed two games in 1990/91, scoring 13 goals as the Sky Blues finished fifth. His final goal for City came in a 2-2 draw at Arsenal on 17th April 1991, with his last appearance for the club coming in a 1-0 defeat at local rivals Manchester United on 4th May 1991. After 18 months at Manchester City, in which he scored 16 goals in 67 appearances, Ward moved back to his native Merseyside to sign for Everton for £1.1m – the club which had released him as a schoolboy.

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After two-and-a-half seasons at Goodison Park, Ward went on to represent Birmingham as a player-coach from 1994 to 1996, with whom he won the Football League Trophy in 1995 and was named in the Second Division PFA Team of the Year for 1994/95, before joining Huddersfield. He also played for Ayr United, Wigan, Dundee and Valur in Iceland before ending his career with spells at Altrincham and Leigh RMI.

Since retiring from playing in 1999, Ward managed Altrincham from 2000 to 2001. He became involved in the supply of cocaine in Liverpool and was arrested after 4kg of cocaine was found during a raid at a house in Merseyside in May 2005. Ward was jailed for eight years in October 2005 – he was released from HM Prison Kirkham in May 2009, having served four years in Kirkham and in HM Prison Liverpool. Now 56, Ward is a regular at events involving the Boys of ’86 and attended games at London Stadium last season.


Saturday’s referee will be Mike Dean; 2019/20 is Dean’s 20th as a Premier League referee. Since West Ham United achieved promotion back to the top flight in 2012 Dean has refereed 23 of our league matches, officiating in ten wins for the Hammers, seven draws and six defeats.

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Dean refereed our final match at the Boleyn when we famously triumphed 3-2 over Manchester United. His decision to send off Sofiane Feghouli just 15 minutes into our 2-0 defeat to the Red Devils in January 2017 was later rescinded. Dean’s two Hammers appointments last season were the goalless home draw with Chelsea last September and, most recently, our 2-0 win at Fulham in December.

The VAR Official is David Coote.

Possible line-ups

West Ham United have captain Mark Noble on the injury list, but last season’s Hammer of the Year Lukasz Fabianski is available. The Hammers have lost their four previous matches against Manchester City at London Stadium by an aggregate score of 17-1, Aaron Cresswell scoring the Irons’ goal. Indeed, City are the only visiting team to have won four times at London Stadium. The Irons are beginning the season against an established top-six side for the sixth successive year. They lost four of their previous five, with the exception being a 2-0 win at Arsenal under Slaven Bilic in 2015.

Manchester City will be without Benjamin Mendy and Leroy Sane. Pep Guardiola has a doubt over Fernandinho but Aymeric Laporte could be available. Right-back Joao Cancelo could make his debut for the Sky Blues. David Silva has scored five and assisted two goals in his six away matches against West Ham for City in all competitions, scoring in all three of the matches he’s played at London Stadium. The Sky Blues are unbeaten in their last ten opening Premier League fixtures, winning nine.

Possible West Ham United XI: Fabianski; Fredericks, Balbuena, Diop, Cresswell; Rice, Wilshere; Lanzini, Fornals, Anderson; Haller.

Possible Manchester City XI: Ederson; Cancelo, Stones, Laporte, Zinchenko; Rodri, De Bruyne, David Silva; Bernardo Silva, Jesus, Sterling.

Enjoy the game – Come On You Irons!

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There is still time to join the WHTID Fantasy League. Click here. When you’ve registered your details, follow the instructions to select your team. When you’ve selected your team, you need to join The Official WHTID League by clicking on the ‘Create and join leagues’ tab on the right side of the screen (this will only appear after you have picked your team). Then click on ‘Join a league’ and then ‘Join private league’ before typing the code kje6ia into the relevant box. You have until 7pm this evening (Friday) to register before the opening round of games. Good luck!