Dan Coker's Match Preview

Blast from the past

Today’s blast from the past features a 1-0 victory at the Goldstone Ground, West Ham United’s first ever win away to tomorrow’s opponents, Brighton. It arrived nearly 106 years ago, on the 13th December 1913 in front of 6,000 spectators. H. H. Asquith was Prime Minister and, the day before, the stolen Mona Lisa was recovered in Florence after Vincenzo Perugia was arrested while trying to sell it. Music hall singer Alec Hurley had died the previous week – Hurley was the second husband of music hall singer and comedienne Marie Lloyd, who was best known for her performances of ‘My Old Man (Said Follow The Van)’.

22-year-old Lincolnshire-born forward Dick Leafe (pictured), formerly of Boston Town, Grimsby and Sheffield United, scored the only goal of the game as the Hammers ran out 1-0 winners – it was Leafe’s tenth goal in 15 games since making his debut three months earlier. When Leafe retired from playing in 1922, having scored 44 goals in 106 appearances for West Ham United, he took on the job of assistant secretary at the club until the management was forced to reduce the staff at the outbreak of World War Two.

Syd King’s Hammers ended the 1913/14 season sixth in the Southern League First Division; Leafe finished the season as the club’s top scorer with 21 goals in 37 matches. Brighton were to finish seventh. Swindon won the Southern League First Division, Blackburn won the league title and Burnley won the FA Cup.

West Ham United: Tommy Lonsdale, Tom Brandon, George Irvine, Tommy Randall, Bill Askew, Dan Woodards, Herbert Ashton, Syd Puddefoot, Bertie Denyer, Dick Leafe, George Hilsdon.

Club Connections

Players who have appeared for both clubs include:

Defenders: Len Young, Dennis Burnett, Mauricio Taricco, Tommy McAteer, Matthew Upson, Keith McPherson, William Kelly and Wayne Bridge.

Midfielders: Sebastien Carole, Bertie Lutton, John Payne, George Parris and Tony Stokes.

Strikers: Brian Dear, Sam Baldock, Tommy Dixon, Justin Fashanu, Greg Campbell, Paul Kitson, Sam Jennings, Sam Small, Herbert Lyon, Bobby Zamora, Dave Sexton and Mike Small.

In addition, Alan Curbishley played for both clubs and managed West Ham. Ex-Hammers Archie Macaulay, Chris Hughton and Liam Brady have managed Brighton.

This week’s focus though is on a goalkeeper who was with the Hammers either side of the Second World War before ending his playing career with the Seagulls. Harry Medhurst was born in Byfleet, Surrey on 5th February 1916 and started his career at Woking. At the age of 20, he agreed to turn professional by moving to Charlie Paynter’s Second Division West Ham United in 1936. Medhurst had to wait two years to make his Hammers debut, finally appearing between the posts in a 1-0 win over Fulham at Upton Park on Christmas Eve 1938. He took over from established custodian Herman Conway for all but one of the remaining 27 matches of the 1938/39 campaign, which saw the Irons finish 11th. Medhurst kept nine clean sheets in his 26 appearances during his first season of competitive football in east London – he is pictured below, claiming the ball in a 3-3 FA Cup fourth round draw with Tottenham at the Boleyn Ground on 21st January 1939, a match played in front of an official attendance of 42,716.

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Medhurst played in the first three games of the 1939/40 season before the Football League was suspended due to the outbreak of World War Two. Medhurst rose to the rank of Sergeant PTI (Physical Training Instructor) in the Army, having served with the Essex and Royal Artillery from 1939 to 1946. The regiment was a volunteer air defence unit of Britain’s Territorial Army – during the war, it defended the approaches to London in the Blitz and Operation Diver (the codename for countermeasures against the V-1 flying bomb campaign launched by the Luftwaffe in 1944, ‘Diver’ being the codename for the V-1 itself) before becoming a garrison unit in the liberation of Norway.

Medhurst played 134 matches for West Ham during hostilities, in the War League South, War League South Cup, London League, London War Cup and the Football League War Cup. The Hammers would indeed win the Football League War Cup in 1940, with Medhurst keeping a clean sheet in a 2-0 win at Chelsea in the second leg of the first round to see the side safely through to the next round against Leicester. Wartime service requirements restricted Medhurst to just this one outing in the competition, with Conway keeping goal as the Irons defeated the Foxes, Huddersfield, Birmingham and Fulham en route to a Wembley Final victory over Blackburn. Paynter successfully lobbied for Medhurst and Norman Corbett, who arrived at Wembley in his soldier’s uniform in time to take part in the post-match celebrations, to receive winners’ medals for their contributions to the cup run. Medhurst also guested for Sheffield Wednesday while based in Yorkshire during the conflict.

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Medhurst stayed with the Second Division Hammers when the Football League resumed in 1946/47, and played the first three games of that season, his final outing for West Ham coming in a 2-0 home defeat to Leicester on 7th September 1946. The presence of George Taylor and Ernie Gregory in the Hammers goalkeeping ranks led to the 30-year-old Medhurst being allowed to depart for First Division Chelsea in December 1946 in exchange for England international centre-forward Joe Payne (Payne still holds the Football League record for the most goals scored in one game, bagging ten in a 12-0 win for Luton over Bristol Rovers in a Third Division South match in April 1936). Medhurst had made 170 appearances for the Irons, although only 27 were in official Football League matches, with a further nine in the FA Cup.

Medhurst made 157 appearances for Chelsea during his six years in west London before joining Brighton in November 1952. He made 12 appearances for the Seagulls, helping them to a seventh-placed finish in the Third Division South in 1952/53 before retiring from playing at the end of that season, aged 37. Medhurst was also a keen cricketer, playing as a right-handed batsman for Cambridgeshire in the Minor Counties Championship from 1950 until 1953.

Medhurst returned to Stamford Bridge fulfilling various roles as a trainer, head first-team coach and physiotherapist until his retirement in 1975. Chelsea awarded him a Testimonial match against West Ham the following year. Harry’s assistant physio in the 1960s and ‘70s had been his son, Norman, who went on to work with England at European Championships and World Cups, including Italia ’90. Harry Medhurst died in Woking on 9th April 1984, at the age of 68. His son, Norman, passed away in June 2017.

Referee

The referee on Saturday will be 40-year-old Anthony Taylor – his most recent Irons appointment was for our 1-0 win at Tottenham in April. He also refereed our 4-2 FA Cup fourth round defeat at Wimbledon in January last season, as well as our 3-2 home win over Crystal Palace in December and our 4-0 opening-day defeat at Liverpool last August.

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Controversy and incident are never far away when the Cheshire-based official is the referee for a West Ham United match. Taylor was in charge for our 2-1 opening-day defeat at Chelsea in August 2016, awarding the home side a penalty and later controversially failing to issue a second yellow card to Diego Costa for an awful lunge at Adrian – Costa remained on the pitch to score the 89th-minute winner. Taylor also awarded a controversial and ultimately match-winning penalty to Liverpool at Upton Park in April 2014, while there was also controversy surrounding Guy Demel’s equaliser for West Ham in that game. Taylor is also the referee who had not one, but two red cards rescinded from the same game after he had sent off Carlton Cole and Darron Gibson in the Hammers’ 2-1 home defeat to Everton in December 2012. He sent off the home side’s Kevin Mirallas against the Hammers at Goodison Park in March 2016 and awarded the Toffees a penalty which Romelu Lukaku saw saved by Adrian.

Possible line-ups

Brighton are likely to be without right-back Ezequiel Schelotto, midfielder Yves Bissouma and winger Jose Izquierdo – alongside Glenn Murray, Izquierdo has often been the scourge of West Ham United in recent seasons. The Seagulls have won three and drawn one of the last four meetings between the two sides.

West Ham United are without the injured Mark Noble. Jack Wilshere should be available but Felipe Anderson and Sebastien Haller are doubts.

Possible Brighton XI: Ryan; Burn, Duffy, Dunk; Montoya, Stephens, Propper, March; Gross, Locadia; Maupay.

Possible West Ham United XI: Fabianski; Fredericks, Balbuena, Diop, Masuaku; Rice; Antonio, Wilshere, Snodgrass, Lanzini; Haller.

Enjoy the game – Up The Hammers!

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