Dan Coker's Match Preview

Blast from the past

Saturday 15th August 2009 – the opening day of the 2009/10 Premier League season, Black Eyed Peas were number one with ‘I Gotta Feeling’, and Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler topped the UK box office in The Ugly Truth. West Ham United recorded an opening-day 2-0 victory over tonight’s opponents Wolverhampton Wanderers in front of 28,674 at Molineux.

Future Hammer Matt Jarvis lined up for Wolves, while Carlton Cole returned to his former club. West Ham gave a debut to Luis Jimenez, who went on to make 12 appearances for the club, scoring once. Sylvan Ebanks-Blake had an early opening in the game for the newly-promoted hosts but headed tamely over. His side were punished in the 22nd minute when Cole, out on the left, played a pass to the unmarked Mark Noble in a central position just outside the box, and the 22-year-old curled a beautiful right-foot shot past ‘keeper Wayne Hennessey (Nobes is pictured below, celebrating his goal with James Collins). The Hammers almost doubled their advantage before half-time when Cole sprang the offside trap and was only denied by a good Hennessey block, with Jody Craddock clearing a goal-bound follow-up effort from Kieron Dyer off the line.

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West Ham’s England goalkeeper Robert Green had to be alert to tip over a looping effort from Wolves’ Serbian debutant Nenad Milijas which had taken a tricky deflection off Julien Faubert, before Kevin Foley cleared a Jack Collison effort off the line at the other end as the game continued at a relentless pace. The Irons finally put the game beyond Wolves’ grasp with 21 minutes remaining when captain Matthew Upson converted a simple header from a Noble corner. Frank Nouble made his Hammers debut as a last-minute substitute – he would go on to make 19 appearances in claret and blue, scoring once. The action from this match can be viewed on the WHTID social media pages.

By the end of the 2009/10 season, Chelsea had won a Premier League and FA Cup Double. Gianfranco Zola’s West Ham United claimed 17th place in the top flight, while Mick McCarthy’s Wolves finished 15th. Scott Parker was voted Hammer of the Year, with Alessandro Diamanti runner-up. Cole was the Irons’ top goalscorer that season with ten goals from 32 matches.

Wolverhampton Wanderers: Wayne Hennessey, Kevin Foley (Sam Vokes), Jody Craddock, Michael Mancienne (Richard Stearman), Stephen Ward, Greg Halford, Karl Henry, Nenad Milijas (David Edwards), Matt Jarvis, Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, Andy Keogh.

West Ham United: Robert Green, Julien Faubert, James Collins, Matthew Upson, Herita Ilunga (Jonathan Spector), Jack Collison, Mark Noble, Scott Parker, Kieron Dyer (Junior Stanislas), Carlton Cole (Frank Nouble), Luis Jimenez.

Club Connections

West Ham United and Wolverhampton Wanderers have shared a number of players over the years. Those who have appeared for both clubs include:

Goalkeepers: Noel Dwyer, Jack Weare.

Defenders: Joe Gallagher, George Eccles, Jack Dowen, Gary Breen, Tommy Dunn.

Midfielders: Stan Burton, Bertie Lutton, Dick Richards, Kevin Keen, Ted Anderson, Paul Ince, Robbie Slater, Nigel Quashie, Matt Jarvis, Kyel Reid, Harry Hooper, Shaun Newton.

Strikers: Henri Camara, Jeremie Aliadiere, Robbie Keane, Frank Burrill, David Connolly, Bobby Gould, Carlton Cole, Frank Nouble, Mike Small, Tudor Martin, Bob Deacon, David Kelly, Marlon Harewood.

Today’s focus though is on a player who turned out for West Ham while on loan from Wolves. Roger Johnson was born on 28th April 1983 in Ashford, Surrey; a Chelsea season-ticket holder as a boy, he started his career with Wycombe before signing for Cardiff in the summer of 2006 for £275,000. The 6’3 centre-half was voted the club’s Player of the Year in two successive campaigns and was named in the Championship Team of the Year in 2008/09. Having scored 14 goals in 136 appearances for Cardiff, Johnson moved to Premier League Birmingham in the summer of 2009 for a fee of £5m and won the League Cup with the Blues in 2011 having knocked out West Ham in the Semi-Finals.

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Birmingham were relegated at the end of the 2010/11 season but the 28-year-old Johnson remained in the top flight, signing for Mick McCarthy’s Wolves in a deal worth just over £4m; he made his debut in a 2-1 win at Blackburn on 13th August 2011. Despite being club captain, Johnson had disciplinary issues at Molineux and the club were relegated in 2012 with Johnson subsequently placed on the transfer list and stripped of the captaincy. Stale Solbakken took over as manager and Johnson scored his first goal for the club in a 3-3 home draw with Brighton in the Championship on 10th November 2012; he netted his second and final goal for the club in a 1-1 home draw with Blackburn on 11th January 2013. Wolves suffered a second successive relegation though and new manager Kenny Jackett did not even issue Johnson with a squad number for the 2013/14 League One campaign. He joined Sheffield Wednesday on a three-month loan in September 2013 before moving to the Hammers in another temporary switch.

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With Sam Allardyce’s West Ham United 19th in the Premier League and having just been beaten 5-0 at Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup third round, the 30-year-old Johnson was brought in on loan until the end of the 2013/14 season. The Hammers were without fellow centre-halves James Tomkins, James Collins and Winston Reid at the time, while Everton’s Johnny Heitinga had rejected a move to Upton Park despite the two clubs agreeing terms. Johnson made his debut in a 6-0 League Cup Semi-Final first leg defeat at Manuel Pellegrini’s Manchester City on 8th January 2014, two days after joining the club; he also later played in the 3-0 home defeat in the second leg as the Irons were trounced 9-0 on aggregate. Johnson’s league debut came in a 2-0 win at former club Cardiff on 11th January 2014 and he made his home debut in a 3-1 loss to Newcastle the following week. After two months out of the side, Johnson returned to make two substitute appearances in 2-1 wins against Hull at home and away to Sunderland, both in late March. Nicknamed ‘The Relegator’ by skipper Mark Noble for his role in demotions at both Birmingham and Wolves, Johnson made six appearances in total for West Ham United before returning to Wolves at the end of the 2013/14 season.

Johnson’s contract at Molineux was eventually terminated by mutual consent in February 2015 – his final game for the club had been a 2-0 defeat at Brighton nearly two years earlier, on 4th May 2013 – and he joined Charlton soon after. He had made 72 appearances for Wolves, scoring twice. He moved to Indian Super League side FC Pune City in the summer of 2015 but rejoined Charlton in January 2016. Now 36, Johnson was most recently at National League side Bromley having joined the club in October 2017, five months after his second release from Charlton. He returned to Wembley for the FA Trophy Final against Brackley in the 2017/18 season, scoring a 95th-minute own goal and eventually being on the losing side in a penalty shoot-out. Johnson left the club in May this year.


The referee on Wednesday will be Andre Marriner; the 48-year-old failed to send off Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero for an elbow on Winston Reid in August 2016, with the Hammers trailing 2-1 with 14 minutes remaining. The Argentine was retrospectively charged with violent conduct and suspended for three matches, a decision which did nothing to benefit West Ham. Marriner did, however, show leniency that day towards the visitors by failing to issue Arthur Masuaku with a second yellow card on more than one occasion.

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Since we achieved promotion back to the top flight in 2012 the Birmingham-based official has been far from a good omen for West Ham – he has refereed 17 of our league matches, officiating in only three wins for the Hammers, five draws and nine defeats. His most recent match officiating the Irons was also his only game that he took charge of involving the club last season; our 4-0 home defeat to Manchester City.

Possible line-ups

Wolverhampton Wanderers defender Willy Boly is out injured, as is midfielder Morgan Gibbs-White. Centre-back Ryan Bennett is a doubt but Romain Saiss is available after suspension. Wolves are unbeaten in nine league games – the last time they went ten top-flight matches without defeat was in January 1972.

Manuel Pellegrini is without Lukasz Fabianski, Winston Reid, Jack Wilshere and Manuel Lanzini but Issa Diop returns from a ban. Michail Antonio faces a fitness test. West Ham have won just one of their last seven away league games against Wolves, drawing two and losing four. Sebastien Haller scored three goals in his first three league games this term but has scored only once in his subsequent ten appearances.

Possible Wolverhampton Wanderers XI: Patricio; Dendoncker, Coady, Saiss; Doherty, Neves, Moutinho, Otto; Traore, Jimenez, Diogo Jota.

Possible West Ham United XI: Martin; Fredericks, Balbuena, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Snodgrass, Rice, Noble, Fornals; Anderson, Antonio.

Enjoy the game – Come On You Irons!