Dan Coker's Match Preview

Blast from the past

14th October 1989: Jive Bunny were number one with ‘That’s What I Like’; Oliver and Company (an animated Disney film based on Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist) topped the UK box office; and boxer Anthony Joshua was born the following day. Monty Python star Graham Chapman had died ten days previously. Meanwhile, West Ham United took on Sheffield United at Bramall Lane in front of 20,822.

Lou Macari’s Hammers went into the game on the back of two successive home league defeats, with 3-2 and 1-0 reverses against West Brom and Leeds either side of a 1-1 League Cup second round second leg draw with Birmingham, also at the Boleyn Ground. Dave Bassett’s Blades, meanwhile, went into this encounter sitting pretty at the top of the Second Division table as they welcomed their newly-relegated visitors.

West Ham had Gary Strodder back in the centre of defence, making his first appearance for six months and replacing the injured Tony Gale. The Hammers were awarded a penalty in the 33rd minute when Mark Ward’s chipped pass released Stuart Slater, who was brought down by Blades goalkeeper Simon Tracey – the spot-kick, however, was thundered against the crossbar by Hammers skipper Julian Dicks. The Irons did take the lead six minutes later though – excellent work down the left by Kevin Keen was rewarded when his cut-back was crashed into the net by the left foot of Ward.

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The Irons doubled their lead with 20 minutes remaining – Keen was again involved, sending a pass down the middle for Eamon Dolan to advance into the hosts’ penalty area where he was brought down by Tracey. Despite Dicks still being on the pitch, Ward assumed penalty duties and sent his strike straight down the middle and into the net. The action from this match can be viewed in my video below.

The Hammers would finish the 1989/90 Second Division season in seventh place, with Sheffield United being promoted in second position. Leeds topped the Second Division, Liverpool won the title and Manchester United won the FA Cup. Trevor Morley, signed along with Ian Bishop in exchange for Ward at Christmas 1989, was voted in third place of the Hammer of the Year running, with Slater runner-up and captain Dicks claiming the award for the first time. Dicks was also the club’s top scorer for this season, with 14 goals in 52 games.

West Ham United: Phil Parkes, Steve Potts, Alvin Martin, Colin Foster, Gary Strodder, Julian Dicks, George Parris, Kevin Keen, Mark Ward, Stuart Slater, Eamonn Dolan.

Club Connections

West Ham United and Sheffield United have shared a number of personnel over the years. Ravel Morrison could face his former club, while a run-through of others who have represented both clubs includes:

Goalkeepers: Ted Hufton, Tom McAlister, Bill Biggar, Richard Wright and Mervyn Day.

Defenders: Jon Harley, Matthew Kilgallon, David Unsworth, Jimmy Holmes, Wayne Quinn, Simon Webster and Fred Milnes.

Midfielders: Kyel Reid, George Ratcliffe, Joe Cockroft, Franz Carr, Herbert Winterhalder, Lou Raisbeck, and Jim Simmons.

Strikers: Billy Barnes, Henri Camara, David Kelly, Brian Deane, Peter Kyle, Dick Leafe and Kenny McKay.

Martin Peters played for West Ham and Sheffield United; he also managed the Blades.

This week’s focus though is on a player who had two spells at Upton Park. Don Hutchison was born in Gateshead on 9th May 1971 – he first caught the eye while playing for Paul Gascoigne’s former club, Redheugh Boys, but started his professional career at Hartlepool. The gangling ‘Hutch’ was used either as a striker or central defender before settling into an attacking midfield role. He played his last game for the club in November 1990 before signing for Liverpool after his talents were quickly spotted by bigger clubs. After almost four years at Anfield, and some controversial off-field antics which earned him a somewhat dubious reputation early on his career, Hutchison joined Harry Redknapp’s Hammers in a club-record £1.5m deal in August 1994.

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The 23-year-old Hutchison converted a penalty on his debut in a 3-1 defeat to Newcastle, the club he supported as a boy, at the Boleyn on 31st August 1994 and scored in successive home games in October, a 2-0 League Cup second round second leg win over Walsall and the only goal in a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace. He also scored the winner in a 1-0 League Cup third round win against Chelsea on 26th October 1994. Disciplinary and injury issues were never far away in Hutchison’s early days in east London though, and he was sent off after receiving two yellow cards in the first half of a home game against Leicester on 5th November – the Hammers’ ten men went on to win the match 1-0 but Hutchison wouldn’t return to the side until January 1995. He scored in a 2-1 home defeat to Chelsea the following month and bagged the only goal of the game in a 1-0 win at Arsenal on 5th March 1995. He also scored in a 1-1 draw at Southampton ten days later and was on the scoresheet again three days after that in a 2-0 win at Aston Villa.

With the Hammers in a relegation battle, ‘Deadly Don’ scored in a 2-0 home win over eventual champions Blackburn on 30th April 1995 and bagged a brace against former club Liverpool in a 3-0 win at Upton Park on 10th May, a victory which secured the club’s survival in the Premier League. Hutchison scored a thumping free-kick in a 1-1 home draw with Tottenham at the start of the 1995/96 season, on 30th August 1995, and also scored in a 3-1 home defeat to Chelsea on 11th September 1995. His final game of his first spell in claret and blue came in a 2-1 defeat at Manchester City on New Year’s Day 1996 – he had scored 13 goals in 39 appearances. He moved to First Division Sheffield United later that month for £1.2m.

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Hutchison made his Sheffield United debut in a 1-1 draw at Tranmere on 13th January 1996. He scored two goals in 19 matches before the end of the season and scored three goals in 41 matches in 1996/97 – the first in a 2-0 win at Oldham on 7th September 1996 and the other two in successive games in November 1996, a 4-2 win at Grimsby and 2-1 victory at West Brom. The Blades reached the Play-Off Final under Howard Kendall at the end of the 1996/97 season but were defeated by Crystal Palace. Hutchison even went in goal for the last half-hour of a 2-2 draw at Ipswich in November 1997, by which time Kendall had returned to Everton and Nigel Spackman had taken over as Blades boss. Hutchison scored his last goal for the Blades in a 1-0 home win over Ipswich in the FA Cup fourth round on 3rd February 1998 and played his last game for the club in the fifth round of the competition, in a 1-0 win over Reading on 13th February 1998. He had scored six goals in 91 appearances for Sheffield United.

Hutchison returned to the Premier League in February 1998, teaming up again with Kendall at Everton and joining a group of players to have played for both Merseyside clubs. He moved on to Sunderland in the summer of 2000 and returned to West Ham in August 2001, again setting a club-record fee, this time of £5m. By now, Glenn Roeder was Hammers manager and Hutchison was an international player for Scotland, having made his debut in 1999 – he would win 26 caps for Scotland, scoring six goals, including one against England at Wembley in a Euro 2000 Play-Off.

The 30-year-old ‘Hutch’ made his second debut for the Hammers in a goalless draw at Derby on 8th September 2001 and scored in a 3-0 home win over Newcastle on 23rd September 2001, the same side he’d scored his first ever Hammers goal against seven years earlier. Hutchison suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury in February 2002 which would keep him out for ten months. The midfielder’s ten appearances in 2002/03 all came as a substitute and he was unable to prevent the Irons’ relegation to the First Division at the end of the campaign.

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Hutchison scored a late winner under caretaker manager Trevor Brooking in a 1-0 win at Derby on 4th October 2003 and preserved Brooking’s unbeaten home record in his last match as manager by bagging a late equaliser in a 2-2 draw with Burnley at Upton Park on 18th October 2003. His final goals for the Hammers came on 1st May 2004, scoring twice in a 4-0 home win over Watford under Alan Pardew. Hutchison’s last appearance for West Ham came in a 1-0 home defeat to Brighton on 13th November 2004 and he left the club at the end of the 2004/05 promotion campaign after his contract expired, signing for Millwall. He had made 71 appearances in his second spell, scoring five goals – this took his Hammers totals across both his spells to 18 goals in 110 appearances.

Hutchison moved to Coventry in January 2006 before joining Luton in the summer of 2007. He was released at the end of the 2007/08 season and announced his retirement. Now 48, Hutchison now works in the media.


The referee on Friday will be Michael Oliver. He has refereed 21 of our matches, officiating in five wins for the Hammers, five draws and 11 defeats. Oliver has refereed the Irons twice this season, in our 2-1 home defeat to Crystal Palace in October, when he awarded the visitors a match-levelling penalty and, most recently, for our 3-2 home defeat to Tottenham in November.

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Oliver also refereed our 1-1 draw at Leicester in October 2018, when he sent off Mark Noble. His only previous red card issued to a West Ham player came six seasons ago, when he sent off Kevin Nolan in our 4-1 defeat to Liverpool at Anfield in December 2013. Oliver also refereed our 3-1 home win over Manchester United last season.

Possible line-ups

Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder has doubts over both his back-up goalkeepers, Michael Verrips and Simon Moore – the latter is expected to be fit enough to take a place on the bench. Right wing-back George Baldock is the younger brother of former Hammers striker Sam Baldock. Ex-Hammer Ravel Morrison is unlikely to start against his former club but could feature from the bench. Sheffield United have been victorious in both of their previous Premier League home games against West Ham – 3-2 in March 1994 and 3-0 in April 2007. The Blades could fail to score in three successive league fixtures for the first time since September 2013.

For West Ham United, Aaron Cresswell and Mark Noble are available but David Martin, Ryan Fredericks, Jack Wilshere, Michail Antonio and Andriy Yarmolenko are all out. Noble is just two Premier League goals away from equalling Paolo Di Canio’s record of 47 for the club.

Possible Sheffield United XI: Henderson; O’Connell, Basham, Egan; Baldock, Fleck, Lundstram, Norwood, Stevens; McBurnie, McGoldrick.

Possible West Ham United XI: Fabianski; Zabaleta, Diop, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Rice, Noble; Snodgrass, Anderson, Fornals; Haller.

Enjoy the game – Come On You Irons!