How I Became a Hammer
Guest Post by John Bayfield
In my much younger years during the mid/late 1960’s, the kids next door to me were all Spurs supporters. I didn’t pick any particular team to follow at the time so I went with the neighbours’ lot. Spurs were doing quite well most of the time in that era so all the talk was of Pat Jennings, Alan Gilzean, Cyril Knowles, etc. My favourite player though was Jimmy Greaves be it either watching him for Tottenham or England. So when Mr. Greaves got tangled up in the Martin Peters West Ham/Tottenham transfer situation in March 1970, my club allegiance was tested until a few weeks later, my 13 year old self changed colours to the claret and blue of West Ham United. My friends next door wondered why would I leave a club that was consistently pushing for titles and cups for a team that was always behind them in the old first division. Jimmy Greaves was the reply.
A typical goal poacher, his scoring record (at MOST of his clubs) was up there with the best. I suppose I thought he could do it for the Hammers as well. Not so.
But I was determined to keep with West Ham no matter what. As luck would have it, a kids’ team I played for at the time arranged a trip to see West Ham play Liverpool at Upton Park on March 28th 1970. Among the crowd of 38,200, we made our way to the rear of the North Bank. Being a six foot teenager had it’s advantages and I managed to watch Pat Holland score the only goal of the game in front of the South Stand past Ray Clemence in the fifth minute. From that game/day out onwards West Ham were my team, Jimmy Greaves or not.
The team that day was; Peter Grotier, Bobby Moore, Alan Stephenson, Bobby Howe, Billy Bonds, Frank Lampard, Peter Bennett, Peter Eustace, Pat Holland, Jimmy Greaves and Geoff Hurst.
Jimmy Greaves left the club the following year in 1971, not even making 18 months with us. I didn’t though and this year, March 2020 will be my 50th year supporting West Ham United.