Happy 55th Birthday Ian Bishop
Ian Bishop was born in Liverpool on 29th May 1965 and began his career at Everton, joining straight from school and making one appearance for the Toffees. A loan spell with Crewe was followed by a permanent move to Carlisle, for whom he played for four years. Bishop was signed by manager Harry Redknapp for Second Division Bournemouth in 1988 for a fee of £35,000; after scoring two goals in 54 appearances in his one and only season for the Cherries, Bishop signed for First Division Manchester City in the summer of 1989. When manager Mel Machin was sacked by chairman Peter Swales, his replacement Howard Kendall (who had sold Bishop to Carlisle when he was Everton manager) saw no place in his side for the midfielder.
Bishop joined Lou Macari’s West Ham United in December 1989 in a deal that saw Trevor Morley also move to Upton Park, with Mark Ward signing for Manchester City in part-exchange. Bishop, now 24, was valued at £650,000 in the deal. He made his debut, along with Morley, in a 1-0 defeat at Leicester on 30th December 1989 and scored his first goal for the Hammers on 4th April 1990 in a 3-1 win at West Brom, by which time Billy Bonds had taken over the managerial reigns. His first goal at Upton Park came seven days later in a 4-1 win over former club Bournemouth.
A creative midfielder easily distinguishable by his long hair, Bishop scored six goals from 49 appearances in all competitions in the 1990/91 season, captaining the Irons to promotion to the First Division and the FA Cup semi-finals having taken over the skipper’s armband from the injured Julian Dicks. His first goal of the season came in a 3-1 home win over Ipswich on 19th September 1990 and he bagged the only goal of the game in a home win over Blackburn the following month. A knee ligament injury kept him out for six weeks over Christmas but he returned with two Upton Park goals in the FA Cup, one in a 6-1 third round replay win over Aldershot and the other in a 5-0 fourth round replay victory over Luton, both in January 1991. He scored from the spot in a 1-1 Good Friday draw at Oldham on 29th March 1991 before notching the winner with a stunning strike from distance in a 1-0 triumph at Port Vale eight days later. ‘Bish’ also won an England ‘B’ cap against Switzerland at Walsall at the end of that campaign.
It was around this time that ‘Bish’ played a particularly key role in my own history as a West Ham supporter. My Dad has been an ardent Hammer since the early 1960s but I had shown little interest in football until a chance moment in the summer of 1991, when I was eight years old. Gillingham is my local team and, whilst we were out driving one late afternoon, my Dad pulled up next to a car with huge logos on the side – this was in the days when footballers had their cars sponsored with their names often emblazoned across the vehicle (I remember giant goalkeeper Ludek Miklosko driving a tiny sponsored Skoda!). The car we pulled up next to contained Ian Bishop and Trevor Morley, who were lost on the way to Priestfield for a friendly against the Gills. My Dad gave them directions and, starstruck, I suggested we go to the game. Bishop and Morley also sent signed photographs to say thanks for the directions which took pride of place on my bedroom wall throughout my childhood! We lost that friendly 4-1 but, interest piqued, my first visit to the Boleyn Ground followed a matter of weeks later against Manchester City in September 1991. ‘Bish’ remained one of my favourite Hammers throughout his time at the club and was certainly a player who I modelled my own style of play on as a youngster.
Bishop scored two goals from 51 appearances in 1991/92 as the Hammers suffered an immediate relegation; he scored in a 2-1 Full Members Cup semi-final defeat at Southampton on 7th January 1992 and was also on the scoresheet in a 4-0 home win over Norwich on 11th April 1992. A 1-0 win at Luton on 18th January 1992 even saw Bishop manfully play on with broken ribs after both substitutes had already been used.
Redknapp, his former manager at Bournemouth, joined the club in the summer of 1992 as assistant to Bonds but Bishop experienced a more difficult season in 1992/93 as Peter Butler and Martin Allen claimed the central midfield spots for most of the campaign. Along with several other players, he was placed on the transfer list in December 1992 as the club tried to cut its wage bill in the wake of the ill-fated Bond scheme. Having maintained that he had no wish to leave, the likeable Scouser’s loyalty was rewarded when he returned to the side as West Ham gained promotion, this time to the Premier League. Bishop made 24 appearances in 1992/93; he only scored one goal in the campaign but it was a critical strike in the run-in, a late winner in a 2-1 triumph at Birmingham on 3rd April 1993.
Having been on the brink of joining Southampton, West Ham reacted by signing Bishop to a new three-year contract in September 1993. The Hammers would finish 13th in their first Premier League season and reached the quarter-finals of the FA Cup. Bishop – back to his stylish and graceful best – scored twice in 45 games, both in 3-2 away defeats in March 1994, at Luton (in the aforementioned FA Cup quarter-final) and Sheffield United.
With Redknapp taking over as manager in the summer of 1994, Bishop made 36 appearances in 1994/95, scoring once in a 3-1 home win over Nottingham Forest on New Year’s Eve 1994. Two goals in 41 appearances followed in 1995/96 as the Hammers made the top ten – Bishop scored both his goals in 3-0 wins, against Bristol Rovers at home in the League Cup second round second leg in October 1995, and at Bolton the following month. ‘Bish’ made 36 appearances in 1996/97, scoring his final goal for the club in a 1-1 home draw with Derby on 23rd November 1996.
The arrivals in 1997 of Steve Lomas and Eyal Berkovic resulted in reduced game time for Bishop and he played only four games in 1997/98. His final appearance in claret and blue was on 14th March 1998 in a 2-1 home win over Chelsea. In total, Bishop scored 17 goals in 304 appearances for West Ham United before returning to Manchester City at the age of 32 after just over eight years in east London. My video below contains 16 of Bishop’s 17 goals for the Hammers.
After three years back at City, he went on to play for Miami Fusion, Barry Town, Rochdale, Radcliffe Borough and New Orleans Shell Shockers. 55 today, Bishop currently lives in Florida and has served as the Technical Director for Evergreen FC, in Leesburg, Virginia.