Posts Tagged ‘West Ham’

Bilic Back at the Boleyn
Rob Shepherd charts his journey back to Upton Park

by Rob Shepherd.

Bilic the boss.

Bilic the boss.

Slaven Bilic has been West Ham’s manager in waiting not for the past few weeks but for nine years.

Not long after they had bought the club in 2006 the east London club’s previous Icelandic owners opted to sack Alan Pardew just a few months after the club had lost to Liverpool on penalties.

Bilic was in the frame but at the time he had just graduated from managing Croatia’s under-21 team to taking charge of the senior side and with a deep sense of loyalty to his country could not even be tempted to talk.

So Alan Curbishley took the reins. After his unfortunate departure Bilic was again mentioned in dispatches but the former Hammers hierarchy were seduced by the idea Gianfranco Zola could sprinkle stardust.

After David Gold and David Sullivan rescued the club from going to the wall and concluded that Zola the manager was never going to be Zola the player, Bilic was in the frame again but they opted for what they thought were the safe hands of Avram Grant.

When it came to replacing Grant after relegation, Bilic was still entrenched with the Croatia national team and also felt he needed more miles on the clock in club football before taking a big job in the Premier League or Bundesliga.

Those miles have been stacked up with a rough time at Lokomotiv Moscow and successful stint with Besiktas in Turkey.

So when he quit Besiktas last month it seemed he a was shoo-in to take over from Sam Allardyce.

Indeed there is little doubt Bilic would have been sounded-out by third parties some months ago when it was clear the Allardyce era would be over this summer.

But in football always beware the phrase ‘done deal’ and the machinations of myriads of agents trying to hustle a move or a new deal for their client.

Suddenly managers with better CV’s than Bilic’s were either available or being touted around.

Jurgen Klopp, Rafa Benitez, Frank de Boer, Marcelo Bielsa, Unai Emery… all seemed better than Bilic when it came to ‘going foreign’.

Then there were the cases for the young bright English managers such as Eddie Howe and Gary Monk. Or David Moyes. The idea of bringing Harry Redknapp back was even discussed.

The over riding factor was: Which manager would make sure the team stays in the Premier League for their move to the Olympic Stadium in 2017..?

Bilic was a big hit at West Ham

Bilic was a big hit at West Ham

For the past month or so David Sullivan has agonized with all the options and attempted to get full approval of co-owner David Gold and vice-chairman Karren Brady.

It has not been easy to task.

Benitez was the one they thought ticked most of the boxes but when Real Madrid came calling then a decision between the Bernebau and the Bolyen was an obvious one for the Spaniard.

Moyes made it clear he would carry on rebuilding his career at Real Socidead and didn’t fancy stepping into the shoes of his pal Big Sam.

Then as the process spun out there became a nagging feeling that maybe some of those on the ‘long list’, or at least their advisors, were using West Ham’s situation as a way of filling their boots with new contracts at their existing clubs.

All the while Bilic remained an option despite reservations that he had not managed a club in one of the ‘big leagues’.

Bilic could easily have taken umbridge that the club was on a recruitment carousel and jumped off.

Instead he sealed himself off holidaying with his family back near his home in Split. He refused to comment publicly or even take calls. He just viewed the situation phlegmatically.

Why wouldn’t a club making such a big decision go through their options..?

And as they did the realization set in that no one could possibly tick all the boxes and that Bilic ticked most. He also wanted the job, not just the money.

He knows the English scene, he is tactically astute if not innovative, and most of all he is a strong commanding character that gets players playing for him and the cause.

And Bilic is big on causes – as I first found out not long after Redknapp signed him from German club Karlsruhe in 1996.

Redknapp signed Bilic from German side Karlsruhe

Redknapp signed Bilic from German side Karlsruhe

I had arranged to do an interview with Bilic at West Ham’s Chadwell Heath training ground. But Bilic didn’t want to do it there. He wanted more relaxed surrounds and wanted to find out what an old fashioned ‘normal’ British pub was like.

So I took him a few miles down the road to the Moby Dick just off the A12.

I walked in and asked him what he wanted: “A pint of milk,” he replied.

“Pardon ?”

“Oh I don’t drink. I just wanted to see what a pub looks like.”

He didn’t drink but boy did he smoke back then. In the hour or so we chatted he puffed his way through half a pack of Marlboro Red!

As he did so his passion for a cause became clear as he discussed his fierce patriotism for Croatia at a time when the bitter turmoil of civil war as a consequence of the break-up of Yugoslavia was still a recent painful memory.

Bilic took his passion on to the pitch for the Hammers and a year later when Everton agreed to sign him in March (the days before the transfer window) he insisted he stay on and play for West Ham until they pulled themselves away from relegation battle.

When he moved into management with his home town club of Hadjuk Split after his career was cut short by injury there always seemed a sense of destiny that Bilic would one day return to West Ham as manager.

It has been a long time coming, and the process in recent weeks was starting to become exhausting, but in the end the Hammers have a new manager who will not only promote more expansive football but will demand the players perform with pride and passion or in other words restore the “West Ham” way.

@Shep_62

The Top Five Greatest Ever FA Cup Final Songs

by Karl Hofer.

Sadly (or thankfully, depending on how you look at it) we have no cup final songs to offend our ears this year.

It’s a sign of the decline in importance of the FA Cup in an era where Premier League and Champions League are the be-all and end-all. Not that Arsenal didn’t celebrate with gusto last May, it’s still a tremendous competition, but there was a time when the nation (and chunks of the world) held its collective breath in anticipation of the big day.

Whole towns or cities would be decked out in colourful splendour to support their side, the nations media would interview local fans and business people who would gush with pride when talking about their team, bakers would make special cakes to mark the occasion, previously unknown players would become national celebrities and so on.

And, of course, the team would bring out a single.

They would follow that up with a cringe-worthy appearance on Top of the Pops and sometimes those songs would be cherished by fans for generations to come – and some would not.

So in the week of the cup final BOBBY has put together the top five greatest ever FA Cup final songs for your delectation. And before anyone pipes up with ‘What about ‘Blue is the Colour’, why isn’t that on the list?’ it is because that was recorded for the 1972 League Cup final v Stoke City – and not the 1970 FA Cup final v Leeds as many people believe. So there.

5. Arsenal – ‘Good Old Arsenal’ (1971)

The start of the seventies brought plenty of cheer for Arsenal, who scooped the league and cup Double in 1971 and were widely considered the best team in the land.

To celebrate, they released this catchy hit called ‘Good Old Arsenal’ which was more of a chant along to the tune of Rule Britannia.

It reached number 16 in the charts and there’s some great players and club legends singing along, including Bob Wilson, George Graham, Frank McLintock and Charlie George – and just look at Charlie’s face in this photo taken with Pan’s People, the boy looks delighted to be there!

GoodOldArsenal

The uncomfortable union between pop and football summed up in one photo.

4. West Ham United – ‘I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles’ (1975)

Bellowed from the stands at the Boleyn ground since the 1920s (but sadly for only 12 months more), the West Ham club anthem was given a seventies makeover when John Lyall’s Hammers reached the 1975 FA Cup final, in which they beat their Bobby Moore led London rivals Fulham 2-0.

The hit wasn’t all that successful, however, charting at 31. It did beat the Cockney Rejects punk version to mark their cup final appearance five years later – that only reached 35.

BlowingBubbles

Trevor Brooking of West Ham and Alan Mullery of Fulham on the old Joanna with some nice support before the ’75 Cup final.

3.  Arsenal – ‘The Hot Stuff’ (1998)

Donna Summer’s 1979 hit ‘Hot Stuff’ is regarded as a true classic. So the Arsenal took that successful platform and built on it (badly) by slipping in mentions of players in their squad.

That’s what Arsenal did to mark their march for the Double in 1998 and it made number nine on the countdown. Featuring lines like “You’re telling us we’re boring, We’ll just keep on scoring now, Hot Stuff” it reaffirmed the belief that football and music rarely mix well…

ArsenalHotStuff

Even Ian Wright struggles to look cool in that garb!

2.  Liverpool – ‘The Anfield Rap’ (1988)

This memorable collaboration between Liverpool midfielder Craig Johnston and rapper Derek B – and also featuring the rap skills of John Barnes – was a parody of a number of hip hop tracks of the time and peaked in the charts at number three.

Liverpool had a dressing-room full of real characters at the time, and they all seemed to revel in recording this track which featured some great lines such as: “Steve McMahon sure can rap, it’s about time he had an England cap.”

Anfield Rap

John Barnes’ other rap success

1. Tottenham – ‘Ossie’s Dream’ (1981)

The Cockney Lennon & McCartney – or Chas & Dave as they’re also known – teamed up with their beloved team four times between 1981 and 1991.

Their (pre-Falklands) effort in ’81 was written in honour of the Argentine midfielder who, despite his all-trembly knees, was “gonna play a blinder, in the Cup for Totting-ham”.

Of course mocking foreigner’s accents is neither big nor clever. But in 1981 is wasn’t just accepted, most prime time TV seemed to revole around it!

Keep an eye out for a very young Chris Hughton in the footage below sporting an afro that’s almost as impressive as Micky Hazard’s!

@KGHof

Greavesie Sets The Record Straight He Tells BOBBY Why He Doesn’t Watch His Old Clubs Play

Jimmy-Greavesby Rob Shepherd.

Jimmy Greaves  has hit back at a report that he has snubbed former club Tottenham for 45 years since he left Spurs.

It was stated in an article in the Daily Telegraph that Greaves has never been back to watch a game at White Hart Lane since he moved to West Ham in 1970 with Martin Peters plus £200,000 going the other way.

But Greaves said: “As a Sun reporter then a TV reporter I went there loads of times. Really loads. I launched my autobiography there and I attended the funerals of both Bill Nicholson and Bobby Smith.

“But I don’t go to games. I never have. It’s not just Spurs. I don’t go to any of my other clubs either.”

And Greaves, who turned 75 last week, insists he did not turn down an invitation from Tottenham to be a guest of honour at Wembley for the Capital One Cup final against Chelsea, the club where he started his career.

“There was no invitation forthcoming but I wouldn’t have gone if they did. I’ve got a lovely giant screen TV, a lovely dog and a warm fire. That’s where I watch sport and it’s very nice. I’m not interested in driving in heavy traffic and enduring big crowds and being freezing cold. I love it on TV.”

And no doubt if he found the Spurs-Chelsea game a bit dull then Greaves will have flicked channels to watch the Six Nations crunch game between England and Ireland.

During a speech he made at a dinner recently Greaves made it clear he tires of the antics of players and has grown to prefer rugby union.

But Greaves DOES still feel raw about how his departure from Spurs was handled.

And that he was not told by the club that Manchester City and Derby were interested in him at the time – both clubs he would have preferred to the Hammers where he did not have a happy time, a period which really triggered his lurch into  heavy alcoholism. Greaves though has not had a drink since 1978.

In his autobiography Greaves said: “I was taken aback and I was angry. I was so annoyed with Bill for wantingGreavesTHFC to bring my Spurs career to an end, I simply said, ‘Okay. If you don’t want me at Spurs, I’ll go’. I didn’t have to go, not if I didn’t want to. I still had eighteen months of a contract to run. I could have told Bill I was staying at Spurs and there was little he could have done about it. But I was so peeved that he appeared so willing to get rid of me, I went along with it. What’s the point of staying at a club that doesn’t want you”

“Looking back on that day, I wish I had told Bill I wasn’t interested in moving.”

Greaves scored 268 goals in 381 games for Tottenham over nine seasons after joining the club for a record £99,999 from AC Milan in 1961. He had started his career at Chelsea, where he netted 132 times in 169 games. Greaves is fourth in the list of all-time leading England scorers, having scored 44 goals in 57 appearances.

@iLshep

LVG Bailed Out By Blind!
United Look Lost Tactically As Rooney is Wasted Out Wide

by Rob Shepherd.

louis-van-gaal

Louis van Gaal was left scratching his head at Upton Park

Louis van Gaal had the look of the emperor with new clothes as West Ham outplayed, outfought and out-thought Manchester United – until, that was, the final minutes when he was bailed out by Daley Blind.

United had been bereft of any attacking ideas despite what had seemed, on the face of it, fielding a team of offensive possibilities. At times it was a bit like the blind leading blind until Blind’s intervention.

But just when it seemed the Hammers had done enough to earn a deserved victory – they had indeed wasted a couple of late chances to seal it – Blind picked up the pieces of a half-cleared free-kick and did what none of the United forwards had managed all afternoon by producing an emphatic finish.

On the evidence of this though Van Gaal needs to get back to his whiteboard, and whatever other tools he uses, and find a formation that works. More to the point, one that doesn’t waste Wayne Rooney.

A couple of weeks ago, Van Gaal declared that playing 4-4-2 gave him a twitchy ‘a***’, saying that he felt more secure with a 3-5-2 or a variant of it. It was certainly a squeaky-bum afternoon for the United manager.

It was a turn-up for the books when Van Gaal fielded an unchanged team from their previous Premier League match; last week’s 3-1 home win over Leicester.

And it was once again 4-4-2 with a twist… the midfield was set out in a diamond shape. In that respect, you could describe the formation as 4-1-2-1-2.

Blind operated as the anchor man ahead of a back four, Rooney played towards the right, Adnan Januzaj to the left, with Angel di Maria roaming in the hole behind two front-runners Robin van Persie and Radamel Falcao.

It is seen as a way of of getting all of United’s best attackers in the same team but as the game started to take shape it didn’t work that way, and Rooney looked lost most of the time.

The England captain found himself shuttling up and down, somewhere between right-midfield and and inside-right, and often embroiled in a battle with West Ham skipper Kevin Nolan.

If Rooney is deployed in a deeper role surely it should be more advanced, in the hole. Indeed it wasn’t long before it appeared United would have been better served had Rooney and Di Maria swapped roles. After all, Di Maria is naturally a wide player who thrives when he has space ahead of him to exploit his pace and trickery running at defenders.

As it was, the Argentine found it hard to find space, constantly crowded out by West Ham’s busy midfield and a direct pathway to Van Persie and Falcao was usually blocked by Alex Song who played the holding role for the Hammers. It meant United’s two strikers were starved of service not least because of a lack of width.

Rooney was reluctant to go wide, and his passing was too often square and safe. Januzaj just couldn’t get into the game.

Rooney looked lost played out wide

Rooney looked lost played out wide

Nor did the front two do much to help themselves. Both Van Persie and and Falcao were too static, making it easy for James Tomkins and make-shift centre-back Cheikhou Kouyate to keep them under wraps.

What, on paper, seemed to be a team full of attacking possibilities could not even get close to opening up the West Ham defence in the first half; keeper Adrian only having to make one save of note from a speculative Di Maria shot.

In contrast, West Ham’s similar diamond system was more fluid and full of possibilities. That was because West Ham’s two strikers Enner Valencia and Diafra Sakho offered much more movement, as did Stewart Downing who operated as the tip of the diamond

While Di Maria was bogged down in the middle, Downing roamed around with menace and flitted from wing to wing.

Injury to Andy Carroll meant that Valencia and Sakho started together for the first time since the beginning of the season when Carroll wasn’t fit. Their pace, energy and finishing was one of the main reasons the Hammers got off to such a good start.

And there was a good case to argue that Carroll’s absence was a blessing of sorts. Without the long high-ball option into the big centre-forward, West Ham played a much slicker passing game, and the two strikers were a constant threat.

Kouyate-goal

Kouyate fired West Ham ahead

While United’s defence looks far more sound and settled than it was at the start of the campaign – ironically with a back four that Van Gaal does not favour – there were still several alarms in the first half; West Ham just lacked a precise final ball or finish.

But that changed just four minutes after the break. Indecision in United’s defence from a set-piece, and weak work by Rooney, allowed Cheikhou Kouyate to bring the ball down from a free-kick, before swivelling to lash home. It was an exciting finish, but it was poor defending.

United responded by upping their tempo – but only a bit. It was still too predictable, lacking in pace and nous. And Van Gaal offered nothing in any inspiration from the sidelines. He just sat in his seat on the bench and stared blankly. His only idea to change things was to take off Januzaj and bring on Marouane Fellaini.

Van Gaal claimed the introduction of Fellaini was a ‘plan B’ but all it amounted to was United hitting more long balls. West Ham manager Sam Allardyce couldn’t resist smirking at the irony of that .

In the end the only way he could see United getting back into the game was to go route one.

So much for the tactical genius of the supposed Dutch master.

@iLShep

 

Matt Dickinson
“Bobby Moore: The Man in Full”
Reviewed by Richard Bowdery

Published by Yellow Jersey Press

ISBN-13: 978-0224091725

 

To bastardize a Winston Churchill quote: Bobby Moore was a gentleman, wrapped in a facade inside an enigma. In other words he was a very private man.

Brian Glanville, the doyen of football writers, knew Moore for nearly 40 years, but wasn’t sure he really knew him.

BobbyMooreBookMichael Parkinson, who made a career of getting beneath the surface of his interviewees, has said: “You loved him because he was so friendly but, when you stopped to think, you realized you knew bugger all about him.”

Even in his darkest hour, stricken with terminal cancer at the young age of 51, he kept his illness secret, only making it public shortly before his death.

Credit, therefore, must go to journalist Matt Dickinson who, with this biography, has succeeded in peeling away the layers that surrounded the legend, to reveal a life that was by turns heroic and tragic.

But in dealing with the life story of Bobby Moore, who has been called the ‘patron saint of English football’, the author could have veered towards sycophancy.

Instead we are presented with an honest, even-handed assessment of Moore from what must have been hours and hours of research carried out among family, friends, other journalists and former teammates and colleagues from the world of football.

As you would expect from such a renowned wordsmith the biography he crafts is both engaging and illuminating.

For instance, were you aware that Moore suffered from testicular cancer in 1964? Or that as Southend manager he turned up to one match, drunk? Or that Elton John approached him about managing Watford?

The book highlights Moore’s highs and lows in detail, from his receiving the World Cup from Her Majesty the Queen to his being ejected from Upton Park for not having a valid ticket.

In between we read about West Ham manager Ron Greenwood’s desire to build a team around ‘Mooro’; Moore’s business ventures which involved some shady characters; the arrest in Bogota prior to the 1970 World Cup Finals for allegedly stealing a bracelet; how Moore was snubbed by club and country after his retirement; his attempts at football management; the divorce from his childhood sweetheart; and how cancer finally took the life of this icon.

BB Rating: 9/10

@RichardBowdery

 

Hammers in Dreamland!
West Ham Legend Tony Gale on Big Sam’s Great Achievement

Tony Gale in action in 1984 (Photo: David Cannon/Allsport)

Tony Gale in action in 1984 (Photo: David Cannon/Allsport)

by Rob Shepherd.

West Ham for the Champions League..? You’re ‘Aving a laugh! That’s some sort of surreal Russell Brand joke, right..?!?

But with over a third of the season gone the Hammers moved up into third place in the Premier League after their 3-1 romp over Swansea.

No doubt Hammers fan – comedian cum political agent provocateur Brand- will seize the situation and proclaim West Ham are on mission to stir revolution and break into the top four elite come the end of the season and move into Europe.

That might sound as fanciful a thinking as some of Brand’s recent rants about society. Indeed former Hammers star Tony Gale thinks so.

“Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to see West Ham kick-on from here and really set the cat amongst the pigeons. I’m sure many fans around the country would like to see a team like West Ham break into top four and get into the Champions League. It would be great for the game, but if my heart wants it my head says; no,” said Gale.

“I just think as the season wears on then teams like Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool will come and get stronger. Possibly Tottenham and Everton too. Then there are other teams who are up there like Southampton and Newcastle. And of course suddenly it doesn’t look like Chelsea will walk away with the title. That’s not just going to inspire Manchester City.”

“It’s a very big ask for West Ham. Then again, they have got where they are so far and it’s fair to say that its by this stage that the season really starts to take a proper shape. Nothing is impossible…”

Gale was an ever present when West Ham finished third in the old First Division in the 1985-86 season. The Hammers finished two points behind Everton and four off Double winners Liverpool. It is West Ham’s best ever top flight finish.

Interestingly after 15 games that season West Ham had accumulated 26 points and were in sixth place.

Thus far 15 games this season has brought one point point more; the Hammers lying third on Monday morning on 27 points, nine behind leaders Chelsea and six behind Man City.

Back then it was a 42 game season and 15 matches had been completed by early November.

By the second week of December the Hammers had raced onto 38 points from 19 games and had moved into third.

“Those are interesting stats,” admitted Gale.

“I remember back then we went on an a great run of wins just before Christmas and suddenly we found ourselves right up there.

“The confidence then kicked in and we just kept going. But because some games were postponed because of bad weather we had a pile up of fixtures during the run in and it caught up on us in the end.

“But we went very, very, very close. As well as the team are now playing I just can’t see them matching that. The fact is there is a group of teams who because of their financial power are just much stronger than the rest, more so than back then… although don’t forget the Liverpool side that season was one of their best and won the Double.

Vindicated

“Sam Allardyce understandably feels vindicated after the criticism he suffered during the last season and given all the speculation that he could be sacked shortly into this season.

“I hear him argue that nothing has changed in his approach nor the way the team play. But I have to disagree there. I think Big Sam has reacted to the feelings of the fans and what the board wanted to see on the pitch.

“There is no doubt West Ham are playing much more free flowing attacking football this season. Sam was under pressure to do that that. He has and look at the results.

“I think it’s also fair to say that those at the club responsible for the recruitment of the players during the summer need to take a lot of credit. The signings of Valancia, Sakho, Kouyate and getting Song on loan have been inspired. I have also been impressed with Cresswell. Getting Jenkinson on loan was clever.

“Yes there have been games when they’ve had to ‘dog it out’ as they did in the recent wins over Newcastle and then at West Brom. But if you are going to be up there that’s what you are going to have to do.

“I was in the Blackburn team that won the title in 1995. Kenny Dalglish’s assistant [the late] Ray Harford would tell us that even over a great season a team might only play really well over the 90 minutes for eight or so games.

“The rest of the time you would have good periods but then have to dig deep. In that respect West Ham have shown the ability to do so. Especially in the 3-1 over Swansea. It could have all gone flat when they went behind but they bounced back in style then showed character. It goes without saying it was great to see Andy Carroll not only looking to getting back to his best but also scoring goals.

Depth

Carroll

Carroll: Back from injury and scoring goals

“In that respect West Ham now have options upfront. In our season Frank McAvennie and Tony Cottee – who played virtually every game – could not stop scoring. It goes without saying when you have goals in the team you are going to have a chance against anyone. And with Carroll back West Ham have him, Valencia, Sakho and of course Nolan all of whom are scorers. That’s good strength in depth.”

Enough options and strength of depth to sneak into the top four..? Or at least equal their highest ever Premier League finish, which was fifth in 1999 under Harry Redknapp…??

Gale comments “I’ve been hearing the fans singing ‘We’re gonna win the League’. That’s all a bit tongue in cheek. As I say top four is a very tall order but maybe this season fourth place could be up for grabs, so the way the team are playing I would say it’s not impossoble but it’s a very tall order.

“To finish fifth and qualify for Europe would be fantastic. In fact, to even to be talking in these terms right now is an achievement in itself.”

Those Hammers supporters of a certain generation who had the mythical Alf Garnett as their big celebrity fan will recall one of his quips about West Ham, and not get too carried away just yet about their current position;

“They are just like these bleeding Christmas decorations… always starting to come down after Boxing Day!”

Next up for the Hammers it a trip to Sunderland followed by a home match against Leicester. Then on Boxing Day they travel to Chelsea and two days later it is at home to Arsenal.

@iLShep

November 1971: A Hat-Trick of Hat-tricks from SuperMac!

ted_macdougallNorwich

by Karl Hofer.

On November 20th 1971, Third Division side Bournemouth thrashed the Southern League’s Margate 11-0 in the First Round of the FA Cup. Bournemouth’s hero that day was Scottish forward Ted MacDougall who scored no less than nine of the Cherries’ eleven goals.

The club was still known as Bournemouth & Boscombe Athletic when MacDougall joined them in the summer of 1969 from York City for £10,000. The Cherries were relegated to Division Four despite the 21 league goals scored by ‘SuperMac’ that season, but under new manager John Bond they bounced back at the first opportunity and were doing well in the Third Division when they faced Margate in the FA Cup.

MacDougall wasted no time by scoring five goals in the first half alone. Not satisfied with that MacDougall went on to score another four after the break, despite the Margate manager asking Bond jokingly to substitute the forward at halftime.

ted_macdougallThe Cherries went on to face Walsall in the Third Round. Presumably they took note of SuperMac’s performance against Margate and decided to mark him, as he was unable to get on the score-sheet and they were eliminated 1-0.

MacDougall moved to Manchester United in September 1972 when he was signed by Frank O’Farrell for a transfer fee of £200,000, but despite scoring on his debut he was unable to settle at the club. He played for a variety of other clubs, including West Ham, Norwich and Southampton, before a second stint at Bournemouth. He also represented Scotland on seven occasions, finding the net three times. After turning out for a number of non-league sides he hung up his boots for good in 1984 and is now coaching the Atlanta Silverbacks in the United States.

His 9 goals in a game by a single player is still an FA Cup record.

@KGHof

One Bombshell After Another…
BOBBY’S Roy Dalley Gives His Take on ‘Bobby Moore: The Man in Full’

by Roy Dalley.

One suspects if you dumped a fluffy white cat onto Matt Dickinson’s lap he would pass an audition for the next James Bond movie.

He’s the journalist who emerged from the disgruntled press pack to apply the coup de grace to Glenn Hoddle’s tenure as England manager when his critique of Hoddle’s rather extreme interpretation of Karma was splashed on the front page of The Times.

As if to prove he hasn’t mellowed, Dickinson stuck the boot into Brian Clough on the Times’ sports pages last month while almost everyone else paid nothing but tribute on the 10th anniversary of his passing.

And he as good as admits his forefinger was hovering above a metaphorical big red button as he sat down to research and write Bobby Moore The Man In Full.

Dickinson writes in his Prologue: “He is held up as a man without blemish but could he really be that perfect? Could anyone? To me, the idyll seemed implausible. It wasn’t that I thought the eulogies were untrue; rather I could not believe they represented the whole truth. There is chaos and complexity in every life. Shit happens, even to saints.”

Uh oh.

Certainly it soon becomes apparent that Moore was blessed and cursed in equally monumental measures. Music folklore contains the legend of Robert Johnson, a blues guitarist and singer of modest repute, who only found his chops and success after selling his soul on a crossroads in the Mississippi Delta.

MooreBookIt’s just as preposterous, of course, to suggest Moore found his own crossroads somewhere in the Thames Delta, yet there is no doubt his rise and fall contains all the chief ingredients required of a Hollywood film script.

Moore was born into a world at war in an area a few miles east of London that was heavily bombed by the German Luftwaffe. (Talk about trying to get your retaliation in first.) He was a chubby schoolboy who suffered from taunts of ‘Fatso’ from the back of the class, and the scouting report that earned him an apprenticeship at West Ham was hardly glowing: “Whilst he would not set the world alight, this boy certainly impressed me with his tenacity and industry.”

But the planets seemed to align in Moore’s favour. First he was thrust into the orbit of one of the game’s most progressive and imaginative thinkers in senior pro Malcolm Allison. The random good fortune of geography meant he got lifts home from training from Big Mal, which doubled as confidence boosting exercises as Allison opened Moore’s eyes to new possibilities on the field of play.

That luck was multiplied when Ron Greenwood arrived as manager and effectively changed the way the game was played in England to accommodate Moore in the first-team, parachuting him in as a second central defender in an era commonly deploying only one centre-half between two full-backs.

The rest, as they say, is history… but Dickinson is quick to remind us that the brightest light produces the darkest shadow. Battles with cancer, Greenwood, the bottle, England manager Alf Ramsey, and even the Colombian Police, would follow. Then there were arson attacks on no less than three of Moore’s business premises as he tried to rebuild his life after the game he served so well effectively washed its hands of him.

Moore’s contemporaries queue up to offer their loving reminiscences and anecdotes, yet also speak of a private man seemingly cocooned by his thoughts and fears.

Perhaps Moore really was fully aware of his destiny all along?

He seemed lost in his thoughts on the couple of occasions I encountered the great man. The first time was after a midweek match at Brentford sometime in the very late 70’s or early 80’s, and although his star was inexplicably on the wane it felt incongrous to see him standing alone at the rear of the main stand, staring at nothing in particular.

Coincidentally I was with Rob Shepherd, founder of Bobbyfc, who I had to cajole into going over to introduce ourselves, at that time a couple of teenage football-writing wannabes. Shep, I can reveal, is no shrinking violet (on another occasion we bumped into Little Richard while he was flogging his autobiography and Shep demanded: “Oi Little, Little! Gissa book!”) but such was his awe, as a West Ham fan, he took some persuading.

The last time I saw Moore was in the press room at QPR during the 92-93 season. It was an area about 20 feet square with a bar in the corner pumping out free pints of Guinness (QPR’s shirt sponsors at the time) and populated by about 20 journalists.

Moore, as is the wont of all great footballers, had found space, though now it was in order to stand alone, leaning with his back against a wall, almost hiding under a cap with his collar turned up. His skin was yellow.

I sat quietly and stole glances and wondered if I should ask if he’d like a cup of tea or something, yet his body language suggested, very politely, to Leave Me Alone. He was only weeks from making his final pass though we didn’t know it. But it was obvious something was seriously wrong and it was also heart breaking. Moore, as always, kept his woes to himself, but who can blame him for that having already given everything of himself to his country?

Like that famous image of Moore held aloft by his team-mates with the World Cup in his clutch, he remains the England captain head and shoulders above all other England captains.

As Michael Caine pointed out: “It was the cometh the moment, cometh the man. It’s a bit like a messiah. You know, out of the gloom of the fifties… he just came, like a gleam of light.”

(*Dickinson, thankfully, plays a blinder in what is I daresay a fair representation and portrayal. The book jacket informs of a £20 cover price though I got mine in a supermarket for just nine quid. Yet after reacquainting myself with Moore once again I can think of no good reason not to send the balance to the Bobby Moore Fund.)

@RoyDalley

Not Their Finest Hour..? History Tells a Different Story
Football & The Great War

by Richard Bowdery

At the outbreak of World War I sports competitions such as Cricket and Rugby Union were suspended. Yet on the 1st September 1914 the Football League decided to play on with the 1914-15 season.

This caused considerable controversy amongst the public which stemmed from concerns that some men preferred to watch football rather than join up.

Frederick Charrington, from the famous brewery family, called West Ham United players ‘effeminate and cowardly’ because they continued playing football and getting paid for it whilst men were laying down their lives on the Western Front.

The Bishop of Chelmsford, in his sermon on ‘duty’, said ‘the outcry against football at the present time was right’.

Even Sherlock Holmes creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, entered the fray by calling upon footballers to join the fighting.

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Bradford City in 1914. Skipper Robert Torrance, Man of the Match in Bradford’s 1911 FA Cup Final victory over Newcastle, lost his life in one of the wars last battles in Ypres, Belgium in 1918

But there were those who took an opposing view.

The Athletic News is quoted as saying that this attempt to stop football was ‘an attempt by the ruling classes to stop the recreation on one day in the week of the masses’. It continued: ‘What do they care for the poor man’s sport?’

Yet the situation was not quite as cut and dried for as, perhaps, most imagined.

Because many of the players were on renewable annual contracts, they could join up only if their club agreed to cancel their contracts. This was something clubs were not prepared to do – probably for financial reasons.

What helped turn the tide was a decision taken by players representing Heart of Midlothian, then a top Scottish side, who in November 1914 enlisted, en-masse, in the British Army.

Another contributory factor concerned attendances which fell significantly in the season’s second-half.

Eventually, a decision was made to discontinue the Football League for the remainder of the war, effectively making professional footballers, redundant.

The 1914-15 was the first and last league season of the war.

Some First World War football facts;

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Walter Tull

Despite the criticism they had received, at least five former West Ham United players were killed in action during the war.

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Former Spurs and Northampton Town’s Walter Tull had two major firsts to his name. Tull was the first black outfield player in the English game, and the first combat officer in the British Army.

He was killed by machine-gun fire on 25 March, 1918. Despite the efforts of those under his command his body was never recovered.
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Perhaps the most well-known footballer of his day to be killed in the war was Edwin Latheron, who played for Blackburn Rovers and England.

He won two league titles with Rovers – in 1911-12 and 1913-14 – and scored 94 goals in 258 games during his eight years with the club.

Latheron died during the Passchendaele offensive on 14th October 1917. He is buried at the Vlamertinge New Military Cemetery.

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Nearly a million women worked in munitions factories during the war. Sport of all types was encouraged and many of these factories developed their own women’s football teams.

Perhaps the most well-known was Ladies FC in Preston. They competed against women’s teams from other factories in the north of England, drawing large crowds.

Founded in 1917, they continued until women were banned from playing in Football League grounds in 1921.

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When US soldiers arrived in Britain they brought Baseball to the attention of the British public. Matches were held wherever American soldiers were stationed and an Anglo-American Baseball League was set up. Highbury, Arsenal’s former stadium, hosted one such league match in 1918.

@RichardBowdery

 

Hammers Fans Still Pining for ‘The West Ham Way’
But What Is That Exactly…?

by Rob Shepherd.

Sam Allardyce has lost the support of a big chunk of West Ham fans not just because of the dour, predictable, one-dimensional style of play he promotes but because of an ugly attitude.

Having done what he was brought into to do – get the club promoted back to the Premier League then stay there in the first season – there was a general acceptance that the ‘Bolton Way’ would do.

But the hope the team would kick on and play with a bit more style and verve has not materialised. The recent win over of Tottenham, to ensure safety, was very much the exception to the rule.

West Ham beat Tottenham 2-0 at Upton Park in their final home game of the season, putting an end to a run of four defeats on the bounce.

West Ham beat Tottenham 2-0 at Upton Park in their final home game of the season, putting an end to a run of four defeats on the bounce.

The season has been a long grim struggle and many of those who were prepared to see Allardyce’s way of thinking have turned against him because he has virtually laughed in their face and mocked their notion of the ‘West Ham way’. And 40 points with a game to go is hardly something to crow about.

Nor is the Allardyce approach the best way to woo new fans to the club when they move into the Olympic Stadium the season after next.

Now, in one sense Allardyce has a point, because there are some myths about the ‘West Ham way’ and the club’s status as the ‘Academy of Football’.

After all, it’s a long time since the Hammers have actually played anything approaching the ‘West Ham way’.

There was a spell under Harry Redknapp when the club did play some silky, thrilling football in the tradition of the teams he was brought up playing for in the Sixties and Seventies, but Redknapp left Upton Park 13 years ago.

RonGreenwood

Ron Greenwood was the gaffer at Upton Park from 1961 to 1974.

Since then West Ham have hardly played with the philosophy Ron Greenwood brought the club at the start of the Sixties and John Lyall carried on through in the Seventies and Eighties.

In those days, even when the team struggled in the league, which was often, they did put smiles on their fans’ faces with a brand of football that was also often appreciated by the opposing supporters – although that was often because of West Ham’s soft centre, which ensured they often lost.

That is a point that Sam likes to make.

But with cultured stars like Bobby Moore, Trevor Brooking and Alan Devonshire, the Hammers did play with a special brand of football that made their fans proud that their smallish club had something special that some of the bigger teams did not. Soul.

So what is the ‘West Ham way’ meant to be ?

In an nutshell at its best it was a brand of football developed from the Hungarian model of the Fifties, quick movement and passing, with intelligent use of space, variety of movement, pace and final ball.

If there was one thing that showed West Ham at their best it was innovation of the near post cross.

This is best illustrated in this footage of Martin Peters and Geoff Hurst combing to score two goals, each setting up the other, in a 2-0 win over Manchester City in 1967. Greenwood then explains it in coaching terms.

Now, of course, the usual delivery into the box is just a high ball floating into Andy Carroll. It can cause damage but has become so predictable opponents know what is coming.

That Allardyce slavishly sticks to the same old routine and rigid formation is, combined with his miserable rhetoric, what has really turned so many fans against him because the most important part of the ‘West Ham way’ is, win or lose, to at least play the game with a smile on your face.

There were smiles aplenty as a league double was completed over Spurs but in almost smirking Sam didn’t help his cause to win over those who want their West Ham back.

@robshepherd5