Tuesday, 25 September 2012

West Ham Biographies

It is true most West Ham biographies are very dull. This is definitely true of footballers who are still playing. However, there are some really good ones by West Ham players. This includes Bobby Moore's "Bobby Moore: The Life and Times of a Sporting Hero" (1997), based on his interviews with his great friend, Jeff Powell. See for example, his views on Ron Greenwood and Malcolm Allison.
Here is a passage about Moore playing his first game for the Hammers. It is a game I still remember with great affection.

Malcolm had been battling for months to recover from tuberculosis. I'd even seen him the day he got the news of his illness. I was a groundstaff boy and I'd gone to Upton Park to collect my wages. I saw Malcolm standing on his own on the balcony at the back of the stand. Tears in his eyes. Big Mal actually crying. He'd been coaching me and coaching me and coaching me but I still didn't feel I knew him well enough to go up and ask what was wrong.
When I came out of the office I looked up again and Noel Cantwell was standing with his arm round Malcolm. He'd just been told he'd got T.B.

It wasn't like Malcolm to give up. By the start of that 1958 season we were battling away together in the reserves, Malcolm proving he could still play, me proving I might be able to play one day.

West Ham had just come up. They went to Portsmouth and won. They beat Wolves at home in their second game. After three or four matches they were top of the First Division, due to play Manchester United on the Monday night, and they had run out of left halves. Billy Lansdowne, Andy Nelson, all of them were unfit. It's got to be me or Malcolm.

I'd been a professional for two and a half months and Malcolm had taught me everything I knew. For all the money in the world I wanted to play. For all the money in the world I wanted Malcolm to play because he'd worked like a bastard for this one game in the First Division.
It would have meant the world to him. Just one more game, just one minute in that game. I knew that on the day Malcolm with all his experience would probably do a better job than me. But maybe I'm one for the future.

It somehow had to be that when I walked into the dressing room and found out I was playing, Malcolm was the first person I saw. I was embarrassed to look at him. He said "Well done. I hope you do well." I knew he meant it but I knew how he felt. For a moment I wanted to push the shirt at him and say "Go on, Malcolm. It's yours. Have your game. I can't stop you. Go on, Malcolm. My time will come."

But he walked out and I thought maybe my time wouldn't come again. Maybe this would be my only chance. I thought: you've got to be lucky to get the chance, and when the chance comes you've got to be good enough to take it.

I went out and played the way Malcolm had always told me to play. Afterwards I looked for him back in the dressing room. Couldn't find him.

Malcolm Allison, Colours of my Life (1975) is another great book. As Allison once said, I think of myself as more of a teacher than a coach. This is supported by Moore and the rest of those who played under him. However, as John Bond once said, the problem with Malcolm is that he was good at coaching others but a disaster managing himself.

Footballers are rarely great writers and the best books are like the one by Jeff Powell, based on interviews. A good interviewer can make most people articulate. Therefore, I highly recommend Brian Belton’s Days of Iron (1999).

I agree that Charles Korr's, West Ham United: The Making of a Football Club (1986) is the most intelligent book written about West Ham. After all, it was Korr's Ph.D.

If you like biographies shorter than book length I suggest you visit:


Saturday, 2 June 2012


Sam Allardyce wants Real Madrid's striker Joselu. He looks good on the floor but he is 6 3 but does not score goals with his head. Maybe that is because of the way Real Madrid plays. That will have to change if Sam signs him.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Carlton Cole

Carlton Cole took a 50 percent wage cut to stay with West Ham. The 28-year-old striker turned down a move to Stoke after the Hammers were relegated at the end of the 2010-11 season, instead slashing his wages to £14,000-per-week from £28,000.

"I’ve kept my mouth shut for quite a while but I did take a wage cut to stay in the Championship. Half of my wages just went... 'I didn’t want to leave the ship, I am that sort of guy. I would not have been able to live with myself. It is just such a reward today to get to the Premier League again with West Ham at the first time of asking. This was D-Day for all of us. I can’t explain how proud as a player, person and family man I am to be here. Obviously I want to earn as much as I can in my career. But when you have been relegated, you don’t deserve it and you need to work back to where you need to get to. Then they give it back to you. That is the way I felt."

Monday, 21 May 2012

Promoted to the Premiership

David Gold talking about why it was important to win promotion this year: "It would have cost probably another £30m.... If you own 150 oil wells, then it's no problem. If you own 150 Ann Summers shops... it is."

Monday, 16 April 2012

Vic Watson

You can see Vic Watson score both goals in West Ham's 2-1 victory against Huddersfield Town on 1st September, 1930.


Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Iain Dale's Interview with David Sullivan

Iain Dale has managed to get a great interview with David Sullivan. It is one of the best I have read with a football chairman. Here is talking about why O'Neill did not become manager:


It’s very hard to talk about third parties, but we were very close to having another manager come, who I can’t name for obvious reasons. We had 25 hours of meetings with that manager. Twenty-five hours! At every meeting, that manager said to us: “I will be the next manager of West Ham United”. And we kept saying: “When?” Had he come, we would have changed manager. The problem came when he finally said he wasn’t going to come until the summer, and only if we stayed up. At that point, we thought, probably wrongly, it was too late to bring somebody else in. The obvious alternative was Sam at the point, but I think that would have been unacceptable to the supporters last January. Whilst it was acceptable in May, Sam wasn’t the first choice in January. He was the backup choice. David [Gold] would have changed for the first choice manager, but he was unhappy to change for the second choice manager, and I didn’t feel strong enough to have a row about it. It was a very marginal decision. Whether Sam would have kept us up, who knows? To me there were enough good players to keep us up. Just with Demba Ba and Scott Parker – those two alone should have kept us up.

I agree with his comments aboout Scott Parker:

This might not please many people, but if you look at Scott Parker’s performance in the first five games of this season. To me, it didn’t look like he was doing the tackling you’d normally expect him to do. He was running about, he was doing OK but he wasn’t doing the tackling we know he can do do, because he knew that the one thing that would stop a move for him would be an injury. To me it looked like he didn’t want to be there. He told us he didn’t want to be there. He didn’t want to play for the club. In the nicest possible way, he said “I’ve given you my all for the last 3, 4, 5 years, you owe it to me to let me go”. Now there is an argument that he’s right. There’s no player who has given more for the club in recent years, so to make him stay against his wishes… He was protecting himself either consciously or subconsciously. If you want to be kind, it was subconscious. If you want to be unkind, he was consciously protecting himself. His performances in those games were not the Scott Parker we know and I think most supporters could see that. He’s gone to Spurs and he is back to his old self. That’s football, unfortunately. I’ll be honest with you, in his defence he didn’t go to Spurs for any more money. He was the highest paid player at West Ham. All they did was add a year to his contract, so it wasn’t a financial thing with him, it was a football thing.

Monday, 6 February 2012

West Ham Youth Team

Interesting article in today's Guardian about the current West Ham youth team. On 15th February he will oversee West Ham United's under-18 side in a fifth-round FA Youth Cup tie against Chelsea. According to Tony Carr, the team are not yet on a level with the 1999 class, headed by Joe Cole and Michael Carrick, who won the competition; or the Frank Lampard-Rio Ferdinand crop who lost the 1996 final to Liverpool, but they are not far behind.

Carr believes that, in Sam Allardyce, West Ham have a manager who can see the line from youth to senior player and who understands the value of a club being holistic in approach. On most Fridays Allardyce has the youth team line up against the senior players in training. "We go down there and the manager likes to re-enact the formation of the opposition the next day, do some match preparation. We try to mimic the opposition," Carr says.

This was how Allardyce spotted Potts and Hall. "He has a close look at the players at that time and gives his opinion," Carr adds. "It's massive that the manager shows that interest. It shows the players there is a pathway, that we're not a team in isolation, we're a football club and everybody's important, and with Potts and Hall you can still be a youth-team player and make your way into the first team."


Monday, 30 January 2012

Ze Eduardo

Brazilian striker Ze Eduardo is expected to arrive in London later today in order to join West Ham on loan for the remainder of the season. The 24-year-old forward, who is currently contracted to Italian side Genoa will arrive in the capital later today ahead of a medical that will see him join the Hammers for the remainder of the 2011/12 campaign.

Astonishingly, West Ham will become Ze Eduardo's sixteenth club in just seven years should he complete the move - and the eleventh club he has joined on loan since starting his pro career in Brazil with Palmeiras in 2004.

His showed good form when he scored 10 in 29 games for Santos (2010-11). While at the club he won the Copa do Brasil and the 2011 Copa Libertadores Final, which Santos won 2–1 over Uruguayan side PeƱarol. He was sold to Genoa but has only started four games this season.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Ernie Gregory

Sorry to hear about the death of Ernie Gregory. Jim O'Halloran tells an interesting story about Gregory and Ted Hufton: "When I was a kid in the fifties Ernie Gregory was my hero. I waited outside the stadium after a match to get Ernie's signature . He had an old man with him and he said "You don't want my autograph son, you want his." Who is he?" I asked. "Ted Hufton the greatest goalie ever" said Ernie. It meant nothing to me and I persisted after Ernie's signature but he refused. Having never seen Hufton, in my books Ernie was the bees knees."