West Ham United Football Club
West Ham have had a roller coaster of existence, from European and Domestic glory, to World Cups and relegations. The club has become associated with attractive football and young English talent. Now entering a new chapter, under new guidance, the ride is set to continue.
The English Premier League is comprised of twenty teams. A quarter of these teams are based in the capital, London. One of the capital’s football clubs is West Ham United Football Club, now known as West Ham, although this has not always been the case. When originally founded as an amateur team in 1895 by an ironworks company, the club were known as Thames Ironworks FC. Following disputes over the club’s finances, the club was reformed in July 1900, taking the name we know today: West Ham United.
In the early years of the football club, they competed in the Southern League and the Western League. Following their success in these leagues they achieved their major goal when in 1919, they joined the football league.
Over the years, West Ham United have become famous for their claret and blue strip, being one of only a handful of clubs who compete in these colours. The club have not always played in claret and blue, however. In the first few years the team were known to compete in dark blue.
The club are also known as either the Irons or the Hammers. Their association as the Irons stems back to their original name, but these days they are more commonly referred to as the Hammers.
West Ham compete in their home matches at the Boleyn Ground. Despite this name it is known to everyone as Upton Park. The ground is based in East London, and has a capacity of 35,146. West Ham have played their home games at Upton Park for over a century. The first West Ham game there was played in 1904. Prior to playing at Upton Park the club had no fewer than three grounds. Hermit Road, Browning Road and the Memorial Grounds were all venues for the Hammers before finding their eventual home at Upton Park. West Ham though have recently made it clear that they are looking to build a new ground. They originally expressed an interest in the 2012 Olympic Stadium. When this proposed move broke down, the chairman expressed his desire to have the club in a new ground by 2011.
The club recently underwent a takeover and the current chairman is a man from Iceland, Egger Magnusson. Since he has been in charge he has appointed Alan Curbishley as the manager to take the football club forward.
Liverpool fans have You’ll Never Walk Alone and West Ham have I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles. When these songs are sung by the fans in the right atmosphere, it is enough to make the hairs on the back of you neck stand to attention.
The song was originally introduced to the Hammers in the late 1920’s by former manager Charlie Paynter. There are a few slight changes to the lyrics, and the song is always capped off with ‘United, United, United!’ This song is now one of the most recognisable football anthems.
West Ham United have been known for their free flowing attractive football and their production of young English players. Despite these factors, and a lengthy number of years spent in England’s top flight, the club have failed to record many major honours. The club has, however, experienced many high points.
Following West Ham’s emergence into the football league in 1919, the club found themselves in the 1923 FA Cup final. The cup final was not only the first major final reached by the Hammers, but it was also the first FA Cup final to be played at Wembley Stadium. Unfortunately for Syd King’s Irons they lost to Bolton Wanderers 2-0.
The club’s first trophy didn’t come, however, until 1940, when they beat Blackburn 1-0 in the Football League War Cup. Despite this success the Hammers had to wait another twenty four years until they could taste any prolonged, high profile success.
Ron Greenwood was a controversial appointment as manager in the early 60’s. He went on to prove the critics wrong by steering the club to three successive cup finals in the middle of the decade. The 1964 FA Cup campaign is the one that is most memorable to fans of the Irons. In the semi final, the Hammers produced a gritty and determined performance to see off Manchester United 3-1. The match has since been hailed as a very memorable victory in the history of the Hammers. In the final, West Ham faced another North West side, Preston North End. The final, played at Wembley was a marvellous spectacle. The Hammers produced another superb performance to overcome North End 3-2, with Ronnie Boyce scoring the eventual winner.
Following a memorable afternoon at Wembley in 1964, West Ham had an even more memorable night there a year later. In the 1964-65 season, the Hammers went on a fantastic run in Europe. A succession of European victories led to a final in the European Cup Winners Cup against German side West Germany TSV Munich 1860. The match is remembered for the great football played by the Hammers, and the performance was capped with a 2-0 victory. Both goals were scored by right winger Alan Sealey, whose career was unfortunately ended less than a year later.
In 1966 the English national side sensationally lifted the World Cup on home soil. England’s success though is widely regarded amongst Hammers fans as success for West Ham United. The backbone of the English victory was provided by a trio of West Ham players. West Ham legend Bobby Moore captained the side and talented Martin Peters scored one of the four goals in the final. Finally and most impressively, centre forward Geoff Hurst produced the performance of his lifetime to score a hat-trick in the final which ensured a great night for England and for West Ham.
Since the success under Greenwood in the 60’s the Hammer’s have failed to live up to expectations. They have, however, still gone on to win two more FA Cups. The first of these two victories came in 1975. Two sides which had suffered average seasons met in the final at Wembley, the Hammers against Fulham. The game was not known for its free flowing football. It will be remembered by the Irons fans though, as they produced enough to seal a 2-0 win, courtesy of two goals by Alan Taylor.
Five years later West Ham were back at Wembley to play against Arsenal. To this date this final remains in the history books as the last time a team from outside the top flight lifted the FA Cup. Trevor Brooking’s goal was enough to see the Hammers lift the trophy against all odds.
The most recent success in the history of the club is the 2004/05 Championship play off final. One defeat in their last ten games saw West Ham creep into the final play off spot. Following success in the semi-final, they faced another final against Preston North End. The match was a quiet affair, but the Hammers won’t complain as Bobby Zamora’s goal was enough to see the Irons back in the Premier League, where they have remained ever since.
West Ham haven’t had too many ups, but on the flip side they haven’t suffered too many downs. They tend to have found themselves as perennial under achievers, neither excelling nor failing.
West Ham have, however, suffered the odd relegation from England’s top flight. After their rise from the Southern and Western Leagues they were relegated to the second tier of English football in 1931/32. What followed this relegation was probably the lowest point in the history of the football club. They have suffered relegations since, but they have never been out of the top flight for so long. What followed the 1931/32 season was over twenty years in the doldrums of English football.
Following promotion back to the top flight in the 50’s and the club’s most successful spell during the 60’s, the club once again suffered the ill-fate of relegation in the 1977/78 season. The club ended the campaign in twentieth place. Following five years of bottom half finishes, the relegation was inevitable. After gaining promotion back to the top flight the club established themselves as a ‘yo-yo’ team, as they were relegated in 1988/89 and 1991/92. Despite these relegations the club managed to successfully bounce back within two years both times.
The ultimate low for West Ham fans came more recently though. They suffered relegation from the English Premier League in the 2002/03 season. The disappointment of this season was particularly hard to take for the Irons fans, as throughout the campaign, many pundits had said that Glen Roeder’s West Ham side was too good for relegation. The truth was that a side featuring the likes of Paulo Di Canio, David James, Joe Cole, Jermaine Defoe and Trevor Sinclair probably was too good to go down, but they did. The following season was equally disappointing. The club going through a transitional period failed to gain instant promotion back to the top flight, which also had financial implications.
Over the years West Ham United have become known for producing quality English footballers. Most significantly are the players in the 60’s such as Moore, Peters and Hurst. More recently, however, the Hammers have churned out many young English players who have gone on to represent England on a regular basis. Joe Cole, now at Chelsea, is a formidable midfielder who plied his trade at West Ham for a number of years.
Alongside Cole in the Chelsea side is goal scoring midfielder Frank Lampard who shares Cole’s West Ham roots. Both players are regular members of England’s starting eleven. Other players who have had an impact on the English game in recent years are Tottenham striker Jermaine Defoe, Manchester United pair Rio Ferdinand and Michael Carrick and Portsmouth full back Glen Johnson. Hopefully under the guidance of new chairman, Egger Magnusson, the club can continue to produce the quality young players they have become known for, as it can only continue to benefit the club and England.
The Present and the Future
The future for the Hammers appears to be back on track. After promotion from the Championship in the 04/05 season, the club have managed to maintain their Premier League Status. Now new chairman Egger Magnusson hopes the club can push towards the higher regions of the league.
Magnusson has appointed Alan Curbishley as manager; Curbishley is a manager with great Premier League credentials and is well respected among Irons’ fans. Magnusson has given Curbishley money to spend and with big money signings of quality players such as Scott Parker, Kieran Dyer, Lucas Neill, Matthew Upson and Craig Bellamy, Hammers’ fans are certainly hoping that the future can be Claret and Blue.
Division Two Winners: 1957/58, 1980/81
FA Cup Winners: 1964, 1975, 1980
FA Cup Runners Up: 1923, 1966
European Cup Winner Cup Winner: 1965
BBC Sports Personality of the year team award: 1965
Football League War Cup: 1940
Record Attendance: 42, 322 v Tottenham Hotspurs, Division One 17/10/1970
Record Victory: 10-0 v Bury, League Cup 25/10/1983
Record Defeat: 0-7 v Everton and Sheffield Wednesday, Division One 22/10/1927 28/11/1959
Top Scorer in a Season: Vic Waters, 50. 1929/30
Most Goals in Total: Vic Waters, 326. 1920-35
Most Capped Player: Bobby Moore, England. 108 Caps
Record Transfer Fee Paid: 7.5 Million, Craig Bellamy from Liverpool 2007
Record Transfer Fee Received: 18 Million, Rio Ferdinand to Leeds United in 2000
Most Appearances: Billy Bonds 781, 1967-88
Syd King (1902-32)
Charlie Paynter (1932-50)
Ted Fenton (1950-61)
Ron Greenwood (1961-77)
John Lyall (1977-89)
Lou Macari (1989-90)
Billy Bonds (1990-94)
Harry Redknapp (1994-2001)
Glen Roeder (2001-03)
Alan Pardrew (2003-06)
Alan Curbishley (2006- )