The West Ham Till I Die blog is an institution but is in need of a revamp. I’m crowdfunding the cost of this and hope you might contribute!
The WHTID blog began its life in 2006. It’s undergone several revamps since then, the last being in 2013. This time, however, the technology is creaking and it needs a complete rebuild and redesign and to be put on a new server. We hope to add some exciting new features too.
Up to now I’ve managed to either fund the site myself or abuse the good will of my friendly web designer. But he operates as a professional business and is not an intern. So I want the rebuild to be done on a proper commercial basis.
I will be contibuting to the cost myself, but as a reader of the site I hope you will also be willing to contibute whatever you can afford.
Given the number of readers we have I’d like to think we can reach the £5k target quite quickly so we can then get on to actually commission the site. If we don’t… well, I don’t know. It’s not feasible to continue to run the site on its current, very creaky server.
If you have any questions you can contact me by email at email@example.com.
Once the new site is live – which will hopefully be sometime in the Spring or early Summer – we’ll be recruiting a few new contributors too.
Thank you so much in advance for your support. I’m not going to do a Bob Geldof, but please donate whatever you can afford to.
UPDATE 11pm Monday: Thanks to everyone who has contributed so far. It means a lot. We’re nearly half way there after only 27 hours. I was expecting the average donation to be around £12, but it’s actually £23.15. So we need another 120 people to donate and we’re there. If you haven’t donated yet, I hope you will consider doing so. I debated long and hard whether to launch this and a lot of people I consulted thought it would be a miserable failure. So delighted to have had the confidence to go through with it. Thank you!
On this day 45 years ago, 15th February 1975, West Ham United recorded a 2-1 FA Cup fifth round victory over Queens Park Rangers at the Boleyn Ground in front of 39,193. Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel were number one with ‘Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me)’, The Towering Inferno was in UK cinemas and Margaret Thatcher had become the Conservative Party’s first female leader four days earlier.
The visitors took a first-half lead through Dave Clement – the Battersea-born right-back won five England caps before sadly committing suicide at the age of 34. His sons, Paul and Neil, have both had careers in the game. Pat Holland equalised for the Hammers before, prompted by Trevor Brooking, the Irons booked their quarter-final place when Keith Robson scored a 46th-minute winner past future Hammer Phil Parkes.
West Ham would go on to beat Arsenal and Ipswich before beating Fulham in the 1975 FA Cup Final at Wembley. In the absence of much recent Hammers action, I thought we’d take a look back at the career of the Hammers’ matchwinner on this day 45 years ago.
Keith Robson was born on the 15th November 1953 in Hetton-le-Hole, County Durham, and began his career with Newcastle before moving to Ron Greenwood’s West Ham United in 1974 for £60,000. His arrival, alongside that of Billy Jennings from Watford, sparked an extraordinary scoring spree with the Hammers netting a remarkable 20 goals in just four games during a ten-day period. The 20-year-old Robson made his debut against Tranmere on 18th September 1974 in a 6-0 League Cup second round replay win at the Boleyn Ground. He scored his first Hammers goal in his next match just three days later, a 6-2 home victory over Leicester and notched another in a 3-0 win over Birmingham in the following game. His first goals away from Upton Park soon arrived as he bagged a brace in a 5-3 win at Burnley. Robson made it five goals in four games with another in a 2-2 home draw with Derby on 5th October 1974.
The aggressive forward also scored with a header in a 3-0 win over Middlesbrough at the Boleyn on 2nd November 1974 and followed that with a point-earning strike in a 1-1 draw at Liverpool three weeks later. A Boxing Day goal secured a 1-1 draw with Tottenham at Upton Park before he scored in a 2-1 defeat at Leeds on 11th January 1975. Two more goals followed before the end of the season, one in the aforementioned 2-1 home win over QPR which secured a quarter-final place in the FA Cup and another in a 2-1 home win over Burnley. A thigh injury sustained in March was to end Robson’s season however, keeping him out of the FA Cup semi-final and the Wembley victory over Fulham in the Final. Robson had scored 11 goals in 30 appearances for the Hammers in the 1974/75 season, none more important than that FA Cup fifth round winner over QPR, a looping header over future Hammers goalkeeper Phil Parkes.
Robson (pictured), a skilful but temperamental player who had his fair share of flare-ups with opponents and referees, put that disappointment behind him early the following season – he did make a belated Wembley appearance, as a substitute in the 2-0 Charity Shield defeat against Derby, and scored the winner in a 1-0 home victory over Tottenham on 25th August 1975. He scored in a 3-0 European Cup Winners’ Cup first round second leg triumph over Finnish side Lahden Reipas at Upton Park on 1st October 1975 and continued his 1975/76 cup exploits by bagging another goal in a 3-0 League Cup third round home win over Darlington a week later. The following round of the Cup Winners’ Cup saw the Hammers paired with Soviet side Ararat Erevan and Robson was on the scoresheet again, converting a back-post header in a 3-1 home win in the second leg on 5th November 1975. His goal against Coventry, again at the Boleyn, secured a 1-1 draw three days later and lifted the Hammers to the top of the First Division table.
Robson was sent off two days after Christmas 1975 in a 2-1 home defeat to Ipswich; already booked for a vicious sliding tackle on Clive Woods, he punched George Burley after being fouled from behind and was dismissed. He went over five months without a goal as the Hammers plummeted in the league but arguably his finest hour in claret and blue was to come on 14th April 1976 – in one of the great Upton Park nights under the lights, Robson’s scorcher from distance was crucial in helping the Irons to a 3-1 European Cup Winners’ Cup semi-final second leg victory over Eintracht Frankfurt, overturning a 2-1 first leg deficit to win 4-3 on aggregate. Still on a high, Robson made it two goals in two games three days later in a 2-2 home draw with Aston Villa.
Robson’s final goal for West Ham was scored in the Cup Winners’ Cup Final against Anderlecht at the Heysel Stadium on 5th May 1976 – his first goal away from Upton Park for 16 months. His near-post header levelled the match at 2-2 but the Belgians, inspired by future Hammer Francois Van der Elst, would go on to win 4-2. It was Robson’s eighth goal in his 49th appearance of the season.
Robson’s 1976/77 campaign was disrupted by injury as he made only ten appearances, without scoring. His disciplinary record again came under the spotlight as he was publicly criticised by chairman Reg Pratt after being booked in a League Cup loss to QPR in October 1976. He played his last game for the Hammers in a 6-0 defeat at Sunderland on 5th March 1977, a game later described by manager John Lyall as one of the worst team performances in his time at the club. Following a loan spell with Team Hawaii, and after scoring 19 goals in 89 appearances for West Ham United, Robson was sold to Second Division Cardiff in August 1977. Six of these 19 goals can be viewed in my video below.
After just six months at Cardiff, the 24-year-old Robson returned to the top flight, signing for John Bond’s Norwich in February 1978 for £25,000. Reunited with former Hammers team-mate Graham Paddon, Robson was also later joined by familiar faces in the shape of John McDowell and Alan Taylor, while West Ham legend Martin Peters was also already at Carrow Road when Robson signed. Three mid-table finishes (13th, 16th and 12th) were recorded under Bond’s management after Robson’s arrival but, after another former Hammer Ken Brown took over in October 1980, the Canaries were relegated at the end of the 1980/81 season, swapping places with the Hammers who stormed to the Second Division title that season. Robson scored 14 goals in 71 appearances for Norwich but left the club in September 1981, signing for Second Division Leicester.
After a spell on loan to Carlisle, Robson moved to Hong Kong to play for the South China Athletic Association. He returned to Norfolk in 1983, playing for Norwich Busmen, Corinthian-Casuals and Wroxham, where he became assistant manager in 1993/94. He also worked as a machinist at Impress Metal Packing Co. Now 66, Robson is a visitor to London Stadium and has also guested at events run by Any Old Irons, the West Ham United Foundation programme providing free events for over-65s.
There is presently an enormous amount of ill will amongst our fans against the owners of the club, even to the extent of an animosity because the West Ham we knew has been destroyed.
So, during this break, with our fortunes hanging in the balance, I believe we should take a look back at the protest after the Burnley game on 10th March 2018 and the effect this had on the owners, as this does demonstrate they listened to the fans and adopted a new approach. They listened and determined that they would give the fans what they wanted – a top manager and a more professional approach to the purchase of players.
Unfortunately, with the benefit of hindsight, we can see this all turned out to be calamitous. But, can this be laid at the doors of the owners? They did have an ambition to turn an average Premier League side into a side which could challenge for a place in Europe.
The latest results for the year ending 2019 are interesting, especially as they set of David Sullivan’s vision, in his words:
The Board made a decision at the beginning of 2018 to embark on an investment programme that would involve bringing in a world -class Manager, investing in better players and making significant investment in the Club’s infrastructure. As a result of this new strategy, we signed Manuel Pellegrini, who has the most successful track record as a Manager in the Club’s history. Furthermore , the Club invested £107.9m in transfer fees, grew the wage cost to £135.8m and invested £4m in facilities at Rush Green(first team squad) and Chadwell Heath (for the Academy).
Unfortunately, as we are aware, Pellegrini turned out to be somewhat clapped out and also, his recommendation to appoint Mario Husillos was disastrous. We shall never know how much blame should be apportioned to Husillos, or whether Sullivan was still interfering in the background and not allowing him to get on with his job.
Another criticism of the owners is that their main priority is to turn a profit on their investment. But this is naïve, because success on the pitch and the value of the club are joined together like Siamese Twins. The recent reports about West Ham being one of the richest clubs in the world are absurd. Forbes value the Club at £478m , but that assumes an operating income of £37m, whereas the Club are losing half a million pounds a week and this will accelerate if the Club drops into the Championship.
Obviously, the move to the London Stadium is high on the list of fans’ grievances. But, who was to know this would turn out to be a giant coffin as far as football is concerned? The Directors gloated in the fact that they got the better of the London Stadium owners, but it looks today as if they were the one’s who were mugged. The Club has to live with the fact that home advantage is a thing of the past. I defy anyone, however, who would have passed up the opportunity to move and let Spurs take over the stadium.
Another grievance of the fans is the position of Karren Brady. She has demonstrated at every opportunity a desire to get away from the traditions of the Club, from proposals to rename the Club Olympic West Ham to adding London to title. Her salary of £1.1 million is beyond belief (what does she do?) and someone should carry the can for the failures. However, there is a suspicion she is unsackable.
To sum up, the criticism of the Directors is overdone. They are, at least, British. They did come forward when the Club had serious financial difficulties. They have listened and major changes were made after the protests at the Burnley game. Unfortunately, these, together with the move to the London Stadium have been calamitous.
Whether the extra break benefits West Ham players or not remains to be seen. The overwhelming weight of opinion tends towards the ‘rest is always best’ for Premier League footballers, with many campaigning for a Winter break for some time, but I hold the opposite view. Full match practice gets players fit and firing and, while it takes a lot out of them physically, they keep an ‘edge’ which, I believe, is needed to compete. Don’t believe that? Well the evidence suggests otherwise.
When you consider how English teams have performed against their mainland European counterparts over the years there is definitely a clear pattern that’s to be observed. For some teams, before a ball has been kicked in the Premier League, Europa and Champion’s League qualifiers have been played. Some would consider those teams unfortunate however the undoubted trend is that those teams tend to get off to flyers in the league. Full, competitive, match practice provides the advantage over those having had a pre-season of ‘friendlies’. Further to this there are European (I guess I can now say this without the ‘mainland’ stipulation) sides who are well in to their season when playing in the European qualifying rounds who have proven stern tests for our, supposedly superior, Premier league teams because they are more up to competitive match speed.
The other evidence to back up my point above is what generally happens in European competition after other countries have taken their Winter break. British teams who haven’t taken any time out perform far better than those who’ve been rested. Again I put this down to the ‘Match Speed’ element with French, Italian, German and Spanish teams often struggling to overcome the Brits during February and March.
It’s not all to British teams’ advantage however. The benefits of the Winter break become more apparent towards the end of seasons. These advantages can, I believe, also be evidenced by the performance of the English national team at major tournaments. I strongly believe that both injuries and stamina affect the Three Lions far more than other nations when it comes to World Cups, Euros and, in the case of the most recent example, the UEFA Nation’s League.
Back to West Ham I fear that, apart from the ridiculous level of inconvenience that our fans were handed by the Manchester officials who called off the game on Sunday, our first team will also suffer. Next up is an incredibly tough match which won’t be played until the 24th Feb. Considering our last match beforehand will have been played on the 1st Feb, and our opponents will have played the week before, it looks like the trip to Liverpool will prove an even bigger mountain to climb than it may have otherwise done. Five days afterwards we are at home to a, hugely improved, Southampton team who will have faced Aston Villa and Burnley at home the previous two weeks, and who may well find themselves going in to the game with us, not only far more match sharp but also full of confidence.
My normally optimistic tone has certainly been affected this season by the tough breaks that don’t seem to be showing any sign of letting up. I sincerely hope that David Moyes, and his newly assembled coaching team, can utilise the break to the best of their advantage but I fear for the forthcoming games bearing in mind the lack of match sharpness compared to our opponents.
Not only did our men’s first team have their game postponed but the Women’s game against Manchester City was also a casualty of the bad weather. A tough trip away to Reading awaits tomorrow night so I’m sure you’ll all join me in wishing the Ironesses all the best for that.
The U23s have slightly less time to wait to play than the men’s first team with a home fixture against fourth placed Stoke City next Monday. With Mesaque Dju and Xande Silva returning to the squad after injury the team has a much needed boost following the recent loan departures. It will be a very exciting run in to see if Dan Halajko’s boys can keep their top spot. Fingers crossed they do the business against the Stokies on the 17th.
3rd April 1982 – the Falklands War began the day before as Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands, The Goombay Dance Band were number one with ‘Seven Tears’ and Mel Gibson was in UK cinemas in Mad Max 2 as West Ham United emerged victorious from a First Division encounter against Manchester City with a 1-0 win.
Former West Ham right-back John Bond welcomed his old club as manager of Manchester City. John Lyall’s Hammers were coming towards the end of their first season back in the top flight following promotion the previous campaign. Paul Goddard (pictured above) bagged the only goal of the game at Maine Road in front of 30,875, his 13th of 17 goals from 46 appearances in 1981/82.
West Ham would finish 1981/82 in ninth place in Division One, while City ended up level on points in tenth. Liverpool won the league title and Tottenham won the FA Cup. David Cross would be the club’s top scorer in 1981/82, with 19 goals from 45 appearances – he would join Manchester City later in 1982. Alvin Martin was voted Hammer of the Year at the end of the season, with Trevor Brooking runner-up.
Manchester City: Joe Corrigan, Ray Ranson, Tommy Caton, Nicky Reid, Bobby McDonald, John Ryan, Paul Power, Asa Hartford, Gary Jackson, Age Hareide, Kevin Reeves.
West Ham United: Phil Parkes, Ray Stewart, Alvin Martin, Neil Orr, Frank Lampard, Francois Van der Elst, Paul Allen, Trevor Brooking, Alan Devonshire, David Cross, Paul Goddard.
Pablo Zabaleta returns to the home of his former club. A large group of players join him in having represented West Ham United and Manchester City. Divided by playing position, they include:
Goalkeepers – Perry Suckling, Joe Hart, David James.
Defenders – Tal Ben Haim, Tyrone Mears, Wayne Bridge.
Midfielders – Patrick Leonard, Samir Nasri, Marc-Vivien Foe, Kevin Horlock, James Cumming, Mark Ward, Eyal Berkovic, Steve Lomas, Frank Lampard Junior, John Payne, Michael Hughes, Ian Bishop, Trevor Sinclair.
Strikers – Bill Davidson, Carlos Tevez, Craig Bellamy, Phil Woosnam, Justin Fashanu, Paulo Wanchope, Clive Allen, Lionel Watson, David Cross, George Webb.
Stuart Pearce played for both clubs, has managed Manchester City and been an assistant coach with West Ham. Malcolm Allison and John Bond were West Ham players who went on to manage City. Manuel Pellegrini has managed both clubs.
Today’s focus though falls on a striker who joined West Ham United from Manchester City. Trevor Morley was born in Nottingham on 20th March 1961 and was rejected by Derby before beginning his career as a non-league player with Corby Town and Nuneaton Borough (where he won a Southern League championship medal in 1982) while also running a fruit and veg market stall. His manager at Nuneaton, Graham Carr (father of comedian Alan Carr), took Morley with him to Fourth Division Northampton for £20,000 in the summer of 1985. He won the Fourth Division title with the Cobblers in 1986/87.
Morley was signed by manager Mel Machin for Manchester City in January 1988 as part of an exchange deal that saw Tony Adcock move to the County Ground, the deal valuing the 26-year-old Morley at £235,000. He made his City debut on 23rd January 1988 in a 2-0 home defeat to Aston Villa and went on to score 18 league goals for the Maine Road club, including the equaliser at Bradford on the last day of the 1988/89 season that clinched promotion to the First Division, a point ahead of Crystal Palace. On 23rd September 1989 he put the Sky Blues 2-0 ahead in the famous 5-1 derby win over Manchester United in the First Division but, when Machin was sacked by chairman Peter Swales, his replacement Howard Kendall saw no place in his side for Morley. He played his last game for the Sky Blues in a 1-0 home win over Norwich on Boxing Day 1989 – the winning goal was scored by Morley’s future Hammers strike partner Clive Allen. Morley scored 21 goals in 82 appearances for Manchester City.
Morley joined Lou Macari’s West Ham United in December 1989 in a deal that saw Ian Bishop also move to Upton Park, with Mark Ward signing for Manchester City in part-exchange. Morley, now 28, was valued at £450,000 in the deal. He made his debut, along with Bishop, in a 1-0 defeat at Leicester on 30th December 1989 and scored his first goal for the Hammers on 20th January 1990 in a 2-1 home defeat to Hull. Morley was West Ham’s top scorer with 17 goals from 48 appearances in all competitions in the 1990/91 season as the Irons, now under the management of Billy Bonds, were promoted to the First Division. The striker was stabbed by his wife in March 1991, missing just over a month of football including the FA Cup quarter-final win over Everton.
Morley scored only five goals from 32 appearances in 1991/92 as the Hammers suffered an immediate relegation with the bustling, hard-working striker often out of favour. Following a summer loan spell with Norwegian club Brann Bergen (Morley’s wife hailed from Norway), Morley experienced a far more memorable season in 1992/93 as he was again top scorer with 22 goals from 49 appearances with West Ham gaining promotion, this time to the Premier League. This season also saw Morley’s only sending-off in a Hammers shirt, in the Anglo-Italian Cup at home against Reggiana in November for retaliating against rough treatment from Gianluca Francesconi. It is a measure of his resilience that he won his place back despite the arrivals, over time, of Iain Dowie and Mike Small in 1991, and Clive Allen in 1992. It seemed at one stage that Morley would be leaving to join Watford in a £100,000 deal but he stayed at Upton Park, reclaimed a regular first-team place and went on to make a mockery of that proposed fee. Indeed his partnership with former City team-mate Allen played a large part in the promotion campaign of 1992/93.
Morley again spent a summer loan spell with Brann and scored his first Premier League goal on 18th September 1993 in a 2-0 win at Blackburn. The Hammers would finish 13th in their first Premier League season with Morley again the top scorer, this time with 16 goals from 49 games, including the winner in a 1-0 home win over Chelsea, a brace in a 4-1 win at Tottenham and the opener in a 2-0 win at Arsenal (his final goal for the club on 30th April 1994). Morley, by now the club’s penalty-taker after the departure of Julian Dicks, also scored an equaliser to claim a point within seconds of coming on as a substitute in a 3-3 home draw with Norwich and scored in a 2-2 home draw with Manchester United. A target man who relished a physical battle, his unstinting efforts were recognised when he was voted as the 1993/94 Hammer of the Year by the club’s supporters.
1994/95 saw the arrivals of Tony Cottee and Don Hutchison as Harry Redknapp took over the managerial reigns, with Morley failing to score in 16 appearances – it was a big blow when he had to undergo a cartilage operation soon after the start of that season. His final appearance in claret and blue was on 14th May 1995 in the 1-1 home draw with Manchester United which denied the visitors the Premier League title. In total, Morley scored 70 goals in 214 appearances for West Ham United – strong and ever-willing to work hard for the team cause, his goals were scored from all angles and varying distances. 66 of Morley’s 70 goals for the Hammers can be viewed in my video below.
The 34-year-old Morley departed for Reading on a free transfer in the summer of 1995 where he spent three years before a brief spell playing for Sogndal in Norway. He later had a spell scouting for Arsenal in Norway and, in 2000, took on the manager’s role at Bergen Sparta of the Norwegian Fifth Division. Now 58, Morley currently lives in Norway, where he runs a shelter for addicts and works as a football pundit.
Trevor Morley 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! I seem to recall we lost that friendly heavily (possibly 4-1?) but, interest piqued, my first visit to the Boleyn Ground followed a matter of weeks later against Manchester City in September 1991. I’ve been a football addict and a dyed-in-the-wool Hammer ever since, despite an awful first season which saw us relegated in bottom place – things could only get better! Morley’s personal farewell to the Boleyn Ground, recorded for Norwegian TV, can be viewed below.
Tomorrow’s referee is 51-year-old Graham Scott. The Oxfordshire-based official will be taking charge of only his tenth Premier League match involving West Ham United – the Hammers have won six of the previous nine league matches he has officiated. His first Premier League appointment with the Irons was our 3-1 win at Southampton in February 2017. He also took charge of the Hammers for our 3-0 win at Stoke under David Moyes in December 2017 – Scott’s decision to award Manuel Lanzini a first-half penalty saw the Argentine retrospectively banned for two matches. He also refereed our 2-0 home win over Watford in February 2018, our 3-1 home win over Everton in Moyes’ last match of his first spell in charge of the Hammers and our 3-1 defeat at Arsenal in August 2018.
Scott was the man in the middle for both our matches against Cardiff last season. The match at London Stadium saw him award a penalty to the visitors which Lukasz Fabianski saved as the Hammers went on to win 3-1. He also officiated our 2-0 defeat in the Welsh capital in March 2019. He was also in charge of our 2-1 defeat at Manchester United last April, awarding the home side two penalties. Scott was also in charge for our 2-1 League Cup victory over Cheltenham in August 2013 and is pictured above sending off Callum McNaughton in the defender’s only Hammers appearance as the club were knocked out of the same competition by Aldershot in August 2011. He most recently refereed the Hammers in our 4-0 home win over Bournemouth last month.
Manchester City will be without the suspended Oleksandr Zinchenko and the injured Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling, but Aymeric Laporte and Benjamin Mendy could return. The Citizens have won 11 of their 13 league games against West Ham at the Etihad Stadium, drawing one and losing one. City have lost six games already in the Premier League this season – they’ve never lost more than six in a league campaign under manager Pep Guardiola.
West Ham United have Jack Wilshere and Andriy Yarmolenko on the injury list but Felipe Anderson could return. New boy Jarrod Bowen could make his Hammers debut. West Ham have won just three of the last 25 Premier League meetings between the two clubs, drawing four and losing 18. The Hammers have lost 20 of their 23 Premier League matches away to a reigning champion, with their only victory coming against Manchester United in December 2001 under Glenn Roeder. Sebastien Haller scored three goals in his first three Premier League appearances but has scored only three more in the subsequent 21.
Possible Manchester City XI: Ederson; Walker, Laporte, Otamendi, Mendy; Gundogan, Rodri, De Bruyne; Mahrez, Aguero, Bernardo Silva.
Possible West Ham United XI: Fabianski; Fredericks, Diop, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Snodgrass, Rice, Soucek, Noble, Antonio; Bowen.