On This Day, 9th May: Hammers Relegate Man City & Happy Birthday Don Hutchison
West Ham 2-0 Man City, 9th May 1987
9th May 1987, exactly 33 years ago today – Ireland’s Johnny Logan won the 1987 Eurovision Song Contest with ‘Hold Me Now’, Starship were number one with ‘Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now’, Platoon was in UK cinemas and West Ham United emerged victorious from a First Division encounter against Manchester City with a 2-0 win in front of 18,413 on the final day of the 1986/87 season.
Before kick-off, Mark Ward was named runner-up in the Hammer of the Year voting with Billy Bonds claiming the main prize for the fourth and final time. City arrived at Upton Park knowing that only a win would be enough in their bid to survive in the First Division – it was the Irons who started the brighter though, Steve Potts creating an early chance for Stewart Robson which the midfielder blazed over. Kevin Keen had an effort saved by Eric Nixon after good work from Liam Brady before Paul Ince, playing as an emergency left-back, struck the crossbar, with Mark Ward having his header from the rebound saved. Brady then shot tamely at Nixon as the Hammers dominated, although City forward Paul Stewart did force Tom McAlister into action at the other end.
The Hammers finally made the breakthrough in the 33rd minute – Potts, who had celebrated his 20th birthday just two days previously, popped up with some neat work on the left flank and found Frank McAvennie. His cross was diverted by Republic of Ireland international Mick McCarthy into the path of Ward whose low shot was turned in by top scorer Tony Cottee (pictured below), poaching his 29th goal of the season in his 51st match.
McAlister made a routine save from Paul Moulden in the opening exchanges of the second half before McAvennie was denied by a combination of Nixon and left-back Clive Wilson in the 50th minute. The Hammers doubled their lead from the resulting corner, Ward finding Brady who worked his way into the penalty area before firing low and left-footed across Nixon and into the far corner of the net. McAvennie again went close and Stewart hit the post for the visitors before 19-year-old Eamonn Dolan came on to make his West Ham debut – Dolan sadly passed away in June 2016 at the age of 48. With Dolan joining Potts, Ince and Keen in the action, West Ham ended the match with four players aged 20 or under on the pitch. The highlights from this match can be seen in my video below.
John Lyall’s Hammers finished in 15th place in the 1986/87 Division One season while Jimmy Frizzell’s City ended up relegated in 21st place. Everton won the league title and Coventry won the FA Cup.
West Ham United: Tom McAlister, Steve Potts, Gary Strodder, Neil Orr, Paul Ince, Mark Ward (Eamonn Dolan), Stewart Robson, Liam Brady, Kevin Keen, Frank McAvennie, Tony Cottee.
Manchester City: Eric Nixon, Kenny Clements, Steve Redmond, Mick McCarthy (David White), Clive Wilson, Andy May, Neil McNab, Kevin Langley, Paul Simpson, Paul Stewart, Paul Moulden.
Happy 49th Birthday Don Hutchison
Don Hutchison was born in Gateshead on 9th May 1971 – he first caught the eye while playing for Paul Gascoigne’s former club, Redheugh Boys, but started his professional career at Hartlepool. The gangling ‘Hutch’ was used either as a striker or central defender before settling into an attacking midfield role. He played his last game for the club in November 1990 before signing for Liverpool after his talents were quickly spotted by bigger clubs. After almost four years at Anfield, and some controversial off-field antics which earned him a somewhat dubious reputation early on his career, Hutchison joined Harry Redknapp’s Hammers in a club-record £1.5m deal in August 1994.
The 23-year-old Hutchison converted a penalty on his debut in a 3-1 defeat to Newcastle, the club he supported as a boy, at the Boleyn on 31st August 1994 and scored in successive home games in October, a 2-0 League Cup second round second leg win over Walsall and the only goal in a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace. He also scored the winner in a 1-0 League Cup third round win against Chelsea on 26th October 1994. Disciplinary and injury issues were never far away in Hutchison’s early days in east London though, and he was sent off after receiving two yellow cards in the first half of a home game against Leicester on 5th November – the Hammers’ ten men went on to win the match 1-0 but Hutchison wouldn’t return to the side until January 1995. He scored in a 2-1 home defeat to Chelsea the following month and bagged the only goal of the game in a 1-0 win at Arsenal on 5th March 1995. He also scored in a 1-1 draw at Southampton ten days later and was on the scoresheet again three days after that in a 2-0 win at Aston Villa.
With the Hammers in a relegation battle, ‘Deadly Don’ scored in a 2-0 home win over eventual champions Blackburn on 30th April 1995 and bagged a brace against former club Liverpool in a 3-0 win at Upton Park on 10th May, a victory which secured the club’s survival in the Premier League. Hutchison scored a thumping free-kick in a 1-1 home draw with Tottenham at the start of the 1995/96 season, on 30th August 1995, and also scored in a 3-1 home defeat to Chelsea on 11th September 1995. His final game of his first spell in claret and blue came in a 2-1 defeat at Manchester City on New Year’s Day 1996 – he had scored 13 goals in 39 appearances. He moved to First Division Sheffield United, then managed by Howard Kendall, later that month for £1.2m.
After scoring six goals in 91 appearances for Sheffield United, Hutchison returned to the Premier League in February 1998, teaming up again with Kendall at Everton and joining a group of players to have played for both Merseyside clubs. He moved on to Sunderland in the summer of 2000 and returned to West Ham in August 2001, again setting a club-record fee, this time of £5m. By now, Glenn Roeder was Hammers manager and Hutchison was an international player for Scotland, having made his debut in 1999 – he would win 26 caps for Scotland, scoring six goals, including one against England at Wembley in a Euro 2000 Play-Off.
The 30-year-old ‘Hutch’ made his second debut for the Hammers in a goalless draw at Derby on 8th September 2001 and scored in a 3-0 home win over Newcastle on 23rd September 2001, the same side he’d scored his first ever Hammers goal against seven years earlier. Hutchison suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury in February 2002 which would keep him out for ten months. The midfielder’s ten appearances in 2002/03 all came as a substitute and he was unable to prevent the Irons’ relegation to the First Division at the end of the campaign.
Hutchison scored a late winner under caretaker manager Trevor Brooking in a 1-0 win at Derby on 4th October 2003 and preserved Brooking’s unbeaten home record in his last match as manager by bagging a late equaliser in a 2-2 draw with Burnley at Upton Park on 18th October 2003. His final goals for the Hammers came on 1st May 2004, scoring twice in a 4-0 home win over Watford under Alan Pardew. Hutchison’s last appearance for West Ham came in a 1-0 home defeat to Brighton on 13th November 2004 and he left the club at the end of the 2004/05 promotion campaign after his contract expired, signing for Millwall. He had made 71 appearances in his second spell, scoring five goals – this took his Hammers totals across both his spells to 18 goals in 110 appearances.
Hutchison moved to Coventry in January 2006 before joining Luton in the summer of 2007. He was released at the end of the 2007/08 season and announced his retirement. Hutchison, who turns 49 today, now works in the media.