Happy Birthday to former Hammers striker Bobby Gould, who turns 74 today.

Bobby Gould was born on the 12th June 1946 in Coventry and began his career with his hometown club before moving to Arsenal for £90,000 in February 1968. He joined Wolves in June 1970 but moved to Black Country rivals West Brom just 15 months later. He signed for Bristol City in December 1972 before his move to east London.

Gould joined Ron Greenwood’s West Ham United in November 1973 for £80,000 with the Hammers badly struggling in the bottom three of the First Division. He made his debut against one of his former clubs, Arsenal, on 24th November 1973 in a 3-1 defeat at the Boleyn Ground. Gould scored his first Hammers goal in a 3-1 defeat at Birmingham on 15th December 1973 and notched another in a 4-2 win at Chelsea on Boxing Day 1973. His first goal at Upton Park arrived on New Year’s Day 1974 in another 4-2 win, this time over Norwich. Gould’s last goal of 1973/74 came at Manchester City in a 2-1 defeat on 20th April – the Hammers finished the campaign in 18th position, one point and two places clear of the drop.

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The hard-working striker bagged a hat-trick in a 6-0 League Cup second round replay win over Tranmere at the Boleyn on 18th September 1974 and followed that with a brace in a 6-2 home win over Leicester three days later. Strikes in successive away games at Coventry and Everton in October secured 1-1 draws before he fired the fifth and final goal against former club Wolves in a 5-2 home win on 16th November 1974. Two more goals followed before Christmas, one in a 2-1 home win over Leeds and another in a 1-1 draw at Chelsea. Gould got the Hammers’ ultimately triumphant FA Cup campaign off to a flyer by scoring in the 2-1 win at Southampton in the third round but would be ruled out for seven weeks, although he did score in his comeback game at Wolves in a 3-1 defeat. Another goal on the road came a month later at Sheffield United in a 3-2 loss but nine games without a goal at the end of the season cost Gould his place in the FA Cup Final team which defeated Fulham 2-0 – Gould was an unused substitute. His day in the Wembley sun was yet to come…

Gould, a great-hearted competitor who used to conduct the Boleyn Ground crowd during renditions of ’I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles’, put that disappointment behind him and scored at Stoke on the opening day of 1975/76 in a 2-1 win. Injury struck again and he would be out of the side for two months – his hard work building back to fitness paid dividends when he bagged the winner in a 2-1 triumph over Manchester United at Upton Park on 25th October 1975, his final goal in claret and blue. Gould played his final match as a Hammer in a 2-1 defeat at Derby on 15th November 1975 – he had joined the club when they were in the bottom two of the First Division and he left almost two years later with the club enjoying FA Cup holder status and sitting fifth in the top flight. Gould had played a significant part in lifting team spirit during his time at the club and departed having scored 19 goals in 62 appearances.

Five of Gould’s 19 West Ham goals can be viewed in my video below – his first strike for the club at Birmingham, the fifth in the 5-2 win over former club Wolves, the FA Cup third round header at Southampton, his goal at Sheffield United and his winner against Manchester United.

Gould returned to Wolves in December 1975 for £30,000. He moved on to Bristol Rovers in October 1977 and had spells with Norwegian club Aalesunds and back in England with Hereford before hanging up his boots. He became Geoff Hurst’s assistant at Chelsea in 1979 and took caretaker control when Hurst was sacked by the then-Division Two Blues in April 1981. Gould took charge of two matches before leaving the club, a 3-0 defeat at Swansea and a 2-0 home loss to Notts County, who finished runners-up to West Ham.

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Gould had two spells as boss at former club Bristol Rovers with a period in charge back where it all began at Coventry sandwiched in between. He became manager of Wimbledon in 1987 and led them to an unlikely FA Cup fairytale when they won the trophy in 1988, defeating Liverpool in the Final and making up for Gould’s non-appearance back in 1975. He went on to manage another former club, West Brom, before returning to Coventry in 1992 to lead them into the Premier League era. International management followed with a four-year spell in charge of Wales from 1995 to 1999. He returned to club management with Cardiff in 2000.

Gould’s final full-time managerial post came in February 2003 when he took over at Division Two strugglers Cheltenham Town. Gould has since had brief spells with Peterborough and Weymouth. 74 today, he has been a regular on TalkSport Radio and occasionally appears on BBC Radio 5Live’s Fighting Talk. His elder son Jonathan was a goalkeeper at Coventry, Bradford, Celtic and Preston (amongst other clubs), while younger son Richard is Chief Executive of Surrey County Cricket Club. Bobby’s grandson Matt is a goalkeeper for Spennymoor Town in the National League North.