Nostalgia

Happy 87th Birthday Harry Hooper

Harry Hooper was born in Pittington, County Durham, on 14th June 1933 – he played for local side Hylton Colliery before signing professional forms with West Ham when his father, Harry Hooper Senior, was appointed assistant trainer at the club. A fast, direct winger, he made his debut for the Second Division Hammers in a 4-2 win over Barnsley on 3rd February 1951 at Upton Park in front of 16,781. He scored his first goals for the club in an Essex Professional Cup Semi-Final replay win over Leyton Orient, his brace helping the Hammers to a 6-1 victory. Three league goals followed as Hooper made 14 appearances in 1950/51, playing alongside the likes of Ernie Gregory, Malcolm Allison and Frank O’Farrell as West Ham finished 13th in Division Two.

Hooper struggled for games in the following season, making just three appearances in 1951/52 before playing 12 matches in 1952/53, scoring four goals, including a double in a 4-1 win at Brentford on 21st March 1953. His exciting runs and dazzling wing play impressed manager Ted Fenton though, and Hooper secured a regular place in the side in the 1953/54 campaign. By now 20 years old, Hooper scored nine goals in 27 appearances as the Irons again finished mid-table, in 13th position; these nine goals included a brace in a 4-0 FA Cup third round win over Huddersfield at the Boleyn Ground. The Hammers moved up to an eighth-placed finish in 1954/55 though, with Hooper ending the season as second-top scorer (after John Dick) having bagged 13 goals in 43 matches.

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Hooper’s burgeoning reputation as an outside-forward saw him become the first Hammer to be selected for the England Under-23 team; he scored twice in England’s 5-2 win over Italy at Stamford Bridge. His performance at age-group level earned him a place in the England B team and he was selected as a reserve for England’s 1954 World Cup squad. He would never win a full international cap though, with his competition on the wings coming from Tom Finney and Stanley Matthews.

Hooper’s best season at the club was also his last; he scored 16 goals in 37 matches from the wing but the Hammers finished 16th in the Second Division in 1955/56. By now joined in a team featuring John Bond, Ken Brown and fellow winger Malcolm Musgrove, Hooper’s goals included two doubles in a 6-1 win over Notts County on 3rd September 1955 and a 2-1 win against Fulham, again at home, two weeks later. He also scored his only hat-trick for the club in a 6-1 thrashing of Doncaster at Upton Park on 22nd October 1955. He scored his final goal in his last game for the club, a 3-2 home win over Bury on 19th March 1956.

Hooper fetched a record fee for a winger when he signed for Wolves for £25,000; such uproar at a sale had rarely been seen in east London since Syd Puddefoot had moved to Falkirk in 1922, with accusations of the club lacking ambition and being a feeder club for the big boys. Hooper later said he would have been happy to stay at the club; however the school in Castle Street wanted their land back, which was then serving as the main entrance to the Boleyn Ground on Green Street (on the site that later became covered by the ground’s main car park). The money received for Hooper paid for the land and the main entrance which stood at the ground from 1958.

After scoring 47 goals in 136 appearances for West Ham United, Hooper was Wolves’ top scorer in his first season at Molineux but began to struggle and was sold to Birmingham in December 1957. He helped the Blues to a runners-up spot in the Fairs Cup before returning to his native north-east with Sunderland. 87 today, Hooper went on to play non-league football with Kettering Town, Dunstable Town and Heanor Town before retiring.

Happy 33rd Birthday Mohamed Diame

Mohamed Diame was born in the Paris suburb of Creteil, France on 14th June 1987 and was selected to attend the Clairefontaine academy between 2000 and 2003. On completion, he began his professional career with Lens but left four years later after facing health problems. He signed for lowly Spanish side Linares before moving to Rayo Vallecano the following year. While playing for the Madrid-based team, Diame was reportedly targeted by Real Madrid, Barcelona and Arsenal but he ended up signing for Wigan in the summer of 2009.

On 20th June 2012, with West Ham United newly-promoted back to the Premier League, the out-of-contract Diame signed for the Hammers on a free transfer. By now an international player for Senegal, the 25-year-old underwent a stringent medical after heart problems had been detected when he had signed for Wigan. Diame – an agile, powerful, pacey midfielder – made his Hammers debut in a 1-0 home win over Aston Villa on 18th August 2012. He scored his first goal on 6th October 2012, giving the Irons the lead against Arsenal at Upton Park when curling a sumptuous strike into the far corner from a tight angle after cutting into the penalty area down the left – the Gunners hit back to win 3-1 though. His second strike for the club was in much happier circumstances as his low strike from the edge of the penalty area, from a Carlton Cole lay-off, put the Hammers 2-1 up against Chelsea on 1st December 2012 – the match, which ended 3-1, gave the club their first win over the Blues for over nine and a half years. Diame scored his third and final goal of 2012/13 on 17th April 2013 against another ‘top club’, Manchester United, spinning away from Wayne Rooney on the right corner of the penalty area to make space before firing a curling, left-footed rocket into the far corner beyond David de Gea after fine work by Ricardo Vaz Te and Guy Demel.

Diame, the subject of much speculation throughout his time at the club due to a well-known £3.5m release clause in his contract, scored his first goal of the 2013/14 campaign at the Boleyn in a 3-0 win over Fulham on 30th November 2013, opening the scoring via a deflected shot. He bagged the Hammers’ first goal of 2014 in a 2-1 New Year’s Day defeat against the same opposition in the reverse fixture at Craven Cottage, giving the Hammers the lead early on after turning home a loose ball in the box. Diame produced a lung-busting run from his own half on a counter attack to seal the points with a deflected finish late on a 2-0 home win over Norwich on 11th February 2014 before scoring his final goal for the club on 31st March 2014 in a 2-1 win at Sunderland, a bobbling effort into the far corner which ultimately proved to be the winner.

Diame’s final game for the club came as a substitute on 30th August 2014 in a 3-1 home defeat to Southampton. Having scored seven goals in 79 appearances for West Ham United, the 27-year-old Diame joined Hull City on 1st September 2014. He scored on his Tigers debut against the Hammers in a 2-2 draw two weeks after signing but a knee injury suffered in December 2014 virtually ended Diame’s season as the Tigers were relegated.

Diame scored nine goals in 38 matches during the regulation Championship season before scoring the only goal of in the 2016 Play-Off Final for the Tigers against Sheffield Wednesday to return the club to the Premier League. Diame was not to join them in the top flight however, the 31-cap Senegalese midfielder signing for newly-relegated Newcastle instead. 33 today, Diame spent three years at Newcastle and is now at Qatari club Al Ahli.