November 29, 2007

West Ham United FC.

Filed under: English Football Clubs — admin @ 12:53 pm


The football club of the Thames Ironworks was formed in 1895.  The club joined the Southern league in 1898.  They re-formed, as a professional club, in 1900, changing their name to West Ham United FC.  (The club gets it’s nickname, The Hammers, from it’s origins as a metal-works team, not as a derivation of “Ham;” their crest features a pair of rivet hammers)  In 1919, West Ham were elected to Division 2 of the Football League.  1923 was a watershed year for the club.  They participated in one of the most famous FA Cup Finals, losing 2-0 to Bolton Wanderers, in the first cup final played at Wembley Stadium.  Known as “The White Horse Final,” (see this article) it was attended by over 125,000 spectators.  That defeat was tempered by their promotion to the First Division the same spring.  Their first stay in the top flight only lasted 9 years, though, as they were relegated in 1932.  They languished in the second division for 19 seasons, finally winning promotion in 1958, the year Bobby Moore debuted.

In 1961, Ron Greenwood became manager, and West Ham’s golden age began.  They won the 1964 FA Cup, defeating Preston North End 3-2.  One year later, they beat Munich 1860 to win the (now defunct) European Cup Winners’ Cup.  Three West Ham players had crucial roles in England’s 1966 World Cup victory: Captain Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst (who scored a hat trick in the final, over Germany 4-2), and Martin Peters (who also scored in the final).  West Ham won the FA Cup again, in 1975, this time over Fulham, 2-0.  West Ham’s great run ended when they were relegated, in 1978.  But while in the 2nd Division, they then won their third FA Cup, defeating Arsenal 1-0, in 1980.  The Hammers were promoted the following year (1981).  Since then, they have spent 22 seasons in the top flight, and 5 in the 2nd level; with 3 separate relegations and subsequent promotions.  Their last promotion was in 2005, under manager Alan Pardew.  They did well in the 2005-06 Premier League season, finishing 9th.  But a poor start, and injuries, put the Hammers in a relegation battle the next season.  Pardew was sacked in December 2006, replaced by ex-Charlton manager Alan Curbishley.  They survived relegation by winning 7 of their last 9 games, the greatest escape from relegation the Premier League has ever seen.  The controversial acquistion (illegal, actually) of Argentine phenom Carlos Tevez proved crucial to the club’s survival, as he scored 7 goals in their last 10 games.

West Ham United is famous for the quality of it’s developmental system.  They have consistently produced fine talent, many from near their hardscrabble East London base.  The club bills themselves as “The Academy of Football.”  Their supporters have sometimes been maligned as full of a hooligan element, but those days (the 1970′s and 80′s) are thankfully in the past.  Their true rival is Millwall, who play just across the Thames River from West Ham.  But Millwall’s recent downturn in form (they’re stuck in the 3rd Division) has chilled the rivalry.  They have no love for the more posh North and West London clubs of Arsenal, Tottenham, and Chelsea.

Thanks to these sites.  Photos: stadiumguide[dot]com; footballgroundguide[dot]co[dot]uk and en[dot]wikipedia[dot]org.  Newer kits: colours-of-football[dot]com; old kits: historicalkits[dot]co[dot]uk.  Statistics: westhamutd-mad[dot]co[dot]uk.  Attendance figures: european-football-statistics[dot]co[dot]uk.

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