Number 4 - 20 September 2008

When Paul Goddard made a big-money move to West Ham United after the FA Cup triumph in 1980, he arrived at a club that had attacking football at its heart. The manager John Lyall had taken the traditions and training of his mentor Ron Greenwood and created a squad that knew how the game should be played. It would culminate in the mid-80s with a side to rival the best in England.

Now 48 and working as a football agent across the southeast, he looks back to that period of his life with nothing but pleasure. "It was a fantastic time of my life and a great era at the club," he said. "The atmosphere at the club was tremendous. We were such a tight-knit close group of people and it was very much a family club. My wife felt as welcome and at home there as I did."

Goddard added: "I was only a young lad of 20 when I arrived so I didn't quite realise the enormity of how good all the players were at that time." Although the new era at West Ham United looks set to embrace the traditional 'West Ham way', Goddard is aware that much of football has changed. Not least for young footballers who need careful guidance and representation from agents. it is a career he has enjoyed for over three years with the Stellar Group.

He said: "In my day, there wasn't a real need for agents because there was not the money that is involved now and there was a lot more honesty, a lot more security. Managers were in place for a few years, not for a few months. If John Lyall said you were going to get something, you didn't need to have it in writing. He was always good to his word. The football world has changed, though, and agents are a needed commodity."

Goddard was part of that memorable 1985/86 team that recorded some fine results, not least an 8-1 win under the floodlights against today's visitors Newcastle United. "I came on and scored with my first touch," he recalled. "Alvin Martin got the glory with that hat-trick against three goalkeepers. It was a strange night. it was a great time generally to come and watch West Ham play."

The striker, capped once by England, would go on to play for Newcastle. "I look back on my time there with much fondness. The passion and fever for football up there is something else. I was very lucky to move from West Ham to Newcastle."

Given his playing days and his own spell as assistant manager at the Boleyn Ground under Glenn Roeder, Goddard has taken a keen interest in recent events at both clubs.

Regarding the appointment of Gianfranco Zola, he said: "Everyone who is connected with him says he is an honest and generous person who gives everything to his work. To that respect, we know that we will be doing everything he can to try and get West Ham going in the right direction too. Steve Clarke has a very good reputation and he will have a key role."

Goddard is especially pleased to see former team-mate Kevin Keen doing well, describing him as a "tremendously talented coach" and is hopeful that all at the club can reproduce times to match those he experienced as a player.

"We were successful to a point but I think the big thing, and John Lyall always emphasised it, was the style of play. The way we played was paramount. We wanted to win but do it the proper way and that is not always the way nowadays."