Strike legends return

Legendary West Ham United strike duo Frank McAvennie and Tony Cottee were reunited at a special football tournament at the Boleyn Ground this week.

The pair were back in the East End for McAvennie's annual tournament, which sees teams of ordinary fans take to the pitch at the world-famous home of the Hammers.

Unfortunately, they were unable to resurrect the partnership that fired West Ham to third in the Division One table in 1985/86 as McAvennie is recovering from surgery stemming from the broken leg he suffered at Stoke City in August 1989.

The Scot, who scored 60 goals in 190 appearances in claret and blue, told WHUTV he is itching to get back to playing again as soon as possible.


"The tournament started six years ago and it's great. It's gone from one day and we're doing three now. It's normal guys on the street paying to come and play on the famous turf at Upton Park. It's superb and it's good fun.

"I don't get open mouths when people meet me any more, but we see a few open mouths when they try and run up and down the pitch!

"I normally play, but I'm injured at the moment so I can't. I've had a couple of operations and it's going to be a couple of months before I'm back playing. I did it jumping out of too many bedroom windows - no, I'm only kidding! It stems back from an injury I got in 1990 through football. It's all from there and it's got worse. I've had to get it sorted and it's a long, drawn out process, but we're getting there."

Both McAvennie and old pal Cottee, who team-up regular for speaking engagements, were pleased to be back in familiar surroundings.

"It's good to walk through the doors and hopefully everything is getting back to winning ways at West Ham after a pretty poor season," said McAvennie. "You see the same friendly faces and they are great people who always look after you."

"We feel like we're coming home whether we've been at the club or not been at the club, or whether we haven't been here for years," Cottee agreed. "It's like coming home."

While they have both retained their youthful looks, a closer look at McAvennie and Cottee's slightly less athletic physiques illustrates that the upcoming 2010/11 season will mark the 25th anniversary of West Ham's highest-ever league finish.

"It's flown by," said McAvennie, who is now a sprightly 50. "It's been great. We get together every year with all the boys and some of them are different shapes and sizes - especially Galey who has a good shape, which is round! It's good to see all the boys again and we keep in touch all the time anyway."

"I can't believe it is 25 years coming up," said Cottee, who turns 45 in July. "It's frightening how quick the time goes and all the memories. We try to get together every year and have our football tournament and dinners. Me and Frank work together anyway, but it's just unbelievable that it's 25 years ago that we so nearly won the league.

"We'll get our heads together [and try to organise something]. We've done a lot of 'Boys of 86' stuff, which has been great because quite a lot of the players in our squad didn't earn the big money, so it's great at the end of the day to hand the boys a bit of pocket money. It would be nice to have a 25th anniversary dinner of some sort."