On This Day - 8 January


John Ayris
Date of birth: 8 January 1953
Clubs: West Ham United, Wimbledon, Brentford

Born in nearby Wapping, John Ayris was a wing-forward with sublime talent. Unfortunately, a series of injuries put paid to the youngster's hopes of making it to the very top of the game, but he still managed to total 65 appearances and two goals for West Ham United.

A product of the club's Academy, Ayris signed full professional forms in October 1970. That same month, he made his league debut in a 3-1 First Division win over Burnley at the Boleyn Ground. Used regularly as a substitute, the player nicknamed 'Rat' was selected seven times to play for England's youth team in 1971. That same year, he overcame an air embolism on his lung suffered in a challenge with Chelsea's Ron 'Chopper' Harris.

Having missed the 1975 FA Cup final - he spent three months playing for Cape Town City in South Africa - Ayris found his opportunities increasingly limited in east London and opted to join Wimbledon on a free transfer at the end of the 1976/77 season. After retiring from playing, he would later work in the sports department at Selfridges before getting married and moving to the Essex town of South Woodham Ferrers and becoming manager of the town's leisure centre.

Other anniversaries

Matthew Kilgallon (1984)

Classic match

West Ham United 2-1 West Bromwich Albion
FA Cup third-round replay
8 January 1980

A crowd of 30,689 watched West Ham United take the first step on their route the club's third FA Cup success. Having drawn 1-1 at The Hawthorns three days previously, John Lyall drafted in Geoff Pike as a makeshift striker for the replay at the Boleyn Ground.

Pike responed to the manager's call by having a superb game, scoring the Hammers' opening goal eight minutes after half-time. Earlier, the Baggies' John Deehan had missed a sitter that would have put his side ahead. Trevor Brooking added West Ham's second goal with seven minutes remaining before Tony Brown scored to set up a grandstand finish, but the hosts clung on.

Lyall's men would go on to defeat Leyton Orient, Swansea City, Aston Villa, Everton - after a replay - and, famously, Arsenal, to become one of the few Second Division teams to lift the FA Cup five months later.