Len Hurford

Everybody at West Ham United would like to express their sincere condolences to the family of former Youth Development Officer Len Hurford, who has passed away aged 74.

Hurford, who was the first person to take up such a role at the club, played a leading role in bringing the likes of Tony Cottee, Alan Dickens, Steve Potts, Kevin Keen, Stuart Slater and Paul Ince to the Hammers in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

The scout, who also worked for Ipswich Town, Chelsea and the Football Association during a long and distinguished career, was appointed to work alongside chief scout Eddie Bailey.

"Len was our very first Youth Development Officer," said Academy Director Tony Carr. "Len had done some very important recruitment work and it was decided that we wanted to take on someone full-time in that role.

"John Lyall appointed him and he and Eddie Baily took over organising the young players who came into the club after the retirement of Wally St Pier.

"Eddy moved on to a more senior scouting role with the first team, which opened up the position for a Youth Development Officer to be appointed. Len came in and recruited the likes of Paul Allen and helped to bring through youngsters in the early 1980s."

Len Hurford

Len Hurford pictured with his wife Maureen and grandson

Peter Wheelband has been a scout for West Ham for more than 35 years and worked under Hurford during the latter's time at the club.

"I knew Len for 40 years," said Wheelband, who worked alongside fellow scouts Ronnie Gale, Sid Scott and Michael Dove. "He made the decisions over which players would go on at Under-14 to Under-16 levels.

"I worked with Len throughout the years he was at the club and he was a really nice fellow. He was a gentleman and he knew how to work with people properly.

"I was one of the youth scouts at the time and he helped to bring in and develop players like Paul Allen, Tony Cottee and Alan Dickens.

"We worked under Len and the chief scout Eddie Baily and they were two people who always told you the truth."

A funeral service for Len Hurford tookplace at Forest Park Cemetery & Crematorium in Hainault on Thursday 21 February.