Boys of '86 enjoy Boleyn return

West Ham United's record-breaking 1985/86 squad enjoyed a memorable return to the Boleyn Ground on Monday evening
West Ham United’s Boys of ’86 enjoyed a memorable and enjoyable reunion at Monday’s 2-0 Barclays Premier League win over Newcastle United.

Celebrating their third-place top-flight finish and 8-1 home victory over the Magpies 30 years ago, ten members of John Lyall’s record-breaking squad returned to a heroes’ welcome at the Boleyn Ground.

Phil Parkes, Ray Stewart, George Parris, Alan Dickens, Alan Devonshire, Mark Ward, Tony Cottee, Frank McAvennie, Paul Goddard and Steve Potts were all personally introduced to the crowd at half-time, while the legends also met thousands of fans in and around the stadium on a successful night for the Club.

McAvennie was the last to emerge from the tunnel to a loud ovation, before later posing for a ‘strike force’ photo with present-day Hammers forward Diafra Sakho.

“It is great to come back and it’s a memorable night with all the Boys of ’86 coming back together,” the Scottish striker told West Ham TV. “We’ve only been together for ten minutes all the same jokes came out and we all had good fun.

“It was one of the best teams I ever played with, with Alan Dickens behind you and Alan Devonshire and Mark Ward out wide, it was just different class. They kept giving the ball to me and Tony and we did the easy part, really, which was putting the ball in the back of the net.

“We took all the headlines but it was a good team performances.”
It is great to come back and it’s a memorable night with all the Boys of ’86 coming back together
Parris played 298 games in Claret and Blue in all manner of positions and he too was delighted to join his old teammates back at his old stomping ground.

“I enjoyed and loved every minute of it,” enthused the Ilford-born star. “That season, 1985/86, we performed very well and were unfortunate not to win the league.

“That season we beat Newcastle 8-1 and it should have been double figures and we won most of our home games that season, which was great with the home fans getting behind us.

“All you do is go out and do you your best and hopefully the fans enjoyed what we did, because I certainly did.”

Goalkeeper Parkes played all 42 league matches that famous season, having joined the Hammers for a world-record fee in 1979 and lifted the FA Cup a year later.

Standing in the goalmouth he made his own, the popular stopper recalled the close relationship he had with the Claret and Blue Army.

“I played 444 games for the Club and I have a lot of great memories,” he said. “There are some that really stick in my mind, like the win over Newcastle here, and I’ll never ever forget them.

“I always remember we beat Aston Villa here in one game and won 3-0, but I got Man of the Match. It was typical of West Ham of the time with very open football, end to end and very entertaining football for the fans.

“It was one of the big things that I had a great rapport with the supporters. When we played here, the fans were right on top of you and I had a laugh and a joke with them during the games and they took to that. They saw that I always tried to play with a smile on my face and that’s what the fans want.

“Once we worked things out on the training pitch and brought in other players, it quickly settled down and we went on to achieve great things.”

West Ham will be theming future matches throughout the Farewell Boleyn season, with the next scheduled to mark the Greatest Moments in Boleyn Ground history for the Barclays Premier League visit of Chelsea on Saturday 24 October.

Keep an eye on and the Club’s official social media channels for all the build-up to this and other future themed matches as we say goodbye to our historic home of more than a century.