The time has come to reveal the number 26 in our countdown of the #50GreatestHammers, in association with Official Investment Partner Basset & Gold.
Years with West Ham United: 1962-67
Not many players in the history of West Ham United can match Johnny Byrne’s goalscoring record in Claret & Blue.
The striker, who was nicknamed ‘Budgie’ due to his constant chattering, was only with the Hammers for five years, yet still managed to notch over a century of goals for the Club – and his tally of 108 has only been beaten by six men who have worn the West Ham shirt.
He already possessed a strong scoring pedigree by the time Ron Greenwood shelled out £65,000 to take him to east London from Crystal Palace, and he wasted little time in transferring that prowess to his new club.
His first season in the top flight yielded 13 goals, but that was just a taste of things to come with a remarkable 33 following the previous season, 1963/64.
That campaign also brought about the Hammers’ first ever major honour, and Byrne would play a central role in the glorious FA Cup run, scoring in the fourth round against Leyton Orient, fifth round against Swindon Town and two in the quarter-final against Burnley.
West Ham’s FA Cup win launched a golden era for the Club and Byrne was at it again the following year, notching against La Gantoise, Lausanne and Real Zaragoza in the European Cup Winners’ Cup.
Unfortunately, an injury sustained playing for England against Scotland meant he missed the final against TSV 1860 Munich at Wembley, but again he had played his part in bringing silverware to east London.
He continued to score at an impressive rate, hitting the net 17 times in 1965/66 and 13 before February the following campaign, before a move back to where it all began at Crystal Palace.
His goals not only helped the Hammers pick up their first two pieces of major silverware, but also landed him the 1964 Hammer of the Year prize and a place in the pantheon of Club legends.