Record-breaker Ruffell ranks 21st among #50GreatestHammers

Next up on #50GreatestHammers countdown, in association with our Official Investments Partner, Basset & Gold, is the man whose appearance record stood for more than three decades

Jimmy Ruffell

Jimmy Ruffell


Years with West Ham United: 1920-37
Appearances: 548
Goals: 166

The seventh West Ham United player to represent England, outside left Jimmy Ruffell spent 16 seasons in Claret and Blue between the two World Wars.

Born in Doncaster in August 1900, Ruffell moved south and played for local clubs Essex Road School, Manor Park, Fullers, Chadwell Heath United, Manor Park Albion, East Ham and Wall End United, before West Ham signed him from the works team of the Ilford Electricity Board in March 1920.

A first-team debut arrived two days after Christmas 1921, when he started a 3-2 home win over Bury in the old Second Division.

Ruffell’s first goal for the club arrived nine months later on 2 September 1922, when he bagged the winner at Bradford City.

The 1922/23 season saw the winger score seven times as West Ham won promotion to the First Division and reached the FA Cup final for the first time, and he would start the so-called ‘White Horse Final’ defeat by Bolton Wanderers in front of an estimated 300,000-strong crowd at the newly-built Wembley.


Bobby Moore broke Jimmy Ruffell's all-time appearance record in 1973


Ruffell thrived in the top flight, scoring 104 goals over a seven-year span between 1925 and 1932, when the Hammers were relegated, despite his 15 strikes in 39 appearances.

His consistent form earned Ruffell an England call-up in April 1926, when he featured alongside former West Ham teammate Syd Puddefoot in a British Home Championship defeat by Scotland at Old Trafford – the first of six senior caps.

Ruffell remained loyal to the Hammers following their demotion and, by the time he departed for a short spell at Aldershot in 1937, he had amassed a club-record 548 appearances - a record not broken until Bobby Moore did so in 1973 - and scored 166 goals.