I made a name for myself on my debut! - West Ham legend Frank McAvennie

Frank McAvennie


Whenever a footballer signs for a new club, particularly a forward player, the first thing he or she wants to do is score his or her first goal, preferably in front of his or her home fans.

Fortunately for one of West Ham United’s most-famous attackers of all time, that is exactly what happened at the Boleyn Ground on Tuesday 20 August 1985.

His name? Frank McAvennie.

Signed from Scottish club St Mirren for a reported fee of £340,000, McAvennie had played as an attacking midfielder for the Saints and filled the same position behind centre forwards Tony Cottee and Paul Goddard on his West Ham debut at Birmingham City on 17 August.

However, when Goddard suffered a broken leg, McAvennie was pushed up front, with Alan Dickens coming into the midfield.

The rest, as they say, is history.

That was my first home game and it was under the lights at Upton Park and there’s not an atmosphere like it

Frank McAvennie

McAvennie would score twice on his home debut against Queens Park Rangers three days later, with Dickens getting the other as the Hammers won 3-1.

Not only did the blond-haired attacker’s performance send the home supporters among the 15,628-strong crowd home happy, but it also kick-started one of the most-famous seasons in the Club’s history, which ended in a record-high third-place top-flight finish.

Reflecting on that night under the Boleyn Ground floodlights, McAvennie, who would score 28 times in that unforgettable 1985/86 season, remembered not just his goals, but his first experience of the Claret and Blue Army!


Frank McAvennie first goals cutting

“My first game for West Ham United was at Birmingham City on Saturday 17 August 1985,” he recalled. “Paul Goddard got injured in that game and I got moved up front for the home game against Queens Park Rangers on the Tuesday night.

“I made a name for myself by knocking their big centre-half Alan McDonald into the Chicken Run because he was bullying Tony Cottee. I can remember they were all pulling his long hair in there, because it was so close to the pitch! I shouldn’t laugh, but he saw the funny side of it as well.

“I scored twice that night and I can remember my first goal, as their ‘keeper came out and I flicked it over him.

“It was quite funny hearing the fans trying to sing my name after I’d scored because they couldn’t pronounce it!

“That was my first home game and it was under the lights at Upton Park and there’s not an atmosphere like it. I loved every game there but, when they were under the lights, it was very, very special.”

Now 58, McAvennie went on to score 60 goals in 190 appearances for the Irons across two spells. Last year, he was voted No16 among in a poll of the 50 Greatest Hammers.


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