Thursday 19 Nov
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History

A-Z of West Ham United – D is for…

West Ham took on FC Copenhagen in 2011

 

We continue our alphabetic journey through 125 years of West Ham United history…

 

Debuts

Of the 956 players who have made a competitive first-team appearance for West Ham United since September 1900, 98 have marked the occasion with a goal.

Among them were some of the biggest names in Claret and Blue history, including Vic Keeble, Pop Robson, Tony Cottee, Jimmy Greaves, Jermain Defoe and Ian Wright.

However, Don Travis is the only Hammer to have scored four times on his debut, doing so in a 7-0 War League South thrashing of Plymouth Argyle at the Boleyn Ground in February 1946.

Tudor Martin and Ken Tucker marked their debuts with hat-tricks, netting trebles in Second Division fixtures against Newcastle United and Chesterfield in September 1936 and October 1947 respectively.

The first West Ham United player to score on his debut was Billy Grassam, who did so in a 7-0 Southern League win over Gravesend in September 1900.

The most recent was Grady Diangana, who netted twice in the 8-0 EFL Cup third round win over Macclesfield Town at London Stadium in September 2018.

And, more bizarrely, the only goalkeeper to have scored on his debut was George Kitchen, who fired home the winner from the penalty spot in a Southern League fixture with Swindon Town in September 1905.

On the flip side, 101 of those 956 debutants would never play for the Club again, as their debuts turned out to also be their one and only appearances in Claret and Blue!

 

Denmark

West Ham United have been represented by just two Danish players in the Club’s 125-year history.

The first was centre-back Marc Rieper, who initially joined the Hammers on loan from Danish Cup holders Brøndby in 1994, before making the move permanent for £1million at the end of the 1994/95 season.

A dominant defender, Rieper debuted in a 2-2 Premier League draw at Leeds United in December 1994 and went on to make 101 appearances in Claret and Blue over the next three-plus seasons, before joining Celtic in September 1997.

Capped 61 times, Rieper appeared for his country at UEFA Euro 1996 and the 1998 FIFA World Cup.

Bobby Moore played for Danish club Herning FremadThe second Dane to pull on a West Ham shirt was diminutive right-back Lars Jacobsen, who spent just a single season in east London in 2010/11.

The experienced Jacobsen had represented OB, Hamburg, FC Copenhagen, Everton and Blackburn Rovers before making the switch to the Boleyn Ground.

Having won three Danish Superliga titles with Copenhagen, started the 2009 FA Cup final for David Moyes’ Everton and featured at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, Jacobsen arrived with high hopes, but his brief spell at West Ham would end in relegation from the Premier League.

Undeterred, he returned to Copenhagen, captained the club to another Superliga title and was part of the Denmark squad at Euro 2012.

In terms of matches against Danish opposition, the Hammers visited the Scandinavian country for the first time in May 1927, playing three friendly matches.

The first two ended in 5-1 and 3-1 victories over a Combined Copenhagen XI, with the third seeing the tourists register a 2-0 win over Select Copenhagen.

Three years later, West Ham visited the Danish capital again, drawing 3-3 with Copenhagen in June 1930 as part of a post-season European tour.

The Irons returned to Denmark for another post-season tour in May 1947, losing 6-1 to Aarhus before bouncing back to defeat Esbjerg (2-1), Randers (4-0) and Aalborg (5-2), only to end the visit with a 3-2 defeat by JBU Jutland.

It was 50 years until West Ham met Danish opposition again, with Brøndby hosting Harry Redknapp’s Hammers in July 1998 and defeating the Londoners 2-1.

And finally, FC Copenhagen hosted the Hammers in a pre-season fixture at the national Parken Stadium in July 2011, when Freddie Sears’ late goal secured a 1-0 victory.

West Ham’s links with Denmark do not end there, however.

Bobby Moore (pictured) had a short spell with Herning Fremad in 1978. Then 37, Moore appeared nine times as a means of promoting Danish football’s move to professionalism.

And, coincidentally, Winston Reid made his senior breakthrough with the same club, renamed Midtjylland following a merger in 1999, after moving to Denmark from New Zealand with his mother as a child.

 

Alan Devonshire

When West Ham United paid just £5,000 to pluck an unknown Alan Devonshire from non-league Southall in September 1976, nobody could have known just how good a deal the Hammers were getting.

For that modest outlay, the Hammers secured a player who would spend 14 years in east London and go on to establish himself as one of the most talented players ever to wear the Claret and Blue.

Devonshire struck up a telepathic partnership with Trevor Brooking which would play such a pivotal role in the successes of the early 1980s.

Alongside the FA Cup final victory over Arsenal in 1980, the Hammers would win the Division Two title the following year, returning to Wembley in the League Cup final to boot, with Devonshire’s creativity to the fore.

And never more so than during that FA Cup triumph, when his run down the left flank ended with the cross that led to Brooking scoring the only goal of the game.

 

Alan Devonshire in action in the 1980 FA Cup final

 

After the Hammers earned their place back in the top flight, Devonshire continued to excel, shaking off an injury which caused him to miss almost all of the 1984/85 season to play 47 times the next year – when West Ham secured their highest-ever league finish of third.

He might only have scored 32 times for West Ham, but he created countless chances for others during one of the Club’s golden periods.

Indeed, it remains a mystery to all of a Claret & Blue persuasion how the Londoner won only eight caps for England.

After signing off with the Hammers in 1990, with nearly 450 appearances under his belt, Devonshire ended his career with a brief spell at Watford, before embarking on a successful career in non-league management.

Having taken the reins at Brentford Women, Maidenhead United and Hampton & Richmond Borough, he led Braintree Town in the Conference, before returning to Maidenhead and taking them to non-league football’s top tier.

 

John Dick

Born in Govan, John Dick had already made his way south when he joined West Ham United from Crittall Athletic – now Braintree Town – while on National Service in 1953.

Dick was prolific right from the off, scoring 13 goals from inside left during his debut season in east London.

The Hammers were striving for a return to the top flight at the time, and they achieved that during a glorious 1957/58 campaign, which saw Ted Fenton’s side win the Division Two title.

John DickDick’s goals were a major part of that as he netted 21 in the league and 26 in all competitions as the Hammers lifted the trophy.

He handled the step up to Division One in style, netting a career-best 27 times in the league – and 30 in all – as West Ham finished sixth in their first season back at the top table.

Dick’s goalscoring exploits weren’t going unnoticed back home in Scotland, and he became the Club’s first ever Scottish international when he was selected to face England at Wembley in 1959.

By the time he moved onto Brentford in 1962, he had scored 177 goals for the Hammers, a tally beaten by only Vic Watson and Geoff Hurst.

The £17,500 West Ham received from the Bees was a Club record at the time, and he took his goalscoring skills to west London, notching 45 times in 72 league games.

Dick would later return to West Ham to manage the junior team and pass on his extensive striking knowledge to the next generation.

He passed away in September 2000, aged 70.

 

Dinamo Tbilisi

Few visiting teams were ever applauded off the pitch by the Claret and Blue Army at the Boleyn Ground, but Dinamo Tbilisi was one of them.

The Soviet Cup holders, from the capital city of what is now the independent country of Georgia, produced one of the finest performances east London had ever seen when they visited in the European Cup Winners’ Cup third round in March 1981.

Hopes were high of West Ham United reaching the final of the competition for a second time, as John Lyall’s side was on course for the Second Division title, had already booked a League Cup final appearance, and had not lost at home in 22 matches dating back to August 1980.

But Dinamo, who had beaten the mighty Liverpool 3-1 on aggregate in the first round of the previous season’s European Cup, were on a different level.

Dinamo Tbilisi newspaper cuttingDinamo were irresistible, scoring two goals in each half to run out deserved 4-1 winners.

Writing in the Guardian in 2015, Craig McCracken enthused: “The first leg at the Boleyn Ground turned into a masterclass of intelligent, flexible and incisive football by the visitors, who demonstrated some of the best counter-attacking you’re ever likely to see. Footage from this match should be included as part of the learning materials for UEFA coaching courses.

“West Ham’s players spent much of the evening chasing slippery white shadows forlornly while trying to keep the scoreline respectable – their eventual 4-1 defeat flattered them considerably.”

That footage, which is available to view on YouTube, shows Aleksandr Chivadze stride forward from his own half and beat Phil Parkes from 30 yards, Vladimir Gutsaev rob Ray Stewart and double the visitors’ lead, David Cross pull a goal back with a thumping header, then Ramaz Shengelia put the tie beyond the Hammers with two clinical finishes.

When the final whistle blew, the visitors were clapped off by many of those in the 34,957-strong crowd, appreciative of the outstanding football they had played.

Both Chivadze and Shengelia were crowned Soviet Footballer of the Year during their outstanding careers, while the former captained the Soviet Union at the 1982 FIFA World Cup finals.

West Ham would regain their pride in the return leg in Tbilisi, winning 1-0 through Stuart Pearson’s goal in front of 80,000 supporters at the city’s Lenin Stadium, but went out 4-2 on aggregate.

Dinamo went on to win the tournament, defeating Feyenoord Rotterdam of the Netherlands in the semi-finals and Carl Zeiss Jena of East Germany in the final.

 

Draws

West Ham United have drawn 1,329 of the 5,525 matches they have contested since the Club was reformed in 1900.

Of those 1,329, some 752 were in the First Division/Premier League, 314 were in the Second Division/Championship, 135 in the Southern League, 92 in the FA Cup and 40 in the League/EFL Cup.

The most in a single season came in 1968/69, when Ron Greenwood’s Hammers drew 19 times – 18 of their 42 First Division matches and a League Cup third-round tie with Coventry City.

The Irons drew on 18 occasions in both 1981/82 and 2003/04.

Premier League-wise, Slaven Bilic’s Hammers finished on level terms in 14 of their 38 matches in 2015/16.

The fewest draws in a single season was five in 44 matches in all competitions in 1934/35.

The highest-scoring draw in West Ham’s history was 5-5, which has occurred on three occasions, all of them in the old First Division – against Aston Villa at the Boleyn Ground in January 1931, at Newcastle United in December 1960 and at Chelsea in December 1966.

 

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