A to Z of West Ham United – K is for…
Continuing our alphabetic journey through 125 years of West Ham United history…
Prolific centre forward Vic Keeble (pictured, above) scored 51 goals in just 84 senior appearances in Claret and Blue, including 24 in the Hammers’ 1957/58 Second Division title-clinching season.
A powerful, robust striker with a hard shot and dominant aerial ability, Essex-born Keeble played for Arsenal, hometown club Colchester United and Newcastle United, where he won the FA Cup in 1955, before joining West Ham for £10,000 in October 1957.
The new boy announced his arrival in style, scoring on his debut at home to Doncaster Rovers before bagging a hat-trick in a 5-0 thrashing of Stoke City at the Boleyn ground on only his fifth appearance for the Club.
Another treble followed in an FA Cup third-round thumping of Blackpool and, by the end of his first season in east London, Keeble had netted 24 goals in just 33 games.
The most important came at Middlesbrough on the final day of the 1957/58 campaign, when he netted the second goal in our title-clinching 3-1 Second Division victory at Ayresome Park — his 19th league strike of the season.
Having been promoted to the First Division, the rise in standard held no fears for Keeble, who marked his first top-flight appearance for the Hammers with a goal in a 2-1 victory at Portsmouth in August 1958.
And they continued to flow as Ted Fenton’s side finished sixth, with the centre forward netting 21 times.
For much of his West Ham career, Keeble shared the forward line with Scotsman John Dick, with the pair combining to score 113 goals between October 1957 and January 1960.
A back injury forced him into retirement at the age of 30, with Keeble’s final appearance for the Club coming in a First Division fixture at Leeds United on 16 January 1960.
Having hung up his boots, he moved home to north Essex and returned to Colchester United to serve as commercial manager and later worked as an administrator at Chelmsford City.
Keeble passed away in January 2018, aged 87.
Few individuals have held more different positions at West Ham United than current U18s lead coach Kevin Keen.
The son of former Queens Park Rangers, Luton Town and Watford midfielder Mike Keen, Kevin was born in the Buckinghamshire town of Amersham in February 1967.
A winger, Keen began his career with Wycombe Wanderers, making his Isthmian League debut at the age of 15, before joining the Hammers as an apprentice in the summer of 1983.
After turning professional following his 17th birthday, Keen debuted against Liverpool in September 1986 and scored his first senior goal in an FA Cup third round replay win over Orient in January 1987.
Tenacious, determined, creative and able to fill a variety of attacking positions, Keen helped the Hammers reach the semi-finals of the League Cup twice and win promotion in both 1991 and 1993.
After finishing as runner-up in the 1993 Hammer of the Year voting and scoring 30 goals in 278 appearances, he joined Wolverhampton Wanderers, before ending his playing career with spells at Stoke City and Macclesfield Town.
Keen returned to the Hammers in 2002 as an Academy coach, before undertaking roles as reserve-team and first-team coach.
He filled the role of caretaker manager following the departures of Alan Pardew, Alan Curbishley and Avram Grant, leading the team in fixtures with West Bromwich Albion in 2008 and Sunderland in 2011.
He departed for a second time in 2011 and worked at Liverpool, West Bromwich Albion, Fulham and Reading before taking his first senior managerial job at Colchester United in 2015.
After coaching spells with Crystal Palace and Southend United, he returned to West Ham in June 2019, taking charge of the U18s.
West Ham United have faced just two clubs whose name begins with the letter ‘K’ in competitive fixtures.
One was Kettering Town, who the Hammers faced eight times in Southern League fixtures between 1901-04, and the other was Kidderminster Harriers.
Based in the Worcestershire town famous for carpet making, Harriers were founded in 1886 and played in the local leagues for many decades before being promoted to the Alliance Premier League – later the Conference and now the National League – in 1983.
Four years later, Kidderminster won the FA Trophy, before winning the Conference in 1994, only to be controversially denied promotion to the Football League due to their Aggborough stadium not meeting fire-safety regulations.
However, it had been deemed fit to host the FA Cup fifth-round visit of the Hammers in February of that year, when 8,000 supporters packed in to watch a keenly contested tie.
The Premier League visitors edged through 1-0, with Lee Chapman scoring the only goal of the game for Billy Bonds’ side.
Kidderminster finally won promotion to the Football League in 2000 and spent five seasons there before being relegated back to the Conference.
They now play in National League North.
Kiruna and Kirkenes
Nowadays, pre-season tours are almost as much about exposing your club to new markets and potential supporters as they are about preparing the players for the campaign ahead.
Back in the summer of 1989, things were a little different, as West Ham United embarked on a tour of Sweden and northern Norway that involved eleven flights and, literally, Arctic conditions.
Fresh from being relegated from the old First Division and the departure of long-serving manager John Lyall, after losing 2-1 to French club Bordeaux in south-west France, then beating non-league clubs Bishop’s Stortford and Stevenage Borough 5-0 and 4-3 respectively, new manager Lou Macari and his 16-man squad boarded a plane and fl ew north – a long way north!
The first destination was Tennevoll, a village in the Troms and Finnmark county in northern Norway.
There, on 25 July 1989, the Irons took on Kiruna FF, a Swedish second tier club based 150 miles to the south east, at the picturesque Lavangen Stadion.
The game ended 1-1, with Julian Dicks scoring West Ham’s goal with a trademark 25-yard strike. Two days later, West Ham contested the northernmost fixture in the Club’s 125-year history, defeating a Norwegian Second Division Select side 2-0 in Kirkenes through goals from Mark Ward and Alvin Martin.
A village, Kirkenes is situated 250 miles north of the Arctic Circle. It was a Norwegian-Russian district until 1826, when it became part of Norway, then occupied by the Nazis during the Second World War. It is situated just seven miles from Norway’s modern border with Russia and is further east than Istanbul.
As a footnote, goalkeeper John Konstad, a policeman, was invited to Chadwell Heath for a trial with the Hammers, but sadly it did not lead to the o¬ffer of a contract.
The following day, 28 July, after a three-and-a-half hour flight, Norwegian Third Division leaders Fauske Sprint were demolished 7-0, with Eamonn Dolan and Frank McAvennie each scoring twice.
And a unique tour ended on 30 July with a crushing 8-0 victory over Finnsnes IL in Lenvik, where McAvennie grabbed another brace, while George Parris and Mark Ward also both scored twice.
Few players have enjoyed shorter West Ham United careers than Hungarian goalkeeper Péter Kurucz.
Born in Budapest, U21 international Kurucz came through the ranks at local club Újpest before being loaned to Tatabanya in 2008.
The following year, he completed a move to West Ham, aged 20, and featured in the Premier Reserve League South in the 2008/09 season.
After turning his loan move into a permanent transfer, Kurucz trained alongside Robert Green and vied to back-up the England international with another young goalkeeper, Czech Marek Štech.
Kurucz won the contest and sat on the bench for the opening 14 Premier League games of the 2009/10 campaign – and then his big moment arrived.
It was 5 December 2009 and Manchester United were the visitors to the Boleyn Ground.
Paul Scholes, Darron Gibson, Antonio Valencia and Wayne Rooney had all scored to put the visitors in full control before Robert Green suffered an injury with 17 minutes to play.
Manager Gianfranco Zola sent for the 21-year-old Kurucz, who played out the remainder of the game without conceding any further goals.
Green’s injury was not serious and Kurucz was back on the bench for the trip to Birmingham City the following weekend.
He would never play for West Ham United again.
Kurucz suffered a serious knee injury in a friendly at Burton Albion in August 2010 and was subsequently loaned to Rochdale in January 2012.
He departed in May of the same year and returned home, via a trial at Crystal Palace, to play for Siofok.
He retired in 2016, aged 27.