We continue our alphabetic journey through 125 years of West Ham United history with a trip to Belgium and meetings with former players and a legendary manager…
Now known as KAA Gent, La Gantoise of Belgium provided West Ham United with their first-ever competitive European opposition in September 1964.
The FA Cup winners travelled to Flanders to face the Belgian Cup holders by boat and, on arrival, were greeted by marching bands and Britain’s superstar cyclist Tommy Simpson, who was based in the area.
FA Cup final match-winner Ronnie Boyce scored the only goal of the game to silence the majority of the 18,000 fans present, heading in Alan Sealey’s corner seven minutes after half-time.
Holding a one-goal advantage from the opening leg two weeks previously, Ron Greenwood made two changes to his starting XI from that game, replacing injured goalkeeper Jim Standen with 20-year-old Alan Dickie and Sealey with Peter Brabrook on the wing.
Described as ‘distinctly below par’ in The Times, West Ham ‘tried to play at a breakneck speed as if trying to catch the last train’ as they went in search of an early goal to effectively end the hopes of their part-time opponents.
John Sissons rattled the post with a shot but, despite incessant pressure, an early home goal did not materialise, leaving the vast majority of the 24,000 fans present at the Boleyn Ground frustrated.
Unable to score for themselves, West Ham did so for the Belgians on 32 minutes, when Martin Peters, playing at left-back, mistakenly knocked the ball past Dickie for an own-goal.
Thankfully for the home side, their superiority was ultimately rewarded three minutes before half-time when Sissons crossed for Johnny Byrne to convert, putting the Irons 2-1 ahead on aggregate.
There were no further goals in the second half, meaning West Ham had won through to the second round, but it had not been easy.
One of eight sets of fathers and sons to represent West Ham United, Frank Lampard and Frank Lampard Junior combined to make 856 first-team appearances for the Irons.
Frank Senior was a buccaneering left-back who won the FA Cup in 1975 and 1980 and two England caps during a memorable 18-season career that totalled no fewer than 670 appearances and 22 goals, including an FA Cup semi-final winner and celebratory jig against Everton in 1980.
Son Frank also came through the ranks at the Academy of Football.
A goal-getting midfielder, he made 186 appearances and hit the net 37 times between 1996-2001, winning the UEFA Intertoto Cup and becoming a full England international in 1999. He went on to earn 106 caps, scoring 29 goals.
Frank Junior joined Chelsea in 2001, went on to become the Blues’ all-time leading scorer and most recently served as head coach at Stamford Bridge.
Everald La Ronde was one of just three Academy of Football graduates to have had the honour of leading West Ham United to FA Youth Cup glory.
Born in East Ham in 1963, La Ronde joined the Hammers as an apprentice after captaining Newham Schools to the English Trophy, before leading the Irons on a stunning run through the FA Youth Cup in 1980/81.
He was part of a side that also included future first-team players Alan Dickens, Paul Allen, Keith McPherson and Bobby Barnes that brushed aside Slough Town, Barking, Swansea City, Cardiff City, Queens Park Rangers and Manchester City, scoring 28 goals in seven matches, to set up a final with Tottenham Hotspur.
A full-back, La Ronde scored in a 5-0 win over Manchester City in the semi-final first leg.
After captaining the Irons to a 2-1 aggregate win over Tottenham, La Ronde made his first team debut in a First Division fixture at Coventry City in April 1982 and remained in the side for the remaining six league games of the season.
He joined AFC Bournemouth in September 1983 and helped Harry Redknapp’s Cherries knock holders Manchester United out of the FA Cup the following January, but injuries restricted his appearances and he retired after a loan spell with Peterborough United in 1985.
La Ronde, whose elder brother Tony also turned professional with the Hammers but never played a first-team game, has worked at Canary Wharf for more than 20 years.
London Olympic Games
West Ham United have been represented by three players at the three Summer Olympic Games hosted by London.
London held the Games for the fi rst time in 1908 and West Ham’s Harry Stapley’s prolific goalscoring saw him selected to represent Great Britain.
The young Hammer was instrumental as the host nation won the Gold, scoring twice in a 12-1 thrashing of Sweden in the fi rst round and all four goals in a 4-0 win over the Netherlands in the semi-finals. A 2-0 win over Denmark in the final at White City meant Great Britain were Olympic champions.
Unfortunately, West Ham’s first Olympian did not hang around to show off his medal, instead taking up a teaching job in Derbyshire and later joining Glossop North End.
With no-one selected in 1948, the Club had two representatives at the London 2012 Summer Games, which were of course hosted at London Stadium.
James Tomkins was selected in the 18-man Team GB squad by former Hammers defender and current first-team coach Stuart Pearce. He was joined by then-West Bromwich Albion defender and current Hammer Craig Dawson.
The Irons’ other representative was Mohamed Diamé, who was named as one of three over-age players and captained Senegal. Future Hammer Cheikhou Kouyaté, then with Belgian club Anderlecht, was also selected.
Both countries were drawn in Group A and both advanced to the quarter-finals. Tomkins started Team GB’s 3-1 win over the United Arab Emirates alongside former Hammer Craig Bellamy, but missed the 1-1 draw with Senegal and 1-0 win over Uruguay.
Diamé started all three group matches and Moussa Konaté scored in all three as Senegal drew 1-1 with Team GB and the UAE either side of a 2-0 win over Uruguay.
Both Hammers were eliminated in the last eight, with Diamé playing 90 minutes of Senegal’s 4-2 extra-time defeat by Mexico, but Tomkins was not involved in Team GB’s penalty shootout loss to South Korea.
Born in Ilford, John Lyall became arguably the most successful manager in West Ham United’s history during an outstanding 15-year spell in charge between 1974 and 1989.
Prior to embarking on his coaching career, Lyall had played for West Ham himself, joining the Club from school and appearing in the 1957 FA Youth Cup final defeat by Manchester United. In 1963, after just 36 first-team appearances at full-back, he was forced to retire due to a knee injury.
Having served his apprenticeship as a coach under Ron Greenwood, Lyall was appointed as manager in August 1974, initially working under the guidance of his mentor, who served as Director of Football until 1977.
Just eight months later, he led West Ham out for the 1975 FA Cup final at Wembley, where they overcame Second Division side Fulham 2-0 through two Alan Taylor goals.
The following season, Lyall guided West Ham to their second European Cup Winners’ Cup final, only for Belgian side Anderlecht to prove too strong in their home city of Brussels
After suffering the disappointment of relegation in 1978, Lyall set about rebuilding his side, signing goalkeeper Phil Parkes from Queens Park Rangers and promising full-back Ray Stewart from Dundee United.
When added to the likes of Alan Devonshire – a 1976 capture from non-league Southall – Billy Bonds, and homegrown stars like Trevor Brooking and Frank Lampard, the Hammers rediscovered their best form, reaching another FA Cup final in 1980. There, Brooking’s header earned the Hammers a shock 1-0 win over top-flight Arsenal.
The following season, 1980/81, Lyall’s West Ham romped to the Division Two title and reached the League Cup final, where they pushed Liverpool all the way before being edged out in a replay.
Known for his loyalty to the ‘West Ham Way’ of playing entertaining, expansive football, Lyall’s Hammers established themselves back in Division One in the early 1980s before the emergence of two strikers took them to a whole new level.
Home grown Tony Cottee, who Lyall handed a debut to at 17 in January 1983, and Scotland international Frank McAvennie combined to score the goals which fired the ‘Boys of ‘86’ to a Club-record third-place finish in Division One in 1985/86.
With Parkes, Stewart and Devonshire joining forces with the two free-scoring forwards, centre-back Alvin Martin and midfielders Alan Dickens and Mark Ward, Lyall had assembled one of the finest sides in the Club’s history.
Unfortunately, West Ham were unable to build on their outstanding season and were relegated at the end of the 1988/89 season. After 34 years of loyal and outstanding service, Lyall departed that summer.
He later served as manager at Ipswich Town, guiding the Suffolk club into the Premier League in 1992, before moving into a Director of Football role and leaving the club in December 1994.
John Lyall passed away on 18 April 2006 at the age of 66. Following his death, he was honoured by the Club, with the main gates at the Boleyn Ground being named in his memory in December 2009. A Heritage Foundation blue plaque has also been unveiled at the stadium.