Jim Standen watches Worcestershire in action in April 1964

West Ham United's historic links with cricket

As the 2024 County Cricket season gets underway on Friday, we look back on the links between West Ham United and Britain’s traditional summer sport…


There was a time when many footballers spent their summer months not by sunning themselves on beaches, but by pulling on their whites and playing cricket!

No fewer than six West Ham United players of days gone by played first-class cricket.

The first was legendary centre forward Syd Puddefoot, who played eight matches for Essex between 1922-23, scoring 101 runs with a top score of 42, and taking one wicket.

George Eastman kept wicket for Essex between 1926-29, playing 48 first-class matches, but his average of 6.97 suggested he was in the team for his glovework rather than his batting!

CricketRon Tindall, who had a prolific strike partnership with Jimmy Greaves at Chelsea before joining West Ham for a short period in 1961, was an outstanding all-rounder for Surrey, scoring 5,446 runs with a top score of 109 not out, and taking 150 wickets as an off-spinner between 1956-66.

Amazingly, Tindall played sport all year round, combining his football career with Chelsea, West Ham, Reading and Portsmouth with his cricket career with Surrey. He even negotiated with Chelsea to miss the first and last months of the football season to don his whites!

Defender Eddie Presland also turned out a total of 54 times for Essex between 1962-72 in first-class and one-day cricket, scoring 812 runs and taking 16 wickets. He later emigrated to South Africa before returning to east London and managing Dagenham FC to an FA Trophy final victory over Mossley at Wembley in 1980.

Goalkeeper Jim Standen (pictured, top) was West Ham’s most successful cricketer. He enjoyed an amazing 1964, winning the FA Cup with West Ham and County Championship with Worcestershire. A right-arm seamer, Standen took 313 first-class wickets at an average of 25.34, in addition to 43 one-day wickets at an even better average of just 18.44. He also weighed in with over 2,300 runs as a lower-order batsman, with two half-centuries.

And finally, Standen’s 1964 FA Cup and 1965 European Cup Winners’ Cup winning teammate Geoff Hurst turned out once for Essex in 1962, but failed to score a single run!

Graham Gooch training with West Ham UnitedBack in the 1960s and 1970s, West Ham players also turned out in charity matches.

One such game saw Hurst, Bobby Moore and Johnny Byrne (pictured) feature in a Footballers XI against a Cricketers XI at Selhurst Park in July 1964, with the proceeds going to Surrey and England batsman Ken Barrington and Crystal Palace’s long-serving groundman Charlie Carlett.

Despite facing some fearsome bowling, all three men reached double figures, with Moore top scoring with 20, as the Cricketers, captained by Surrey masseur Sandy Tait, edged out the Footballers, led by Palace and England forward Ronnie Allen, by six runs.

Legendary Essex and England opening batsman Graham Gooch (pictured) trained with John Lyall’s squad in the off-season during the 1980s to keep fit, and still attends matches as a supporter, while former Essex captain Paul Prichard and current opening bowler Jamie Porter are also keen West Ham fans.

Porter and his teammates paraded the County Championship Division One trophy at London Stadium after winning the title in October 2017, while members of Australia's Ashes squad joined former captains Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting at West Ham's home for a Premier League fixture with Manchester City during the 2019 Ashes series.

And, of course, current England, Northern Superchargers and Royal Challengers Bangalore fast bowler Kate Cross is the daughter of 1980 FA Cup winner David Cross!