The West Ham and Bolton Wanderers comparison


Allardyce SamEvery supporter has an idea of their clubs’ status.

Some opinions are justified, some are questionable, and some are just darn-right deluded.

Most West Ham fans would probably fairly judge the team in terms of its standing in the game.

However, comparisons with Bolton Wanderers would probably be met with scorn as we would think of the Hammers higher up in the football hierarchy.

The parallels between the two teams in recent years though mean it is a legitimate gauge of our success. It goes beyond simply having the same boss in Sam Allardyce, there is a striking similarity between squad members.

It was highlighted this week that five current West Ham players were with Bolton back in 2008 (Matt Taylor, Kevin Nolan, Jussi Jaaskelainen, Joey O’Brien, and Ricardo Vaz Te). And we’ve also had Abdoulaye Faye on our books in the past two seasons.

But more than just looking at the personnel, a review of Bolton’s record through the almost ten years Big Sam was involved with the Trotters makes for enviable reading.

They made it to the semi-final of the League and FA Cups in his first season. His side made the final of the League Cup in 2003-04 season, as well finishing eighth.

Bolton finished sixth in 2004-5 qualifying for the UEFA Cup for the first time in the club’s history and in 2005–06, Allardyce once again took the team into the top half of the Premiership as well as guiding them into the knockout rounds in Europe.

Between 2003–04 and 2006–07, Bolton recorded consecutive top-eight finishes, a record of consistency over the same period bettered only by Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal.

He left the club in April 2007, with the club having secured a place in the following season’s UEFA Cup. Although not under Big Sam, that Bolton team made it to the last 16 of the competition.

Europe has to be our aim, and a couple of cup runs on the back of solid league performances would be welcome. Therefore, a record to match Bolton’s doesn’t now seem so underwhelming.

I don’t in any way think those stats are something to be sniffed at, given our inconsistent performances in recent years.

In truth, we could even hope for more. We have had a better start to life back in the Premiership than when Allardyce brought Bolton up. And looking at the evidence, the manager improves given time and stability. We can be quietly confident of emulating, or even eclipsing, the achievements of his Bolton team.

Allardyce also already has a better winning record at West Ham than he had at Bolton.

So ranking West Ham alongside Bolton may not be glamorous, but in a time when a status alongside teams like Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City is unattainable, it should be encouraging to set ourseleves something realistic.

And anyone dismissing Bolton as a club with no culture or heritage should be reminded of who memorably (if not unduly) turned West Ham over in the 1923 FA Cup Final.

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A lifelong West Ham supporter, Kevin is a journalist and editor from Essex now based in Sydney. Defying the time difference, he watches every game, and keeps a close eye on everything happening with The Hammers.


  • ants says:

    what a sensible and coherent article, from my point of view as a wanderers fan all my life i often thought that our team was never given any credence especialy from the the southern press sports writers. Always we were described with derision as a little team near Manchester, not capable nor worthy of being in the same prem league alongside such teams as the footballing academy of WHUFC etc, yet look at your history and look who else has been in the semis and finals and who was described as the Lion of Vienna. Honesty and fairness often takes a back seat from rose tinted glasses and poor or short memories.
    With a greater population area and more money, ie London WHUFC should be able to buy bigger and better, after all youve even been given a brand new football stadium!
    I look forward to meeting you in the same league again soon. Until then; do keep your feet on the ground and your heads out of the clouds.

    PS you do know your called the London Wanderers dont you ! how many now 5 – 6 or 7 ex players lol.

    • The Cat says:

      Oh yes ants, that powerhouse of British football known worldwide, Bolton. Where would the national team and country be without the production line of great footballing talents that come from Bolton?

      Take my advice and concentrate on Bolton fighting their way out of the championship, envy & dreaming can come later.

  • Glenn Byron says:

    Both clubs have similar records of honours and long proud histories and many internationals, inan independent ranking of clubs Bolton stand 17th an West Ham 25th, the Southern bias media might not like that but that’s just the way it is.

  • Geoff says:

    The Cat

    As a Bolton fan for over 50 years- I don’t envy WHU What is there to envy? I think you should re-read the article and also ‘Ants’ sensible response. You should take off your blinkers and look at the facts. Your club has dramatically under performed in the past 15 years, my club has over performed.

  • Andy Mc says:

    Nat Lofthouse…Lion of Vienna

  • Stu says:

    Typical cockney stuck up the backside comments to a decent article left by typical cockneys.

    Still living off the glory of once having an England Captain and a few world cup winners 50yrs ago.

    You’ve done more for hooliganism than English football.

  • Geoff H says:

    Interesting to read this article, but I can’t agree with the conclusion drawn.

    A big factor not mentioned was the playing staff at Bolton during our hay days and what West Ham have now. Yes I agree you have a significant part of our old squad and some have lots to offer, however when we played at our Premiership top 10 finish days with European competitions involvement we had much better players than West Ham have now. Jay Jay Okocha – pure genius, Youri Djorkaeff – World Cup Winner, Gary Speed – Outstanding Talent Iván Campo – Gifted Player, Fernando Ruiz Hierro – Ex Captain Real Madrid, Stelios Giannakopoulosby – winger extraordinaire, Gundi Bergson – The Rock at the Back

    Big Sam and his team had the ‘knack’ of somehow getting an extra 1 to 3 years from players who in all fairness careers were finishing. But not wishing to pour cold water on the West Ham fire the playing staff at West Ham United is not in the same footballing class as the names above, hence emulate the Bolton team of this era…. Sorry no!

  • aceanorak says:

    After reading all the tripe about Sam, please judge him on merit. He is a GOOD manager and we are fortunate to have him. He does not need to explain himself in my eyes and I’ve been visiting Upton Park since 1968. His Bolton record is excellent and if we obtain 75% of what he achieved there, we shall be very lucky indeed. Players respect him, other managers respect him and he has made some shrewd signings. He is asked to do a job and he gets that job done. Stick with it Sam,. Bolton Wanderers miss you, I know they do…

  • Dave the Happy Hammer says:

    Rose tinted glasses aside, I would rather be in the position WHUFC are in right now. IMO, Allardyce has proved himself to be in the top 2 of English managers, Alongside Mr Redknapp. Agreed up till now Bolton have had a slightly better history ad West Ham. Forrtunately the future creates history., and the future is looking bright for West Ham, So we’ll recap in a decade or so. COYI.

    • Ants says:

      Om goodness See how ‘the cat’ replied to my post on here, some guy on your own site originally wrote the piece, i agreed and furthered it and then the cats replied as per most of us would expect. We could go and on about this but “British football known worldwide, Bolton” yes we are, just as the hammers are known abroad too. How well do you think we would have done if we had the free stadium, the greater population, the greater press coverage, the money etc etc. Who owns your club, is it a local man made good ? No i didnt think so! You seem to think that ‘you belong’ and teams’ fromt up north’ like wigan n bolton n everton n city etc are nothing in comparison. How long have your team been in the top flight of english football? Check out the first item and its details. Some of the other fans comments are more reasoned and sensible; Dave the happy hammer – well obviously youd be happier now your managed by a good man and your in the position we were recently in but werent you the typical yoo yoo side until Sam arrived? Thats not a argument its a fact your happy now enjoy it, take your self out of the big or top six teams and your just the same as BWFC, WAFC, RFC, SFC, SFC, BCFC, NFFC, WBFC LUFC etc etc. “slightly better history” umm how many FA cup finals have you been in, or won? Europe etc? anyway this is just banter, so we’ll recap in a decade or so, no keep it real and current – weekly works well! COYI(?) bye for now 🙂

      • Northern Sold says:

        Who owns your club, is it a local man made good ? No i didnt think so!

        You are wrong. David Gold lived in Green Street, Upton Park and has been a West Ham fan all of his life.

        • Dan says:

          Yes, yes it is. His name is Eddie Davies. Good lord, of all the arguments to pick, you pick an incorrect one.

          • Northern Sold says:

            ‘Who owns your club, is it a local man made good ? No i didnt think so!’

            that was a quote from you’re earlier post you fool. I was responding to it.

  • Northern Sold says:

    I have been to Bolton many times to watch West ham play and Bolton always beat us by playing better football. I use to hear some of our fans around me as they complained that that could never watch sh*t like that every week (referring to Bolton’s style of play) and I use to wonder which game they had been watching.

    A lot of our fans are absolutely deluded. We have been crap for decades. We might have a few decent games then revert to the normal crap.

    Sam will be our best manager ever if he is given the time.

  • Ants says:

    see how things move on, were both partially right here, but loyal to our own teams, correct David Gold and his mate lived close, well done, talk about choosing your battles lol yeh theyve made a lot of money out of porno stuff, but my point was also about not having a go at Sam Alladyce who did fantastic for us, and who could do well for you. But more about recieving a new stadium and WHUFC being no bigger or better than a host of other teams. Aceanorak wrote some stuff about us missing Sam as our manager, well hello! of course we do and have missed him badly, we had some bad and some terrible managers since then, (ps we have a decent one just now!), so will you miss him when he moves onto bigger and better or just retires. Anyway today we played Reading and it was a game of two halves, and one bad ref, even Reading said that afterwards!
    We won the first half and they won the second – yeh a game of two halves!

    Upp the ammers eh! n Come on you Whites 🙂

  • Damian says:

    I believe the comparison made is quite valid. I would however like to look into the future (say 5 years) and hear the views of the west ham fans regarding the transition from a ‘big sam’ type team to one that starts to implement a more aesthetically pleasing style of football. As a Bolton fan, I have seen how difficult it can be to change your style of football following a ‘big sam’ reign. Can I suggest west ham start to build this into their structure now to avoid disappointment at a later date.

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