Throughout the years West Ham have provided us loyal fans with many heroes. Though the likes of Bobby Moore, Trevor Brooking, Billy Bonds, Julian Dicks and Paolo Di Canio are pretty obvious, there are many other fan favourites who don’t as often get a look in when West Ham legends are mentioned. For once, I want to talk about them!
Signing from Dundee United for £430,000, ‘Tonka’ was at the time Britain’s most expensive teenager. He was part of a golden age for West Ham where he was a member of the squad that won the 1980 FA Cup, 1981 2nd Division and was runners up in the same year’s League Cup final. He also had a wicked right foot from 12 yards, scoring 76 penalties for The Hammers, the most famous being the equaliser in the 1981 League Cup Final. Committed and tough, Stewart was sent off just twice in his West Ham career, on both occasions for ‘disagreeing’ with officials. It’s just a shame his career was cut short by injuries. David Cross
‘Psycho’ had a lot of clubs throughout his career but had most success and his longest duration, at any club, with West Ham. Winning the FA Cup in the same side as Stewart above, the following season saw Cross win the Golden Boot in our promotion season with 34 goals. More impressively, on two separate occasions, Cross scored four goals in a single game. Once against Grimsby, and the other against T*ttenham. Cross scored goals wherever he went, but for scoring four versus T*ttenham, he deserves to be treated as an all-time legend. Clyde Best MBE
6ft 2 and with the build of a ‘traditional’ English centre forward, Clyde was one one the pioneers of black footballers in the English game. Uncomprimisingly tough, Best had to deal with racism in the game, winning over West Ham fans with his ability and passion for the side. He made his debut for West Ham at the age of 18 and for his native Bermuda at 15. Making 218 appearances in a time when it was difficult for black players to make strides in the sport, Clyde won the hearts of the fans, and an MBE for his services to football and community in Bermuda. Martin Allen
One of my first heroes, ‘Mad Dog’ was known for his goalscoring exploits from midfield, sense of humour, and occasional poor discipline. Signed by Lou Macari, Allen made his main impact under Macari’s successor the legendary Billy Bonds in the 1991 and 1993 promotion seasons. Making well over 200 appearances for The Hammers and scoring over 30 goals in all competitions, Mad Dog left in 1995 after failing to feature in Harry Redknapp’s plans. Stan Lazaridis
Lazaridis has a special place in my heart. At a time that West Ham had TWO Australian wingers in Robbie Slater and Lazaridis, Stan generally was the better. He scored a blinding 40 yard goal against Newcastle in the late nineties and, in my opinion, was cruelly overlooked by Harry. Signed from West Adelaide as a complete unknown, ‘Skippy’ was one of the newer breed of wide players that would cross the ball without beating the player, and, as mentioned previously, also had a great shot on him. In search of first team football, Lazaridis left for Birmingham for a little over £1.5 million.
These are just five players who sprang to mind when I was asked to name fan favourites. All of them, bar maybe Clyde Best aren’t massively obvious and I hope you enjoyed my quick trip down memory lane.