With it being Halloween season, it is appropriate to figure out a West Ham XI that would strike fear into the hearts of the opposition. Using that theme, I have devised an all-time West Ham hard man XI
Goalkeeper was the hardest position to fill, goalies not really being known for their hard man tendencies. But Ludo was by no means a weak goalie, and never afraid of a physical challenge, so he makes the cut.
The back three picks itself. Snarling Pearce never backed out of a challenge. He once broke his leg in a tackle while playing for the Hammers, and carried on playing as if nothing had happened! Coupled with his demon left foot and killer free kicks, he was a player the opposition never looked forward to seeing.
Ruddock had a tendency to wind up opposition players, goading Patrick Vieira into getting sent off for spitting at him. He used to turn down Eric Cantona’s famous “popped collar”, a brave move considering Cantona is notorious for kicking people in the head.
Not much needs to be said about Repka. He got sent off on his West Ham debut and managed one full game after returning from suspension before being sent off again.
Julian Dicks and Billy Bonds
The only way to fit everyone in this team was to play Dicks and Bonds as wingbacks. Bonds is the ultimate West Ham man, and though he was not the biggest, he always played with no fear, and punched far above his weight in challenges and against larger opponents. Bonds was a hard man that hard men aspired to be.
Julian Dicks aka The Terminator again is a player known for kicking opponents and scoring outrageous goals with his sweet left foot. Some of his tackles were so over the top that they started mass fights, including in his testimonial game, a match that was supposed to be a friendly!
Peter Butler, Martin Allen and John Moncur
Peter Butler is a slightly less known name, but was instrumental in getting us promoted in the 1992-3 season. A player you know would give his all for the team, Peter Storrey has been quoted as saying he’d have played even with two broken legs.
Martin Allen received his nickname when Julian Dicks commented after training one day that the saliva encrusted round his mouth made him look like a rabid dog. The nickname couldn’t have suited Allen more. Once booked within 20 seconds of being on the pitch for a challenge, which was suspected to have broken the opponent’s leg, Mad Dog Allen epitomises the characteristics of this team.
Here, there, and everywhere, Johnny Moncur, while not a typical hard man, was nevertheless a good candidate for a quick booking every game. Moncur famously raised clenched fists to the travelling West Ham support after being sent off away to Sp*rs, a game we went on to win.
Keith Robson could have been described, like Sebastien Schemmel, as being “phenomenally unstable”. One of the heroes of our 1975/6 Cup Winners’ Cup campaign – scoring in both the semi-final and the final – he was once famously bailed out of Ilford Police Station by Ron Greenwood for driving the wrong way up a one way street while highly intoxicated (allegedly). George Burley’s false tooth will attest to Robson’s hard man status.
“Psycho” Cross, forever revered for his four goal salvo at Wh*te H*rt L*ne also terrorised Arsenal’s back for with a one-man assault in the 1980 FA Cup final. He led the line bravely and fiercely throughout his time at West Ham, never ducked a tackle and wasn’t afraid to put his head where others would not even put their feet.
This is an XI that would make opponents tremble in their boots. If I’ve missed anyone let me know in the comments or on twitter @myers_whu.