Past matters: We look back at 100 years of football against The Villa.

No West Ham keeper has kept more clean sheets against Aston Villa than Phil Parkes.

Every game that West Ham plays has the potential to produce a unique feat. Sadly, most of us remain blissfully unaware of the records and history that each game may create.

Obviously, there is no blame to be apportioned here. Fans do not generally retain every single statistic on previous West Ham matches. But it is those very statistics that provide us with the perspective we need to add a little more intrigue and knowledge to each game we attend.

Following West Ham is a serious business and of the 900 plus players to have pulled on the shirt over the past 117 years we have a sacred 41 players that have winning cup medals. 52 if we include the 1940 War Cup team. No more than that as I simply cannot include the Intertoto Cup and for this I offer no apology.

The plain truth is that hidden amongst those 117 years are both individual and team achievements which cannot be buried in history. We simply cannot allow it because to do so would be to ignore the contribution of too many former players that have toiled hard for the West Ham United.

It follows that I have set down a few things about the great old match-up between West Ham and Aston Villa that will hopefully make this encounter, a full 100 years on from our rst ever game against The Villa, all the more exciting.

No West Ham keeper has kept more clean sheets against Aston Villa than Phil Parkes. He has a total of five on the record books; two in the league, two in the league cup and that unforgettable clean sheet in the FA Cup sixth round in 1980. We are forever in Phil’s debt for adding to that clean sheet in the final against Arsenal.

Ludek Miklosko holds the record for most clean sheets in the league with a total of four. He is also one of only two goalkeepers to keep home and away clean sheets in a single season, the other being Shaka Hislop.

Marlon Harewood is one of only three Hammers to score a hat trick against Aston Villa (2005-06). Stan Earle (1925- 26) and the peerless Victor Waton (1926-27) are the other two.

It should be noted that many of West Ham’s great goalscoring records generally lead a path to Victor Watson, the club’s all-time leading goal scorer. The fact that we do not have a visible tribute to him at the club is an embarrassment. Perhaps someone will research the other top flight teams and see how they preserve the memory of their all-time leading goal scorers. I do know that my favourite pre-War player away from West Ham – Dixie Dean – has a rather nice statue of himself at Goodison Park.

Continuing with Victor and he holds the record for the most goals, scored by a Hammer against Aston Villa. His tally of 18 will be safe for the next 100 years. Vic also bagged six in the 1929-30 season, comprising of hat tricks both at home and away. Now that is my kind of symmetry. Furthermore, Vic is in another league of his own in that he is the only Hammer to score three career hat tricks against Aston Villa.

Aston Villa’s superbly named, Pongo Waring holds the record for scoring the most goals against West Ham in a Villa shirt. He nabbed four goals in two separate games in consecutive seasons (30-31 and 31-32). No Villa player has scored more than eight career goals against the Hammers and no other Villa player has scored a hat trick in the 80 years since Pongo’s achievements. Long may it continue!

The most goals by a West Ham team against The Villa is seven during 1958- 59. Vic Keeble, John Dick and Malcolm Musgrove all nabbed two a piece with Bill Lansdowne notching the other. It was West Ham’s first season back in the top flight after a 26 year absence. It wasn’t until 1985-86 that West Ham repeated the feat of having at least two players scoring a brace a piece in a game against Aston Villa. Tony Cottee and Frank McAvennie illuminated a Saturday in October on that occasion.

I’ll leave you with a few things to look out for in today’s encounter against our claret and blue counterparts from the Midlands; No West Ham defender has scored against Villa since Julian Dicks netted from the spot in 1995-96.

You will have to go back to Kenny Brown in 1991-92 to find a West Ham defender to score from open play – ahh, run that 25 yarder by me one more time!

A West Ham striker hasn’t failed to score against Villa in a single season throughout this century and it is a fixture which has been kind to former stars such as Di Canio and Ashton but also a game that has been memorable to lesser known strikers such as Zafon Hines and Diego Tristan.

It is interesting to note that no West Ham player has ever made his debut v Aston Villa at The Boleyn and lost. Alf Earl, Ernest England, Paolo Alves and Carlos Tevez are all members of a very select club. However there is one more name to add to that list which has greater significance than the rest; Craig Forrest is the only West Ham keeper ever to make his debut v Aston Villa and it came in a game at The Boleyn in a 3-0 victory. Let’s hope he has to receive another West Ham keeper into his very exclusive club.

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