The return of three Hammers favourites this summer has been welcomed with great optimism by the West Ham faithful.
We all knew George McCartney would sign a permanent deal following his successful loan spell last season, while James Collins’ and Yossi Benayoun’s return to Upton Park put smiles on everyone’s faces. It got me thinking of other players that have had successful spells at Upton Park before leaving and then returning several years later. Can’t think of many? Here are a few successful ones to jog your memory:
TONY COTTEE Spells: 82-88 & 94-97 Total West Ham Apps: 336 Total West Ham Goals: 146
At the age of 17, Cottee made his first team debut on New Years Day 1983 in a First Division clash with Tottenham, scoring in a 3-0 victory. He went on to appear eight times in that 1982/83 season, scoring five goals. Five successful years at Upton Park followed as he went on to make 247 appearances in all competitions, scoring 113 goals. His goals almost fi red the Hammers to the First Division title in the 1985/86 season, with West Ham finishing third and just four points off the title.
The striker became the most expensive player in British football when Everton forked out £2.2million for him in August 1988. He scored a hat-trick on his Toffees debut and made 226 overall appearances in six seasons for the Goodison Park side, scoring 82 goals. In September 1994 he returned to Upton Park, but was sent off on his second debut in a 0-0 draw away to Liverpool. He stayed at Upton Park for a further two seasons, scoring 28 goals in 80 appearances in all competitions.
Cottee was sold to Malaysian side Selangor in 1996, where he scored 17 goals in 31 appearances, before he returned to England to sign for Leicester City. The front man played for a further four years before retiring, turning out for Leicester City in two separate spells, Birmingham, Norwich, Barnet (as playermanager) and, finally, Millwall.
FRANK MCAVENNIE Spells: 85-87 & 89-92 Total West Ham Apps: 191 Total West Ham Goals: 60
The Scottish striker spent fi ve years at St Mirren before moving to Upton Park in 1985 for £340,000. He formed an immediate partnership with Tony Cottee and found the net in the league 26 times in his fi rst season at the club, helping the Hammers to a third place fi nish in the First Division. His second season wasn’t quite as successful as he could only manage a mere seven league goals in 36 games. McAvennie began the 1987-88 season with West Ham, but was sold to Celtic for £750,000 in October ‘87 after failing to fi nd the net once in eight outings
Two successful seasons at Celtic followed as he rediscovered his goal scoring form. Twenty seven league goals in 55 matches made him hot property once more and West Ham brought him back to East London as their new record signing in (£1.2million) in 1989. His second spell at Upton Park wasn’t as successful as his fi rst and a broken leg in August 1989 had him watching from the sidelines for seven months as the Hammers missed out on the Division Two play-offs.
Despite making a return from his injury in the 1990/91 season, McAvennie could only manage 16 goals in 54 league appearances in his final two seasons at the club. Spells with Villa, Cliftonville, South China, Celtic, Swindon (loan), Airdrieonians and Flakirk followed before he ended his career at St. Mirren.
JULIAN DICKS Spells: 88-93 & 94-99 Total West Ham Apps: 326 Total West Ham Goals: 65
Dicks was first signed for West Ham by John Lyall in 1988 from Birmingham for £300,000. The Hammers were relegated in his first season, but were promoted two seasons later. A knee injury picked up in the 1990/91 season eventually brought an end to his career, but that did not stop him playing on for a further ten years. His first spell at Upton Park saw him make 203 overall appearances, scoring 40 goals.
Dicks was regularly booked and sent off throughout his career, but that didn’t stop him earning a dream move to Liverpool in 1993. His Anfield career didn’t work out, though, and he returned to East London just a year later. His old knee injury forced him to miss the entire 1997/98 season and then restricted him to just nine top-flight appearances the following season. West Ham eventually terminated his contract at the end of the 1998/99 season, which also saw Dicks retire from football. Still, Dicks managed to make 128 appearances for the Hammers, netting 25 times, in the five years after he returned from Liverpool.
Dicks did come out of retirement in 2001 to turn out for non-League side Canvey Island, although he only made four appearances.
SHAKA HISLOP Spells: 98-02 & 05-06 Total West Ham Apps: 157 Total West Ham Clean Sheets: 50
The Trinidad & Tobago goalkeeper arrived at Upton Park from Newcastle in 1998 and immediately became a hit with the Hammers’ faithful, winning Hammer of the Year in his first season. The following season, Hislop broke his leg in the thrilling 5-4 win over Bradford City at Upton Park, an injury that kept him on the sidelines for the rest of the season.
The 2001/02 season saw manager Glenn Roeder sign David James from Aston Villa, which ultimately consigned Hislop to the bench. However, an unfortunate knee-injury to James saw Hislop re-instated to the starting line-up for 12 games, a period in which he kept five clean sheets. Hislop, however, was released on a free at the end of the season, and he joined former Hammers boss Harry Redknapp at Portsmouth.
Hislop spent three years at Fratton Park, but he returned to Upton Park in July 2005, despite knowing he was only going to be cover for Roy Carroll. Carroll picked up a recurring back injury, though, and Hislop was given his change in the Hammers’ starting line-up again. His one-season return to West Ham saw him play in every FA Cup game as they reached the FA Cup Final, losing to Liverpool on penalties after a thrilling 3-3 draw.