Past Matters

Tim Crane makes sense of 106 years of football between the Hammers and the Gunners

Trevor Brooking has scored the most famous goal against Arsenal but a little known statistic is that a 16 year gap exists between his first ever goal against Arsenal (1967- 68) and his final goal against them (1983-84). There simply will never be another.

Only two Hammers have scored hat tricks against Arsenal. The peerless Victor Watson bagged the first in a 7-0 trouncing of the Gunners in 1927-28. That score line remains the biggest margin of victory between the two clubs. Dave Dunmore scored the only other hat trick during a 6-0 massacre in 1960-61. That score line remains the second biggest margin of victory.

No Hammer has scored more goals against Arsenal than Victor Watson. His career tally of 14 in our shirt will not be beaten Sir Geoffrey Hurst, Budgie Byrne and Alan Taylor who scored six apiece while Di Canio hit three which gives you an idea of the insurmountable challenge facing all future West Ham goal scorers. Certain conditions are needed for many of Victor Watson’s records to be challenged and loyalty, a nose for goal and an incompetent Arsenal defence is not a combination that exists in football these days.

Arsenal are a tough nut to crack and since the first league encounter between the two teams in 1923-24 (the first ever game came in the FA Cup in 1906) West Ham has achieved the double on only two occasions; 1964-65 and 2006-07. However, West Ham has a proud record against Arsenal on several levels. Aside from Trevor’s header in 1980 a pulse of excitement still dances in the heads of all that saw Alan Taylor’s brace at Highbury in the 1975 FA Cup 6th Round. Of course, we must not forget the joy of winning our final league game at Highbury in 2004-05 courtesy of Matthew Etherington, Nigel Reo Coker and, of course, Bobby Zamora.

Today’s game offers an opportunity to our defenders to be the most recent to score against Arsenal since former Hammer of the Year Stuart Pearce did it during 2000- 2001. Once again both Bobby Moore and Billy Bonds lead by example as being among the very few West Ham defenders to teach the Gunners where their own back foot exists.

The final word this week goes to the incomparable John Bond who passed away last week at the age of 79 after a battle against cancer. His 444 games at right back, 1964 FA Cup success and 15 year career in the shirt is just a small part of a personality that was forged by an indomitable spirit, a kick like a mule, the star qualities he studied in both Malcolm Allison and his all-time football hero, Ron Greenwood and a raw passion for all things West Ham. Whoever is up there better start preparing themselves for football chatter well into the Our thoughts are with his wife, Janet, son Kevin and daughter Toni.

Until the next time, always remember, the past matters.

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