I t’s fair to say that West Ham is a way of life for us all with a gathering of friends and family coming together on a Saturday to cheer on the boys in claret and blue.
In fact, it is due to those family links that most of us came to support West Ham – the love of the club being passed on from one generation to the next and I’d say that as you look around the crowds at Upton Park, it’s fairly common to see fathers and sons at the games together. What isn’t so common though, is when the generational shared love spills from the stands and out onto the pitch – yet it seems to be that sons have tread the same hallowed turf as their fathers more at the Boleyn Ground than most.
Kenny Brown Snr was a local lad from Dagenham so it was no surprise he was picked up by West Ham in the early 50s, making his debut in 1953. As part of the Malcom Allison era, he was first choice centre half and an established first teamer with an England cap by the time a young Bobby Moore came into the team. He made a total of 386 league appearances, the highlight of which was the successive Wembley cup finals in 1964 and 1965.
Kenny Brown Jnr was born in 1967, just as his father was leaving the club. Despite the nomadic career of Kenny Snr, Kenny Jnr found his own way to Upton Park via Norwich and Plymouth, being signed by Billy Bonds in 1991. A less illustrious career compared to his father, he only made 63 appearances at full back for the Hammers but he will forever be remembered for his goal against Manchester United that prevented them from winning the Premier League
Probably the most famous father and son duo to don the claret and blue and proof habit is tough to break with both football clubs and Christian names. Frank Senior is a club legend, having made 660 appearances at left back. An impressive 22 goals were scored form the full back position, the most famous of which was the winner in the 1980 FA Cup Semi Final at Elland Road, followed by his jig around the corner flag. Frank Snr forged a strong friendship with Bobby Moore throughout his time at Upton Park, and it was the lure of linking up with Bobby at Southend that finally ended his association with West Ham in 1985.
Frank Jnr, is not as fondly remembered as his father, despite going on to achieve many great things in the game. Coming into the team under the cloud of nepotism claims, he firmly established himself in the first team until the sacking of Uncle Harry and Dad Frank caused him to throw his toys out of the pram and leave under a dark cloud.
A public disdain of the way he perceived his treatment to have been during his time mean that rather than taking pride in one of our own making 106 England appearances, and winning countless trophies – he will forever be held in contempt at the Boleyn.
In recent times, there’s been somewhat of a baby boom of ex-players from the 90s’ children coming through our youth team ranks at the moment. It’s fitting that one of the most promising of these are the Potts.
Steve was an American-born youth team graduate and played 505 times for the first team in a career stretching from 1985 to 2002. Taking over the captaincy after Julian Dicks left for Liverpool, he was a twice Hammer of the Year. His one and only goal came in the 1990/91 promotion campaign in a 7-1 victory against Hull. In recent years, he has coached the Under 16’s and Under 18’s Development squads.
From those development squads, son Daniel has recently arrived at the end of the conveyor belt and into the first team squad. Despite playing only a handful of first team games so far, and finding himself behind new signing Aaron Cresswell at left back, he is well thought of within the club. Successful loan spells at Colchester and Portsmouth have helped him to gain first team experience.
John amassed cult status during his nine year spell at West Ham, having previously plied his trade at Tottenham and Swindon. During his 176 appearances, he was always more likely to find himself in the referee’s notebook rather than on the score sheet. Geroge has so far only been limited to a smattering of cup appearances, but seems to have carried his father’s combativeness into his game, picking up a yellow in the crushing 5-0 defeat at Nottingham Forest in January. Currently on loan at Colchester.
Rob Lee is probably more famous for being a West Ham fan than he is for being a West Ham player. Featured in 16 games during our Championship season in 2003/4. Son Elliott has also experienced a limited number of games in the first team, but is rated as one of the hottest prospects at the club. Similar to George Moncur, a loan move will be expected soon to further his education.
Other Family Matters
Whilst not strictly players, physiotherapy duties were passed from Bill Jenkins to son Rob Jenkins meaning they looked after the wellbeing of the players from 1959 until 1990. Other notable mentions must be for Paul, Martin and Clive Allen (cousins) who all pulled on the claret and blue, and also for the uncle/ nephew team of Alan Sealey, scorer of both goals in our 1965 Cup Winners Cup game vs 1860 Munich, and Les, who joined us as goalkeeper in his twilight of his career
Who will be the next inter-generation pairing? Which of the current crop are likely to keep it in the family? Will future generations of Nobles be patrolling our midfield? Young Carroll’s troubling our injury tables? Either way, one thing is apparent. The club must have the same allure to some of the players as it does the fans.