He’s 70 years old and still going strong but, boy, don’t we need a Billy Bonds in our team right now?
Bonzo made headlines last month for saying the London Stadium was not ‘a football stadium’, lacked atmosphere and that it would take time to adapt but he certainly didn’t write it off completely. His plea for fans to embrace our new home says a lot about the man and the kind of player he was. He was a force and someone who would pull everyone up by their boot straps. My earliest memories of him are of a commanding figure, a private man but very classy.
He was very focused on the job he had and you speak to anyone he played with and they’ll say he was the best trainer and everyone looked up to him. He was old school, he never ducked out of a challenge but he could play as well. He had natural talent, could score goals and was comfortable with the ball at his feet.
“Six foot two and eyes of blue” Bonds once had a persistent toe injury and was faced with an agonising decision. He could either end his West Ham playing career or have the toe amputated, and get back into the team. The toe got the chop. Now that’s what you call a Hammers hero.
He gave everything. in claret and blue and was the kind of captain that everyone would want in their team. He had dignity and integrity and is the type of player that is sometimes lacking in today’s game. Don’t get me wrong, Bonzo did play for West Ham and we certainly didn’t win every game with him as captain. He had to endure some bad times but we had some of our best moments in our history with him at the club.
As well as our players did last season, they seem to be missing a bit of direction and real leadership at the moment. We look a bit lost and I’d love to see a player like Bonzo playing in the claret and blue today. I know we are getting used to and settling into the new place but it hasn’t been the start that everyone would have wanted. Maybe Slaven Bilic is suffering a bit from the dreaded Second Season Syndrome. I’m hoping it’s just a tiny blip.
Yes, we got the fi rst win at the stadium early on but it didn’t light any fi res. Bonzo would have given them all a bit of a shake up. You don’t see anyone shouting on the pitch and getting their team mates as motivated as Bonzo did – maybe everyone is lacking a bit of confi dence?
He was a natural leader who was with us for 27 years as a player and manager and I can’t see that happening again at West Ham unless Mark Noble keeps going. What he did as captain was incredible and in my family he was our idol – my little brother was even named aft er him. I know there is a giant ‘Bonds’ number 4 shirt hanging up in our new home and a stone has been laid in Champions Place but I feel there is more we can do to honour the great servant Billy Bonds that was to our club.
I’m sure most fans would agree that he deserves the best. To me, he is up there with Bobby Moore and Sir Trevor Brooking with what he did for West Ham in terms of silverware, loyalty and giving everything. He was Hammer of the Year four times but the lifetime achievement award he was given in 2013 is not enough. I would urge the club to make sure they give Bonzo the recognition he deserves…one of the last, true working-class heroes.