With the trip to Everton coming up later this month, I had a look at a few players who had played for both clubs and one name stood out for me – and I had to find out more.
Not Tony Cottee, Don Hutchinson or Thomas Hitzlsperger but that of Danny Williamson. A player with so much promise but who never fulfilled his potential, or so I’m told. His professional career lasted just four and half years having been cut short by injury and, even now, you still have to feel for Newham-born Williamson who was one of the most exciting youngsters to make the step up from our famed academy in the early 1990s.
He became a professional for West Ham in July 1992 but he was shipped out to nonleague side, Farnborough Town on loan soon aft er signing his first professional contract. Th e right-footed attacking midfielder made a total of six appearances between February and March 1993 for Boro before the then 19-yearold moved to Doncaster Rovers on loan.
Aft er scoring three goals in 16 league and cup appearances for the then Third Division side, Williamson ended the 1993/94 season by playing the final three games for West Ham. On his debut for the Hammers, Williamson celebrated a 2-0 win away against Arsenal and he didn’t have to wait long for his fi rst goal for West Ham aft er he found the back of the net in our 3-3 draw against Southampton in May 1994.
An ankle injury and fierce competition with the likes of John Moncur and Don Hutchison making a name for themselves, Williamson struggled to make the starting XI , managing only four appearances in the 1994/95 season. Th e following season, however, saw the midfielder find his form again. He played a vital role in West Ham’s success, where we finished in the top half of the table for the first time in 10 years.
Having made 37 appearances throughout the 1995/1996 season and scoring four goals, he was praised by fans, teammates and even his manager at the time, Harry Redknapp. Redknapp said: ‘He was an outstanding passer of the ball and I always thought he was going to be a very good player. He had a terrific shot on him.’
Ongoing ankle injuries continued to cause Williamson difficulty until he had surgery in March 1997. During his time at the club, Williamson made a total of 58 league and cup appearances for the Hammers, scoring five goals.
In August 1997, Williamson moved to Everton in an exchange for David Unsworth, who was commonly referred to as ‘Rhino’. Th is deal was expected to be beneficial for both clubs, as Howard Kendall looked to strengthen Everton’s midfield and Redknapp was on the lookout for cover for Julian Dicks who has out with a longterm injury.
While Unsworth struggled to settle in London and soon moved to Aston Villa before returning to Everton, the Toffees were equally let down. Ironically, aft er beating West Ham 2-1 on his Everton debut, a talented but injury-ridden Williamson made only 17 appearances before picking up a foot injury against Wimbledon, requiring immediate surgery. Th e signing of Williamson proved to be a costly one for Everton aft er on-going complications following the operation led him to miss a full two seasons.
Aft er returning to training in September 1999, despite being adamant that his injury problems were behind him, Williamson was clearly struggling and broke down again. Williamson never played another game for Everton’s first-team and his contract was ended in September 2000, marking the end of his playing career. A quick Google search reveals that the 42-yearold now invests in property in Portugal but still keeps an eye on his beloved West Ham.