February brings yet another London derby when we take on our West End neighbours Fulham. Our games against the Cottagers have been few and far between over the last few years what with Fulham having spent the last few years in the Championship, and after promotion last season it seems their recent form – or lack of it – could see them return from whence they came.
For those of us of a certain age, a game against Fulham does conjure up certain memories and one particular memory stands out to this fifty plus year old – the 1975 FA Cup Final when two goals from Alan Taylor secured the cup for the Hammers. But there was an added point of interest as a certain Bobby Moore was playing at the back for the lily-white of Fulham.
This particular fact made me wonder if any other players have crossed the capital and played for both clubs and I was surprised at just how many there were! I’ve already mentioned Bobby Moore but I could not give Bobby the justice he deserves because he is probably the greatest player to play for the Hammers let alone both clubs.
So let’s start with a former three-time Hammer of the year – Scotty Parker. Scotty maybe more associated with Charlton than Fulham, but while the stats show that Parker spent a third of his career at the Valley, he played more game for the Hammers.
Despite never being our captain, he was in all but name and showed those leadership talents time after time. Those of us who witnessed our second half performance against West Brom at the Hawthorns in 2011 are testament to that. But this additional fact may surprise some, Scotty actually appeared in 119 games for Fulham, six more than for the Hammers.
Parker ended his career at the Cottage on a bit of a negative as Fulham were relegated in that 2017 season. He arrived at Fulham late in his career and it has to be said that his golden years were in the claret and blue, but that cannot be said though of the next player in my list a certain Bobby Zamora.
Bobby may have played a load more games in the claret and blue but it was his influence at Fulham that really stood out as he was instrumental in taking Fulham to their very first European final where they lost to Atletico Madrid.
His performances for Fulham even earned him two England caps. Bobby was one of our own; A West Ham fan and a player I personally felt we sold far too soon but I guess the lure of a transfer fee of £4.8 million was too much for the two Davids.
Bobby famously scored the winner against Preston North End in the 2005 Championship play off final, ending our two year sentence in that lower league. He may not rank as a Fulham or indeed a West Ham legend but the word great comes to mind. Bobby Zamora we salute you.
Next up comes a real plethora of defenders. The first I would like to mention is one who became a bit of a cult hero mainly for what he did off the field rather than on it. In fact he was part of the deal that took the already mentioned Bobby Zamora to Fulham, I give you Johnny Pantsil.
Pantsil may not have played many games for the Hammers but that didn’t stop him being a crowd favourite. He even did a lap of honour on his return to the Boleyn when playing for the Cottagers, which was pretty odd.
He had better times at Fulham playing 75 times for the Cottagers to just 24 for the Hammers, most of those as a substitute. Sadly the Ghanaian international cannot be called a great unlike the next player on my list, a certain West Ham-supporting left back with a Polish great grandad; I give you Paul Konchesky.
Konchesky was yet another player that came to the Hammers via Charlton but unlike Scotty Parker, Paul was a graduate of Tony Carr’s academy and was once a West Ham season ticket holder. Surprisingly he only played 70 times for the Hammers before falling out with then Hammers manager Alan Curbishley and joining Fulham for £3.25 million where he then played 97 games scoring two goals.
Konchesky also scored just two for the Hammers but one of those was pretty memorable. Was it a cross or a shot? We will never know but one thing we do know was that his goal in the 2006 FA Cup final would have been the winning one if it wasn’t for a certain Steven Gerrard.
If it was not for that stroke of Liverpool luck, he just may have gone down as a West Ham legend but instead it’s a case of what could have been. I mentioned earlier that there was whole host of defenders who have played for both clubs, well how about this lot: Andy Melville, Tony Gale, Wayne Bridge, Ian Pearce, Lucas “Woopi Goldberg” Brevett to name but a few.
I could have added a few forwards, namely Leroy Rosenior or even Iain “male model” Dowie, but I would like to end by mentioning a midfield giant that split opinion amongst West Ham fans. I’m not talking about Papa Bouba Diop, no the man I’m talking about is a certain Portuguese international who went by the name of Luis Boa Morte.
Boa Morte became a favourite amongst Fulham supporters whilst he played for them, and he was considered something of a cult hero with his ability to, I’m told, ‘cause panic like an unpinned grenade in the opposition ranks’. Scoring over 40 goals in just under 200 games for Fulham made it look as if the Hammers had won the jackpot when he jumped ship and crossed London.
Sadly it was not to be and a return of just two goals during 91 appearances can hardly be called prolific. For every good game he seemed to have two bad ones and eventually his contract was cancelled by mutual consent.
So there’s my brief summary of those that have played for both clubs and on reflection I think that in general us Hammers got the better deal. We had players when they were on the rise rather than on the decline – well I did say that Boa Morte split opinion didn’t I!