Recently I thought I’d take a trip down memory lane and see what our followers on Twitter would select when offered the chance to choose an All Time XI. Given that social media tends to be more for the young, I wondered if there would be any shocks.
But while most positions went to form – much to the annoyance of some who argued our young followers were only voting on reputation or name and not who they’d seen play – there were some modern players that perhaps clocked up more votes than Hammers of old whose place in history should not be forgotten.
There was one (cheeky) follower who’d asked why Savio Nsereko and Raven Rat weren’t in our list, while another wanted to vote for Marco Boogers. I reassured both that these three would be featuring in a poll in the near future — albeit for a place in our All Time Worst XI! The sight of Christian Dailly in one of the centre back polls left one follower rubbing his eyes, while one follower was aghast that Sir Geoff Hurst secured more votes than Vic Watson.
‘One man played 462 games and scored 298 goals, the other man — albeit an England legend — scored and played a lot less! The people voting on this do not know West Ham,’ he wrote. So who were people voting for in each position? And how did each player fare?
Starting with goalkeepers and the line-up was Phil Parkes, Ernie Gregory, Ludek Miklsko, and Rob Green. This sparked interest from some who felt Bobby Ferguson should have been included while others lamented the zero votes Ernie Gregory received.
Overall it was a tight race between Parkes and the man from near Moscow but Parkes edged it with 59 per cent of the votes. As for the left back berth, Frank Lampard Snr, Julian Dicks, Noel Cantwell and John Charles could all be voted for, and despite one follower suggesting Dicks wasn’t good enough to lace Lampard’s boots, the Terminator clocked up 79 per cent of the vote.
On the other side of defence, Ray Stewart led from start to finish to secure the right back position, receiving 68 per cent of the vote while John Bond (4 per cent), Tim Breaker (5 per cent) and Tomas Repka (23 per cent) never really looked like getting enough votes. We had two spaces up for grabs at centre back with Bobby Moore, Rio Ferdinand, Tony Gale and Steve Potts in one poll, and Alvin Martin, Ken Brown, Christian Dailly and James Collins in the other.
Unsurprisingly Moore was the clear winner in one of the centre back polls with 92 per cent and there were some upset that he didn’t get 100 per cent of the vote and outrage that 6 per cent voted for Rio. And it won’t surprise many to read that Martin dominated the voting for the other position, receiving 80 per cent.
As for the midfield, the left side was contested by Alan Devonshire, Graham Paddon and Matty Etherington while the right-hand side saw Martin Peters, Ronnie Boyce, Mark Ward and Alan Sealey go head-to-head. While there weren’t any comments about anyone missing from either list or the inclusion of some of the above, there were once again two clear winners; Devonshire on the left, Peters on the right with 89 per cent and 79 per cent of their respective votes.
As for the middle of the park, we tried to separate players into ball-winning midfielders and play-making midfielders. Billy Bonds, Scott Parker and Mark Noble were in one poll, while Trevor Brooking, Paolo Di Canio, Joe Cole and Ian Bishop were in the other.
While there were some who felt Paolo Di Canio should have been in the mix for a forward berth rather than being up against Sir Trevor Brooking, the Italian ran Sir Trev pretty close. Sir Trev secured 59 per cent of the vote while Paolo clocked up 35 per cent. You won’t be surprised to read that our Hammer of All Time, Billy Bonds, secured the other berth with 84 per cent vote.
Controversially we opted to go for two up top, and while Sir Geoff Hurst secured one place with 79 per cent of the vote against Vic Watson, Clyde Best and Johnny Byrne, the fight for his partner was much closer. Pop Robson, Tony Cottee, Frank McAvennie, and Carlos Tevez. We knew Tevez would get votes but we were genuinely surprised that he clocked 26 per cent — more than McAvennie (21 per cent) and Robson (9 per cent).
And while some people weren’t happy in deciding between Cottee and McAvennie — they are, to many, the greatest partnership we’ve ever had — Cottee got 44 per cent of the vote and took the final berth in our starting line-up. That leaves us with a starting XI of Parkes, Dicks, Stewart, Moore, Martin, Devonshire, Peters, Bonds, Brooking, Hurst, Cottee.
When all is said and done that’s not a bad starting XI in the slightest. As difficult as it is to choose one player out of so many for each position, those names on one team sheet would excite most Hammers and strike fear into other teams and their supporters. You could, of course, try different formations to accommodate others but that would inevitably lead to the dropping of a Devonshire, Peters or potentially one of the defenders.
Four-four-two felt like the most natural choice but were we to opt for a 4-5-1, I suspect that would have meant Di Canio would get the nod, possibly above Cottee. I’m sure there are many who wouldn’t be appalled by this. What about the subs? How about Miklosko, Lampard Snr, Di Canio, McAvennie, and Watson? That’s my view on the players left.
But if I solely went on votes then it’d be: Miklosko, Repka, Di Canio, McAvennie and Tevez. It wouldn’t be to everyone’s liking but, again, that’s not a bad bench – plenty of passion. I’m pleased with how this experiment went. I’m delighted by the hundreds of votes our polls received, the conversation it sparked, and the comments made.
You are never going to have a starting XI that everyone agrees upon but, thanks to our Twitter followers, we’ve got an impressive line-up of stars that I’m sure most Hammers would agree is pretty strong.