‘Ballon D’awson taught us to never judge a book by its cover’

Craig Dawson's arrival was seen a joke but he was one of our best modern day signings

Craig Dawson (WHU) at the Arsenal v West Ham United EPL match, at the Emirates Stadium, London, UK on 11th December, 2021.

We’ve all known for a while now that Craig Dawson wanted to leave to go back to his family. Still, that didn’t make the news that he had made his transfer to Wolves any sadder.  

I remember when he arrived from Watford in 2020, he was seen as a joke signing. I saw comparisons to Roger ‘the Relegator’ Johnson on Twitter the day he joined the club.

Now looking back, he was arguably one of our most successful signings in the recent era. Earning the nickname Ballon D’awson through some simply sublime performances during our Europa League run, he will always be a cult hero to the club.  

The best memory of Craig Dawson has to be the three crunching tackles at the end of the match at home against Lyon.  In that moment he embodied everything about being a West Ham player, reminiscent of Winston Reid in his prime.

The cheer for those three tackles was almost as loud as the cheer for our goal. Of course, this first leg set us up for what is probably my favourite game of the season, the away game against Lyon. Craig opened the scoring for us in this pivotal match with a typical near post header from a corner.

That has to be my favourite goal, after that the French team fell apart and we got our well-deserved revenge against that winker, Moussa Dembele. A special shoutout for the best Craig Dawson moment when he booted Che Adams in the face, accidentally of course, in one of his first games for the club. Hilarious.  

He was a massive part of our set-piece success in the Premier League. He scored seven goals across two and a half seasons for us, which is about seven more than a lot of strikers we’ve signed in recent years. So many towering headers, fighting through the packs of defenders to get his head on the ball first.  

I believe we will really miss his aerial presence, especially because we are struggling for goals of any kind.  I do completely understand why he wanted to leave and move back to the Midlands.

He was a true servant to the club for two and a half years and he has earned the right to choose his family at this time in his life. He seems to have a lot of love for the club, as he posted an emotional goodbye on Twitter, along with a video of some of his best tackles and goals.

He wrote: ‘I hope I have done you proud. I will be cheering on the Hammers from the sidelines.’ 

It’s safe to say he has done us all proud, and proved a lot of people, including myself, wrong. We are a much weaker side by losing Craig Dawson and I do hope the club goes after a centre-back this window, especially with the injuries we are dealing with.

No one expected Craig Dawson to be such an important player for us, helping us to our most successful seasons in my lifetime. But he truly embodied fighting for the badge. However, the idea that he is just a hard-tackling player is false. The long balls he would play out to the wingers were simply De Bruyne-esque.  

I remember the ball he played out to Said Benrahma against Lyon and the cheer that filled the stadium was incredible. He was technically very good, and his teammates have spoken about his passing range before.

He has taught us all a lesson to at least watch the player before we make a snap judgement about them, although I’m not sure we have fully learnt it yet. Thank you Ballon D’awson, all the best.

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