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15 years of KUMB: 2005/06

Filed: Wednesday, 18th July 2012
By: Staff Writer

15 years ago this month, KUMB.com - then known simply as 'Knees up Mother Brown' - took it's first tentative steps on an embryonic world wide web. To celebrate this inauspicious occasion we will be reproducing some of the most memorable articles we've published over the years, ahead of the new 2012/13 Premier League campaign.

For today's dip into the KUMB archives we're going back to our ninth season in business, the 2005/06 Premiership campaign.

Back in the top flight having escaped from the Championship via the play-off Final in May, West Ham - under a revitalised Alan Pardew - went on to finish ninth in the Premiership and reach the FA Cup Final where they took European Champions Liverpool to a penalty shootout.

However it was also the season in which we lost two club legends - former managers Ron Greenwood and John Lyall - within the space of a few weeks. Gordon Thrower procides a retrospective look at Greenwood's career whilst Chris Scull examines the supporters' response to the minute's silence held for Lyall ahead of the FA Cup semi-final against Middlesbrough...

Ron Greenwood 1921-2006
By Gordon Thrower
First published February 2006

Ron Greenwood was born in Burnley in 1921. At the age of 10 the family upped sticks and moved down to London .The son of a painter, he was apprenticed as a youngster to a firm of signwriters – some of his handiwork ended up in Wembley Stadium of all places. As a player he attracted the attention of Chelsea who signed him in 1940 only for more pressing matters in Europe to see him drafted into the RAF.

After the war Ron signed for Bradford Park Avenue returning to London with Brentford in 1949. Three years later he returned to Chelsea and, although he was transferred to Fulham in February 1955, his 21 appearances for “The Pensioners” that season were enough to gain him a League Championship medal. He retired from playing at the end of the 1955/56 season having gained one international cap at England “B” level.

After retirement from playing he turned to coaching and, following a spell at Eastbourne United he ended up in 1958 as assistant manager to George Swindin at Arsenal, a job he combined with part time roles within the England youth and under 23 set-ups. Ron’s inspiration at the time had been the legendary 1953 Hungarian side that had come to Wembley and become the first side outside the British Isles to defeat England on home soil. The flowing, attractive style of “The Magnificent Magyars” was in direct contrast to the regimented and inflexible style prevalent in English football at the time and the lesson was one that was not wasted on Greenwood.

In 1961 Ron Greenwood became only the fourth person to manage West Ham United FC. Ron was the first person from outside the club to have been appointed to the top role. Ron carried on the work started by his predecessor Ted Fenton who, with senior professionals such as Malcolm Allison, had started a quiet revolution in E13 by espousing a more continental approach to the game. Under Ron’s visionary approach to the game West Ham started to flourish and in 1964 the club won its first FA Cup with a 3-2 win over Preston North End at a Wembley Stadium that still had signs on its doors that had been hand-painted by a young R Greenwood esq!

One of the goals in that final was scored by Geoff Hurst. Hurst’s place in history owes much to his club manager as it was Greenwood who saw Hurst’s potential as a striker – before Greenwood’s arrival at the club Hurst had been an unspectacular midfield player.

Twelve months later Greenwood’s Hammers were back at Wembley , taking the now defunct European Cup-Winners Cup with a memorable 2-0 victory over TSV Munich 1860. The manner of the victory in what was described at the time as the finest game ever seen at the stadium owed everything to Greenwood’s style of football – respected continental coaches were amazed at how “un-English” West Ham’s style of play had been.

As any self-respecting fan knows it was West Ham that went on to win the 1966 World Cup, again at Wembley. If you ever come across a supporter of another club who might want to dispute this fact, you could do worse than pointing them in the direction of Geoff Hurst’s first goal. Bobby Moore’s quick free-kick was met perfectly by Hurst’s perfectly-timed near-post run across a surprised West German defence. The near-post cross. Simple, effective and perfected at Chadwell Heath under Greenwood’s expert tutelage. Or, as my Dad always put it “a West Ham goal”.

Ron Greenwood was often described as a purist. His desire to do things in what he liked to call “the right way” extended into all his dealings within football. An example of this was the signing in 1967 of Bobby Ferguson from Kilmarnock for what was at the time a world record fee for a goalkeeper of £65,000. Greenwood had earlier been in touch with Leicester City with a view to signing World Cup winner Gordon Banks but, as time had dragged on, Greenwood decided that a new ‘keeper was required sooner rather than later and turned his attention to Ferguson. Following discussions with Killies manager Malcolm MacDonald – a former playing colleague from his Brentford days – Greenwood verbally agreed to sign Ferguson. However, shortly after shaking hands on the deal Leicester boss Matt Gillies contacted Greenwood offering Banks for £50,000. Greenwood refused the deal on the, by modern standards, amazing grounds that he had shaken hands on the Ferguson deal.

Geoff Hurst was also someone who had total faith in the manager’s integrity, on one occasion signing a blank contract entrusting Greenwood to complete the little details such as wages, bonuses etc!

In 1974 after a shaky start to the season Ron decided that the time was right for his protégé, assistant Manager John Lyall, to take over control of first team affairs and he stepped “upstairs” to take the position of “General Manager” – a position I guess that modern day clubs would refer to as “Director of Football”. A stunning spell of results saw the team go from near bottom of the league to top in a few short weeks at one spell scoring over 20 goals in five games and the team reached the 1975 Cup Final. Lyall, mindful of Greenwood’s input into the club, suggested that Ron should lead the team out at Wembley. Ron’s reply was typically modest. “No – It’s your team. You should lead them out”.

And there the story might have ended but for the tale of an England manager and a trip to oil-rich Dubai. In 1977, part way through an unsuccessful World Cup qualifying campaign, England boss Don Revie took a trip to Dubai with a view to taking over the running of the United Arab Emirates national side. An outraged FA banned Revie from football for 10 years though the ban was later overturned in the High Court. Revie had won League Championships but few friends as his Leeds side had taken gamesmanship to new depths. There had also been unsubstantiated rumours of financial irregularities and even allegations that opposition players had been bribed to throw matches. Revie’s latest tactic was almost regarded as treason within the FA hierarchy and it was decided that a safe pair of hands would be required at the England helm. Cloughie was interviewed but eventually Ron Greenwood was chosen to bring some dignity back to the national side.

Greenwood’s arrival, which many thought should have taken place on the dismissal of Sir Alf Ramsey, came too late to enable qualification for the 1978 World Cup in Argentina, though a 2-0 Wembley win over eventual qualifiers Italy restored some pride.

An unspectacular Euro1980 where England failed to get past the group stages was followed by a difficult qualifying competition for the 1982 World Cup in Spain. An unexpected defeat in Switzerland prompted Ron to seriously consider resignation only to be talked out of it by the senior members of his squad. A spectacular win in Budapest over Hungary – the one with the goal from Trevor Brooking that ended up stuck between stanchion and net- put qualification back on course. Injuries to the key partnership of Brooking and Keegan cost England dearly as two 0-0 draws against West Germany and the host nation in the second group stage meant that England went out unbeaten and Greenwood went off to enjoy well-deserved retirement.

The word influential is often bandied about with little thought. It’s fair to say that Ron Greenwood MBE can be considered to be truly influential. Many developments in modern football – such as the aforementioned “near post cross” tactic may not have been invented by Ron but he did more than anyone to develop the game and much of what we take for granted as “The West Ham Way” can be traced directly back to the advent of the Greenwood Years. Both West Ham and English football owe a major debt of gratitude to someone who was that rarity in football – a gifted coach and a gentleman.

Rest in peace sir and thank you.

Lyall's legacy unfit for silence
By Chris Scull
First published April 2006

Without question yesterday's thrilling semi-final win over Middlesbrough was a fitting tribute to the recently departed 4th and 5th managers of West Ham United; Ron Greenwood and John Lyall. As Pardew rightfully suggested, perhaps the victory was "our destiny", and perhaps there was a hint of divine intervention from above in the way Chris Riggott fluffed his last minute opportunity from 6 yards.

However, in my seat above the Villa Park dug outs, surrounded by journalists, it was clear to me that some would have the public believe the interruption of John Lyall's one minute silence was nothing more than a decimation of his legacy. I saw BBC's Five Live pitch side correspondent mouth the word "appalling" to her neighbor, while her BBC colleague raised his eyebrows in shock before interviewing the players post-match on Match of the Day 2.

The Middlesbrough support reacted to the disturbance with a chorus of "boos", while referee Mike Riley severely truncated the moment of reflection by blowing his whistle early.

The minute of silence was of course interrupted by a spontaneous chant of "Johnny Lyall's claret and blue army". Contrary to some reports, from my position in the Trinity Road stand lower, it did not appear that this chant began as a reaction to jeers from Boro insurgents. In my opinion it seemed as though the chant began in the North Stand lower and spread almost instantly throughout the West Ham contingent present.

Thankfully, terrace-savvy journo's like former Capital Gold commentator Jonathon Pearce, on Match of the Day 2, immediately recognised the disruption for what it was; a spontaneous and emotional vocal tribute to the man who guided West Ham to unprecedented success in the modern era. While ‘The Sun’ this morning describes the interjection as “honorable”.

In turning their toffee noses skyward at the sound of West Ham supporters chanting John Lyall's name rather than observe a silence, the BBC's gentrified reporters showed, with great aplomb, how an Oxbridge education denies an individual even the slightest comprehension of terrace fervor.

I suspect the hundreds of upper class BBC football reporters still haunting the corridors of Television Centre, would have preferred a perfectly observed minute of silence as opposed to being startled by the rapturous, emotional, and vociferous interjection of John Lyall's name. But West Ham supporters are not cut from the same cloth. Like the supporters of Liverpool, our opponents in the final, our fans often find unity in grief as we have seen in the past with the respectful mourning of Bobby Moore, George Best, and more recently Ron Greenwood.

To have maintained a dignified silence for one minute at Villa Park would have failed to do justice to the memory of John Lyall. As we have seen recently with George Best, sometimes the legacy of an individual is so great as to render the continuation of a stony silence not worthy enough a tribute, and such is the esteem in which John Lyall is held at West Ham an active and vocal tribute to such a legend would always have been more fitting.

I was never fortunate enough to have met John Lyall, but yesterday's performance would certainly have made him proud. Furthermore, if he was indeed watching from above, the masses of West Ham fans snubbing a silence to sing his name for one last time, in full view of the world, would surely have brought a smile to the great man’s face.

2005/06 Fact File

League: Premiership
Manager: Alan Pardew
Final Position: 9th: qualified for the UEFA Cup

Points: 55
Record: Won 16, Drew 7, Lost 15
Goals: For 52, Against 55 (GD -3)

FA Cup: Final - lost to Liverpool (n, pens)
League Cup: Third Round - lost 1-0 to Bolton (a)

Biggest Win: West Ham Utd 4-0 Plymouth (September 2005)
Biggest Defeat: Bolton 4-1 West Ham Utd (March 2006)

KUMB.com Player of the Year: Danny Gabbidon
KUMB.com Young Player of the Year: Nigel Reo-Coker

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.

Your Comments

by Martin
12:59PM 18th Jul 2012
''Good pieces. Would have been nice to have had a review of the Cup Final on here though. After all, getting to the Cup Final is arguably the greatest achievement in recent Hammers history.''

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