|Does exactly what it says on the tin - the forum for football-related discussion.
19 posts • Page 1 of 1
West Ham legend Clyde Best on breaking the mould in British football
Goalscorer – striker Clyde Best scored 58 times in 218 games in his Hammers heyday Goalscorer – striker Clyde Best scored 58 times in 218 games in his Hammers heyday
WHEN accolades for the great black sportsmen of the 20th century are handed out, Clyde Best deserves to be somewhere near the top of the list.
The Bermudan footballer arrived in East London at the tail end of the Sixties, trading sunshine and golden beaches for steaming hot servings of pie and mash with liquor – garnished with racial taunts from the terraces.
It was all in a day’s work for the laid-back West Ham striker, who played alongside Upton Park greats Bobby Moore and Geoff Hurst and went on to plunder 58 goals in 218 games for the Hammers in seven seasons between 1969 and 1976.
“They were fantastic days I will never forget as long as I live,” says Clyde, now 57. “I was playing with so many great players during what I consider to be West Ham’s golden age. It feels really good to say I was was part of that.”
Clyde flies back to Britain from his Bermudan home later this month to talk about his Hammers glory days.
His show, Forever Blowing Bubbles 2, is at the Cliffs Pavilion, Westcliff, on Friday, January 16, when he will be joined by fellow ex-Irons Phil Parkes, Tony Gale and Brian Robson.
"All football fans are the same. If you are rubbish, they will let you know about it. If you do well they will always love you."
I was still in nappies in Clyde’s heyday, and so had very little knowledge of him until former Southend United, West Ham and England defender Chris Powell labelled the forward his biggest inspiration.
The new dawn of televised football made Clyde a role model for many black youngsters, as his net-busting exploits for the Hammers were beamed into living rooms around the country.
However, it was far from easy. Adored by the West Ham fans, the centre forward suffered constant racial heckling from opposition fans – monkey chanting and the hurling of bananas and peanuts at the pitch.
“You just had to get on with it,” says Clyde. “I just ignored it and concentrated on playing the game for West Ham.
“Sure, the supporters pay their money and are entitled to their opinions, but sometimes people cross the line.
“You will always come up against nutters in your life, but you can’t let these people see they are getting under your skin. All you can do is just get on with your job – in my case, scoring goals – and do all your talking on the pitch.”
He adds: “I never had any trouble with the West Ham fans. All I felt from them was love. East End people are good people and they will always love somebody who gives their all. I always tried my best for them.”
Clyde still keenly follows English football, but expresses disappointed at the way modern-day players vent their frustrations by getting involved in altercations with supporters.
Ivory Coast and Chelsea striker Didier Drogba, for instance, was recently suspended for retaliation, after throwing a coin, originally aimed in his direction, back into a crowd of Burnley fans.
“I thought Drogba was wrong to do that,” Clyde says.
“I can understand the player’s frustration and it is wrong a coin was thrown at him from the stands. But you have to try and stay calm and thoughtful, no matter how difficult it gets.
“All football fans are the same. If you are rubbish, they will let you know about it. If you do well they will always love you. That’s the game.”
It wasn’t until November 1978 – two years after Clyde left West Ham to play football in the USA – Nottingham Forest defender Viv Anderson became the first black player to pull on an England shirt.
He was the 936th player to do so, since the first national side played in 1872.
Since Anderson’s ground-breaking appearance, 57 black players have represented England to date, roughly a quarter of all those selected.
So how does Clyde, who was awarded an MBE in 2006 for his services to the game, feel about his role as a soccer pioneer?
Typically modest, he says: “It’s nice when people say that sort of thing.
“If people think I played a part in history or inspired more black footballers, then that makes me very happy. But all I was trying to do was play football for West Ham.
“It was a different culture altogether, leaving Bermuda on a plane for England. You must also remember, this was 40 years ago and England was a different place to what it is now, with very different attitudes.
“Luckily, for me, I went to a family club, which looked after me on and off the pitch from day one.
“I had a great manager in Ron Greenwood and was surrounded by some of the best players ever.
“It took me less than a year to make the first team, starting against Arsenal in a derby at home in front of a big crowd, which I didn’t let phase me.
“But it was an amazing time. Here I was, a young boy from Bermuda, an island of just 60,000 people, playing alongside all of these great players who I had watched on TV winning the World Cup for England a few years earlier.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better teacher than the man who scored a hat-trick in the final, Geoff Hurst. He showed me how to become a target man.
“And Bobby Moore, well, he wasn’t just the greatest footballer I ever played with, he was also an immense human being who never let anything go to his head.”
He adds: “When I look at the game now, it has changed so much it is mind-boggling. You couldn’t imagine football now without black players, or any of the other nationalities who now ply their trade in England.
“You’ve got Brazilians, Argentines, Koreans, different races from across the globe, bringing their different skills and techniques. It has improved the English game and made it bigger than ever before.”
Clyde has fond memories of day trips to Southend and keenly followed the fortunes of another of his homeland’s footballing nomads at Southend United.
“I know Shaun Goater ended his career at Southend and did very well there,” he says.
“He was a striker like me and scored a lot of goals. When he left Bermuda I followed his career as he was on a similar path to me and I was pleased to see another Bermudan doing so well in English football.”
one of my all time hammers would love to meet this guy
Blimey..a Clyde Best & Stevie Bacon thread on same day....makes me feel right old
As a young un had the pleasure to meet both and also can't forget the peanut thrower, half time scoreboard etc.
30 odd years since me last standing on the North Bank..memories never die
Many thanks KUMB
I remember watching Clyde play from the North Bank, there was never any problems with the crowd, he was a good servant to the club. He was a solid player and dependable to hold his position.
Good luck to him
Anyone remember this one against Palace 1971.We were the first club to field three black players Clive Charles Ade Coker Clyde Best. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Om6FqYB_ ... 2D3E1656DD" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
I saw Clyde in what must have been one of his earliest appearances for West Ham against Crystal Palace in 1969
He scored in the first half with a diving header and I can still see the goal in my mind now. Frank Lampard (playing at left back) sent over a sliced right footed cross which Best got on the end of literally a few inches off the ground..
Geoff Hurst scored our other goal in the first half. Palace pulled one back near the end and the last few minutes had the nerves jangling.
Yet everyone goes on about WBA under Ron in the late '70s, conveniently allowing us to be tarred with the old 'racist' brush instead.
I was talking to Ade Coker who lives here in Hawaii last year. The mere mention of Clyde Best's name and his face lit up, you could just see what high regard he has for Best.
19 posts • Page 1 of 1
Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot], Google Adsense [Bot], MSN [Bot], TJ_AUS and 40 guests