Love me two times: Hammers who came home

Darren Randolph completed his return to West Ham United earlier today, placing him in a select group of players who have enjoyed more than one spell at the club.

But can a player be successful second time round? Join us as we take a look back at ten players who, like Randolph, have returned to renew their love affair with West Ham following a brief dalliance with another...


Brian Dear (1962-69, 1970-71)

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Nicknamed 'Stag' by his team mates, Dear joined West Ham as a 15-year-old but had to wait four years before making his first team debut under Ron Greenwood against Wolves in 1962 - a drab goalless draw. His high point came as a member of the European Cup Winners' Cup-winning team in 1965 when the Hammers won their only European trophy, beating Munich at Wembley.

After just 65 appearances and 33 goals, which included a loan spell at Brighton in 1967, Dear was sold to Fulham in 1969 for the grand sum of £20,000. After 13 games at Craven Cottage he joined Millwall - and after just six games (and no goals) for the Lions he returned to West Ham, making his comeback in a 2-2 draw against Tottenham at The Boleyn Ground.

However his return to Upton Park was to be short-lived; after being involved in the infamous Blackpool row - which led to a two-match ban by Ron Greenwood, who wanted to sack Dear and team mates including Bobby Moore - he was released on a free transfer at the end of the 1970/71 campaign and promptly retired as a pro at the age of just 27.


Bryan 'Pop' Robson (1971-74, 1976-79)

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The much-travelled Bryan Stanley Robson was better known to Hammers fans simply as 'Pop' and was a feared striker during the 1970s. The Sunderland-born striker made his name at Newcastle before moving south when becoming West Ham's record signing (at £120,000) in February 1972, before the days of transfer windows.

Pop scored on his debut for the Hammers against Nottingham Forest and never looked back, going on to score 47 goals in 120 games during a highly-productive three-year spell at The Boleyn. But he was allowed to return to his native north east in July 1974 when home-town club Sunderland signed him for £145,000.

Equally prolific at Roker Park where he scored 34 goals in 90 appearances, Robson - whose balding pate placed him in some very good company amongst some of the most feared forwards of the 1970s (see Ralph Coates, Peter Noble, Bobby Charlton et al) - rejoined West Ham in October 1976, conveniently missing both the 1975 FA Cup Final and 1976 Cup Winners Cup Final. Another 47 goals from 107 appearances cemented his place in the annuls of famous Hammers before he went back to Sunderland ( a year before United's appearance in the 1980 FA Cup Final) with whom he eventually enjoyed three spells - as he also did with Carlisle United.


Tony Cottee (1982-88, 1994-96)

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Born in Forest Gate, there was only ever going to be one club for Cottee who signed pro terms with West Ham in 1982, months before making his first team debut against Tottenham - a game in which the then 17-year-old scored. Five goals from eight games in that first season meant that he was to become a firm fixture in John Lyall's first XI and he was to strike up a fantastic partnership with Frank McAvennie following the Scot's arrival in 1985.

After six years, 212 appearances and 82 goals for West Ham Cottee was sold to Everton in August 1988 for £2.2million - a British record fee at the time. It proved to be a successful move for the little goalscorer who was equally prolific at Goodison Park (72 in 184), although he was still unable to break into the England side (and only made a total of seven appearances for his country despite his club form).

Cottee returned to West Ham in September 1994 at the age of 29 in a part exchange deal involving defender David Burrows going the other way and still managed to score more than a goal in every three games, despite being sent off in his second debut at Liverpool! His goals helped West Ham stave off the threat of relegation and he was to become a mainstay in Harry Redknapp's first team until Harry went foreign, bringing in Florin Raducioiu and Hugo Porfirio to effectively replace him - leading to his departure in October 1996.



Frank McAvennie (1985-87, 1989-92)

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One of The Boleyn Ground's favourite sons, Frankie Mac made the long journey south from St Mirren in June 1985 after he had rejected a move to Luton Town and just five years after he'd taken up football. A one-in-three attacking midfielder in the Scottish leagues, McAvennie was initially signed as an attacking midfielder but a season-long injury to Paul Goddard meant he was pushed alongside Tony Cottee in West Ham's attack.

As lucky breaks go this was up there with the best of them and the Scot formed a formidable partnership with 'TC' and the duo fired West Ham to their best ever top flight finish - third in the 1985/86 season. Naturally his form led to numerous other clubs expressing interest and he returned north of the border in a £750,000 deal to join his beloved Celtic after two seasons at Upton Park.

McAvennie followed his 33 goals from 85 appearances at West Ham with another 27 goals from 55 in two seasons at Celtic Park. But when John Lyall came back in for him during the spring of 1989 the chance of returning to London (where his then girlfriend Jenny Blythe lived and where favourite haunt Stringfellows was located) was too good to turn down and Frank was a Hammer once again - with the Irons having forked out an impressive £1.25million.

Sadly McAvennie failed to recreate his form from his first spell at the club even though the Hammers were floundering in the second division for much of it. A broken leg, courtesy of a vile challenge by Stoke's Chris Kamara in the opening month of the 1989/90 season left him sidelined for six months. He helped West Ham back into the top flight but never reached the heights of his first spell, although he signed off in style by scoring a hat-trick on his final appearance for the club against Nottingham Forest.


Julian Dicks (1988-93, 1994-99)

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'Joo-lee-urn' began his career with Birmingham from whom West Ham signed him as a teenager in April 1988 for £300,000. During his first spell at The Boleyn Ground, during which he became a crowd favourite for his no-nonsense and, basically, physically-intimidating approach, Dicks made 159 appearances and scored 23 goals - many from the penalty spot, a particular speciality he was to become associated with.

When Liverpool came calling in 1993 Dicks moved to Merseyside in an exchange deal for David Burrows and Mike Marsh and a few bob - having been signed by Graeme Souness who was seeking a little additional - shall we say 'resilience' in his team, something that Dicks certainly provided. But his days at Anfield were numbered when Souness departed and Dicks requested a move in 1994 having fallen out with new boss Roy Evans, just 13 months after moving north.

By October 1994 he was back at West Ham to the delight of every Hammers fan and he was to stay for a further five years before injury took its toll; his knees finally giving way after a series of (mostly botched) operations. He was given a heroes welcome at a testimonial in August 200 in a typically-tempestuous 'friendly' against Athletic Bilbao in which Paolo Di Canio was ordered to leave the field to save been sent off following a 20-man brawl (Dicks wasn't on the pitch at the time).

He returned to West Ham for a THIRD time in 2015, this time as a coaching assistant under then manager Slaven Bilic (who whom he is still working to day at West Bromwich Albion).



Joe Cole (1998-03, 2013-14)

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The ultimate Academy prodigy, Cole emerged from Tony Carr's Chadwell Heath stable in the late 1990s along with the likes of Rio Ferdinand and Michael Carrick. After West Ham had reportedly rejected a £10million offer from Man Utd for the then 16-year-old, he made his debut aged 17 against Swansea before going on to captain the side in a five-year spell.

His departure was perhaps inevitable - "too good for West Ham" is certainly how his father George saw the situation - and it was no surprise that he was punted out to Chelsea upon West Ham's relegation from the Premiership in May 2003; the lowball fee of £6.6million still rankles with many Hammers fans, given that stable mate Frank Lampard Jnr had previously sold for nigh on double that to the same club.

After spells at Stamford Bridge, Anfield and with Lille - not to mention having made 56 appearances for his country - Cole made an emotional return, on a free transfer, to his first club although he was nowhere near the same player. After just 13 league starts he was quite literally sent to Coventry, his final professional club.


Calum Davenport (2004, 2007-10)

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The gangly defender's first spell at West Ham cam via the loan route, being as he was a Tottenham player when joining West Ham in September 2004 as Alan Pardew prepared for United's second season in the Coca Cola championship following the huge disappointment of losing in the 2003/04 play-off final to Iain Dowie's Crystal Palace in Cardiff.

After a couple of months and a handful of appearances - during which it was largely agreed that he had done a sterling job at centre half - Davenport returned to White Hart Lane but struggled to hold down a place in the first team.

In January 2007, a cash-rich West Ham (or so we thought) invested an eye-opening £3million to sign him from Spurs on a permanent three-and-a-half year contract. Yet within a year, having played just six times for the Hammers he was sent to Watford on loan where he promptly broke his neck in a game against Charlton. And that's where his problems began; in 2009 he was involved in a stabbing incident involving his sister's boyfriend. With his career effectively finished, be was released by West Ham by mutual consent in March 2010.


James Collins (2005-09, 2012-18)

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The player commonly known as 'Ginge' joined West Ham in a 'triple swoop' back in July 2005 along with fellow Cardiff defender Danny Gabbidon and Charlton full-back Paul Konchesky.

21 at the time, Collins - who cost the Hammers £1million as part of a double-deal with Cardiff - was to spend the next four years and two months with West Ham before being sold for £5million to Aston Villa, as a near-bankrupt West Ham sought to recoup some of the losses incurred by the collapse of the Icelandic administration.

After three years at Villa Park, Collins was on his way back to West Ham in a £2million deal, stating, "I didn't really want to leave when I did because I was enjoying my time here so much!" Probably the most successful second spell by a Hammer, he became a firm crowd favourite in his second spell before leaving at the end of the 2017/18 campaign, having not been offered a contract extension.


George McCartney (2006-08, 2011-14)

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The Belfast-born left back made his name at Sunderland - where he was given the nickname 'Mr Consistent' - and joined Alan Pardew's West Ham revolution for £600,000 plus Clive Clarke in 2006, signing a four-year deal.

McCartney was to make some 79 appearances under Pardew and Alan Curbishley over the next two seasons before he was sold back to Sunderland for £4.5million - a deal that led to Curbishley resigning from his post in protest at the Irishman having been sold against his wishes (the club claimed he had been sold "for family reasons".

However McCartney's second spell as a Black Cat was far less successful and within a year of his return had been loaned to Leeds - before West Ham took him back on a season-long loan in August 2011. "It's brilliant to be coming back," he said - and he played an integral role in returning West Ham to the top flight and featuring in the famous play-off Wembley win against Blackpool. Following a succession of injuries problems, he was forced to hang up his boots at the end of the 2013/14 season.


Darren Randolph (2015-17, 2020-)

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The Irish international goalkeeper didn't exactly get off to the best start at West Ham when he was guilty of dropping a couple of crosses that led to goals in a 3-2 pre-season friendly win against Southend Utd at Roots Hall in July 2015.

A back-up to former first choice 'keeper Adrian, Randolph was limited to 42 appearances in two seasons during his first spell - including several games in the various Cup competitions - before deciding to push for a move following the capture on Joe Hart on loan from Manchester City.

His return is claimed by some to be the result of 'Boro still owing West Ham some of the outstanding fees for Randolph and Ashley Fletcher (sold for a total of £12million in 2017) but he is expected to go straight into the first team in place of the injured Lukasz Fabianski.


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The legendary Syd Puddefoot practises at an empty Boleyn Ground in 1921


*Other players to have enjoyed two spells at West Ham include William Grassam (1900-03, 1905-09), William Yenson (1901-02, 1902-09), George Hilsdon (1904-06, 1912-15), Danny Shea (1907-13, 1920-21), Syd Puddefoot (1912-22, 1931-33), Iain Dowie (1990-96, 1997-98), Steve Jones (1992-95, 1996-97), Don Hutchison (1994-97, 2001-05), Shaka Hislop (1998-02, 2005-06), Lee Bowyer (2002-07, 2008-09) and Yossi Benayoun (2005-07, 2012-13).

Others, such as Michael Hughes (1994-95, 1995-96), Alex Song (2014-15, 2015-16) and Carl Jenkinson (also 2014-15, 2015-16) have enjoyed more than one loan spell at the club, whilst players such as Freddie Kanoute and Andy Carroll initially joined on loan before making their transfers permanent.

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