Sunday, 4 October 2009
West Ham's Greatest Ever Players - Number 8
Some might argue an inconsistency here. My top 7 have all won medals with West Ham and there are several "greats" who have not yet appeared in this list who have a winners medal to their names; but my man at number 8, strictly speaking, is medalless. However, high highly would we value a third place finish in the Prem against winning an FA Cup nowadays? In 85-86 we finished in third place in the old First Division, missed out on winning the title by just four points and played our last home game of the season - against Ipswich - in with a genuine shout of winning the title. There was a pitch invasion that night (I was on the pitch along with every other bugger on the North Bank) after our 2-1 victory but that was sheer exhuberance after the most fantastic season any Hammers fan had ever known. And up front, slotting home 20 league goals in that incredible, almost fantasy season, was Tony Cottee.
Cottee was outgunned that season by Frank McAvennie but the overall contribution of the two players to the club dictate that Cottee is head and shoulders above his Scottish strike partner in this list - and pint sized Tony hasn't been head and shoulders above much in his life has he? In total, Cottee netted 115 league goals in 266 league games and 146 goals in 323 starts (plus 13 as a sub) for the club. Some are still talking hopefully of Sears as the new Cottee but they should check out Cottee's early record when bursting into the first team - with 5 goals scored in his first four starts (plus one sub appearance). From the off, it was obvious the guy was class.
People talk now about how the sale of Rio was stupid, but the decision to part with Cottee to Everton for just £2.5m must represent one of the most absurd decisions the club ever made. Cottee left in July of 1988 and in May of 1989 we were relegated from the top division. It wasn't a coincidence.
Like so many of our players, Cottee was very good but not quite brilliant. He appeared in an England shirt 7 times (all but one as a sub I think) but did not manage a single goal - so sadly, he was never in the Michael Owen class, although they were not dissimilar as players. The Cottee-McAvennie partnership defied all logic because there wasn't a "big man" to knock the ball down but, for one glorious season, it worked brilliantly and they bagged an incredible 54 goals between them in all competitions that wonderful year. What would we give for a goal return like that now - from the whole team, never mind our two strikers! It is a very sobering thought that last season we netted a total of 42 league goals, four less than Cottee and McAvennie bagged between them in 85-86!
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Posted by Hammersfan at 10:15