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In the pre-Bosman age clubs had a far greater hold on players and to a large extent controlled and restricted transfer activity. The result of which was for players to typically stay with a club far longer than in today’s game. Longer service with a club meant testimonial games were a regular feature of the season. But this all changed with the Bosman ruling in December 1995 when control over players movements was wrestled away from the clubs. Players became free to move to a new club at the end of their contract without their old club receiving a fee. This shift means players are far less likely to see long service with a single club and so testimonials have become rarer.
The impact of the Bosman ruling filtering down to testimonials is no more evident than at West Ham. In the 14 years from 1981 to 1995 West Ham hosted 14 testimonial games. But in the last 14 years Upton Park has only staged one and this was in recognition of long service in a coaching capacity rather than as a player. The recipient in this case was Tony Carr.
Background to Bosman Ruling
Union Royale Belge des Sociétés de Football Association ASBL v. Jean-Marc Bosman (known as the Bosman ruling)
On 15 December 1995 the European court ruled that the system, as it was constituted, placed a restriction on the free movement of workers and was prohibited by Article 39(1) of the Treaty on the functioning of the European Union
Jean-Marc Bosman and all other EU football players were given the right to a free transfer at the end of their contracts, without their old club receiving a fee provided they were transferring from a club within one EU Association to a club within another EU Association.
First Testimonial Match
Looking back over the 33 claret and blue testimonials held since 1950 many Hammer legends have been rewarded but has there been a more deserving case for a benefit game than Billy Bonds?
In recognition of Bond’s 21 seasons of first team action he received the extremely rare honour of being awarded not one, but two testimonial games! Billy is one of only two Hammers to have been bestowed such an honour. The other was one of his partners in defence, Alvin Martin.
The opposition in both of swash buccaneering Bonds' games was North London rivals, Tottenham Hotspur. The first was in December 1978 and the second 12 years later in November 1990.
West Ham United 4 - 2 Tottenham Hotspur (HT 1-1)
Monday December 4, 1978
West Ham United:
Bryan Robson (44 min), Cross 2 (51 & 58 mins), Bonds pen (61 min)
Holmes (33 mins), Pratt (85 mins)
In 1978-79 season the Hammers were in the first of a three season spell in Division Two, so it was not surprising that First Division opposition attracted a good size gate for Billy’s first benefit game.
Fielding the same starting line up as in their 5-0 league win over Cambridge United two days earlier, West Ham recorded a comfortable win.
The West Ham goals flowed as follows:
1st goal 44 min: Pop Robson equalised with a simple near post header after intelligent play by Alan Curbishley on the right side.
2nd goal 51 min: David Cross put the Hammers ahead with a point blank shot.
3rd goal 58 min: Seven minutes later and Cross adds his second when Perryman allowed Cross to volley home an Alan Taylor centre from six yards.
4th goal 61 min: Tottenham’s Peter Taylor tripped Alan Devonshire in the box. Billy Bonds stepped up to score from the penalty spot.
Tottenham Hotspur line-up:
M. Kendall (B. Daines), J. Gorman, D. McAllister, J. Holmes, J. Lacey, S. Perryman (capt), J. Pratt, R. Villa, C. Lee (G. Armstrong), G. Hoddle (O. Ardiles), P. Taylor.
All substitutions made at half time.
Pat Holland (A. Martin )
Billy Bonds (capt)
Alan Curbishley (J. McDowell)
Bryan Robson (G. Pike)
Second Testimonial Match
West Ham United 4 -3 Tottenham Hotspur (HT 2-3)
Monday November 12, 1990
West Ham United:
Morley (20 min), Breacker (33 min), Bishop 52 (min), Bonds pen (65 min)
Stewart 2 (7 & 16 mins), Houghton (25 min)
Phil Parkes (S. Banks 48),
George Parris (F. Lampard 60)
Alvin Martin (S. Potts 46)
Alan Devonshire (S. Livett 48)
Billy Bonds (M. Rush 67)
Frank McAvennie (J. Quinn 46)
Hammers' Chairman Reg Pratt presented Billy with an inscribed plaque after the match
Joyful Ball Winner
Ten-year-old Scott Hagan was overjoyed when he won the match ball at Billy's first testimonial game with a lucky programme number
Scott if your reading this please get in touch and let us know yours thoughts on your big day. If you still have the match ball send us an updated photo of yourself so we can publish it alongside the article.
Twelve years after his first testimonial game the second had several similarities with the first. Again West Ham were a Division Two side and again the oppostion was Tottenham Hotspur still in the top tier. Another perhaps a not surprising coincidence was that the Hammers’ final goal in each game was a penalty....scored by Billy Bonds!
By 1990 Billy had retired as a player and was now the 6th manager in the club’s history. But Bonzo was not going to watch his special game from the sidelines, as he donned his boots and played for the first 65 minutes or so. On an evening of pouring rain he inspired West Ham to a narrow win. Just as the game was heading for a 3-3 draw the Hammers were awarded a penalty. Inevtiably up stepped Bonzo to slot the ball home.
Despite the absence of their two England stars, Lineker and Gascoigne, Spurs fielded a strong XI. West Ham’s squad for the evening included a few Ex-Hammer guests. With Ludo Miklosko and Allen McKnight away on international duty, Phil Parkes was loaned for the evening by Ipswich Town. Two more from the victorious 1980 FA Cup campaign were spurred into action. Alan Devonshire and Frank Lampard joined the celebrations and gave the crowd a reminder of the halcyon days of the 1980s. To complete West Ham’s quintet from the 1980 F.A.Cup final was a survivor from Billy’s 1978 testimonial, Alvin Martin. Appropriately Alvin would later be the second Hammer to be the recipient of two testimonials. On the opposing side, Tottenham Hotspur included a sixth member for the 1980 cup winning side, Paul Allen.
1st goal 20 min: Trevor Morley put the Hammers back in the game by stabbing the ball home after Foster’s challenge forced Mimms error going for a Kevin Keen’s corner.
2nd goal 33 min: Tim Breacker bought the score to 3-2 with a well taken header from Keen’s right wing cross.
3rd goal 52 min: Ian Bishop equalised from a right wing cross, before the fourth and winning goal by the man of the occasion.
4th goal 65 min: A cross by Bonds again from the right flank this time resulted in a Spurs handball. It didn’t take much to persude the captain for the evening to step up.
Tottenham Hotspur line-up:
Mimms, Bergsson (Poston 67), Edinburgh, Sedgley, Edwards, Thomas (Tuttle 46), Stewart (Hendon 57), Moran (Houghton 9), Walsh (Smith 74), Samways, Allen.
The 10,443 crowd may have endured an evening of non-stop rain, but this would have been partially compensated by some “superb one-touch play” from Spurs who quickly sped to a two goal lead in the first quarter of an hour. But this leading margin was soon reduced.
From 1973-74 season to early in 1977 Bonds had been West Ham’s regular penalty taker when he scored twelve from 14 attempts. This was Bonzo’s night so he didn’t make any mistakes to make it "Lucky 13"
As an aside the match programme included a picture of the 1990-91 Tottenham Hotspur squad. In the group were three Hammers to be, and one Ex Hammer. The three future East London players were the youthful looking John Moncur, Mark Robson and Mitchell Thomas. While the past player was one of the 1980 FA Cup final heroes, Paul Allen.
Newspaper coverage courtesy of Richard Miller