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What have Mark Noble, Scott Parker, Andy Malcolm and Ken Brown in common?  Between them

Early Hammer of the Year ...

by Roger Hillier

Since the award’s inaugural year in 1958 the illustrious list of winners reads like a who’s who of West Ham United. The winners list includes legends Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst, Martin Peters, Johnny Byrne, Billy Bonds, Trevor Brooking, Julian Dicks, Tony Cottee, and more recently Paulo Di Canio and Carlos Tevez. To date (2012) 35 different players have collected the prize.

 

 

The Hammer of the Year competition is now well established and the event runs like a well oiled machine. Typically it concludes with an end of season award ceremony held at one of London’s big hotels. But back in 1958 and 1959 it was a very different story. Behind the winners from those first two years’ awards lies a couple of interesting and unusual tales.  

1958 Hammer of the Year – Andy Malcolm

The inaugural award coincided with the Hammers winning the Division Two title and clinching promotion to the top tier.  For this first award the selection of the winner was in complete contrast to the subsequent award winners. From 1959 onwards the Hammer fans voted for their favourites.  In 1958 there was no voting as the winner was selected by a local newspaper’s journalist!

In May 1958 the Stratford Express is attributed as awarding the first “Hammer of the Year” award when their West Ham reporter, “Reaper”, selected wing half Andy Malcolm. The Reaper is quoted:  

“In a triumph that has been so completely a 100 per cent team effort, it’s difficult to select one man as Player of the Year.  But if it can be said that an individual does lend himself to this title then I single out Andy Malcolm.....

West Ham’s only ever present this season. To my mind he has also been the driving force behind a non-stop attack in a memorable campaign.”  

There is no mention of a trophy being presented to Andy or of any recognition ceremony.  Not even the West Ham home programmes at the beginning of the next season 1958-59 mentioned Andy Malcolm’s Stratford Express nomination. Though a season later after the second Hammer of the Year selection, there is a reference to Andy’s inaugural win in a West Ham United programme (v Millwall October 1959). The programme’s news section explained that there was no winner’s trophy in 1958 and that the first year with a trophy was 1959.  

Later in 1958 Andy received further recognition for his club performances with a call up for the Football League representative game against the Scottish League at Ibrox, Glasgow.  

1959 Hammer of the Year – Ken Brown

The following season it was a completely different story for the Hammer of the Year award.  By the second year the award had started to gain significant momentum. Many aspects changed: the selection of the winner was decided by fans’ votes, a trophy was presented at an award ceremony, significant coverage in the local newspaper and most crucially support from West Ham United’s directors.

 

In this second year the local newspaper, The Stratford Express, linked up with the West Ham United Supporters Club to organise the event. The supporters club organised the presentation event, a gala dance, held at the Stratford Town Hall on Friday May 8, while the Stratford Express provided the trophy.

The football club was firmly behind the award and presentation event such that the club made special arrangements to ensure Ken attended the gala dance.  In early May the Hammers were on an end of season tour of Holland, Belgium and Germany. Late in the tour an additional match was arranged which meant it unlikely any of the West Ham touring party would be able to make the Stratford awards ceremony. But West Ham chairman, Reg Pratt, had other ideas and intervened to ensure arrangements were made for Ken to break the tour and make a fleeting visit to east London for Friday evening’s event.  

Ken had an extremely tight schedule over a three day period in early May.  A summary of his itinerary is as follows:

In May 1959 the Stratford Express gave significant column inches to the Hammer of the Year event.  This included reporting of Ken’s tight schedule and a photograph of Ken’s arrival at London airport.  

Hammer of the Year and Representative Honours

The results of the end of season continental tour games may have been disappointing, but at least Ken had the satisfaction of being voted Hammer of the Year. He was a worthy winner in 1959. Similar to Andy Malcolm in the previous year, he had been ever present in the Hammers’ team and his impressive club performances did not go unrecognised.  To cap his year he was selected to play centre half for the full England team which beat Northern Ireland 2-1 in the Home Championship at Wembley on November 18, 1959.

Andy Malcolm and Ken Brown can look back on their special seasons with pride. Both topped their Hammer of the Year awards with either full international or Football League representative honours.

Table Ireland 1959 408 BROWN Ken - England BROWN Ken England cap

Ken Brown with his England cap

MALCOLM Andy SC Badge

they are the most recent and the oldest previous winners of the Hammer of the Year Award.

Board Reaper Picks No trophy report Hill and Brown

The presentation event proved to be a big success as more than 500 fans packed the town hall to watch Jimmy Hill (Fulham FC & Chairman of the Professional Footballers Association) present the Hammer of the Year trophy to Ken Brown.

Fly back

Ken Brown chaired by team mates on announcement of his selection for England v Northern Ireland in November 1959.

HAMMER of the YEAR

West Ham United Supporters Club Gala Dinner early 1960s

Can you spot any players?

Brown Chaired by players 2 Hammer of the Year 1 Articles 5-A-Side Wembley 1967 The Great Unsolved Mystery