Welcome to the West Ham United Memorabilia Collection featuring everything Claret and Blue
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One of the most gifted West Ham players from the late 1940s passed away in early 2011 at the age of 87. Eric George Parsons was born in Worthing, Sussex on November 9, 1923 and died on February 7, 2011. He filled the inside right and right wing places and was dubbed “Rabbit” for his searing pace and characteristic bobbing gait. During his five post war seasons with the Hammers he was a regular member of the team which struggled to assert itself in Division 2. Despite the team’s poor showing Eric impressed the international selectors to gain a couple of England B caps. This bought him to the attention of other clubs and it was no surprise when Ted Drake, Chelsea’s manager, snapped him up for £23,000 in December 1950. A move which both clubs and Eric benefited from.
One of the best accolades Eric received was from West Ham manager, Ted Fenton. The Stratford Express (September 4, 1953) reported “Mr.Fenton regards his best and biggest deal as the transfer in 1950 of Eric Parsons for five figures to Chelsea. With the fee he bought six players, five of whom are still with him, and four in the first team”.
Score lines with four goals figured prominently in Eric’s West Ham career. His league debut was on January 4, 1947 in the 4-0 away defeat at Leicester City. While his last league game on 25th November 1950 was a 4-1 reverse away at Notts County. But on a favourable note his two England B caps gained in the B team’s European tour in 1949, were both in 4-0 wins. On 15th May 1949 he played against Finland in Helsinki and three days later in Amsterdam against Holland.
Eric’s best West Ham season was probably 1947-48. The club finished 6th in Division Two with Eric ever present in the league and FA Cup games. Plus he was the club’s top scorer with 11 league and one FA Cup goal. The following season he was ever present again which was part of a run of 125 consecutive league appearances. This run started on April 4, 1947 away at Bury and ended 22 months later away to Chesterfield on February 25, 1949.
A review of his goal scoring exploits highlights for a winger he scored his fair share of goals and narrowly missed out on a hat trick on four occasions. Doubles were notched against Barnsley (April 1947), Doncaster (Jan 1948), Bradford (April 1949) and QPR (October 1950). It has been stated in several publications that Eric signed for West Ham in 1943 after being spotted playing for Worthing Boys v West Ham Boys. However, his talents were noticed a few years earlier as he appears in the club’s August 1939 pre-season group photograph. At the time of this photo Eric was a few months short of his 16th birthday. Seven years away from his first team debut.
After over 150 competitive games in claret and blue he joined Chelsea in December 1950 and this led to the pinnacle of his career. Eric was a member of the team which won the 1954-55 Division One league championship. While Eric was on top form and contributed to the championship success with 11 goals, he didn’t receive full international recognition. Unfortunately for Eric, competition for wing places in the full international team was tough. He was up against many excellent wingers including household names such as Stanley Matthews, Stanley Mortenson and Tom Finney.
After six years and 158 league games for the Pensioners Eric transferred to Brentford of the old Division 3 South. Four years of doughty service in west London and Eric left league football to join Dover Athletic in July 1961. During his 14 year football league career he recorded a total of over 420 league appearances and 89 goals.
After leaving football Eric earned his living as a grocer and later ran a cigarette vending business.
1946-47 Team Group v. Leicester City January 4, 1947
Back row: Ron Cater, Charlie Bicknell, Dick Walker, George Taylor, Steve Forde,
Sam Small, Norman Corbett
Front row: Terry Woodgate, Eric Parsons, Joe Payne, Jackie Wood, Ken Bainbridge
The 1946-47 team photo captures the XI prior to Eric’s debut at Filbert Street. A rare picture as it also includes “10 goal” Joe Payne and Ken Bainbridge who also died in 2011.
Date of Birth:
November 9, 1923
6 FA Cup