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The testimonial match was held just over a year after the last of John’s 449 first team appearances. His last was on April 17, 1965 in a 1-0 defeat to Leicester City at Filbert Street.
Co-incidentally his testimonial match was two days after season 1965-66’s last league fixture which was also away to Leicester City and another defeat this time by a 2-1 scoreline.
After waving goodbye to the Upton Park crowd in the evening of May 11, 1966 John continued his playing career with Torquay United for the next three years.
On the Devon Riviera he clocked a further 130 league appearances netting 12 goals for the Gulls, to take his total Football League record to 510 appearances and for a full back, a very respectable 44 goals.
The 2018 FIFA World Cup is well underway and there are several current and former West Ham United players who are privileged to be members of their respective country's squad to experience the mixed emotions of the group stages.
This festival of football is a timely reminder of a former Upton Park legend who came close to being the first Hammer to be selected for a World Cup finals squad.
The first recipient, not surprisingly, was Bobby Moore in the 1962 tournament held in Chile.
But four years earlier full back John Bond was on stand-by for England’s squad for Stockholm’s 1958 tournament. On April 16, The Football Association informed West Ham United that Bond was likely to be considered for the squad of 22 and requested two passport photographs of John in anticipation of his call-up.
John Bond’s benefit game was the eighth testimonial granted by the West Ham United board, and the first of five players from 1964’s FA Cup winning eleven to receive such recognition. Bond’s benefit game came two years after the club’s first Wembley triumph, and would be followed 12 months later by Ken Brown’s, and then Bobby Moore’s (1970), Geoff Hurst’s (1971) and Ronnie Boyce’s (1972).
A few weeks before his special match, thirty three year old Bond had signed for Division Three club, Torquay United. Unfortunately, a groin injury meant he was unable to participate in his special ninety minutes.
John’s testimonial game was considered a success though better weather would probably have helped swell the 10,000 attendance. The evening was reported as raising £4,000 for his testimonial fund.
This would have been a tidy sum back in 1966 and to put the £4,000 figure into perspective, it would have been sufficient to purchase a modest detached property in the south east.
News of the West Ham defender’s impending selection didn't go unnoticed to Swedish football merchandisers. Bond was featured prominently on one of the 40 Fotbolls Stjarnor (Football Stars) pin badges produced for the tournament, a photographic portrait housed within a blue plastic frame.
Unfortunately, John never received that call from England manager Walter Winterbottom for the 1958 World Cup or any other England recognition. Instead John had to settle for a couple of Football League XI caps in 1957 (v. Irish League) and 1958 (v. Scottish League).
England selection would have been the icing on the cake in a long serving claret and blue career. After signing professional in March 1950, in 16 years with the Hammers the defender clocked 449 competitive appearances and netted 39 goals. This loyal service was recognised with a well-deserved testimonial match at the end of season 1965-66.
West Ham United 7 - 4 Ex-Hammers XI (HT 3-1)
Wednesday May 11, 1966
West Ham United:
Hurst 2 (22 & 57 mins), Peters 2 (46 & 77 mins), Sissons 2 (26 & 38 mins),
Moore 75 mins).
Woosnam 2 (17 & 67 mins), Bloomfield (78 mins), Brown (pen 73 mins).
West Ham United:
Lawrie Leslie, Dennis Burnett, Jack Burkett, Eddie Bovington, Bobby Moore, Martin Peters, Peter Brabrook, Ron Boyce, Johnny Byrne, Geoff Hurst, John Sissons.
Fred Davies, Ken Brown, Noel Cantwell, John Smith, Ron Tindall, Ian Crawford, Alan Sealey, Phil Woosnam, Martin Britt, Jimmy Bloomfield, Malcolm Musgrove
Referee: Ken Aston
A farewell wave to the Upton Park faithful, watched by Ex-Hammers’ Noel Cantwell
The East London Advertiser reported the game as vintage exhibition stuff with players enjoying the goal frolic as much as the crowd. Some of the 11 goals were described as real gems – this included a fantastic header from Martin Peters when he diverted a Johnny Sissons shot into the goal.
The present XI included regular first teamers, Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters who two months later would conqueror the world. Apart from goalkeeper, Lawrie Leslie who was making a guest appearance for the current side, the rest of the Hammers XI were regular first teamers. Eight of the eleven had appeared in West Ham’s last league match of the season only two days earlier.
The Ex-Hammers’ XI made a couple of late changes: Alan Sealey replaced an injured Mike Grice, and Jimmy Bloomfield stepped in for Tony Scott.
The only player on the pitch who did not have a West Ham connection was Wolverhampton Wanderers goalkeeper, Fred Davies, guesting for the Ex-Hammers.
Referring the game was Ken Ashton, England’s former top referee who took charge of the 1963 FA Cup final and at the 1962 FIFA World Cup finals.
Goals as described in the East London Advertiser’s match report:
17 mins: (0-1)
Phil Woosnam turned in a low cross from Alan Sealey
22 mins: (1-1)
Peter Brabrook turned a high Bobby Moore chip back across the face of the goal for Geoff Hurst to tap in the equaliser
26 & 38 mins: (2-1, 3-1)
John Sissons nets a couple of goals to put the present XI 3-1 at half-time.
46 mins: (4-1)
A Sissons bullet drive was going wide until Martin Peters bent low to beat goalkeeper Fred Davies with an astonishing header.
57 mins: (5-1)
Geoff Hurst ran from the half-way line to slip the fifth past Davies.
67 mins: (5-2)
Welshman Phil Woosnam scored his second to make the score 5-2.
73 mins: (5-3)
Ken Brown won the sympathy of referee Ken Aston and was awarded a penalty which Ken thumped home.
75 mins: (6-3)
Bobby Moore foxed everyone by suddenly spinning on the ball and chipping the ball in from 16 yards.
77 mins: (7-3)
Martin Peter netted his second from a Bobby Moore cross to make the score 7-3.
78 mins: (7-4)
Jimmy Bloomfield scored the last of the evening’s 11 goals, after a swerving run to reduce his side’s deficit to three goals and a final score of 7-4.
Muffin’s Final Claret & Blue First Team Appearance
After the match, Bond gives the thumbs up to his former team mates in the home dressing room
East London Advertiser
Players left to right: Back row standing: Woosnam, Musgrove, Sissons, Sealey, Bloomfield.
Middle row standing: Leslie, Cantwell, Bovington, Byrne, Boyce, Britt.
Seated: Moore, Hurst, Tindall, Bond, Brabrook, Brown, Crawford.