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As a very skilful inside forward this “Welsh Wizard” transferred to West Ham from neighbours Leyton Orient in early November 1958. One of the game’s most highly valued players Woosnam had already gained Welsh international honours before his £30,000 transfer. The fee was the third highest for a British player at the time. University educated, Phil achieved an ambition of qualifying as a teacher and chose to play his early league football as an amateur while he pursued his teaching career. But prior to joining the Hammers he resigned his teaching post at the Leyton County High School in order to focus on his career as a professional footballer. Phil’s four years with West Ham stretched over five seasons in which time in made 151 first XI appearances and scored 29 goals. In November 1962 he transferred to Aston Villa.
Born: Caersws, Wales December 22, 1932. Phil died on July 19, 2013 aged 80.
Notable moments in his Boleyn Ground time include:
Extract: Minutes of Board Meeting held on Tuesday 11th November 1958
Member of the squad which achieved club’s highest ever Division I finish of 6th place
Winning 14 of his 17 Wales international caps
A Football League cap from the October 1960 game versus the Italian League in Rome
An Essex Professional Cup winner’s medal from the 1958-59 season.
1958-59 – Club’s Highest League Placing
The ink on his West Ham contract had barely dried before Phil was drafted in for his West Ham league debut on Saturday November 8, 1959. For the score less draw with the Gunners he replaced John Smith in the forward line. As for all but two of his West Ham league appearances he wore the inside right shirt. In this his first season he clocked 13 league games and scored a couple of goals.
The team for his debut included the stalwarts from the previous season’s promotion campaign:
Ernie Gregory, John Bond, Noel Cantwell, Andy Malcolm, Ken Brown, Andy Nelson, Mike Grice, Phil Woosnam, Vic Keeble, John Dick, Malcolm Musgrove.
Debut programme signed by Woosnam
His first league goal hit the net in the resounding 6-0 victory over Portsmouth on December 20, 1958. Five days later and Phil was in the last West Ham team to have played a league fixture on Christmas Day.
While the goal against Pompey was his first Hammers’ league goal, his initial first XI goal in claret and blue was five days earlier in a Southern Floodlight Cup tie. On December 15, 1958 Phil scored in the 3-1 victory over Fulham which was also a notable evening for Geoff Hurst who was making his first XI debut.
Essex Professional Cup Final
Fixture congestion at the end of the 1958-59 season meant the final of the Essex Professional Cup was deferred to September 21 in the following season. This deferment gave Phil the opportunity to collect a cup final winners’ medal when he played in the Boleyn Ground final and contributed to the Hammers’ 4-1 victory over his previous club, Leyton Orient.
West Ham United 4 - 1 Leyton Orient
Upton Park September 21, 1959
(Final deferred from 1958-59 season)
Dick, Cantwell, Brett, o.g.
Making a swift opening the O's went ahead in the fourth minute through Malcolm Lucas, but John Dick put us on level terms at the interval by converting Derek Woodley's pass. The game remained even until 20 minutes after the breather when Noel Cantwell netted after a free-kick (this being hotly disputed for offside), but from thence onward we were well on top and goals in the last five minutes from Ron Brett and Cyril Lea (own goal) made the final score 4-1 in the Hammers favour.
PHIL WOOSNAM'S SCRAPBOOK
PHIL WOOSNAM TRANSFER SPECULATION
Monday 3rd October 1960
Possible exchange of Phil Woosnam for Finlayson (goalkeeper) and Murray (centre forward) of Wolverhampton Wanderers and a further cash balance would be required of a minimum of £5,000
Tuesday 11th October 1960
Decided not to proceed with the negotiations for the two Wolves players on the same basis as previously recorded. If Wolverhampton Wanderers contacted us offering a substantial figure in addition to the two players in question, negotiations might be re-opened.
Tuesday 18th October 1960
An offer made to Arsenal during this meeting concerning Herd and Bloomfield in exchange for Woosnam was to be further pursued. If unsuccessful it was agreed to offer Woosnam in exchange for Bloomfield and £20,000
Tuesday 25th October 1960
A further suggestion was made by Arsenal that a new basis might be considered if we were interested concerning Bloomfield and Standen (Goalkeeper) in exchange for Woosnam.
Manager was to watch Standen play on Saturday 29th October 1960.
Tuesday 1st November 1960
Chairman reported that Standen had signed for Luton Town.
It was decided to negotiate with Arsenal with regard to the transfer of Herd and Bloomfield to us in exchange for Woosnam together with a payment to Arsenal of £15,000.
Thursday 10th November 1960
After a discussion it was decided that in view of Woosnam’s unsettled position following the news of Wolverhampton’s negotiation with us concerning his transfer which did not materialize, we agree to his transfer to Arsenal in exchange for Bloomfield together with £2,000 and the house he occupies to become our property. These terms were agreed upon between the two clubs.
Tuesday 15th November 1960
The Chairman reported that Bloomfield had refused to sign for us as he had been offered other employment in addition to signing for Birmingham City.
Following the end of these negotiations Wolverhampton contacted us with regard to the position but were informed that the question of Woosnam’s transfer to them was now closed.
Tuesday 6th November 1962
Chairman reported on his telephone conversation with the Chairman of Queens Park Rangers to the effect that an offer of £25,000 cash had been made for Woosnam. The Chairman informed them that our figure was £29,500
Tuesday 13th November 1962
Chairman reported on a further talk he had with the Chairman of Queens Park Rangers and it was finally agreed to accept £24,000 for Woosnam’s transfer, £12,000 immediate payment and £12,000 by end of season. The matter now rests with the player and Queens Park Rangers. Aston Villa were now interested in Woosnam and had offered £25,000. It was decided to negotiate on a figure of £29,5000 with a minimum of £27,500. Manager reported that Aston Villa would be contacting us again.
Tuesday 20th November 1962
Chairman reported on the interest shown by Aston Villa and Wolverhampton Wanderers regarding P. Woosnam and stated a figure of £26,000 was mutually agreed for his possible transfer. Woosnam was seeing the managers of both clubs.
Minutes relating to Transfers discussed at Board meetings
3rd October 1960 to 15th November 1960
6th November 1962 to 20th November 1962
1959-60 – Double Figures for League Goals
After a 6th place Division I finish in the previous season, a 14th finish in 1959-60 must have been a disappointment. Though from Phil’s perspective he was probably pleased with his contribution of 11 goals in his 38 league appearances. Only Malcolm Musgrove scored higher with 15. In two matches Phil came close to completing a hat trick. His first brace for the club was at home to Nottingham Forest on December 5, 1959 in the 4-1 win, and his second was again at the Boleyn Ground only this time against Newcastle United on February 20, 1960. This was the controversial debacle that ended in a 5-3 defeat.
On the international front, Phil scored his first goal in his fifth game for the full Wales international team in a 3-2 win over Northern Ireland on April 6, 1960.
Guesting for Bournemouth - April 1960
Unusually Phil guested for AFC Bournemouth in their friendly against NEC Breda (third in the Dutch league) on Thursday April 27, 1960 just three days before the season's final league fixture.
1960-61 – Football League Representative Honour
Another disappointing season for the club as league performances resulted in a 16th position, and Stoke City dashed any FA Cup hopes. Phil’s season started brightly with a goal in each of the season’s first two league games and a second international goal for Wales in their September 3-2 victory over Eire. November also offered proof of Phil’s impressive form when he was selected for the Football League against the Italian League in Rome in November. This was at a time when his Upton Park future was still very much in doubt with speculation at boardroom level about a possible transfer. Later in the season on April 19,1961 Phil scored his third goal for Wales in their narrow 2-1 defeat to Spain.
1962-63 Transfer Speculation Turns to Reality
For much of Woosnam’s time at the Boleyn Ground several clubs expressed an interest in buying him. Not only English league clubs but also from at least one European club. Apparently A.C. Milan showed interest in 1961. But all of this interest and speculation eventually turned into reality when in November 1962 West Ham and Woosnam accepted another claret and blue offer. Aston Villa signed Phil for £26,000. All the way up to his transfer Woosnam remained a regular in the first team. Though for a player with Phil’s talent a league run of four defeats in the first five games may well have been an influencing factor in Phil wishing to move.
His very last goal for the Hammers was in the heavy 6-1 defeat at home to Tottenham Hotspur on August 25, 1962. While the final time he pulled on West Ham’s claret and blue shirt was on November 3, 1960 in front of 19,866 at Upton Park. The team that faced Bolton Wanderers in a 2-1 defeat that afternoon was:
Lawrie Leslie, John Bond, Jack Burkett, Martin Peters, Ken Brown, Bobby Moore, Peter Brabrook, Phil Woosnam, Johnny Byrne, Geoff Hurst, Malcolm Musgrove.
Villa Park Stay & Two Final International Caps
Woosnam front row 4th, in the Wales Amateur International XI against South Africa Bangor October 3, 1953
Wales v. England Seabank Hotel, Porthcawl, prior to the Home International
1-1 at Ninian Park 14th October 1961 Attendance: 62,000
Both teams stayed at same hotel and were more than happy to pose for an informal picture on the steps of the hotel before the game. Not a single tracksuit in sight Indeed, many of the players look as though they could be models for a knitwear catalogue.
Of course, many of the players were club team-mates away from the international arena and most knew each other well.
The players read are like a 'Who's Who' of the time. Back row includes: Harold Shepherdson, John Connelly, Johnny Haynes, Peter Swan, Jack Kelsey, John Charles, Bobby Charlton, Mel Charles. Seated middle row includes: Ray Pointer, Ron Springett, Bobby Robson, Phil Woosnam.
Front row includes: Bryan Douglas, Ray Wilson, Jimmy Armfield, Ron Flowers
1961-62 Plays for Wales v World Champions
The end of season finish in 8th place sounds like a good improvement in league performances. But it could have been so much better for Phil and his team mates if the second half of the season’s five wins in the last 18 matches had been sharper.
While the club toured Africa at the end of season, skipper Phil was missing as he had been called up by Wales FA for their South America tour. As part of Brazil’s preparations for the 1962 World Cup they played Wales in Sao Paulo on May 16. Phil was on the right wing in the Wales team which lost 3-1 in what turned out to be Phil’s last international cap whilst a Hammer.
Woosnam’s Division I career straddled another four seasons with Aston Villa. Though in each of his seasons with Villa, the club finished behind West Ham in Division I. With the Midland club he made a further 111 league appearances (23 goals) and he also played two more games for Wales. Towards the end of his first season at Aston Villa he was in the teams which faces Hungary (March 20, 1963) and Northern Ireland (April 3, 1963). The Northern Ireland international played in Belfast was the last of his 17 Wales internationals and fittingly he marked it with his fourth international goal in the 4-1 victory.
By the close of his English league career he had recorded a total of 358 appearances and netted 68 goals in a league career stretching from 1952 to 1966. A quiz question which stumps many soccer fans is “With which club did Phil Woosnam make his football league debut?” The answer is Manchester City. A little known fact is that Phil played a single league match as an amateur for Manchester City in October 1952 in a 6-0 defeat to Cardiff. Many of his 138 league appearances for Leyton Orient were as an amateur as he didn’t sign professional until 1957. A highlight of his time at Brisbane Road would have been his part of the Leyton Orient team which won the Division 3 (South) championship in 1955-56.
Aston Villa and Atlanta Chiefs
Major Influencer in US soccer
During his time at the Boleyn Ground he is credited as one of the thinkers who had an influence at the club and there was some speculation that he could have taken over the managerial reigns when Ted Fenton left West Ham in 1961. So it would have been no surprise when in 1966 Woosnam emigrated to the USA to initially continue his playing career, but more importantly to commence his coaching and later an administrative career.
He joined Atlanta Chiefs as a player coach and retired from playing in 1968 to become coach of the Atlanta Chiefs in 1968. That same year he was named 'Coach of the Year' and was quickly elevated to become head coach of the United States national team. His progress in American soccer continued at a pace when he was appointed Commissioner of the North American Soccer League (NASL) from 1969 to 1983. During this period he is acknowledged as an important factor in the NASL’s development. Again working behind the scenes Woosnam played a significant role during 1970 in recruiting executives at Warner Communications to invest in the New York Cosmos. Some poor business decisions saw the owners of the league lose money and Woosnam was removed from the Commissioner’s role in 1983. He later resurfaced to become instrumental in bringing the 1994 World Cup to the USA. In recognition of his services to US soccer, Phil was inducted into the U.S. national Soccer Hall of Fame and the Georgia Soccer Hall of Fame in 1997.
Aston Villa Season 1963-64
Leyton Orient 1955-56 Division 3 (South) Champions
Phil Woosnam Front row: 3rd left
WEST HAM UNITED 1961-62
Ken Brown, Geoff Hurst, Joe Kirkup, Laurie Leslie, Brian Rhodes, John Lyall, John Bond, Bobby Moore
Andy Malcolm, Ron Brett, Ron Boyce, John Dick, Alan Sealey, Ian Crawford
Phil Woosnam, Malcolm Musgrove
Caersws, Montgomeryshire, Wales
December 22, 1932
5 FA Cup
4 League Cup
3 Southern Floodlit Cup
1 Essex Professional Cup
1 FA Cup
2 Southern Floodlit Cup
Date of Birth: