Welcome to the West Ham United Memorabilia Collection featuring everything Claret and Blue
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Steve Potts is the most recent West Ham United player to have achieved the career milestone of 500 first team appearances. His Hammers appearance total of 506 league and cup games straddled 17 seasons starting in January 1985 and ending in March 2001.
In the all-time Hammers’ table of the highest first team appearances Steve sits in 7th place, sandwiched between two of the club’s stalwarts from the 1923 FA Cup final, Jimmy Ruffell (548) and Vic Watson (505).
Of his 506 claret and blue appearances Potts will not forget the 7-1 home victory over Hull City in October 1990. Why? He scored his one and only goal for the first team!
His reliability and calmness made him an ideal captain. So it was no surprise when he first took over the captain’s arm band from an injured Alvin Martin for the Birmingham City game in November 1992. Two months later Steve stepped up as captain for the rest of the season as another injury kept Martin sidelined. Successfully filling the captain’s role helped Steve win the first of his two Hammer of the Year awards at the end of the 1992-93 season. His second award followed two seasons later.
As the 1994 USA World Cup Finals drew nearer, there was talk of the Connecticut born player, who has a USA passport, being considered for Team USA. Alas the call never came.
The popular defender's only career blemish was being sent off against Newcastle United in 1995-96, after receiving two yellow cards for fouls on David Ginola in the space of 28 seconds.
The current Youth Academy Under-18 manager also made a staggering 202 Football Combination appearances scoring 8 goals.
West Ham United 2 - 0 Queens Park Rangers (HT 1-0)
Saturday August 2, 1997
West Ham United:
Bishop (10 mins), Lomas (80 mins)
Twelve years after making his Football League debut on January 1, 1985 against Queens Park Rangers, Steve was awarded the club’s 32nd testimonial game. Appropriately, the opposition for his special game on August 2, 1997 was Queens Park Rangers. Back then the Hoops were a Nationwide First Division side and favoured for promotion back into the top tier. Though the season didn’t meet their expectations. The west London side avoided relegation into English football's third tier by a single point.
The testimonial friendly formed part of manager Harry Redknapp’s preparations for the upcoming 1997-98 Premiership campaign. By the Hammers’ standards this would prove to be a relatively successful Premiership season as they finished 8th with 56 points from their 38 league matches.
While in the FA and League Cup's the club was knocked-out by the same opposition, Arsenal. In the FA Cup it was after a quarter-final penalty shoot-out and in the League Cup it was a 5th round exit.
Steve’s testimonial match was the last but one game in West Ham’s pre-season preparation. Earlier friendlies had taken in a three game tour of Scotland (Clyde, Dunfermline & St. Johnstone) and three days prior to the testimonial, a visit to Denmark to face Bondby.
West Ham United:
Ludek Miklosko, (Craig Forrest 46 mins), Steve Potts, Michael Hughes, Chris Coyne, (David Terrier 46 mins), Marc Rieper, Keith Rowland, Rio Ferdinand (Stan Lazaridis 46 mins), Ian Bishop, (Steve Lomas 46 mins), Danny Williamson (Frank Lampard 46 mins), Eyal Berkovic, Iain Dowie
Queens Park Rangers:
Harper, Maddix, Brevett, Murray, Rose, Morrow, Spencer, Barker, Slade (Sinclair 62 mins), Gallen (Slade 80 mins), Bruce.
The following is the description of the goals as reported in September 1997’s edition of Hammers News.
1st goal: (10 minutes):
Ian Bishop’s Brazilian style 20 yard bender put West Ham in the lead.
2nd goal (80 minutes):
Michael Hughes unselfishly enabled Steve Lomas to seal it with a single tap-in.
Essex C.C.C. v. West Ham United
Challenge Cricket Match
Benefit Year of Paul Prichard & Steve Potts
On the afternoon of Steve Potts’ Testimonial the entertainment commenced at 2.00pm with a 15 minute each way game between a West Ham United Supporters’ XI and a Celebrity XI.
The celebrity side included Rod Stewart and Hammers’ fan David Essex. Playing at No.10 for the supporters that afternoon was Vic Lindsell who has kindly provided a selection of photographs from his sporting album including a team group, Rod Stewart and David Essex, and one of himself in action.
Quartet of Future Hammers
Two of the Queens Park Rangers side and another couple in their squad would later join the Hammers with mixed success. A month after Potts’ testimonial Andy Impey moved from west to east London for £1.25m. A year later he was controversally sold by the West Ham board to balance the books.
Undoubtedly, Trevor Sinclair, a sub in the testimonial game, will be remembered by West Ham fans with the fondest memories. Five months after opposing the Hammers he joined West Ham and made an immediate impact by scoring a double on his debut against Everton at Upton Park on January 31, 1998. Four seasons later he progressed to represent England at the 2002 World Cup Finals in Japan and Korea.
Rufus Brevett was next to join in January 2003 with Nigel Quashie following in 2007 but both players failed to make any lasting favourable impressions.
New Shirts But No Sponsor
West Ham United’s 1997-98 season was also notable for new claret and blue shirts as kit providers Pony, introduced a new style. The new shirts were donned for the first time at Upton Park in Steve Potts' testimonial match. An unexpected feature of the new strip was the absence of a shirt sponsor for the 1997-98 season.
And here in lies a story. The previous shirt sponsorship deal with Dagenham Motors had ceased at the end of 1996-97 and the club was in negotiations with a potential new sponsor.
Air South Africa - Rare Shirt Prototype
Prior to the start of the 1997-98 season the club was in shirt sponsorship discussions with Air South Africa. However,
due to financial difficulties the airline company withdrew
from the negotiations just days after the season had started.
Two days before the Hammers’ first home Premiership
game against Tottenham Hotspur, Hammers News quoted
the club’s football secretary: “We are 99% certain that the deal
will be in place for the sponsors’ name to be on the shirts
for the Tottenham game on Wednesday August 13”. Unfortunately,
at the last minute the bubble on the deal burst.
By this time the first team squad shirts and replica kit with the Air South Africa logo emblazoned on the front had been manufactured ready for the Tottenham Hotspur match.
Except for a small number of shirts, all of the stock was withdrawn and destroyed. One of these extremely rare shirts resides with 'West Ham match worn shirts' collector Michael Clifford which he describes as rare as rocking horse teeth.
Fanfare for Steve Potts
Pottsy with an overwhelmed son Daniel and daughter Georgina
Stan Lazaridis takes on the QPR defence
6 October 1996
The end result was the club failed to secure a new shirt sponsor for the 1997-98 season. The story had a happy ending when in July 1998 British footwear and clothing manufacturer Dr. Martens stepped in with a five year shirt sponsorship deal in time for the 1998-99 pre-season friendlies.
Simon Webster’s Benefit Game
In a time when testimonial and benefit games were a more regular feature of club’s fixture lists, two days after the Potts Testimonial West Ham travelled to The Valley as the opposition in former Hammer Simon Webster’s benefit match.
In front of 9,000 the Hammers continued their pre-season preparations with a 1-1 draw against Charlton Athletic. West Ham’s goal, a first half equaliser, was netted by Manny Omoyinmi.
Dr. Martens Steps In
West Ham United Supporters XI v. Celebrity XI
West Ham United Supporters XI
Support material courtesy of John Northcutt, Richard Miller and Michael Clifford : Pictures Vic Lindsell and Hammers News
Celebrity Rod Stewart comes in for some dressing room jibes
Vic Lindsell with Rod Stewart and Steve Potts
West Ham’s 32nd Testimonial
West Ham United
Match Worn Shirt Collection