Welcome to the West Ham United Memorabilia Collection featuring everything Claret and Blue
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Remember at school playtime when two captains would take it in turns to select their teams from the kids lining up for the playground kick-about?
There would always be one player who got picked first. The player everybody wanted in their team. He could run fast, was good in goal, could even play outfield, had one of the hardest shots, could be relied on to net a few goals, and he would also have been in the school’s cricket and athletic teams. He would typically excel at most sports.
A former West Ham United player was probably one of those kids who was a good all-rounder and who everybody would select for their side. Bobby Ferguson the West Ham goalkeeper from the late 1960s through to the early 1980s proved he had a wide repertoire of sporting skills.
During Fergie’s claret and blue career he participated in several extra curriculum activities with more than moderate success.
"Top All-rounder in Extra Curriculum Activities"
Born in Ardrossan, Scotland March 1, 1945. Bobby Ferguson came through Kilmarnock's youth system and went on to make 73 league appearances for the Rugby Park club, winning the Scottish League title in 1964-65 and seven international caps for Scotland.
Ferguson joined West Ham United for the then world record fee of £65,000 for a goalkeeper. Making his Hammers debut against Sheffield Wednesday on the opening day of the 1967-68 season, the goalkeeper managed to amass a surprisingly large total of appearances (277), considering he twice lost his first XI spot for lengthy periods, first to Peter Grotier and later Mervyn Day.
'Fergie' began the 1978-79 term between the sticks, but was initially replaced by Day and then the arrival of Phil Parkes, in February 1979, effectively spelled the end of his Hammers' career.
His extra curriculum activities stretched beyond minding the posts: whilst with the Hammers he put in several outfield goal scoring performances, including a hat-trick, clocked the hottest shot, won sprint and golfing honours. Here is his unusual story.
'Fergie' Signs for World Record Fee
Winning Goal in Santander Tournament
On Thursday August 12, 1976 during a pre-season international club tournament in Santander, Spain, Bobby became the hero of the hour when he scored a last minute winner to help West Ham win the Prince Felipe Tournament. In a three team round robin tournament the Hammers faced Belenenses (Portugal) and the home club Real Racing Club der Santander. They drew the first game 1-1 with the Portuguese and a day later faced Real Santander in the deciding game.
Estadio El Sardinero
11 August 1976
1 - 1 (Jennings)
Day, McDowell, Coleman, Holland, Green, Bonds (capt.), Taylor T., Paddon, Jennings, Brooking, Robson
REAL RACING CLUB der SANTANDER (Spain)
Estadio El Sardinero
12 August 1976
3 - 2 (Paddon 2, Ferguson) (HT: 1-1)
Mervyn Day, John McDowell (Mick McGiven 25mins), Keith Coleman, Pat Holland, Bill Green, Kevin Lock, Tommy Taylor, Graham Paddon, Billy Jennings (Bobby Ferguson 78mins), Trevor Brooking (capt.), Keith Robson
Bobby Ferguson with the Prince Felipe trophy and match ball following his last minute strike which won the game for the Hammers
The 14 man playing squad found themselves a man down after Billy Bonds had been sent off in the Belenenses match and subsequently banned from the second fixture.
Thirteen players left meant reserve goal keeper Bobby Ferguson was one of the two substitutes for the Real Santander game. In a storyline straight out of Roy of The Rovers, both substitutes were called on.
The Hammers’ first substitute Mick McGiven took over from an injured John McDowell after 25 minutes. In the second half the Hammers recovered from 2-1 down to equalise but with 12 minutes remaining Hammers' striker Billy Jennings went off injured.
As the only available substitute Ferguson took Jennings’ place. With a minute to go and the scores level at 2-2, Bobby proved to be the hero of the hour when he scored the winner.
The 3-2 win over Real Santander gave West Ham three points, top place in the table and the Prince Felipe Tournament trophy.
Reflecting on his tournament winning goal Bobby says:
I should have scored 2 (I did 3 laps of honour before the last could catch me). I liked playing outfield no pressure good clean fun.
I did score a hat-trick it was pre-season at Bata Footwear in Essex. Ernie Gregory asked me if I wanted a run up front for fun. I scored 3 in 45 minutes not the greatest competition but again a good laugh.
Two Goalkeepers on Pitch
Co-incidentally, 10 days earlier in another pre-season friendly this time on the club’s Norwegian tour against FK Bodo Glimt, West Ham again found themselves with two goalkeepers on the pitch.
This time the Mervyn Day and Bobby Ferguson roles were reversed. Fergie started and stayed in goal while an injured Kevin Lock had to be replaced after 50 minutes this time by Mervyn Day.
Football Combination Goals
The winner in the international club tournament wasn’t Bobby’s first excursion into playing outfield and scoring goals. Over three seasons the shot-stopper played outfield on nine ocassions for the reserves in Football Combination games.
The table below summarises his outfield reserve team appearances.
His first outfield Football Combination appearance was at the tail-end of 1974-75 season on April 1. Playing on the right wing Bobby was nobody’s fool as he scored the Hammers' only goal in the 6-1 defeat at Upton Park.
His outfield performance grabbed a Newham Recorder headline “Ferguson’s Frolic – Injured goalkeeper plays wing and nets”.
The match report quoted “Ferguson who had already impressed with some speedy work on the right wing which created two good changes pulled one back with is 25th minute shot”. His goal arrived with West Ham 3-0 down and was described as “his goal following a shrewd Paul Sussams pass....left Spurs’ goalkeeper Barry Daines helpless”.
His outfield call-up was down to two factors: Bobby had injured a hand in training and was unable to play in his usual position between the sticks, and secondly, first team and youth team squad calls meant West Ham had to field a makeshift reserve eleven. Even coach Ronnie Boyce had to play!
In the West Ham goal that evening was 16 year old Nigel Spinks who would later star in Aston Villa’s 1982 European Cup triumph. Incidentally, the Spurs reserve team included future Hammer Steve Walford, former England striker Martin Chivers and an up and coming Glen Hoddle. Not surprisingly the result turned out to be the reserve team’s heaviest defeat of the season.
Striker Ferguson battles his way past two Spurs' defenders
Ferguson shows his injuried hand which kept him out of goal
Six Outfield Appearances
In the following season Fergie appeared out of goal on six occasions wearing three different shirt numbers: right back, centre forward and left wing. Again he scored in his first two outfield games to make it a three consecutive games scoring run.
In April 1976 he appeared in four games all wearing the number nine shirt. Three days after the Portman Road match against Ipswich Town reserves he was back in goal for the Craven Cottage fixture against Fulham reserves. The Hammers’ reserves had a satisfying Football Combination season finishing a respectable 4th in the 21 club league.
In August 1976 at the start of the next season Bobby played two more games as a forward and it must have been strange playing as goalkeeper in another reserve team fixture sandwiched between the two.
Ferguson Number 7 for the Hammers
against Tottenham Hotspur
The Hottest Shot in Football
In the autumn of 1972 The Evening Standard sponsored a competition to honour London’s professional footballer with the hottest shot. The newspaper visited all 13 of London’s professional clubs to measure the speed of their players’ shots to find the player who could kick the ball fastest. From 10 metres the players had to kick the ball as hard as possible against an eight foot by four foot electrified target.
Bobby Ferguson came out top! Twice his best shots were measured at a speed of 72.5 mph. And as the top West Ham player he won £10 and as the fastest shot in London he collected £100.
The West Ham players were tested in October 1972 and by the end of the month Bobby topped the poll and was not beaten by players from the remaining three clubs to be tested. At the time the West Ham players were put through their paces, Bobby overtook the two Queens Park Rangers players Tony Hazell and Dave Clement who's shots was measured at 71.3 mph and 70.3 mph respectively.
From the West Ham contingent, the goalkeepers showed up well. Peter Grotier was second best on 67.6 mph, and Mervyn Day reached 62.7 mph. Third and fourth best Hammers were Clive Charles (67.0) and Tommy Taylor (62.9).
Fastest Sprinter - London Professional Footballers’ Athletics Championships
Back in the 1970s The Evening Standard also sponsored an athletics championships for London’s footballers. Needless to say Bobby excelled at the sprints. Held at the Crystal Palace track, a couple of times he came away with the title of sprint king by winning the 100 metres in 1971 and 1972.
He first won the title in April 1971 with an impressive 10.5 seconds and then retained his title on Tuesday April 11, 1972. This time running on the grass rather than the all-weather track, he clocked 11.3 seconds to beat John O’Mara (Brentford) and John O’Rourke (Queens Park Rangers). Just outside the medals were Millwall’s Barry Bridges and Orient’s Barry Dyson. Not fast enough to challenge Usain Bolt but good enough to beat the best of London’s footballers.
West Ham also provided the 400 metre champions in 1971 and 1972. First it was Harry Redknapp and in the following year Clive Charles took over the one lap mantle by clocking 53.4 seconds. Apparently Harry Redknapp participated in 1972’s one mile race but dropped out during the second lap. Other participating Hammers included Tommy Taylor (4th - high jump), and John McDowell (5th – long jump).
1976 British Pro Footballers Sprint Championships – Runner-Up
In September 1976 Ladbrokes sponsored the sprint championship event for all British footballers. It really was a sprint as the race distance was 75m rather than the usual 100m. Held at Edinburgh’s Meadowbank Stadium, Bobby again excelled and finished a highly impressive second behind Steve Kindon of Burnley. The bronze went to Ian Miller of Doncaster Rovers. The top three picked up medals and cash prizes of £250 (1st), £100 (2nd) and £50 (3rd).
Newham Recorder - April 1972
Evening Standard Professional Footballers Golf Championships
If selecting a quartet for a golf competition again pencil in Bobby’s name. Back in the 1970s The Sportsman’s Club sponsored the London Professional Footballers Golf Championships. An annual event held at Sudbury in April the event ran for nine years.
BOBBY FERGUSON'S SCRAPBOOK
West Ham dominated these championships by winning the Evening Standard sponsored team prize in six out of the nine years and supplying the individual winner on four occasions and the runner-up on another two.
It will come as no surprise to hear that Bobby, playing off a handicap of 10, excelled and twice won the individual championships. The first of these was in 1974 and the second two years later.
Fergie was a member of the Hammers’ quintet which clinched the team championships in 1972, 1973, 1974, 1977, 1978 and 1979.
It should be noted that West Ham did not enter the tournament in 1975 and 1980 due to their FA Cup commitments which means they won the team title in six out of the seven years they participated.
London Footballers' Golf Champions 1973
London Footballers' Golf Champions 1978
1972 and 1974 London Footballers' Golf Champions
Fergie reflects :
I won 2 individual titles. I won the first one (1974) in a play-off with Derek Forster (Charlton Athletic’s goal keeper), first hole play-off tied in 5, 2nd hole I hit a driver into the rough a 3rd wood duffer, a 7 iron onto front of the green and sank 40 foot putt for par. More arse than class!
The 2nd one I won, (1976) I chipped in at the 18th hole for a birdie and won by a shot more arse than class!
Member of the Kilmarnock FC squad which won the Scottish Division One Championship in 1965
Won seven full international caps for Scotland. Making his debut on November 24, 1965 in a 4-1 win over Wales at Hampden Park.
The last of his seven caps was a year later in Scotland’s 2-1 victory over Northern Ireland on November 16, 1966 which was Scotland’s international prior to their famous 3-2 triumph over World Cup winners England at Wembley in April 1967. Bobby was reserve keeper for the Wembley game
As a 21-year-old signs for West Ham United in July 1967 for a then world record transfer fee of £65,000 for a goal keeper
Bobby Ferguson’s career in senior football with Kilmarnock and West Ham United is well documented and a summary is as follows:
In 1968 capped for Scotland Under-23 against England Under-23. Bobby remains the only West Ham United player to have been capped at this level playing for Scotland
In his 14 seasons with the Hammers he clocks 277 league and cup appearances
Scotland Squad 1967
Fergie’s Early Career
1963 European International Youth Tournament
Before he embarked on his senior career he was Scotland’s youth team shot stopper. And it was here that he made his first connection with West Ham players.
The summer of 1967 was not the first time Bobby met one of his West Ham colleagues. Four years earlier he came up against West Ham’s left winger, Johnny Sissons, in the European Youth Championships.
1963’s championships were hosted by England and the qualifiers included Scotland and Northern Ireland. England and Scotland both qualified from their group games to face each other in the semi-final held on Wednesday April 19, 1963 at the White City Stadium. The White City Stadium, now demolished, was the home of British athletics for many years and occasionally hosted football matches including this 1963 European Youth Championship game and three years later the July 1966 World Cup qualifier, Uruguay versus France. In the Youth Championship semi-final Ferguson was in goal for the Scots and West Ham’s Sissons on the left wing for England. England won with Sissons netting the only goal of the game.
England progressed to win the tournament by beating Northern Ireland 4-0 in the Wembley final on Tuesday April 23, 1963. Again Sissons impressed by scoring England’s fourth. Ferguson gained some consolation from the semi defeat as the Scots beat Bulgaria 4-3 in the 3rd/4th place play-off game.
Fergie recalls an eventful qualifying game in the tournament:
I did not play v the Swiss at Redhill but played all the other games in the competition.
The quarter final v Greece ended with us winning 4-1 and a massive fight at the end of the game. We won that too!
Johnny Sissons was not West Ham’s sole representative in the England camp. Full back John Charles and centre forward Martin Britt played in the qualifying match against Russia on April 17, 1963. Britt scored one of England’s three goals.
Scotland Under 23 v. England Under 23
Hampden Park, Glasgow February 1968
Ferguson on the ground as Colin Bell centre's for Martin Chivers to slot home the first England Goal
Fergie’s First Visit to Upton Park - February 1967
West Ham v Kilmarnock : Friendly
Five months prior to his world record transfer, Bobby was a member of the Kilmarnock FC XI which visited Upton Park for a friendly. Under the Upton Park floodlights on Friday February 17, 1967 in front of a 17,000 crowd the Hammers beat the Scots 2-0 courtesy of a double from Geoff Hurst.
According to the Daily Telegraph match report
But for the brilliance of Scotland’s goalkeeper, Ferguson, Kilmarnock..... might have returned four goals down.
His promising showing prevented a Hurst hat-trick and put him on manager Ron Greenwood’s radar in West Ham’s search for a new goal keeper. Greenwood subsequently reached an agreement with Kilmarnock that as soon as their interest in the season’s European competition, the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, was over Ferguson would be released to transfer to the Hammers.
Fergie leaps to cut out the danger against Southampton at The Dell
Bobby Ferguson dives at the feet of Geoff Hurst
Another leap of faith this time against Liverpool and John Toshack
Back row: Bobby Brown (Manager), John Grieg (Rangers), Frank McLintock (Arsenal), Eddie McCreadie (Chelsea),
Ronnie McKinnon (Rangers), Tommy Simpson (Celtic), Bobby Ferguson (Kilmarnock), Dennis Law (Manchester Utd), A.N.Other
Front row: Jim Baxter (Sunderland), Steve Chalmers (Celtic), Billy Bremner (Leeds Utd), Tommy Gemmell (Celtic),
Jim McCalliog (Sheffield Wednesday), Bobby Lennox (Celtic).