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Best Hammers in 50 years: Number 9

CandH’s top blogger ALLEN CUMMINGS is naming his top 10 players during a near lifetime of supporting his beloved Hammers. Al goes back a long way but yesterday placed current skipper Mark Noble in the No 10 spot. Today he gives you the ninth best player in his personal Hammers history.




The late, great Ron Greenwood made Johnny Byrne the most expensive player in British football history when he took him from Crystal Palace in 1962 in a deal valued at £65,000. Byrne was the ‘marquee’ signing of his day. Up to then most No 9’s were traditionally big, strong and commanding in the air. Byrne was the opposite – small, compact and fleet of foot with an incredible football brain and blessed with unique football vision.

Nicknamed ‘Budgie’ because of his non-stop chatter both on and off the pitch, Johnny was not only the orchestrater of that great West Ham side of the 1960’s, he was a prolific goal scorer, too. His tally of 79 goals in 156 league appearances and 28 goals in 34 cup appearances serves to illustrate that point.

Labelled  the English Di Stefano by Greenwood, those who saw him play claimed Byrne was the most technically gifted player ever to wear the claret and blue. I’m not about to argue.

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About Hugh5outhon1895

Hugh Southon is a lifelong Iron and the founding editor of ClaretandHugh. He is a national newspaper journalist of many years experience and was Bobby Moore's 'ghost' writer during the great man's lifetime. He describes ClaretandHugh as "the Hammers daily newspaper!" Follow on Twitter @hughsouthon

3 comments on “Best Hammers in 50 years: Number 9

  1. Budgie Byrne is my all time favourite player. Watched his whole career at West Ham and in my view he was the main reason that Geoff Hurst became such a great player. He led the frontline of our best ever side from 1963 to 68 and gave supporters of my vintage( 70s)some fabulous memories.
    Two stand out. Beating the great Leeds side 7 nil in league cup when teams put out their full teams.
    Jack Charlton has been quoted that it was the best team he had played against in his career..
    The other was beating Burnley 3-2 at home in 6th round of FA cup in 1964 when we went on to win it for the first time. Byne scored two and master minded the victory in one of Upton Park’s greatest games!

    • I saw that Leeds game and have an abiding memory of Budgie doing a drag back and putting Big Jack on his backside!

  2. Rumoured he kept a comb in his sock. Also believed to have been considered for the1966 World Cup squad. Unfortunately, he’d had an injury during the season and it was also decided four players from one club was too many. Roger Hunt got the nod. Budgie would undoubtedly have buried that disputed goal, not turn his back on it!

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