Two days after winning the FA Cup in 1975 the fans turned out in force to honour one of the greatest men in West Ham’s history – Walter St Pier. Ex player and Chief scout of the club Wally was honoured with a testimonial game to celebrate his service to the club that had started in 1928.
The night’s football was contested by the youth cup finalists of 1975 taking on the Youth Cup winners of 1963 in a game that pitted Harry Redknapp against Alvin Martin, a player he would manage 20 years later at the club. The main event was the ’75 cup winners against the ’64 cup winners, Bobby Moore against Billy Bonds.
The list of players that Wally is credited with bringing through includes is hugely impressive – Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst, Martin Peters, Frank Lampard, Brian Dear, Trevor Brooking to name just six.
As a player Wally only featured now and again for the first team, gaining only 29 appearances in six seasons but upon his retirement Charlie Paynter asked him to take on a scouting role to find the club the players of the future, a job he performed for over 40 years.
Lyall is handing the cup to Wally to hold aloft to the crowd and you can almost see the pride in Lyall’s eyes as it was Wally that brought him to the club back in the 50s.
Add to the fact that over half of the ’64 and ’75 cup winning teams came through his scouting network., how fitting that on his night the Cup was brought back to the Boleyn.
Words and pictures from lifelong fan Nigel Kahn with thanks
Follow Nige @mywhufc