Hammer Mubama can end drought


Blind Hammer looks at the dearth of academy strikers and hopes that we may finally be turning a corner.

West Ham is rightly proud of its Academy.

Before Rice, England’s midfield was dominated by Paul Ince, Michael Carrick, Joe Cole, and Frank Lampard, who all learnt their footballing onions at Chadwell Heath.

Mark Noble became a club legend, Cullen has returned to the Premiership with Burnley and Stanislav has made a career at Bournemouth.

Glen Johnston and Rio Ferdinand bolstered defence for club and country whilst Tomkins was a creditable performer for West Ham and Palace. Ben Johnson is likely to have a career at senior level, even if it is with Everton rather than West Ham.

Yet in one critical area the academy record is poor. It fails to produce strikers.

In the ’60s West Ham fielded not one but two home grown strikers. Alongside the legendary Geoff Hurst was Brian Dear, who, on his day could be equally prolific. Dear famously scored 5 goals in 20 minutes demolishing West Bromwich Albion.

Yet, In the 60 years since, only Tony Cottee had emerged as an Academy strike star. Some claim Defoe as an Academy product.

However the truth is that he largely learnt his football at Charlton and Bournemouth before bursting into West Ham. Other products of the Academy such as Freddy Sears, Stuart Slater and Zavon Hines flickered only briefly.

This all mattered hugely.

Over the decades this striker drought produced a dual transfer whammy. Massive amounts leaked out in wasted striker investment, yet nothing came in. West Ham embarked on a bizarre, long list of failed striking recruits to fill this Academy gap. Over 50 were recruited since 2010 alone. Unfortunately the vast majority were dire duds who return no resale value.

Of course there were exceptions but the great recruits of Carlton Cole, Antonio, Arnautović and of course Bowen, were rare gems amongst the oceans of duds represented by Mido, Carew, Calleri, Zaza, benni Maccarthy, and going back even further Boogers.

Even when West Ham spent big in an effort to fill the gap with Haller, and Scamacca they did not fit in. Expensive recruits like Dean Ashton and Andy Carrol were injury plagued

So, despite regularly smashing club record transfer fees and recruiting dozens, West Ham were constantly playing catch up. The home grown striker gap forced the club into heavy and skewed investments, distorting squad development for decades.

So it is with huge relief that the Academy are apparently now launching striker talent. Divin Mubama, alongside  Callum Marshall, are the emerging bright lights.

It is critical that Mubama is not a flash in the pan.  The stakes could not be higher. The youngster may not realise it but his and other young strikers hopes for progression and breakthrough are intimately linked into the wider club’s hope for  the future.

The Academy needs to be just as expert in producing strikers starlets as well as midfield gems.
Whatever the system is that that developed Divin is , we need more of it.

David Griffith

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My Father, born in 1891 was brought up in the shadows of the Thames Ironworks Memorial Ground. I remember as a child jumping over the settee when Alan Sealy scored in our 1965 European Cup Winners triumph.

My first game was against Leicester in 1968, when Martin Peters scored what was adjudged by ITV’s Big Match as the Goal of the Season.

I became a season ticket holder in 1970.

I was registered blind in 1986 and thought my West Ham supporting days were over. However in 2010 I learnt about the fantastic support West Ham offer to Blind and other Disabled Supporters. I now use the Insightful Irons in-stadium commentary service and West Ham provide space for my Guide Dog Nyle.

I sit on the West Ham Disabled Supporters Board and the LLDC Built Environment Access Panel.

David Griffith aka Blind Hammer


  • vince says:

    Good article, but I would add that McAvennie is worth a shout as a successful buy – and perhaps Paul Goddard too.

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