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Heed John Lyall’s famous words Slav


As I channel-hopped last night I was fortunate to find a replay of ‘The Boleyn Boys ‘ on Sky Sports Mix –  documentary recorded during the last Upton park season and featuring five Irons greats.

It was riveting to listen again to Bill Bonds, Alan Devonshire, Phil Parkes, Tony Cottee and Tony Gale discussing our great history and the football being served up in Slaven Bilic’s first season at the club.

But it was one comment  from Devo which hit home as we now back over two and a bit years of Slav’s reign.

He interrupted the flow of conversation around the table to recall a comment made years ago by the great John Lyall who learned his trade under the architect of The West Ham Way, Ron Greenwood.

Dev said: “John always said that if you aren’t going to win Cups then you have to entertain our fans and send them out with a smile on their face. That’s what they expect and it’s why they keep coming back week in week out.” 

And to be honest that just about nails the famous West Ham Way as I’ve always understood it.

Lyall’s words represent – even today – what this club has always been about although I understand that many would like to see us go in a different direction

But at a time when our displays have wavered between lethargic to pathetic maybe it would be worth Slaven Bilic printing out those words and placing them on the dressing room door.

We saw the entertainment in his first season and there were glimpses that it may be returning with some top stuff here and there at Burnley.

The time is here for the fans to be entertained like never before. Last season was awful – this ain’t been a lot better so I for one am grateful that Devo reminded me of John’s words.

Muddling through from game to game winning with a scrappy goal and grabbing draws are not us. We need to be expansive and entertaining and like it or lump it that has been the The West Ham Way with which so many of us grew up.

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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

7 comments on “Heed John Lyall’s famous words Slav

  1. As we approach our first FNF fixture (thanks to Sky) I am facing up to an early shoot from work and a late night scramble for trains home (I now live close to where our opposition fans will be coming from this week). I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to one or two thoughts of ‘it’s live on Sky,why bother to go’. My boy has already bailed out this week as he has other plans for a Friday night and he says ‘they always let us down Dad’. i will go and before I am slagged off for not being a true supporter, I am in my late fifties and have been a fan and ST holder for more years than some of the slaggers have been breathing. BUT not for ever will I put up with it, life has too much other stuff to offer these days, too many other things to do with your Friday night/Saturday lunch time/afternoon/evening, Sunday lunch time or afternoon or Monday evening… Oh how I love 3pm Saturday afternoons……
    I need to be entertained and excited from time to time, my victory expectations are low, the years do that to you being an Iron, but my expectations to be excited and entertained are high, indeed I do expect us to take Brighton apart on Friday night and I will go expecting to be excited, however, many more dire performances this season and a TV screen in the local may suffice. COYI

    • Well said Pop. Yep the years certainly do that as a Hammer!

      • What I would say Pop is ignore anyone that says you are not a proper fan, most of them are clueless anyway every club has their share of these instant gratification demanding fools, I have never been a season ticket holder but go to my fair share of games each season, the pity is now I can’t get away tickets but anyway this isn’t about that, I consider myself West Ham through and through speaking personally if someone said something like that to me i would probably call them a 4 letter word beginning with a C possibly proceeded by a 7 letter one beginning with F and see how they liked it. There are more important things in life than being a season ticket holder that’s for sure, I am fairly certain Bilic will not be managing us next season unless he has a change of character in the next 9 months or unless we go on an unbelievable run and get into Europe, so hopefully we will do as Lyall said go out and entertain the fans on a Friday night COYI !!!

  2. Hear here, Hugh.

  3. The problem is , it ain’t our job we’re playing with. I’m sure Slav would love to entertain us all but he’s in a musn’t lose or else situation.

  4. Disagree mooro ! Bilic can’t and has proved over the last 20 months that he cannot play or coach a team into playing the way us oldies were brought up on ! If the dross we have been subject to for months now was served up by bilic in his first year he wouldn’t be hear now ! Period ! The nameless one made him look untouchable and gave us all a boost ! But the truth is he’s clueless along with his coaches and the quicker he’s gone the better !! Football is a simple game made hard by people who simply don’t know how or apply simple instructions and ways of using the ball like lyall and greenwood used to do !! The problem we have made for ourselves is we sold those values out when we went outside the west ham structure and west ham way when macari came in and it went down hill from there !!! The only person or persons who could bring it back are those who played under lyall and greenwood and in my opinion should bring some back into the fold and breath life back into the club!!
    Give the job to brooking if he will have it and bring in some old boys to help coach !😉

  5. Every team in the league are going to have good games and bad games. It’s rare to be able to say that one team will play a certain way and entertain every match. With the exception of maybe Citeh at the moment, this season will be no different.
    I feel that the problem lies with the money in football these days. it’s turned football in to a business rather than a spectators sport that used to entertain us every week. As Pop mentions as it seems we here commenting are all of that era.
    I work in the middle east and can only get back for the occasional game but do so where possible. The rest of the time we are fortunate here to be able to watch every game every week on the tv. I enjoyed being a ST holder when i was back in the UK but i echo my opening statement that i had to put up with good and bad games as we are now.

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