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1901-02 Southern League : First Division

Manager: Committee members responsible for team selection

There were new additions to the squad as the second season got under way. Jimmy Bigden, a half-back, came from Gravesend together with Bill Linward, a winger from Doncaster Rovers. For this campaign the club decided that, in addition to their Southern League fixtures, they would also enter the Western League and London League. The team made a positive start and by the end of September they were leading the Southern League courtesy of four wins and a draw. Included in those games was a victory against Brentford, who were beaten 2–0 with Billy Grassam scoring both goals. Also among the goals was Freddie Corbett with a hat-trick against Wellingborough in a 4–2 win. There were four goals scored against both Northampton and Luton but what followed next was a disappointing run of six defeats with only one goal scored. Due to an administrative error, the team had to fulfil an FA Cup tie against Leyton on the same day as they were due to play Tottenham in a league match. To resolve this, the reserve team were sent to Leyton, where they won 1–0, and the first team entertained Tottenham. Before a crowd of 17,000 the Hammers lost 1–0 to their London rivals.

A home tie in the FA Cup followed against local side Grays United, ending in a giant-killing as the village team won 2–1. The side was inconsistent – during December and January there was a run of three games without a win followed by three straight victories. However, this all changed as the team remained unbeaten during the last two months of the campaign. Fergus Hunt scored twice against Luton and got two more in the 4–0 defeat of Queens Park Rangers. Fellow striker George Ratcliffe also hit form as he scored nine goals in the last ten games including two against both Watford and Queens Park Rangers. There was an excellent 2–1 victory at Tottenham, where goalkeeper Hugh Monteith was the star performer. The backbone of the side had been four Scots: forward Billy Grassam, half-back Rod McEachrane, full-back Charlie Craig and goalkeeper Hugh Monteith. It had been a good campaign with the team finishing in fourth position in the Southern League but off the field the club struggled with their finances.


Ground Committee

Text and Match extracts from the excellent book "IRONS of the SOUTH West Ham United in the Southern League"

By kind permission of author JOHN POWLES and published by Soccer Data

The directors of West Ham were pleased to discover that the sale of season tickets had doubled to 110. To improve the financial situation 500 additional shares of stock were sold.

West Ham lost several of their best players at the end of the 1900-1901 season. James Reid left for Worksop Town whereas Freddie Fenton joined Swindon Town. The biggest blow of all was the club's longest-serving player, Charlie Dove, leaving for bitter rivals, Millwall.

However, at the beginning of the 1901-02 the Football League introduced a maximum wage of £4 per week. As some players had been earning as much as £10, they decided to join Southern League clubs where there were no restrictions on wages. As John Harding pointed out in For the Good of the Game: The Official History of the Professional Footballers' Association (1991) "In effect, the Football League abolished the free market where players' wages and conditions were concerned... there were 'escape routes' to clubs and countries where a player could ply his trade freely and earn a reasonable (indeed, where some Southern League clubs were concerned, highly lucrative) wage."


10 August 1901

VIVIAN GIBBINS (1923-1932) Born this day Forest Gate, London

As an amateur, he appeared in the line-up as "V.W.T. Gibbins," to distinguish him from the pros who were not then given Christian names in programme details. Like that other great West Ham United and England amateur international before him - Harry Stapley - Viv was a schoolmaster by profession and also a centre-forward for club and country. The last of the great amateurs imbued with the Corinthian spirit to serve the club, he became the first from the non-paid ranks since WW1 to head a League Club's scoring lists by topping Hammers' goalscoring charts with 18 goals in 1930-31. Making his debut against Nottingham Forest in a 1-2 reverse at the City Ground on the 15 December 1923, Viv found the pace of First Division soccer somewhat faster than that which he had experienced previously with local amateurs Clapton F.C. His pen-picture in a 1925-26 Club Handbook gives some idea of the esteem in which he was held at the Boleyn: "The name of Gibbins is a household word in London Football, and it is our great regret that he cannot assist us regularly, for we would always find a place for him." The writer of those notes must have been happy when Vivian decided to play permanently for West Ham United in 1927-28 while still retaining his amateur status, but not so pleased when his transferred to Brentford on 19 February 1932. Honours England amateur caps v. Ireland and South Africa (1925); Ireland and Scotland (1927); Ireland and Scotland (1930); and Wales and Scotland (1931).


Memorial Grounds 1 - 1 (Draycott [og]) 2 September 1901


78 minutes bad light : rearranged for 30 September 1901

Monteith, King, Craig, Allan, Kelly, McEachrane, Grassam, Hunt, Corbett, Ratcliffe, Linward

The opening fixture of the season was scheduled for Monday 2 September with a kick off at 6.30 pm. Unfortunately due to the late arrival of visitors Wellingborough, the match did not get under way until ten minutes to seven. Due to the bad light later on the referee had to abandon the game with twelve minutes left to play. Fortunately neither team held an advantage at the time, as the score was 1-1. There was some relief for two of the players when the whistle blew, as both goals were of the 'own goal' variety. The match did have one unhappy outcome however, as Fergus Hunt received a serious knee injury in the second half which put the ex-Woolwich Arsenal man out of action for a couple of months.

BRISTOL ROVERS : Southern League

Stapleton Road 2 - 1 (Corbett, Grasham) 7 September 1901 Att: 5,000

Monteith King Craig Bigden Kelly McEachrane Allan Grassam Corbett Ratcliffe Linward



JAMES BIGDEN and WILLIAM LINWARD both make their debuts against BRISTOL ROVERS

The home side had been beaten only once in the previous season on their own ground, and it came as a surprise and a disappointment to their followers that West Ham inflicted defeat so early in the campaign. Grassam and Corbett scored in a 2-0 result where the visitors were smarter in front of goal. One excuse offered by the West Country men was that the team played in jerseys that were too hot for them!


Bristol Rovers v. WHU 02

Bristol Rovers v. WHU 02


BRENTFORD : Southern League

Memorial Grounds 2 - 0 (Grasham 2) 14 September 1901 Att: 4,500

Monteith, King, Craig, Bigden, Kelly, McEachrane, Allan, Grassam, Corbett, Ratcliffe, Linward

When Brentford came to Canning Town for a Southern League fixture the weather was warm and sunny: ideal for the assembled crowd, but possibly too warm for the players. When West Ham took the field they were wearing their new colours for the first time - light blue jerseys, with a claret band, and white knickers with a red stripe, and it was said they looked very conspicuous in the new outfits. The attendance was 4,500, with the visitors bringing a large contingent of 800 supporters with them. They were to go home disappointed as the 'Irons' were certainly too hot for the 'Bees', winning a one sided game by two goals to nil, with Grassam responsible for both goals yet again.

0502 Brentford 01 (H) 01-02

NEW BROMPTON : Southern League

Priestfield 0 - 0 21 September 1901 Att: 4,000

Monteith, King, Craig, Bigden, Kelly, McEachrane, Allan, Grassam, Corbett, Ratcliffe, Linward

The match at Preistfield Stadium was played out in showery weather before 4,000 spectators. The play was very even in the first-half with neither side managing to find the net. The second period continued in much the same vain but the longer the play went on the hotly contested match was starting to turn in favour of the home side with Brompton having slightly better of the exchanges. However, the defence on both sides prevailed throughout and a very fast game ended in a goalless draw.

0503 New Brompton 01 (A) 01-02

KETTERING TOWN : Southern League

Memorial Grounds 1 - 0 (Grasham) 28 September 1901 Att: 6,000

Monteith, King, Craig, Bigden, Kelly, McEachrane, Allan, Grassam, Corbett, Ratcliffe, Linward

0504 Kettering Town 01 (H) 01-02

Just one goal was enough to inflict defeat on Kettering when they came to town. The visitors were criticised for some rough and vicious play after they had gone behind in the final fifteen minutes of the game. The referee went so far as to call the whole 'Ketts' side together to warn them about their behaviour. Aside from the two points gained the West Ham executive were more than pleased with the 'gate' of 6,000 on the day.

SMITH William

29 September 1900

WILLIAM SMITH (1928-1929) Born this day Corsham, Wiltshire

A West Countryman, full-back William Smith has often been confused over the years with a colleague and namesake Harry Smith, an inside-forward who played for Hammers at around the same time. Played as an amateur for Corsham F.C. in the Wiltshire League before joining Southern League Bath City (still as a member of the non-paid ranks) for a season-and-a-half. He then signed professional forms for Notts County and spent four years on the Trentside until his transfer to West Ham in 1927. Made his Hammers debut in the 2-5 away defeat by Huddersfield Town on the 7 January 1928. Smith's only other appearance was a year and 12 days later, again a 2-5 defeat, this time against Aston Villa at Villa Park.


Memorial Grounds 4 - 2 (Corbett 3, Grassam) 30 September 1901 Att: 2,000

Monteith, King, Craig, Bigden, Kelly, McEachrane, Allan, Grassam, Corbett, Ratcliffe, Linward

With the original fixture abandoned on 78 minutes due to bad light and to avoid any possibility of a further abandonment the match began at a little after 3.30pm, and consequently the attendance was only 2,000. Fred Corbett had not been performing well in the previous two Southern League matches and quite probably would have been replaced by Peter Kyle. Maybe with that thought in mind, Fred was at his best, scoring a hat-trick in a 4-2 victory. The 'Irons' were now undefeated in five matches and went to the top of the table.

0505 Wellinborough Town 01 (H) 01-02

NORTHAMPTON TOWN : Southern League

City Ground 4 - 3 (Grassam 2, McEachrane, Bennett [og]) 5 October 1901 Att: 2,000

Monteith, King, Craig, Bigden, Kelly, McEachrane, Allan, Grassam, Corbett, Ratcliffe, Linward

The Hammers' position at the top of the table was maintained in an exciting tussle at the City Ground against Northampton where the claret and blue side overcame the home side by 4 goals to 3.

LUTON TOWN : Southern League

Memorial Grounds

4 - 1 (Corbett 2, Linward, Ratcliffe)

12 October 1901

Att: 6,000

Monteith, King, Craig, Bigden, Kelly, McEachrane, Allan, Grassam, Corbett, Ratcliffe, Linward

WATFORD : Southern League

Cassio Road

0 - 0

19 October 1901

Att: 4,000












YENSON William


WILLIAM YENSON and J. HITCHENS both makes their Hammers debut against WATFORD at Cassio Road


Memorial Grounds

0 - 2

26 October 1901

Att: 9,000













WILLIAM JENKINSON makes his Hammers debut against MILLWALL at the Memorial Grounds


Memorial Grounds

0 - 1

2 November 1901

Att: 17,000

Monteith, King, Craig, Bigden, Kelly, McEachrane, Hunt, Grassam, Corbett, Ratcliffe, Linward

LEYTON : FA Cup Third Qualifying Round

Hare & Hounds

1 - 0 (Taylor)

2 November 1901

Att: 2,000

Ambler, Fair, Pudan, McGeorge, Yenson, Pinder, Allan, Wallace, Kyle, Hitchens, Taylor

CHARLES AMBLER, AUBREY FAIR, ROBERT McGEORGE, JAMES WALLACE and PETER KYLE all make their Hammers debut against LEYTON at the Hare & Hounds ground

With the prospect of two games on the same day, West Ham’s experiment of sending a reserve side to oppose Leyton in their Football Association Cup 3rd Qualifying tie almost proved disastrous and must be considered one of the luckiest teams still left in the competition. Had Leyton utilised half of their many easy chances they would have won, and that handsomely. The amateur sides three inside forwards were very weak, especially in front of goal. Leyton’s superiority was most manifest in the first half, when they should have scored two or three goals. West Ham certainly had the better of matters afterwards and scored the only goal of the game through Frank Taylor, but before their goal was registered Barker had failed to convert a penalty kick for the home side.


Latimer Road

1 - 2 (Linward)

9 November 1901

Att: 4,000

Ambler, King, Craig, Allan, Kelly, McEachrane, Corbett, Grassam, Kyle, Ratcliffe, Linward

12 November 1901

JACK HEBDEN (1920-1927) Born this day Castleford, Yorkshire

This strong-tackling full-back joined Hammers from Bradford City in May 1921 in time to make his debut on the last day of the season, a 0-0 draw at South Shields on the 7 May 1921. After recovering from a bad injury sustained during the following campaign, Jack settled down to figure consistently in the First Division side during the mid-twenties and was appointed skipper in 1926-27. Leaving West Ham for Fulham in 1928, he later captained Thames F.C. who played at the old West Ham Stadium in Prince Regent Lane. Disbanded in 1933 because of crippling debts, Thames' problems were evident as early as 6th December 1930, when they sent out the smallest cheque ever received as a share of an away gate to Luton Town. The attendance for the Third Division South fixture was 469 and Luton's cheque was for 1s. 8d. But back to Jack. The demise of the Thames club effectively ended his League career, but he continued to play in local soccer and found employment at the Electricity Works in Nelson Street, East Ham.

GRAYS UNITED : FA CUP Fourth Qualifying Round

Memorial Grounds

1 - 2 (Linward)

16 November 1901

Att: 2,000

Monteith, King, Pudan, McGeorge, Craig, McEachrane, Ward, Grassam, Kyle, Ratcliffe, Linward

T.G. WARD makes his West Ham debut against GRAYS UNITED at the Memorial Grounds

READING : Southern League

Elm Park

0 - 3

23 November 1901

Att: 5,000

Monteith, King, Craig, Yenson, Kelly, McEachrane, Grassam, Wallace, Jenkinson, Ratcliffe, Linward

SOUTHAMPTON : Southern League

The Dell

0 - 4

7 December 1901

Att: 4,000

Monteith, Pudan, Craig, Bigden, Kelly, Jenkinson, Allan, Grassam, Corbett, Ratcliffe, Linward

SWINDON TOWN : Southern League

Memorial Grounds

2 - 1 (Linward, McEachrane)

14 December 1901

Att: 2,000

Monteith, King, Pudan, Bigden, Jones, McEachrane, Allan, Grassam, Jenkinson, Ratcliffe, Linward

WILLIAM JONES makes his Hammers debut against SWINDON TOWN at the Memorial Grounds

16 December 1901: Transfer of Alex McDonald from Southampton £20 fee

Minutes of Board Meeting December 1901

035 McDONALD Alex Transfer

BRISTOL ROVERS : Southern League

Memorial Grounds

2 - 0 (McDonald 2)

21 December 1901

Att: 2,000

Monteith, King, Craig, Bigden, Jones, McEachrane, Allan, Grassam, McDonald, Jenkinson, Linward

ALEX McDONALD makes his West Ham debut against BRISTOL ROVERS


Dog & Duck Ground

2 - 0 (Allan, McEachrane)

27 December 1901

Att: 2,500

Monteith, King, Craig, Bigden, Jones, McEachrane, Allan, Grassam, Hunt, Jenkinson, Linward



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