Hammers’ fans are staunchly proud of the fact that their club contributed so much to England’s sole World Cup triumph in 1966. Boasting such luminaries as Bobby Moore, Martin Peters and Geoff Hurst, their list of past players reads like a pantheon of footballing greats.
There are, however, just one or two that they’d rather keep quiet about.
Northern Irish goalkeeper Allen McKnight was truly dreadful. His arrival in 1988 sparked a downturn in West Ham’s fortunes as they were relegated from the top flight in only his first season. Manager John Lyall was promptly sacked and Allen (who by then was affectionately known as Allen McKnightmare) made just 23 appearances during his three year stint at Upton Park. He left disgraced and the East Londoners were promoted again the season after.
Striker Lee Chapman proved something of a disappointment. West Ham paid £250k for the forward in 1993 when he was approaching the end of the career. He came on the back of a respectable scoring ratio of almost one in two games at Leeds who he had helped to promotion from the second division and then the title in 1992. He faded badly though and his scoring touch fully deserted him has he toiled to find the net at Upton Park. His propensity to miss from close range earned him few fans amongst the Hammers faithful and he was finally shipped out to Ipswich at a huge loss after scoring just seven goals over two years.
Finally, there’s Gary Charles. The right back made a name for himself in Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest side of the early 1990s and was famously tackled by Paul Gascoigne in the 1991 FA Cup Final. Gazza broke his leg whilst Charles’ solid performances earned him a call up to the England squad. He joined West Ham in 1999 but his time there was an unhappy one. He was restricted to making just six appearances over three years due a crippling knee injury which eventually forced him to retire. He had already succumbed to a drinking problem by the late 1990s which further inhibited his chances of breaking into the first team. He will be best remembered at Upton Park for drink-driving offences rather than anything he did on the pitch.
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