The Giant Killers

Every F A cup giant killing since 1888

 All time greatest F A cup giant killings

Number 93

 

West Ham United 4-0 Huddersfield Town

 Third Round

Saturday January 9th 1954

Attendance: 36,786

Boleyn Ground, London

Scorers: Hooper {15, 62}, Sexton {64}, Dixon {89}

Russia stopped demanding war reparations for East Germany, Eddie Calvert was topping the charts with his version of 'Oh Mein Papa', Robert Morely was starring in the Story of Gilbert and Sullivan at the cinema and the passengers of the BOAC781 Singapore to London Comet flight were relaxing in Rome before embarking on the final leg of a journey they would sadly never complete the following day when the plane disintegrated over Elba. 

A generation had passed since the glory days of West Ham United. Their big day out at the cup final was now thirty-one long years ago and it was twenty-two years since a top-flight fixture had been played at Upton Park. The Hammers briefly threatened to win their elite status back before the war but the post war era was one where the men in Claret and Blue were the epitome of a Second Division club.

But in the early 1950s something was stirring at Upton Park that would lay the foundations for the very ethos of the club in the decades since and its father was Ted Fenton. Even before taking charge as manager from Charlie Paynter, Fenton’s influence was being felt at West Ham. He’d been a player in the club’s 1930s First Division days and had two fundamental principles he wanted to build his tenure at Upton park on. A solid youth policy and the need for players to plan for life beyond their playing days.

When it came to the former, Fenton recognised how much closer to the community West Ham were than most other clubs. Elsewhere it was common for players to slip under the nose of the local big club and be signed by a rival elsewhere. West Ham was different, drawing the clear majority of its players from London, Essex and Kent and rarely venturing too far afield for playing staff.

It was in this backdrop that Fenton oversaw the creation of what would be known as the West Ham academy, a youth policy that worked hard to find the gems among the local talent. The fruits of the Academy were still to be seen in 1954 but would be helped by Fenton’s second concept. To instil in his players a far-sighted approach to their plans after their playing days were over. The results of that were also still to be seen in 1954 but the West Ham training ground was filled with players who would go on to manage at the highest level in England over the three decades that lay ahead. And Fenton encouraged this coaching ethos by getting these players to coach his youngsters too.

Unfortunately, these two visions were doing little in the early fifties to raise West Ham from their second-tier status, nor did the East End faithful ever raise their hopes of seeing a good cup run as the Hammers were usually out of the tournament by the end of February. League wise little was changing in the 1953/54 season. A promising start quickly stalled as the dark days before Christmas approached and when they played their last game of 1953 their record was just one win in six games. West Ham were deep in mid table and all hope of promotion was long dead for another year.

Fenton’s regular eleven contained only one player inherited when he took charge in 1950, veteran goalkeeper, Ernie Gregory, now in his eighteenth season at the club. Those he brought in contained virtually no top-flight experience and most were relatively local lads. Only the outspoken Malcolm Allison had turned out in the elite division but made just two appearances for Charlton before having to find new employers after one row too many over the club’s antiquated coaching methods.

John Bond was spotted when Fenton oversaw Colchester, playing for an amateur team while Dave Sexton signed from Luton and George Wright came from Ramsgate. Harry Hooper was a Wearsider who found himself at Upton Park when his dad signed on to Fenton’s coaching staff though how Geordie, Tommy Dickson came to Fenton’s attention was less clear.

If players from outside the south east were a rare breed at Upton Park, Scotsmen were virtually unheard of until Jimmy Andrews signed from Dundee in 1951. And he was joined by John Dick two years later. Doug Bing was another relatively local lad from Margate but his three years at the club to date had seen his opportunities limited behind Frank O’Farrell. With the latter struggling with injury, Bing was enjoying a rare run in the side. Just before Christmas, Fenton handed a debut to the last of the eleven who would play on cup third round day, the 21-year-old Andy Malcolm. None of these players were household names yet, though many would achieve that status in the years ahead as players, managers or both.

Their third-round cup opponents were Huddersfield Town who just a few months earlier had visited Upton Park and won on their way to promotion out of Division Two. That afternoon had been a rare visit to east London for the Terriers as that was their first season down after over thirty years in the top flight. Former Preston player, Andy Beattie had taken charge to guide the Yorkshiremen back to where the Football world felt they belonged and they were even mounting a reasonable title bid, entering the new year in third position.

Despite their lofty status, Huddersfield could not be said to be a side containing much by way of star power. Jimmy Glazzard was their main goal threat while the side also had two ex-Internationals in England’s Vic Metcalfe and Scotland’s Jimmy Watson, although neither Ron Staniforth nor Bill McGarry yet knew they would be involved in England’s upcoming 1954 World cup squad. 

The first week of 1954 provided the usual wet, cold weather that ensured the gluepot pitches symbolic of third round day and of course that had the press speculating that shocks would be on the cards. West Ham were expected to present a tricky opponent for Huddersfield but the visitors were tipped to have enough to progress. 

Huddersfield would have expected West Ham to come out all guns blazing in the early stages but it was clear early on that they were struggling to cope with the pace of Harry Hooper in particular. In these early stages Huddersfield’s big half back, Len Quested stood out as their best outfield player but both he and busy keeper, Harry Mills were powerless when Hooper gave the home side a deserved lead a quarter of an hour into the contest.

The goal rattled Huddersfield and for several minutes it seemed certain the Hammers would double their advantage, a state of affairs only prevented when Hooper’s goal bound effort was cleared off the line by Staniforth.

Huddersfield regained their composure enough to keep West Ham at arm’s length but the apron of mud caked to the front of Harry Mills as he left the field told the story of how the first half had played out.

The early stages of the second half suggested West Ham would be in for a tougher forty-five minutes and while Huddersfield saw more of the ball in their opponent’s half, they didn’t do an awful lot with it.

The home side continued to prove more productive and a second goal for Hooper just after the hour mark was the least they deserved. Yet again the loss of a goal threw Huddersfield into all sorts of chaos at the back and under a cauldron of Upton Park cheering, they buckled again two minutes later. This time it was Dave Sexton on the end of a cross to head home the killer blow to some clearly demoralised visitors.

The score line was particularly tough on visiting captain, Len Quested, whose runs from deep in his own half had posed the major threat to the home side in the second half. When he went down in agony ten minutes from time, any visiting hope was gone. Like all good soldiers in these days before substitutes, Quested manfully stayed at his post but he and his colleagues were powerless to prevent Tommy Dixon adding icing to the Hammer’s cake in the dying seconds.

Image above: Hammers keeper, Ernie Gregory leaps above team mate, Malcolm Allison to fend off the attentions of Jimmy Glazzard while Hammer, George Wright watches on. Jimmy Watson and Len Quested of Huddersfield hope to pick up the scraps. 

 

If the manner of the defeat wasn’t bad enough for Huddersfield, the news that Len Quested had actually broken his leg was another hammer blow that would hamper their title bid. Three crucial defeats in their last five games would ultimately cost them the six points they would fall short of when finishing third behind Wolves.

West Ham had cup holders, Blackpool to look forward to in round four. The men from the seaside town were proud owners of the cup itself, arriving at Upton Park with most of the team that won the trophy nine months earlier. It would have been all too clear to both sets of supporters and players that Blackpool’s last cup defeat had come against West Ham two seasons earlier.

On a bitterly cold January weekend, most of the cup ties sat in doubt until a milder turn ensured most grounds would be playable. Those conditions saw the Hammers enjoy the better of things in the first half to deservedly lead through Tommy Dixon but Blackpool came out stronger in the second half, equalising within a few minutes and looking the more likely to win the tie. West Ham had to hang on a little but were fully deserving of a second crack at the Tangerines in midweek.

Blackpool proved far too strong for the Hammers at Bloomfield Road, though the visitors survived a first half battering to go in scoreless, thanks largely to the heroics of Gregory in goal.

The cup holders wouldn’t be denied and the only surprise on the day was that the tie hung in the balance until the dying seconds. Having fallen behind early in the half, West Ham silenced Bloomfield Road when Sexton equalised against the run of play. Their parity lasted just three minutes though but they battled on, largely under pressure before the First Division side sealed the tie with a third goal on time. The Hammers would surely have been disappointed to miss out on a trip to Third Division Port Vale in round five and a real opportunity to create a major cup run.

With their cup exploits behind them, Fenton’s men meandered through the rest of another uneventful season. And over the next three years little changed at Upton Park as the Hammers continued to be far too inconsistent to challenge for promotion.

Veteran keeper, Ernie Gregory decided to hang up his boots at this stage, moving into the backroom staff where he remained as a loyal servant of the club for over half a century before finally retiring in 1987.

Doug Bing continued to struggle to get games when O’Farrell returned from injury and dropped back into Non-League Football with Margate in 1955. Injury would see him hang up his boots in 1959.

Tommy Dixon fell out with the club in 1955, dropping down to Third Division Football while Jimmy Andrews also departed in 1956 for Leyton Orient. By the 70s he was one of the great many ex Hammers in management, replacing former team mate, Frank O’Farrell at Cardiff in 1974. O’Farrell himself had been given the unenviable task of replacing Matt Busby at Manchester United, having guided Leicester to the ’69 cup final.

Harry Hooper also missed the promotion season, moving on to top flight Football in 1955 and being one of two players to play in an Inter City Fairs cup final. Hooper turned out for Birmingham while George Wright appeared in a combined London XI in the first final in 1958.

Dave Sexton was another player who moved on before the promotion season when joining Leyton Orient in 1955. His fame would also be made as one of the top managers of the 60s and 70s, bringing the FA cup to Chelsea for the first time and missing out on winning League titles with both Queens Park Rangers and Manchester United by narrow margins. He would later coach two England Under 21 sides to European glory and yet it was Coventry who honoured him with a statue in the town of Kenilworth where he lived out his last days. Despite Sexton failing to achieve anything of note at Highfield Road.

John Dick not only helped the club into the First Division but also became the club’s first Scottish International in 1959. He remained close to the club, coaching the youth team for many years.

Malcolm Allison was the most luckless of the side as a player when TB robbed him of a lung and a part in the promotion team. His coaching stood him in good stead and after a flamboyant period as a pro gambler and casino playboy he was encouraged back to Football to work as a coach at Manchester City under Joe Mercer. This was a hugely successful period for the Citizens, winning both League and Cup but, not for the last time, big Mal’s ego would undermine his superb coaching brain and he fell out with Mercer and the board. A stint at Crystal Palace followed where he sensationally became a cult hero despite a disastrous period in charge where he oversaw their decline from First to Third Division. Manchester City came calling again at the turn of the eighties but yet again but his time there again proved disastrous and he was sacked in 1980.

The hugely outspoken Allison would famously fall out with one-time friend, John Bond and spent a great deal of the eighties belittling Bond’s managerial record. Bond himself became the most successful of Ted Fenton’s players and was the only man from ’54 to take the field to win the 1964 FA cup. After his playing days Bond took Norwich to the League cup final. His performance at Carrow Road saw Manchester City appoint him as Allison’s successor where he briefly turned the club around and took them to the 1981 cup final. Ultimately City were in something of a mess that Bond couldn’t fix and he too was fired when they were relegated.

It was sad indeed for Ted Fenton that he would leave the club in unclear circumstances in 1961. Nobody has ever revealed what happened to cause the parting of the ways. He had great cause to be proud of what he achieved at Upton Park as no less than seven players brought in under his care, took the field to win that first FA cup in 1964 and European Cup Winners Cup success the following year. He would have been proud too of the likes of O’Farrell, Sexton, Allison and Bond all having those high profile managerial careers.

Fenton himself only briefly entered management again with Southend before quitting the game for a sports company. Sadly, he was badly injured in a car accident in 1992, succumbing to his injuries a week later. 

United: 1:Ernie Gregory,  2:George Wright, 3:John Bond, 4:Andy Malcolm, 5:Malcolm Allison, 6:Doug Bing, 7:Harry Hooper, 8:Dave Sexton, 9:Tommy Dixon, 10:John Dick, 11:Jimmy Andrews. Manager:Ted Fenton  

 Huddersfield: 1:Harry Mills, 2:Ron Staniforth, 3:Laurie Kelly, 4:Bill McGarry, 5:Don McEvoy, 6:Len Quested, 7:Gerry Burrell, 8:Jimmy Watson, 9:Jimmy Glazzard, 10:Willie Davie, 11:Vic Metcalfe. Manager: Andy Beattie