Bridge joins list of West Ham debut disasters
West Ham’s latest recruit, Wayne Bridge, suffered the debut from hell against Theo Walcott and Arsenal at Upton Park on Saturday night. So how does it measure against some of the great debut disasters?
GLENN KEELEY made his Everton debut in the Merseyside derby back in 1982. He fouled Kenny Dalglish, was sent off and never played for the club again.
Arsenal’s Jason Crowe was sent off after just 33 seconds of his debut, while Tottenham’s Gilberto gave away a goal against PSV Eindhoven was roundly booed and then substituted at half time.
Remember Jonathan Woodgate? His debut for Real Madrid saw him score an own goal and then get sent off.
So perhaps on reflection, Wayne Bridge’s disastrous first game for the Hammers against Arsenal on Saturday evening was not quite as bad as we all thought.
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In reality, the 30-year-old left back had not started a competitive game since mid-December and when in your first game back you find yourself up against Theo Walcott, it is never going to be a walk in the park.
It was anything but. All three goals were down to mistakes from the England international, who had more rust in his legs than a 1977 Ford Cortina.
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First he was caught in his area as the ball went to Walcott on the right, and he gave him all the time in the world to cross for the opening goal.
Next he played Robin van Persie onside and then when the Dutch striker pulled the ball back, he completely misjudged it and allowed Walcott to make it 2-0.
Lastly he made a pointless challenge on Walcott in the area and conceded a penalty which allowed the Gunners to complete their easy victory.
In between, he showed signs of his class, but the match was to prove even more frustating for the Manchester City defender as he hobbled off with two minutes to go.
Hardly the ideal first game, but Bridge knows that things can only get better.
“It was a difficult game for me really,” said Bridge with something of an understatement. “Theo is really quick and that was my first 90 minutes for a while. I’ve not played too many this season, so I had a little bit of cramp at the end, but I didn’t feel too bad for the first 60.”
Bridge comes in with the reputation as a reliable full back, but also as a player who spends too much time sitting on the bench.
He has made the decision to come to Upton Park and play some first-team football, though he could not have wished for a harder first match.
“It was difficult,” he admitted. “Arsenal are a great team and keep the ball well, so most of the time we were running around chasing after the ball.
“We had a few chances and if we’d put one away it might have been a different story.”
Yes, it might have given Arsenal the incentive to score more goals.
Bridge will certainly be buckling down now in readiness for Saturday’s trip to Everton as well as the Carling Cup semi-final with Birmingham.
“I try not to look too far ahead,” he said. “We have got Everton this weekend and I just want to win, but we’ve also got a chance of winning a medal in the Carling Cup and that would be great.”
Graham Gooch was a spectator on Saturday. On his Ashes debut he got a pair. He didn’t do too badly after that and Bridge will be hoping for the same.
OTHER WEST HAM DEBUT DISASTERS
Newcastle United (a) 29/08/92
MATTY HOLMES was unfortunate to get caught up in the Kevin Keegan revival at St James’ Park when he made his debut for the Hammers.
Julian Dicks was sent off for elbowing Franz Carr and West Ham were comfortably beaten 2-0.
For Matty Holmes, he was forced off with what looked like concussion, but turned out to be a broken jaw!
Newcastle United (a) 25/09/93
THE late Dutch striker made an inauspicious start to his career at West Ham.
He made his debut at Newcastle United, coming on as a substitute after Andy Cole had given the Magpies the lead.
However, when Cole made it 2-0, Boere clashed with Kevin Scott and Barry Venison and was promptly sent off.
He went on to make 29 appearances in claret and blue, scoring seven goals.
Liverpool (a) 10/09/94
TONY COTTEE’S second debut for the Hammers did not prove to be as rewarding as his first when he scored against Tottenham Hotspur.
Playing at Liverpool on his return, he was sent off after 55 minutes for a two-footed lunge at Hammer to be Rob Jones.
It wasn’t all bad though, West Ham got a rare 0-0 draw at Anfield.
Sheffield Wed (a) 16/01/99
YOU wouldn’t have thought Minto’s debut at home to Sheffield Wednesday held too many demons, it proved to be a nightmare day.
The full back and the rest of West Ham’s beleaguered troops found themselves on the end of a 4-0 defeat at Upton Park as Benito Carbone ran them ragged all afternoon.
Middlesbrough (a) 15/08/01
WHEN you consider the start he made at West Ham, it is amazing that Tomas Repka became so popular.
On his debut at Middlesbrough he was given his marching orders with 10 minutes to go as West Ham crashed 2-0.
He was sent off again at Blackburn before the month was out.
AND THERE’S MORE
ROB JONES debut proved to be his only game as the trip to Finland to play Jokerit in the Inter-Toto Cup convinced him he had to retire.
Sasa Ilic’s debut was a 4-0 home defeat by Everton, while Mauricio Taricco played 27 minutes against Millwall before being forced off with an injury and he then promptly retired from the game.