West Ham book review: Sloppy mistakes, just like Hammers

The Recorder looks over the latest book released on West Ham and finds it sadly disappointing.

West Ham’s 30 Memorable Matches - Philip Stevens

DB Publishing - �14.99

After the sort of disastrous season that Hammers fans have just been through, perhaps it will come as something of a relief to pick up a new book about West Ham that traces some of the greatest days in the history of the club.

Unfortunately, this book is not it.

West Ham’s 30 most memorable matches by Philip Stevens includes all the vital moments that have made the Hammers such a great club.

Five FA Cup finals, two European finals and many of the games that have changed the destiny of east London’s top team are included.

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The early matches show the book at its best. It is not vital which games the author has chosen, they are not memorable on their own.

Rather it is how these games in pivotal seasons moved the Hammers to new heights and new recognition as a club.

The chapter on the little remembered FA War Cup Final is full of surprising facts that would be of interest to any West Ham fan, while the joint chapter on West Ham’s FA Youth Cup wins of 1963 and 1999 are certainly entertaining.

There are also appreciations of the great players that West Ham have fielded through their history.

Syd Puddefoot, Vic Watson, Bobby Moore, John Dick, ‘Budgie’ Byrne, Geoff Hurst, Trevor Brooking and Billy Bonds, to name but a few, are all extolled within this tome.

However, although this book is certainly a worthy effort, as well as a useful way of charting the history of the club, it simply lets itself down too many times.

I’m not sure who the author got to read the final draft of his book, but it is clear they knew very little about football and even less about West Ham.

Early mistakes like spelling Leyton Orient as ‘Layton’, failing to put the final score of one game and calling Swansea Town, Swansea City are annoying, but forgiveable.

Others, like praising Patsy Holland’s part in the 1975 FA Cup Final and then replacing him in the team line-up with Bobby Gould; calling Bury, Bury Town; saying that both teams wore their normal colours in the 1980 Cup Final, when neither did and claiming that West Ham beat Norwich City at home in their run to the 2006 FA Cup final are slapdash and detrimental to the credibility of the book.

These are not isolated mistakes either. In the end, reading the book almost became a case of spot the error in each chapter and it was not too hard to spot.

It is such a shame. I so wanted to like this book and it does have its enlightening moments, but whether it was brought out in a hurry, which seems unlikely as there is no mention of the last disastrous season, or whether it is a lack of attention to detail, it simply lets itself down, time and time again.

If you can stand the mistakes, then do get a copy of the book. If you know a little about the history of the club and hate inaccuracy, then you may be better to leave it on the shelf.

So near, and yet so far.

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