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Top Premiership sides Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City have all been beaten by West Ham United this season. So the Hammers will fancy their chances at home to the Premier League holders, Chelsea, on Saturday October 24, 2015.
It should be a fiercely contested game as manager Bilic will be keen to maintain the season’s bright start, and Mourinho will hope to wake up from his side’s nightmare beginning to the 2015-16 season.
The three points are everything. With so much at stake we forget that West Ham has met Chelsea on more friendly terms in the past.
Chelsea’s visit will be a reminder to Alvin Martin of his testimonial game back in November 1995 when the west Londoners kindly provided the opposition. That’s the second of Alvin’s two testimonial games. The first had taken place seven years earlier.
In today’s game of swing-door transfer activity with players frequently changing clubs, a testimonial game is almost as rare as a West Ham win at Anfield. Let alone a player serving the same club long enough to be honoured with two testimonial matches. In recognition of Alvin Martin’s 21 seasons, nineteen as a West Ham first team player he is only the second Hammer to be the beneficiary of two such games. Billy Bonds was the first.
He started and finished his first team career as a substitute. In March 1978 Alvin Martin made his league debut for the Hammers, as a substitute against Aston Villa in a 4-1 defeat at Villa Park. It was the start of an illustrious career that would span 21 years in the claret and blue.
The central defenders' final competitive game was on May 5, 1997 when he came on as a substitute in the season’s final Premiership game at home to Sheffield Wednesday which ended in a 1-1 draw.
After 596 claret and blue league and cup appearances, scoring 34 goals, 'Stretch' was quite rightly the recipient of two richly deserved testimonial games.
First Testimonial Game
West Ham United 2 - 0 Tottenham Hotspur (HT 1-0)
Sunday August 21, 1988
West Ham United:
Tony Gale (33 mins), Paul Hilton (82 mins)
Martin’s first special game was awarded after 11 seasons of first team action. The opposition, fellow Barclays Division One club Tottenham Hotspur, visited Upton Park in late August 1988 as part of the Hammers’ pre-season preparations.
In 1985-86 season West Ham had completed their best ever football league programme by finishing 3rd in Division One. So three seasons later the club possibly had some lingering hopes of a return to that majestic form. Especially as recent transfer activity had boosted the first team squad with the acquisitions of Julian Dicks towards the tail-end of the previous season, and summer signings striker David Kelly from Walsall and Glasgow Celtic's goalkeeper Allen McKnight.
The 2-0 win over the Lilywhites' star-studded side didn't go without incident. Martin’s big day turned into a shame game for West Ham’s Julian Dicks and Spurs’ former Hammer Paul Allen.
The brawling duo were taken off after 55 minutes on the orders of referee Danny Vickers.
Vickers had called both bosses John Lyall and Terry Venables together and told them to withdraw the two offending players or he would send them off.
This full-blooded match would have been a useful workout and confidence booster before the real action started six days later with an away league fixture at Southampton.
Martin’s & Devonshire’s Upton Park Returns
West Ham United:
McAlister (McKnight), Potts (Devonshire), Dicks (Ince), Gale, Martin, Keen, Ward (Hilton), Rosenior (Slater), Kelly D., Robson.
Mimms, Statham, Hughton, Fenwick, Fairclough, Mabbutt, Walsh, Gascoigne (Howells), Waddle (Moran), Samways, Allen (Gray).
Second Testimonial Game
West Ham United 3 - 3 Chelsea XI (HT 2-2)
Saturday November 11, 1995
West Ham United:
Boogers (43 mins), Williamson (44 mins), Hutchison (48 mins)
Furlong (20 mins), Hughes (27 mins), Stein (84 mins)
By the time of Martin’s second benefit match West Ham were back in the top tier, the Premiership. This time the opposition was fellow Premier League side, Chelsea.
The fixture against our west London neighbours was back in the pre-Abramovich era and was slotted in on a free November Saturday in 1995.
West Ham United:
Miklosko (Sealey 46), Breacker (Ferdinand 78), Harkes (Currie 75), Potts, Martin (Mitchell 67), Slater (Chris Waddle 46), Hutchison (Lampard 68), Williamson (Bishop 46), Lazarides (Redknapp 58), Boogers (McManaman 58), Cottee (Allen 46).
Hitchcock (Reeves 68), Barness (Furlong 79), Lee, Spackman, Clement (Duberry 46), Hall (Dow 68), Newton, P. Hughes (Hoddle 46), Rocastle (Izzet 46), Furlong (Stein 46), M.Hughes (Kelly 79)
A description of the two goals both from centre backs:
Tony Gale put the Hammers 1-0 up with what was described in a West Ham programme’s match report as ...
tremendous shot that bent away from Bobby Mimms (Spurs’ goalkeeper) during its 20 yards route inside the far post
Paul Hilton “made it 2-0 with a clever piece of finishing three minutes after moving off the subs’ bench”.
Alvin's nickname was 'Stretch'
When he was a gangly apprentice they reckoned he just stuck out his leg when making a tackle.
Did you know...
CLEAR OFF ... Referee Vickers has had enough of Julian Dicks and Paul Allen
This testimonial game was an important match for two of West Ham’s 1980 FA Cup winning side. For Alvin Martin and Alan Devonshire it was their first senior appearances at Upton Park for a long time.
In Alvin’s case it was his first game since sustaining a toe injury in November 1987 and for Devonshire it was his first outing at Upton Park since the opening day’s fixture of the previous season against Queens Park Rangers in August 1987.
Despite an encouraging pre-season start with this friendly win over Spurs on Alvin’s special day, any air of optimism at Upton Park evaporated as it turned out to be a long season that unfortunately culminated in relegation to the second tier of English football.
When we got out there for the second half, I went up to Hutch and said:
Hoddle, Waddle, Redknapp, McManaman and Hughes
Second half guest appearances were made by three England stars who West Ham fans wished were claret and blue regulars. Sheffield Wednesday’s Chris Waddle, along with Liverpool’s Steve McManaman and Jamie Redknapp all came on for second half cameo appearances in this light hearted affair. Another former star, Chelsea’s manager Glenn Hoddle, also threw back the years and put on his boots.
While 1988’s provided some practice ready for the opening league fixture, the emphasis of the second was good natured entertainment from many of the stars of the day. Although not as feisty as the first encounter against Spurs, the passing was excellent but some tackles also went in when they had to. A couple of players, noticeably Breacker and Hutchison were probably a bit over-zealous!
Do me a favour, don’t kick Glenn (Hoddle), he’s helped me out by coming and doesn’t want to be kicked by you!
Despite the relatively friendly atmosphere several of the West Ham players had pride at stake and well deserved goals were netted by Marco Boogers, Danny Williamson and Don Hutchison.
Marco Boogers may not have scored in his four competitive first team appearances but he managed it here. After trailing 2-0 to goals from Paul Furlong and Mark Hughes the Hammers levelled the score with two in two minutes.
Dutch born Boogers' strike came in the 43rd minute after a good move and dummy from Tony Cottee, and a minute later a cross-shot by Danny Williamson found the back of the net to level the scores.
Three minutes into the second-half the Hammers were now in the ascendancy as they took control to lead 3-2. Don Hutchison made a spectacular 35-yard chip over goalkeeper Hitchcock who was standing well off his line. Unfortunately, substitute Mark Stein spoiled Martin's party to level the scores at three-a-piece in the 85th minute.
Martin's Testimonial Brochure
Alvin Martin’s Testimonial Brace
Paul Ince and Tony Gale
David Kelly rides a tackle
Leroy Rosenior and Paul Hilton celebrate 'Hilts' goal
Newspaper coverage courtesy of Richard Miller