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Banner Hammers Logo theyflysohigh Bill Green 1976 Down in the Forest Real Betis v. WHU Heartbreak Lay-off GREEN Bill Signs GREEN Bill 02 76-77 Bill Green signature Green signs 03

Bill Green (1950 - 2017)

by Roger Hillier

76_08_21 Aston Villa v. WHU 1554 Bristol City 02 (H) 77-78

Bill Green in close attendance as Bryan Robson connects to score against Bristol City at Upton Park on February 11, 1978

Summer Tour 1977

Green against SK Moss

Defensive header by Bill Green in Hammers pre-season friendly with Norwegian side SK Moss

First Encounter Against the Hammers

On February 1, 1975, Carlisle marked the first - and only - visit to Upton Park for a League fixture. (The Cumbrian side had previously visited in 1909 for an F.A. Cup tie which went to a replay, also played at Upton Park by mutual consent.)

Green 01

Bill Green went down in Brunton Park folkore by leading Carlisle United into the old First Division for their only season in the top flight of English football in 1974-75. The defender also claimed a unique place in the club's history by scoring the opening goal in their 2-0 victory at Chelsea in that season's first game.

What A Difference A Year Makes

1476B Bill Green signs 1562 Chelsea 01 (H) 77-78 78_03_25 WHU v. Chelsea

Solitary Hammers Goal Against Chelsea

GREEN Bill Portarit 74_11_09 Carlisle United v. WHU 75_02_01 WHU v. Carlisle United

Hammers’ League Debut

August 1976

Bill Green WH v Carlisle 1975

Not many professional footballers experience the extremes of playing for a side at the bottom of the Football League’s fourth tier, to four years later joining a club weeks after it had narrowly failed to win a European trophy. This is what happened to West Ham United’s former centre half Bill Green.  


Bill Green started his professional career with Hartlepool United and in his first two seasons (1969-70 & 1970-71) the club finished in 91st place, one place above rock bottom of the Football League. This was in the days when at the end of the season the last placed club was in the precarious position of having to seek re-election. Green's career progressed with a move from the east coast to the west side when he joined Second Division Carlisle United in July 1973 for £15,000.


Three years later the central defender signed for the Hammers. This was just four weeks after West Ham had been beaten in the European Cup Winners’ Cup final to the Belgians, Anderlecht.  


Green was signed by manager John Lyall on June 7, 1976 for a reported £75,000 transfer fee, to help shore up a defence leaking too many goals. In his two claret and blue seasons he made 40 league and cup appearances, netting a solitary goal before he left the club in the summer of 1978 to join Peterborough United.


Born: Newcastle-upon-Tyne on December 22, 1950 Bill Green died on August 21, 2017 aged 66.

Incredibly newly promoted Carlisle United had topped the First Division in late August after winning their first three games in the top flight. Green had quickly blossomed from a raw centre-half with Hartlepool to become a solid and dependable Division One player with Carlisle. West Ham followed his progression with interest and a £150,000 offer to bring him to the Boleyn Ground was rejected by the Cumbrian club.  


With Carlisle failing to keep up their early season good form they finished the 1974-75 season in bottom place and relegated. A year later after playing a total 119 games and scoring four goals for the Brunton Park club, the Hammers finally got their man for half-the-price at £75,000.

Andrew Jenkins Carlisle United Chairman

We actually did our best to hang on to him, turning down an offer of over £150,000 from West Ham at one point, but they eventually got their man when we were relegated out of the top division.

Quote Quote

Bill Green (far right) unable to prevent Billy Jennings scoring for the Hammers

Crossed Hammer

John Lyall welcomes

Green to Upton Park

First Team Debut in Scandinavian Tour

July 1976

A month after his dream move to West Ham, the 6 foot 3 inch defender joined his fellow first team squad members for the club's pre-season tour of Sweden, Norway and Spain.  


He made his initial debut in claret and blue at the Grubbe Vallen Stadium on July 29, 1976 in a 2-1 win over the Swedish side Sandakern SK. Unfortunately, he had to be replaced at half-time due to a hamstring injury. But this didn’t stop Bill from appearing in all four Scandinavian tour games before the club moved on to Spain to play in the Prince Felipe Tournament where he played a further two games against Portugese side Belenenses and host club Real Racing Club der Santander.


Green picked up a winners’ medal as the Hammers won the round-robin tournament with a final 3-2 victory over Santander. The winning goal courtesy of “goalkeeper turned outfield player” Bobby Ferguson. Injuries deprived West Ham of several outfield players which necessitated using Fergie as an outfield substitute!  

76_07_29 Sandakern v. WHU Friendly

Then after his second run of 13 consecutive league and cup games the defender was unfortunate to suffer another serious injury. On March 12, 1977, despite West Ham beating Manchester City 1-0 on March 12, 1977 thanks to a Bryan Robson goal, it was a bad day for Bill. In what turned out to be his last game of the season, he received a double injury: a depressed cheekbone and a cracked leg bone.


Despite an injury marred season, Bill managed 22 league games and four cup ties. Plus, a further 14 Football Combination appearances and a single strike.

Kevin Lock and Bryan Robson foil an attack by Real Betis as Bill Green far right gives cover

525 GREEN Bill

Bill Green first came to the Hammers notice when he skippered the Carlisle side that day and played well enough to leave a favourable impression. Though it was not a memorable day for Carlisle United as a two-nil victory extended the Hammers' undefeated home run to 13 matches. Early goals by Billy Jennings (19 minutes) and Pat Holland (39 minutes) settled the outcome, but Carlisle fought well and held us off for the remainder of the game in front of 26,910 fans.

After the pre-season preparation he was ready for his Hammers’ league debut on the opening day of the 1976-77 season. This was away to Aston Villa on August 21. It proved to be a baptism of fire as The Villains chalked up a 4-0 win in a season they beat the Hammers three times. The hat-trick of defeats included the two Division One fixtures and a FA Cup tie.  

As far as first team appearances went, the number 13 (unlucky for some) crops up several times in Bill’s claret and blue career. Despite a disappointing start to his Hammers' career he played in the season’s first 13 consecutive league and cup games before a cut knee injury in October side lined him. He recovered in time to return to the side for a 2-0 home win over Liverpool on December 18.  

Battered Bill

A combination of injuries and competition from Kevin Lock for the number six shirt restricted his 1977-78 first team appearances. The number 13 appears again, as his season’s total league and cup games was 13.


The Geordie’s 1977-78 season also covered 14 reserve team appearances including a single net against Cardiff City reserves in the August 2-0 victory at Ninian Park.

In August the Irons returned to Scandinavia, this time to Norway for three friendlies. Six days later they flew south to Spain for the  Trofeo International Tournament in Majorca. For Green his pre-season preparations probably exceeded his expectations as he scored two goals in the five friendlies.


His first net was in a 5-0 win was against a Norwegian Select XI at the Korsgard Stadium in Askin on August 5 and his second, six days later came in a 4-0 win over tournament hosts Real Mallorca at the Estadio Luis Sitjar. A hectic pre-season schedule included five friendlies played over 12 days. Bill played in all five.

Crossed Hammer Crossed Hammer Crossed Hammer

Captain of Reserves

August 1977

Green started his second season as captain of the reserve side in the Football Combination game away to Luton Town Reserves at Kenilworth Road.  He returned to the first team as a replacement for Tommy Taylor for the League Cup tie away to Nottingham Forest on August 30, 1977. Not a memorable return for the tall defender as the Hammers shipped in five goals to no reply. This proved to be his only first team appearance until he was recalled against Bristol Rovers at Upton in February 1978.

A consolation in his injury marred stay was contributing to the significant 3-0 home win over Chelsea on March 25 with a goal. This was Bill’s solitary goal in a first team league or cup game!

Crossed Hammer Cine Film Projector

Bill Green's Headed Goal Against Chelsea

Crossed Hammer

After leaving the Hammers, his short stay with Peterborough United was followed by stints with Chesterfield (1979-83) and Doncaster Rovers (1983-84). In all he clocked 486 Football League appearances and scored 20 goals.


He later moved into management which included a term as manager with Scunthorpe United and Buxton. He later carved out a reputation as a highly-respected scout, which included spells at Wigan, Derby, Leicester and Sheffield Wednesday, where he had a short period as caretaker manager in 2002.


He had been at the forefront of Southampton's scouting staff since 2011 where he fulfilled the role of Senior Recruitment Officer, playing a hugely significant part in Southampton’s scouting and recruitment activity.




Bill Green





Date of Birth:




Previous Club:




Joined Hammers




Hammers Appearances:






Hammers Goals:








December 22, 1950




Carlisle United




June 1976




35   League

2     FA Cup

3     League Cup




1     League

theyflysohigh would like to pass on our condolences to Bill's friends and family at this sad time.

Tributes Francois Van der Elst Harry Kinsell

Newspaper coverage courtesy of Richard Miller

GREEN Bill Fact

West Ham line-up at Villa Park:


Mervyn Day

Keith Coleman

Frank Lampard

Tommy Taylor

Bill Green

Billy Bonds

Alan Taylor

Graham Paddon

Pat Holland

Trevor Brooking

Alan Curbishley



Down in the forest... it's back to work for Mervyn Day, Kevin Lock, Bryan Robson and Bill Green resumed training after the close season break

Bill Green 04 Bill Green 05 Bill Green 01 Bill Green 06

Post West Ham United Career

Bill Green 03 Bill Green 07 Bill Green 02 Bill Green May 2016

Bill Green returns as guest of the club at the last-ever game played at the Boleyn Ground against Manchester United on May 10, 2016