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The return league fixture with Queens Park Rangers on December 30th saw the Irons winning 1-0 at half time courtesy of another goal from McKay. Rangers took command in the second half scoring two goals to win the points and the game 2-1.
Birth of a Football Club 1895
The last season under the Thames Ironworks banner began on September 16, 1899, all of their Southern League First Division opponents had kicked off two-weeks earlier on September 2nd. The Ironworks were delayed by a 14 day suspension imposed by the Football Association during the summer.
In the close season club secretary, Francis Payne was given £1,000 by owner Arnold Hills to find the best players available for the Ironworks first season in the top division of the Southern League.
The two week suspension was handed out by the FA along with a £25 fine when it came to light that Payne had employed an agent, the former professional footballer Charles Bunyan to act on behalf of the club. Bunyan was subsequently found guilty of offering money to prominent Midland players as an inducement to join the East London side. Bunyan was suspended for two years and Payne resigned from his post as secretary and subsequently banned from the game for a year by the FA for his involvement in the poaching of players and financial irregularities.
Former Irons player George Neil who had earlier played a number of games as a full back in the previous season took over as the new club secretary.
West Ham United's historic move from the Boleyn Ground into the former and redesigned London Olympic Stadium for the start of the 2016-17 season was not the first time the Hammers had relocated.
As the ninetieth Century was entering its final phase West Ham's predecessors the Thames Ironworks were no strangers to moving stadiums, over the space of five years, they had moved three times and underwent a name change.
The Ironworks football team, who's players were drawn from the ship building company that bears its name, started their footballing journey in 1895 when they took over the tenancy at the ground vacated by the defunct Old Castle Swifts at Hermit Road, Canning Town.
By March 1897 the fledgling club had ground-hopped to Browning Road for a two-month spell before moving to their purpose built 100,000 capacity Memorial Grounds. The stadium was opened on June 19, 1897, to coincide with the sixtieth anniversary of Queen Victoria's coronation.
Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Company owner Arnold Hills was approached by foreman and local referee Dave Taylor, who suggested that the company form a football club with the aim of improving the morale of the workforce. Hills agreed and an advert was placed in the company's journal Thames Iron Works Gazette on June 29, 1895.
The Ironworks Finale Season
More than 50 workers put their names forward to join Thames Ironworks FC, many of whom had played for other east London clubs in the past, including the recently-disbanded Old Castle Swifts, with each player paying a subscription of two shillings and sixpence (12.5p) to join the club.
The Ironworks inaugural 1895-96 season fixture list consisted mainly of friendly games and kicked off against Royal Ordnance on September 7, 1895. The result was a 1-1 draw. However, the newly formed club under the guidance of club Secretary Mr. A.T. Harsent and the Chairman, Mr. F. Payne had other ideas, the pair had the audacity to enter the club in the English Association Cup competition, as recorded in the Thames Iron Works Gazette:
"Having some good men in the club, we somewhat presumptuously considered it would be wise to enter for the English Association Cup." (The FA Cup as we know it today).
The principal reason for entering the English competition were, first, it would test the abilities of the players and advertise the club, which was necessary in the development of a new club; secondly, if they were fortunate enough to be drawn against a good professional team, it would add considerably to their funds, another important factor in starting a club.
Their hopes were realised, as The Irons, as they had already been nicknamed, travelled to Southern League side Chatham in the FA Cup first qualifying round. Despite giving a good account of themselves, the dockworkers were beaten 5-0 in their first competitive fixture.
The following season the Ironworks competed in the London League, finishing in a creditable second place. A season later in 1897-98 they were champions and promotion to the Southern League Second Division (London Section).
On Saturday September 10, 1898 Thames Ironworks began their professional career with a 3-0 away victory over Shepherd's Bush, by the end of the season they had won the league at the first attempt by a margin of nine points. With Cowes F.C. from the Isle of Wight winning their South West Section of Division Two, the two teams played-off to decide which club would take the title, the Irons duly won 3-1.
Winning the title however did not bring automatic promotion to the First Division, Thames Ironworks were required to play Test Matches against the bottom two clubs respectively in the First Division, Sheppey United and R.A. Portsmouth.
After the Ironworks had drew 1-1 in their first game against Sheppey United, and before all the games were completed, the Southern League management committee decided to expand the First Division for the following season and accepted all four Test Match contestants.
Southern League Championship Divsion II
Medal awarded to Simon Chisholm
Thames Ironworks 1899-1900
Players only - Back row: C. Barker, A. Woodcock, C. Craig, H. Sunderland, H. Gilmore, F. Adams
Third row: F. Corbett, C. Dove, T. Dunn, S. King, J. Bigden, L. Foss, M. Higham, S. Wright (trainer).
Seated: W. James, K. McKay, T. Moore, A. Carnelly, H. Bradshaw,
Front: J. Walker, P. McManus, W. Joyce, R. McEachrane, S. Chisholm
Sheffield Daily Telegraph
The Yorkshire Herald
30 December 1899
George Neil's first task was to recruit new players, he brought in five new signings with three of them, William Joyce, Thomas 'Harry' Bradshaw and Kenny McKay coming from Tottenham Hotspur. Joyce had previously turned out for Burton Wanderers and had suffered a broken leg whilst in that club’s colours.
McKay won a First Division championship medal with Sheffield United in 1897-98 and Bradshaw was a holder of a Second Division Championship medal gained with Liverpool in 1896. He also made one appearance for England against Ireland a year later and became the first player so honored to play for Thames Ironworks.
The other forward import was Albert Carnelly from Bristol City who had earlier played for Leicester Fosse. The other newcomer in the team that faced Reading in the opening match at Elm Park was full back Syd King who joined the Irons from New Brompton having previously played for Northfleet. King was to be appointed secretary in 1901 and a year later the manager, staying with the east enders for over 30 years.
The remainder of the side that played at Reading in the opening match had all made appearances in previous campaigns. Tommy Moore the goalkeeper often went upfield to join the attack. He came to the Ironworks from local rivals Millwall and before that had played for Stoke City. Tommy Dunn the full back partner to King joined from Chatham, Dunn had FA Cup Final experience having been a member of Wolverhampton Wanderers losing eleven at Crystal Palace against Sheffield Wednesday in 1896. The half back line of Charlie Dove, Peter McManus and Roderick McEachrane had all played together in the Second Division title winning side the previous season.
Dove at right half could play anywhere and had appeared at centre forward and in goal in earlier days. He was the only survivor of the side that set out in the inaugural 1895-96 season at Hermit Road playing friendly matches.
McManus was at one time playing for West Bromwich Albion but joined the Irons from the Bristol club Warmley. McEachrane was a native of Inverness before coming south to seek employment. He was employed at Thames Ironworks Shipbuilding Company at the time he was recruited into the football team. The last member of the side was Fred Corbett who came via the local junior side Old St. Lukes. Although the Ironworks opening Southern League Division One fixture against Reading at Elm Park ended in defeat the home side winning the day with a solitary goal, the Irons more than held their own.
Right Full Back
Left Full Back
Right Half Back
Right Half Back
Left Half Back
FA Cup Qualifying Rounds
On September 23rd the preliminary round of the FA Cup tournament began with a home fixture against Royal Engineers. The Irons crushed the military team 6-0 with William Joyce scoring a hat trick. Another goalscorer that afternoon was James Reid. A native Scot he had worn the colours of Hibernian, Port Vale and Reading before coming to London. His main claim to fame was scoring six goals in a Southern League match for Reading away at Royal Ordnance.
Within seven days the Irons were facing another cup tie. This was a First Qualifying round tie away at Grays which resulted in a comfortable 4-0 victory. McManus scored one and also missed a first half penalty. A midweek trip to Brighton United brought another win but this result was deleted when Brighton resigned from the competition in March 1900.
Three thousand attended the Memorial Grounds for the visit of Bedminster on October 7th. The game started 20 minutes late due to the late arrival of the Bristol team. The game was decided in the Ironworks favour by a first half penalty converted by Joyce. However during the game Harry Bradshaw sustained an injury from a kick to the head that would begin a series of events that would see the condition of his health deteriorate.
It was back to the FA Cup for the next match when Sheppey United were the visitors in a 2nd Qualifying Round at the Memorial Grounds and it gave the home side an opportunity to avenge the 8-0 cup defeat at the hands of Sheppey back in 1896.
The Irons were unchanged for the fourth successive match. The Ironworks were leading 4-1 with a brace of goals apiece from Carnelly and Joyce. In the last few minutes McEachrane gave away a penalty which was converted by Spence to make the score more respectable for the Botany Road side.
First Home Fixture
Two days after the Reading game the Ironworks played their first home fixture of the campaign. The Monday night game at the Memorial Grounds against Chatham attracted a meagre 1,000 attendance.
Albert Carnelly scored after 15 minutes to give the home side the lead which they held on to half-time in an even fought contest. The second period went the way of the Irons who easily ran out 4-0 winners. McKay and Carnelly grabbing two-a-piece.
For the 3rd Qualifying Round Thames travelled to Dartford on October 28th and crushed the Kent side 7-0 in front of 1,200 spectators.
The Irons played the passing game with quick and accurate exchanges and at half-time the score was 4-0 in their favour, the scorers were Carnelly 2, McKay and McEachrane.
The Irons were far superior in the second period and ran in three more goals from McKay and Joyce. Harry Bradshaw was still feeling the effects of his recent head injury but still managed to make a strong contribution, scoring one of the goals in the biggest win of the season.
The next match was a daunting league game at Tottenham where the Spurs had only been beaten once in seven games since their arrival from Northumberland Park. On a very heavy pitch the men from White Hart Lane were in complete control and were leading 2-0 at half time. The second half was a disaster for the Irons as they conceded five more goals in a 15 minute spell.
For the home league match with New Brompton due to injuries there were several changes and both W. Janes and Alec Gentle made their debuts. In the first half Charles Dove fractured his jaw and reduced the side to ten men for the remainder of the match. Despite this set back Thames held on for a creditable 0-0 draw.
Harry Bradshaw played his last-ever league game in the 0–0 home draw against New Brompton on November 11. Also playing his last game for the Ironworks in the Southern League was centre-forward Jimmy Reid who had recorded 21 goals in 36 appearances.
A week later the two sides met again, this time in the FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round tie at the Preistfield Stadium. It was a stubborn display by the visitors as the teams provided 90 minutes of goalless football. Early in the first half Glover missed a penalty for the Kent side but the referee ordered it to be retaken as the Irons players had encroached. This time Pangbourne stepped up but his shot hit the bar and a replay at Canning Town beckoned.
In the replay Carnelly put the Irons ahead in the 21st minute. The visitors made determined attempts to level but defenders Syd King and Tommy Dunn stood firm. On 79 minutes Kenny McKay gave the Irons a 2-0 lead. Just before the end New Brompton were awarded a penalty which Frettingham missed.
The Irons could now look forward to an exciting game against rivals Millwall Athletic in the final Qualifying Round. The clearly ailing Bradshaw was rested for the next two games, in preparation for the tie against The Lions, which was to follow 16 days later.
The visit of Swindon on the last Saturday in November enabled youngster Len Walker to make his debut at outside left. Swindon were placed high in the Southern League but an error by Meacham their goalkeeper saw all the points go to the Irons. A fierce shot from Bill Joyce was dropped and Adams was on hand to score the only goal of the match.
A weakened side travelled to Bristol City for a Southern League match. The Irons were missing Bradshaw, Dove, Dunn, Adams and Moore. City were well placed in the league and the game ended 2-0 in their favour.
5th Qualifying Round : 9 December 1899
The following Saturday was the eagerly awaited clash with Millwall Athletic in the FA Cup. Tremendous interest had been aroused as this was the first competitive match between the two clubs and the attendance of 13,000 for the December 9th game was the largest at the Memorial Grounds in its history. The visitors were having a large share of the game but Syd King and Charles Craig were impressive in the Irons back line and Harry Bradshaw was making his comeback in a match that was to be his last.
Millwall eventually went ahead when Hugh Goldie sent in a shot that slipped from the grasp of Moore into the net. Thames fought back and from a free-kick Bradshaw equalised. Millwall however came out on top when Bertie Banks scored to give a final 2-1 scoreline to the visitors. It had been a fine cup run for the Irons having played seven games and scored 24 goals.
The next game was at Southampton who had been champions for the past three seasons. McKay scored for the Irons but it was the Saints who won 3-1.The last Saturday before Christmas gave Thames the opportunity to avenge the FA Cup defeat when they travelled to Millwall. At the break the home side were leading 2-0 but soon after the restart mist began to form and 20 minutes from the end the referee abandoned the match.
second highest-ever goalscorer
Henry Thomas "Harry" Bradshaw
Born: August 24, 1873 - Died: December 25, 1899 (aged 26)
On Christmas Day the Ironworks travelled across London to face Queens Park Rangers at their Kensal Rise Athletic Ground. Once again McKay scored but this was not enough as the West London side won 2-1. The following day brought the sad news that popular player Harry Bradshaw had died. Bradshaw finally succumbed to his lengthy illness on Christmas Day 1899. His cause of death was recorded as consumption.
Thames Ironworks player and future West Ham manager Syd King, in his brief history of the club wrote:
The record of 1899–1900, however, would not be complete without some reference to poor Tom Bradshaw, who came from Spurs with Joyce. How well I remember that match with Queens Park Rangers during the Christmas holidays, when Joyce brought over the sad message to the Memorial Grounds that our comrade had passed away. Poor Tom was one of the cleverest wing forwards I have ever known and he was immensely popular with everybody.
Syd King, 'Book of Football' (1906)
The re-arranged game at Gravesend was next and the Irons gave a good performance but still lost 2-1. Next visitors to the Memorial Grounds were Brighton United. A penalty scored by McKay gave the Irons a 1-0 victory but this game was later deleted from the records when Brighton resigned from the Southern League.
The Irons were away at Bedminster and took the lead when Albert Carnelly scored. The home side were level at half time and went on to win 3-1. The home game with Bristol Rovers was spoilt by the conditions. Snow the previous day was followed by rain and the pitch became almost unplayable and the game ended goalless. A trip to the South coast brought another defeat when Portsmouth ran out 2-0 winners.
Losing Run Continues
The losing run continues on New Years day as the Irons found themselves on the wrong end of a 5-2 scoreline at Gravesend when fog intervened and the referee halted proceedings. In the re-arranged game three weeks later despite a goal from Carnelly the Irons still lost 3-1.
Reading were the visitors to the Memorial Grounds on January 13th and the Irons gave debuts to William Stewart and Frank Taylor. Reading dominated the game and scored just before half time and went on to win 1-0.
The next game at Bristol Rovers was played on a Monday afternoon and the Irons appeared to have ended their poor run when McKay’s second half goal put them in the lead. But the Rovers managed to snatch a point with a late equalizer.
What followed next was a fine 3-0 victory at Sheppey United. In goal for the Kent side was Charlie Cotton who would later spend three seasons with West Ham.
For the visit of Tottenham on March 10th a record attendance of 9,000 for a league fixture was achieved. The Spurs had scored 54 goals and were top of the league. The Irons put on a good performance in holding Tottenham to a 0-0 draw. At New Brompton the Irons lost 3-1 with their goal being an own goal from Atherton. A week later Carnelly scored twice at home to defeat Gravesend 2-1.
A trip to Swindon followed and an own goal by goalkeeper Menham gave the Irons the lead. The home side rallied and were worthy winners in a 3-1 victory.
Two days later the Irons met Tottenham at White Hart Lane in a benefit match for the widow and children of Harry Bradshaw who had played for both clubs. The weather was awful and kept the attendance down to 1,000. Play was limited to 40 minutes each way at the end of which Spurs won 3-0 and Mrs Bradshaw collected £54.
A run of four home games followed with Portsmouth winning the first 4-2 where Bill Joyce scored twice for the Irons. Up next was Bristol City and playing in goal for them was Hugh Monteith who joined Thames at the end of the season. It was a dull affair with a 0-0 score.
The third home fixture brought Cup Finalists Southampton to Canning Town. The Saints were saving themselves for the big event and this allowed William Joyce to score a hat-trick against a weakened side. Southampton pulled a goal back but soon after Richard Allan scored to make it 4-1. Just before the end Allan was tripped in the area but McKay missed the resultant penalty.
The last home game at the Memorial Grounds saw Sheppey United beaten 4-2 with Hulford scoring for Sheppey and also scoring an own goal for Thames.
The final game of the season was the east London derby with Millwall Athletic at North Greenwich. To the delight of the travelling Irons fans a goal by McKay gave them a 1-0 victory.
The teams were ordered to re-appear after the final whistle to play the remaining 20 minutes of the abandoned game of 23rd December. The Irons were on the wrong end of a 2-0 scoreline back in December and with no further goals being added, the club had the distinction of winning and losing on the same afternoon.
Thames finished second to bottom in the league and now had to face a play off Test Match against Fulham who had finished as runners up in Division Two. The winners to play in Southern League First Division. The Irons won easily by 5-1 with another hat trick from William Joyce to keep their place in the First Division.
In April, as the latter stages of the season were beginning to unfold, Arnold Hills was becoming increasingly unhappy with the committee members and their continued pursuit of 'professionalism' which he disapproved of. With the club struggling to stave off the threat of relegation coupled with diminishing crowds at the Memorial Grounds he was unwilling to pour more funds from his ship building empire into a loss-making football club.
Hills proposal was to set up a limited company of which he would became the major shareholder, and to encourage business associates, family and his workforce to invest in the new club. He promised to buy one share for every one sold to the public, he would also let the club rent the Memorial Grounds on favourable terms.
Record League Attendance
Fixtures 1899 - 1900
Minutes of first meeting of Directors held at 55 Barking Road,
on July 10th 1900
Secretary reported incorporation of Company on July 9th 1900
In June 1900, the Thames Ironworks Football Club resigned from the Southern League and was wound up.
On July 9, 1900, the club was reformed and incorporated under the name West Ham United and was elected to take the place of the Thames Ironworks in the Southern League for the upcoming 1900-01 season.