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Forgotten Tour of Africa ...

If you suggested to a top tier club that they embark on a three-week close season tour taking in over 13,000 miles of travel including numerous flights, driving on rough roads and tolerating a hot, humid and often wet climate with no air conditioning, you would be considered a lion short of a full safari!


But that is exactly what West Ham undertook when they toured Africa in the summer of 1962.

by Roger Hillier

Ghanaian Press


No. 7 & 8 reports & images from Hearts of Oak and Ashanti matches PLUS THE THREE GOOD ONES YOU HAVE OF PLAYERS IN BLUE SHIRTS WITH CLARET HOOPS

After a long journey from Salisbury (S.Rhodesia) to Ghana which included a detour to Johannesburg (South Africa) and four flight changes, the Hammers faced an itinerary of three games in eight days.  Two in Accra and a third involving a long drive inland to Kumasi.  The first Ghanaian match was against Hearts of Oak, the Ghanaian league champions.  Played on a Sunday in front of one of the tour’s biggest crowds, the Hammers won convincingly 4-1.  The following day’s local newspaper inches focussed on the Hammers’ more robust tactics.  The Ghanaian Times headlined their report with “This is rugby and not soccer” and accused West Ham of rough tactics. Johnny Byrne was booked but no one was dismissed. An incident in the 70th minute receivable a few column inches of press coverage when Eddie Bovington was judged to have handled the ball in the penalty area. The paper reported “The tourists protested vigorously that the infringement occurred outside the box and the game was held up for over two minutes before Attu Mensah (Accra) could take the spot kick”. The penalty conversion was the first goal the Hammers conceded on the tour. But to balance the coverage the report explained that the Hammers “were faster on the ball and Accra Hearts had to chase after them for most part of the game” and ”they found it very difficult to penetrate the formidable West Ham defence which was superbly manned by skipper John Bond and left back John Lyall”.


The final game of the tour was against Real Republicans, the holders of Ghana’s national cup.  By now the Hammers were running out of steam and probably looking forward to returning home. So a score of 1-1 was probably not such a disappointing result. West Ham’s two wins and a draw in Ghana were quite acceptable results especially when compared with those of the Brazilian side, Flamingo, who was touring Ghana at the same time.  While West Ham drew 1-1 with Real Republican and beat Ashanti Kotoko 3-0, the top Brazilian side drew 0-0 and won 4-3 over the same respective opposition.  


The Journey


The names of the places visited are a reminder of the African colonial days before many of the countries gained independence.  The map (REFER TO MAP OF TOUR JOURNEY) illustrates the journey across Africa and the places visited. To play six matches in three different countries the Hammers visited ten African countries. The names on the map are those from 1962 with today’s name in brackets. Names such as Nyasaland, Tanganyika, Leopoldville, and Salisbury disappeared long ago. Tourists visiting some of these places today would be warned away by the Foreign Office.


Inevitably the tour exposed the club’s party to new life experiences and sights, and reflected a bygone age when political correctness was less sharp than today’s. For example one of the organised visits in Southern Rhodesia was to the Rhodesian and Nyasaland tobacco factory. Also the second match of the tour was partly sponsored by the cigarette company whose match advertisement pictured a footballer smoking. (REFER TO MATCH ADVERTISEMENT WHU v SOUTHERN RHODESIA)  It would be difficult to imagine such a visit today but this was a time when it would not have been rare for players to light up after training or a match. A couple of memorable new experiences for some of the players was an appearance on Rhodesian television, and then two days later boarding the night train to visit the famous Victoria Falls and travel through game territory.


Eddie Chapman’s, Ron Greenwood’s and Jack Burkett’s reflections give a good flavour of the travel and living conditions perhaps endured rather than enjoyed.  My favourite four are as follows.


The first is Eddie’s description of the journey from Rhodesia to Ghana via Johannesburg, the Congo and Nigeria. “On leaving Salisbury (today’s Harare) our next stop was Leopoldville (today’s Kinshasa). We left the plane for what we thought a scheduled 45 minutes.  We had difficulty in getting on the plane again, the airport was guarded and passengers alighting at Leopoldville were searched. As we were in transit we escaped the interrogation.  When we eventually reached the plane there was a further hold up while the interior was sprayed as mosquitoes swarmed the aircraft. We ultimately took off three hours later.  At 1.30am we arrived at Accra (Ghana) via Lagos (Nigeria) and we were soon to learn that the 10 days arranged for our stay seemed an eternity.”


Ron’s recollection picks up the thread from Accra airport: “Nobody met us at the airport at Accra – the excuse given later was that they thought we were on another plane. By this time, though, we knew there was only one flight a day from Johannesburg to Accra. We then found ourselves being shown into a hotel that was nothing more than a doss-house. The blankets almost crawled. Nobody slept, nobody even got between those awful blankets ...... except Johnny Dick, who could sleep anywhere.


I created a fuss and eventually, halfway through the night, a fellow from the Ghana FA turned up. Another hotel was found for us and we made the switch very early the next morning.  It was a new hotel, they said, but it was damp and cold and nothing had been made up. Malcolm Musgrove, wearing a nice pair of suede shoes, found himself walking through what looked like red mud in the semi-darkness.”


The third reference, from Jack Burkett’s book, gives more insight to the stay in Ghana: “In terms of events off the field, the part of the tour in Nyasaland and Rhodesia did not present any problems for the West Ham party but their time in Ghana proved to be a nightmare.  The army had taken over the running of the country following a military coup and Ghana was in complete chaos. Hammers’ hotel in Accra was little more than a doss-house with bugs infesting the beds on a nightly basis. Jack shared a room with Ron Boyce and admits the sight of small lizards scurrying up and down the bedroom walls was not conducive to a good night’s sleep!”


The 10 hour round trip into Ghana for the second game against Ashanti Kotoko provides the fourth reflection. It was played at Kumasi about 170 miles north of Accra.    Eddie described the trip as “probably the most uncomfortable we had spent.  We passed through some thirty villages and captured a glimpse of the African life in the remote areas of Ghana.  Our ultimate destination was located and our hotel was reasonably comfortable but it was situated amongst poverty.  We retired early.”  The return journey made the day after winning the Ashanti game 3-0: “the return took another five hours and over bumpy roads and through a very long stretch of dense forests in humid conditions.  We arrived at our hotel tired and hungry. At this stage of the tour, Mal Musgrove, John Lyall, and Bill Lansdowne had all had a bout of gastro enteritis – it was now my turn and I spent most of a day in bed feeling very sorry for myself.”  


Some compensation for the arduous travelling was “next day was uneventful and the boys snatched a little sun bathing on the beach of Accra amid the endless stretch of coconut trees.”


The tour’s final game was against the Real Republicans who held the Hammers to a 1-1 draw in humid conditions much more suited to the Ghanaians.  After the farewell dinner at the Ambassador Hotel the party looked forward to the return to England.  But there was still time for one more incident! Just to keep the nervous flyers gripping the arm rests, Eddie described the stressful second to last leg of the journey from Lagos (Nigeria) to Lisbon (Portugal). “After spending nearly 12 hours in Lagos we finally boarded a plane.  We felt all was well again until engine trouble was detected after a short cruising up the run-way.  A further hour was lost amidst the night air and the opportunity to experience the weird flying and creeping insects are extended not that this is anything to be admired in this hot, sticky atmosphere.”    


No doubt several of the tour party were relieved to be returning home.


Tour Summary


Did the club benefit from a footballing perspective? From a results perspective the tour was a success. Their record of scoring 20 goals and only conceding two in the five wins and a draw was impressive but the team was probably as much tested by the climate as by the opposition.  The opponents were probably about Football League One or Two standard which ensured goalkeepers Lawrie Leslie and Brian Rhodes were not overworked.  But we shouldn’t forget that the tour gave Ron Greenwood a further opportunity to assess his current squad and continue reshaping it ready for new challenges. Ron’s reflection on the tour “an African adventure which taught us more about ourselves than football” summed up the tour’s value to his players.  


Commercially the tour was probably a financial success. We are not privy to the full commercial value of the tour but I would have expected the tour to have included financial guarantees for most matches. An insight was provided by the Bulawayo newspaper, The Chronicle.  The Chronicle’s match reporting on West Ham’s 3-0 win included a summary of Southern Rhodesia’s financials for the game. From Southern Rhodesia’s perspective a financial loss was reported. Receipts of £3,100 were collected from 11,500 spectators, although another 200 spectators had complimentary tickets. Out of the £3,100 receipts West Ham was paid a match guarantee fee of £2,500, leaving a balance of £600 which was insufficient to cover the rest of the match expenses. The largest of these was the £300 ground hire charge.  


There is no doubt that the 13,000 miles of travelling was not conducive to playing attractive fast football in energy sapping temperatures.  But their three week adventure traversing Africa from the north coast to the west coast and then down to South Africa and up to the east coast, meant they were privileged to have had the opportunity to visit and experience one of the world’s most fascinating and colourful continents. The travelling and living conditions may have been less comfortable than today’s but this was in an age closer to the colonial times since when many of the countries visited have undergone significant and turbulent changes.


While Geoff Hurst, Joe Kirkup, Bobby Moore, Ron Tindall and Phil Woosnam may have enjoyed a more comfortable three weeks in June 1962, they did miss out on an adventure that would have enriched the tapestries of their lives.  


Words 3,000

June 18, 2020 (updated from August 27th, 2012)





Tour Itiniary 01 1962 Copper mug

Player memento of a copper mug for games played on

June 10 Glamis Ground, Salisbury 5-0 and

June 13, Queens Ground, Bulawayo 3-0

On June 4, 1962 manager Ron Greenwood, 3 officials and 16 players fastened their seat belts to embark on a ground-breaking tour to Africa, and to many their destinations were just place names in a school atlas.


The party left London Heathrow on a gruelling six-match marathon schedule which entailed travelling a total 13,890 miles in just 22 days, this unique trip to the African subcontinent would be a turning point for the club. There were a few notable first teamers who missed the adventure due to other engagements.


This included Bobby Moore who was away in Peru with the England squad for the 1962 World Cup, Phil Woosnam whose wife was expecting their first child, Joe Kirkup who was getting married, and Geoff Hurst and Ron Tindall who had county cricket commitments.  

Brief re-fuelling stops in Benghazi, Libya and Entebbe in Uganda where winter-time temperatures reached 93 degrees before they finally descending into Nairobi, Kenya for the night.

The next day the party were airborne again, this time calling in at Mombasa, Tanganyika and Dar-es-Salaam in Somaliland before landing in Blantyre to be greeted by the Nyasaland Football Association. After a goal-less first half against our Nyasaland hosts, we found our land-legs and romped home 4-0 winners.

Next stop Salisbury, Rhodesia and a cool 75 degrees by African standards. The team hit top form against Southern Rhodesia in our second match winning 5-0, a return fixture two days later in Bulawayo against the same opposition ended in a 3-0 victory.

We took to the skies once more, this time to Accra in Ghana, a 4-1 victory against League champions Hearts of Oaks, was followed by a 3-0 win over Ashanti Kotoko where our opponents waved handkerchiefs in the air to the accompaniment of a tribal war cry much to the amusement of a few Europeans who counted with a chorus of “Bubbles”. Our final match ended in a 1-1 draw with Real Republikans.

Our homeward journey was delayed by 12 hours with engine trouble at Lagos Airport. The party touched down at London Airport on 26 June to reflect on a three-week tour which took in the vast continent that is Africa.

Crossed Hammer outline

The club’s history books and local newspapers have given this tour scant coverage. This feature covers it in more detail with references to club secretary Eddie Chapman’s personal account in the 1962-63 club’s handbook, the club’s first home programme of the season in August 1962, Terry Roper’s scintillating book “West Ham in the Sixties The Jack Burkett Story”, Ron Greenwood’s autobiography “Yours Sincerely” and reporting in various Rhodesian and Ghanaian newspapers.


The importance of the 1962 tour has possibly been underestimated as it could be argued that it marked a watershed in the building of manager Ron Greenwood’s first team squad. Greenwood alluded to this in his autobiography: “The tour had a hidden bonus for us, however. Through all its adversity our team spirit grew even stronger. The problems we shared welded us together. It also taught me a lot about the character of my players. I noted those who had a good sense of humour, those I could count on, those who looked for problems and those who were idle.  And on my first tour as manager I discovered much about myself.”


Many of the tour’s players would go on to contribute to the 1963 USA International Tournament, 1964 FA Cup and 1965 European Cup Winners Cup triumphs while for others the door on their West Ham careers soon closed. Less than three months before this tour commenced, Ron had already made a crucial investment by signing Johnny Byrne.  


Nine of the tour’s players would go on to play roles in the 1963, 1964 and 1965 successes. These were: John Bond, Eddie Bovington, Ron Boyce, Ken Brown, Jack Burkett, Johnny Byrne, Martin Peters, Alan Sealey, and Tony Scott. The remaining seven would play their last competitive first team games in the following season. Bill Lansdowne would play one more league game, John Dick and Brian Rhodes two, John Lyall four, Ian Crawford five, Malcolm Musgrove 15, and Lawrie Leslie 20 games.  

Coach to Airport

Bags packed and waiting to board the coach to the airport

left to right: Malcolm Musgrove, Lawrie Leslie, Ron Boyce, Bill Lansdowne, John Dick, Ian Crawford, Brian Dear, Martin Peters, Alan Sealey and Ken Brown

Crossed Hammer outline

Back in the summer of 1962 a journey to the African subcontentent would have been pushing back the frontiers of travel for nearly everyone. The days of taking sun drenched holidays on the Mediterranean had yet to become the norm, let alone venturing to the other side of the Med, across the Sahara and over the equator! The journey to, around and back from Africa is a story that is recount later. First let’s review the tour’s matches.

Reviewing the match results we discover that the Africa Tour was as much about the journey as the football. It reads like an adventure out of 'Boy's Own' paper. At times it sounded as if Bear Grylls or Ray Mears should have accompanied the party to give practical advice on how to cope with the wildlife and climate to make life more comfortable!

The Adventure Begins

In the space of 19 days the club played six games in three different countries: one in Nyasaland (now Malawi), two in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), and three in Ghana.  


Rather than cover all of the matches in great detail this feature gives a flavour of some the reporting in the Rhodesian and Ghanaian press and mementos received from their grasious hosts. Details of all of the match results, scorers and teams are covered in the tour statistics section at the end of this article.


In Phil Woosnam’s absence the team was captained by John Bond, with Ken Brown wearing the captain’s armband for the sixth and final game.

Tour Matches

Soccer Advert 01

The West Ham touring party was significant sporting news which warranted extensive reporting and pictures in Southern Rhodesia’s and Ghana’s national newspapers. Typically West Ham was the headline sports story. After the tour’s second game Bulawayo’s Chronicle reported West Ham as “they’re the best we have seen here so far”.  


For the third game of the tour against Southern Rhodesia, the football authority anticipated a record crowd for a mid week game and were relying on local employers to let staff off early at 3.00pm ready for the 3.45pm kick-off. Apparently tickets in the main stand were a snip at 10 shillings!  For unreserved places tickets were advertised as 4 shillings, and 2 shillings for scholars!

John Dick Soccer Advert 02 Nyasaland gift

Wooden carving given by our Nyasaland hosts as we prepared for our first match at the Rangely Stadium in Blantyre

Alan Sealey (out of picture) lobs the Southern Rhodesian goalkeeper for West Ham's first goal

The West Ham match at Bulawayo attracted over 11,000 and comfortably beat the previous mid week attendance record of 9,000 for a game against a touring Bolton Wanderers side in 1959.


Overall the Hammers received mixed reporting on their Rhodesian games. Some more complimentary than others. For example after the 5-0 win in the tour’s second match at the Glamis Stadium in Salisbury. Southern Rhodesia’s Evening Standard sung the Hammers’ praises. But after their 3-0 win over the same opposition three days later at Queens Ground, Bulawayo The Chronicle’s match report had a very different tone. This more critical tone continued in some of the Ghanaian press especially after the 4-1 win over Hearts of Oak in Accra.

Jack Burkett's pennant bought as a personal reminder of his time in Bulawayo

Rhodesian Press

Crossed Hammer outline

The biggest win of the tour was the 5-0 victory over Southern Rhodesia in Salisbury (now Harare). The local paper, The Evening Standard, reported “Rhodesian football was given a salutary lesson yesterday.  Ron Greenwood’s team of happy but ruthless players revealed all too clearly how much we have to learn about even the basic principles of the game”.  


Much of the reporting lamented the home side’s poor showing. Other complimentary quotes on the Hammers included: “They were fluid in movement, original in thought and deadly in finishing”, “All West Ham were great, but undoubtedly the man of the day was centre forward Johnny Byrne.  He was worth every penny of £65,000 for his energy, brilliant opportunism, ball control and distribution. His goal in the 65th minute will long be remembered by all who saw it. Taking a low, bullet like pass from Bond on his right instep he swivelled round Obadiah and slammed the ball home in one movement”.  


This match was also a personal triumph for Malcolm Musgrove with his contribution of four of the five goals.

The Chronicle Booed off John Dick 02

No.6 WHU 3-0 S.Rhodesia – match report – add headlines? & images

Three days later the reporting of the 3-0 win again over Southern Rhodesia was a different story. The Chronicle’s match headline read “Hammers weren’t booed off the field – only because we’re a polite lot”. The opening paragraph read “We’re a polite lot here in Rhodesia. That’s the only reason I can think of why the much vaunted Hammers weren’t booed off the ground at Queens yesterday after 90 minutes of the sort of stuff guaranteed to send them post haste to the second division in England if they dared produce it in the football league”. The report criticised the Hammers for their “half pace stroll”.  Reading between the lines of Ron Greenwood’s post match comment, “With six matches in a short tour we have to treat each game on its merits and think of the next one. At least we kept our sheet clean”, you can understand the comment.  With six games in 19 days, that’s a game every three days in hot humid conditions interspersed with considerable travelling, the players wished to pace themselves.