The names Bond ... JOHN BOND
by Roger Hillier
John Bond the Centre-Forward
Gamekeeper turned Poacher ...
How many full backs can claim to have made successful transitions to centre forward? In a five week spell in February / March 1960 John Bond demonstrated his versatility and joined this very select group.
In the 1959-60 season, West Ham United’s second back in Division One, the club was struggling to fill the centre forward spot. The prolific strike force of John Dick and Vic Keeble was no longer firing on all cylinders mainly due to Vic’s enforced absence through injury.
Vic started the season with great promise scoring five goals in the first seven games. But by October time a back injury restricted Vic’s appearances such that Ted Fenton had to make alternative strike arrangements. Although Vic returned to the team on January 16th in the 3-0 defeat away at Leeds, this proved to be his last game for the Hammers’ first team. Unfortunately, Vic never fully recovered and was forced to retire from the game at the end of the season.
Ted Fenton tried a few alterative strike arrangements. This included moving full back Noel Cantwell to the number nine shirt against Bolton Wanderers on January 23. But none of these ideas provided a satisfactory solution to the goal scoring problem. That’s until Fenton tried what may have seemed like a last ditch attempt in moving John Bond to the forward line. To many this switch in positions must have smacked of desperation. But it turned out to be an inspired tactical move.
Bond joined the forward line for a spell of eight first XI games starting on Saturday February 6, 1960 with the home Division One game against Chelsea. No one would have predicted the outcome. West Ham winning 4-2 with the new centre forward John Bond grabbing a hat-trick! The three goals showed John’s versatility – his first was from a free kick, the second from the penalty spot and the third a header. This was also a memorable day for John Lyall and Tony Scott as they made their league debuts.
West Ham United 4 - 2 Chelsea
February 6, 1960
John Bond hat-trick
West Ham United 5 - 2 Great Britain Olympic XI
February 8, 1960
John Bond hat-trick
Just to prove the hat-trick was no fluke, John scored a second hat-trick two days later in the floodlit Upton Park friendly versus the GB Olympic XI. West Ham won this friendly 5-2 with Bond scoring; “the first was a header from a left foot centre by John Lyall, the second followed an Andy Malcolm – John Dick passing movement and the third was driven home after the ball was bought under control from goalkeeper Peter Shearing’s long downfield kick”. The hat trick goals were delivered in a 22 minute spell (43, 52 & 65 minutes) straddling half time.
During this 37 day spell John wore the number nine shirt for six Division One matches scoring an impressive six goals. The 37 days also captured a couple of first XI friendlies. In addition to the GB Olympic XI game, the Hammers also visited non-league Peterborough United for a floodlit game just a couple of days after the infamous 5-3 defeat at home to Newcastle. West Ham lost 2-1 with Bond contributing the Hammer’s first half goal.
During John’s run at centre forward West Ham scored 14 league goals, with John contributing six. Six in six league games is a scoring rate any centre forward would be proud of. Next best scorer was John Dick with three goals in his four game spell. Add in the two friendly games and John reached double figures – 10 goals in eight games! Plus a record of scoring in six of the eight games. Not bad for a full back with a kick like a mule!
The table below captures Bond’s record as stand in centre forward. Though John’s switch was never intended to be a permanent move. In early March Ted Fenton bought Dave Dunmore from Tottenham Hotspur as a permanent replacement for Vic Keeble. Dave Dunmore made his debut in the home game against Blackburn Rovers on Saturday March 19 as John reverted to his usual right back position.
For the rest of his West Ham United career, John settled back into his gamekeeper role role and continued to score the occasional goal..
1932 - 2012
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