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Harry Kinsell

An experienced cup final side as with the exception of Ken Brown, the rest of the cup final XI all made first team appearances that season.


With the Cup already won, the Football Combination double was completed with a 3-1 win over Millwall at the Boleyn Ground on April 24th. West Ham were the first club to win both trophies in the same season.


The Reserves were also chasing another record when they opposed Leicester City in their final home fixture – the completion of a 100% home record during the 1953-54 season. Prior to this last game the Hammers had emerged as winners in 23 League and Cup matches at Upton Park. Alas the Foxes had other ideas and in a thrilling finale to the campaign the Hammers lost out by 6 goals to 4.

KINSELL & FENTON talk tactics 53_04_20 WHU v. St Mirren KINSELL Harry signature

Harry Kinsell (1921 - 2000)

by Roger Hillier

West Ham United’s Premier League fixture against West Bromwich Albion on January 2, 2018 is a reminder of a former Hammers’ captain who played for both clubs.


Prior to joining West Ham from Reading in the early 1950s, full back Harry Kinsell had been on West Bromwich Albion’s books.


Kinsell moved to East London in a £5,250 transfer from the Elm Park club on New Years Day 1951. Preceding his time with the Biscuitmen, he had also played for West Bromwich Albion and Bolton Wanderers.


The Baggies of West Brom were his first professional club, and despite signing for them in 1938, he had to wait until the end of World War II for his football league debut in January 1946.


After making 83 league appearances for the Thostles he transferred to Bolton Wanderers for £12,000 on June 1, 1949. Seventeen league appearances and a year later he was on the move again. This time to the Berkshire club for another short stay.


Following twelve league games in the blue and white hooped shirt he joined West Ham United.


Career highlights before joining the Hammers included:

Member of WBA’s Division Two promotion winning side of 1948-49


Awarded England international caps in two victory games against Northern Ireland and Wales in September and October 1945 respectively.  


Kinsell’s six seasons in a claret and blue shirt proved to be his longest spell with a single club. In his six seasons he clocked a respectable 109 league and cup games, and even netted his only two career goals for the Hammers.



His West Ham career highlights covered:

Captain of the side in 1952’s FA Cup giant killing of Blackpool


Member of Hammers' team in Upton Park’s inaugural floodlit match 1953


In West Ham United’s 1954 reserve team squad which achieved a league & cup double


Faced several European sides, including AC Milan, in Upton Park floodlit friendlies.  

Crossed Hammer Crossed Hammer

Born: Cannock, Staffordshire May 3, 1921 Harry Kinsell died August 14, 2000 aged 79.

Crossed Hammer Crossed Hammer Crossed Hammer


£5,250 Transfer to Hammers

Manager Ted Fenton signed Kinsell from Berkshire side Reading on New Year’s Day 1951 for a fee of £5,250. The full back made his Hammers' debut 12 days later against Blackburn Rovers. However, his claret and blue career got off to a disappointing start with a 3-2 defeat at the Boleyn Ground.

After playing in 17 consecutive league matches between September 11 and Christmas Day 1954, the defender was destined to make one final league appearance. Four years to the day he signed for the Irons, Harry made his 101st and final claret and blue football league appearance on New Year’s Day 1955.  His West Ham league career finished as it had started, with a defeat. On a forgettable day at Meadow Lane, Notts County knocked in five to a solitary reply from the Irons.

Kinsell v. Blackpool cup 1952

1951-52  West Ham the FA Cup Giant Killers

3rd Round v Blackpool

West Ham’s Division Two league form in the early 1950s did not leave much to celebrate. In the full-back's six seasons the highest league position the Hammers achieved was 8th place in 1954-55. Though in the early and mid-1950s West Ham United’s form in the FA Cup left more to write home about.

On the subject of cup ties, back in the 1950s in the days before the Football League Cup was introduced, the Hammers used to participate in three cup competitions which have long since disappeared.


In these competitions clubs typically fielded sides comprising of first team players, and West Ham were no exception. Harry played in two of these tournaments.

Harry had a 100% penalty taking record with West Ham United.


His first of only two goals scored for the Hammers, came from the penalty spot in the 2-1 home defeat to Birmingham City in April 1951.


His twelve-yard conversion turned out to be his one and only penalty kick.  

Did you know?  

Essex Professional Cup Final

The first of these now defunct cup competitions was the Essex Professional Cup (EPC). In 1951-52 season West Ham Unitted reached the final to face Colchester United at Layer Road.

London Challenge Cup

The second cup to go out of existence was the London Challenge Cup (LCC), another cup competition which prior to the 1960s clubs typically treated as a first XI fixture.


Matches would often be reported on in the national dailies, sometimes including a match image. In the LCC Harry’s name was on the team sheet on nine occasions including two in the early rounds of 1952-53 season’s competition when the Hammers won the cup.


Claret and blue ribbons decorated the trophy as West Ham beat Brentford 2-1 in the final held at Stamford Bridge.


The third long lost tournament was the Southern Floodlight Cup which was introduced in 1955-56. The Hammers won the first final beating Aldershot in the Upton Park final. Though Harry didn’t participate in this cup run.


First Upton Park Floodlight Game

Another career highlight would have been on April 16, 1953 when Harry was in the side for the club’s first ever Upton Park floodlit game, a friendly against Division One side Tottenham Hotspur.  


A 2-1 victory over their top tier opponents made the evening even more satisfying. Dixon and Barrett sparked to become the first Hammers to net under the Upton Park lights.


The XI who starred against Tottenham Hotspur was:


Gregory, Wright, Kinsell, Parker, Allison, Bing, Southren, Barrett, Dixon, Andrews, Hooper.


Four days later Harry was back at Upton Park for the club’s second floodlit affair as the Hammers shared six goals with Scottish side, St.Mirren.


Friendlies v Foreign Clubs

A season notable for a few more friendlies including floodlit games against overseas’ sides and a return by St. Mirren. This time the Hammers improved on the previous season’s draw to beat The Saints 3-1 on Monday March 22, 1954.


Two weeks later on April 6 and the Swiss club Servette provided the opposition in a 5-1 claret and blue victory. A match remembered for amateur John Arnott notching a hat-trick.  


At the end of April 1954 the first team had a busy schedule of friendlies which included a couple on consecutive days. Harry and five team mates were on duty for both matches: an away 4-2 win at Guildford (Monday April 26, 1954), followed by a scoreless game against the Brazilian side Olaria (Tuesday April 27).

Football Combination League & Cup Double

In season 1953-54 Harry made 10 Football League Division Two appearances, nine of which were in the season’s concluding nine fixtures. Prior to this late season first team run, Harry was a regular member of the Football Combination reserve eleven.


And it was a significant campaign for the Irons’ shadow squad as they won the Football Combination League and Cup double. West Ham United were the only club to ever achieve this double.


AC Milan Visit Upton Park

The AC Milan friendly was one of the biggest games in the club’s history. Fenton successfully enticed the leading Italian side to east London for this very prestigious affair. A record crowd for an Upton Park friendly of 35,000 filed into stadium with the gates closed before kick-off. Not surprisingly, the Division Two Hammers were outclassed by the Italian stars in a 6-0 rout.  Though Harry had the honour of captaining the white-shirted Hammers on this memorable evening.


Around this time Noel Cantwell and John Bond were developing as significant competition for the left full back spot. As Cantwell’s and Bond’s careers were in the ascendancy, Kinsell’s was closing. Such that after the AC Milan friendly, Harry only played three more league games for the Irons. His last first team appearance was the SC Simmering friendly in February 1955.


Harry was a regular member in the side for the early part of 1954-55 season as the Hammers challenged for a promotion spot until form fell away towards the latter part of the season.

Final League Match – Four Years After Joining

One of the highlights of Harry’s claret and blue tenure was captaining the side in their FA Cup giant-killing act of disposing of cup holders, Blackpool, in a 3rd round tie at Upton Park on January 12, 1952. In front of 38,600 the Hammers toppled red-hot favourites Blackpool, then a top Division One side and cup holders with the great Stanley Matthews in their side. But no one anticipated an inspired Hammers’ display for a 2-1 victory.  


Unfortunately for Harry and his team mates, their form was not maintained for the next 4th round tie. After a goalless draw at Upton Park, Sheffield United triumphed 4-2 in the Bramall Lane replay.  

51_01_13 WHU v. Blackburn Rovers

Bill Robinson netting a brace in the season he set a new post-war West Ham scoring record of 26 league goals.


The team for Harry’s debut that Saturday afternoon was:


Ernie Gregory, Fred Kearns, Harry Kinsell, Derek Parker, Dick Walker, Frank O’Farrell, Tommy Southren, Jim Barrett (Jnr), Bill Robinson, Gerry Gazzard, Terry Woodgate.



Kinsell’s career record with his four clubs stretched to 213 football league appearances but only scored two goals. Both of his strikes were netted whilst playing for West Ham. The first came in his 15th Hammers appearance on Saturday April 28, 1951 in the 2-1 defeat at home to Birmingham City. His second net was seven months later in the following season on November 24, 1951 when he contributed one of goals in the 3-3 draw at home to Everton.

Crossed Hammer 52_01_12 WHU v. Blackpool FAC3

Defunct Cup Competitions

Harry Kinsell takes to the field followed by Ernie Gregory and Frank O'Farrell

on the afternoon of the FA Cup tie v Blackpool

Colchester United v. WHU Essex Pro Final Colchester United Essex Pro Final - Back

The Essex Pro Cup final side was:  

Gregory, Wright, Kinsell, Parker, Allison, McGowan, Woodgate, Barratt, Moroney, Gazzard, Andrews.


In his five seasons of first team action, Harry played in four EPC cup ties.

Harry was a member of the cup final side but couldn’t stop the U’s from triumphing 3-1.  

Tunnel shot by Albert York

Crossed Hammer 53_04_16 WHU v. Tottenham Hotspur

To win the Football Combination Cup the Hammers overcame Aldershot, Charlton Athletic, Fulham, Leyton Orient, Millwall, Portsmouth and Reading in home and away games to head 'Section A'.


In the semi-final the reserves met 'Section C' winners Leicester City at Upton Park. They duly beat the Foxes 3-2 to set up a home final tie against Tottenham Hotspur.


West Ham won the trophy by beating the Spurs 4-2 in front of 20,800 at Upton Park on November 16, 1953. The happy Hammers on the score sheet that evening were Harry Hooper with a double, Fred Kearns and Ken Tucker.

1951-52 Team Group Crossed Hammer Crossed Hammer Crossed Hammer 1953-54 Combination table 53_11_16 WHU v. Tottenham Hotspur FCC Final

The reserves’ cup final team was:

Getting Tactical - Kinsell, Ted Fenton & Billy Moore

Peter Chiswick

John Bond

Harry Kinsell

Andy Malcolm

Ken Brown

Doug Bing

Harry Hooper

Albert Foan

Fred Kearns

Gerry Gazzard

Ken Tucker


1953-54 Football Combination League and Cup Winners

Unfortunately Harry Kinsell was unavailable when this team group was taken.

H. Hooper (Trainer), A. Noakes, G. Wright, W. Nelson, G. Taylor, K. Brown, F. Kearns, A. Blackburn, T. Fenton (Manager)

T. Southren, A. Foan, Mr. R. Pratt (Chairman) F. O’Farrell, K. Tucker

Ted Fenton’s strategy of pitching the Hammers against foreign opposition continued with Harry playing in four of the 1954-55 season’s five friendlies. These games included VFB Stuggart (4-0 win on October 5, 1954), SC Wacker (3-1 win on October 19, 1954), AC Milan (0-6 defeat on December 14, 1954) and SC Simmering (8-2 win on February 19, 1955).

1954 Milan-West Ham 08 Kinsell No3

White shirted Kinsell (No.3) is powerless to prevent Ken Brown's deflection from crossing the line for AC Milan's first goal

In his final season with the Hammers, Harry was consigned to the reserves.  


In the minutes of the Board Meeting held in August 1955 it reveals that Colchester United made enquiries with regard to the possible transfer of Kinsell. It was noted that the Board "agreed not to consider the offer for the time being".


The closest he came to a first team recall was a couple of appearances in the October 1955 London Challenge Cup drawn and replayed ties against Brentford. The Hammers also fielded a sprinkling of first team players.


The last occasion Kinsell donned a claret and blue shirt was in the Football Combination match against Leyton Orient at Brisbane Road on February 16, 1956. Kinsell got on the score sheet with a penalty, Doug Wragg scoring the other in the 2-0 win. In total he made 66 Football Combination League and Cup appearances, scoring 8 goals.

The West Ham line-up for his final league match was:

George Taylor, John Bond, Harry Kinsell, Andy Malcolm, Ken Brown, Doug Bing, Harry Hooper, Les Bennett, Alan Blackburn, John Dick, Jimmy Andrews.


Harry was the sole survivor from the team selected for his debut game four years earlier.

1955-56 - Final Season


SLUG Memorabilia






Date of Birth:




Previous Club:




Joined Hammers




Hammers Appearances:






Hammers Goals:




Cannock, Staffordshire




May 3, 1921








January 1951




101   League

4       FA Cup

4       Essex Professional Cup




2       League

Tributes Bill Green Vic Keeble

Aged 35, Harry left the Hammers in May 1956 to sign for the Southern League side Bedford Town on a free transfer. After finishing playing, for several years he was a publican including time as mine host of the Alma Arms public house in Stratford, and later he managed an office licence.

Kinsell tribute Crossed Hammer 1952-53 Team Group 02 1953-54 FCC table League & Cup Double KINSELL Harry small WBA 01 WBA Promotion KINSELL Harry 05 WHU v. Fulham August 1953 WHU visit local cinema






The Hawthorns Division Two promotion winning squad

Back row: Ernie Gregory, Eric Armstrong


Middle row: Tommy Dixon, Doug Bing, Harry Hooper, Derek Parker


First row: Harry Kinsell, Jim Barrett, Terry Woodgate, Tommy Southren, Frank O'Farrell, George Wright.


Front centre: Manager Ted Fenton and Sam Luton

A Trip to the Cinema

August 1953

First-ever Competitive Match under the

Boleyn Ground Floodlights

September 7, 1953

West Ham 9 - 1 Fulham Reserves

Football Combination Cup

Harry Kinsell was a member of the West Ham side which played in the first-ever competitive match under the Upton Park floodlights

Alma Arms 398 KINSELL Harry

Mine host with his trophies at the Alma Arms Public House, May 1964


Ted Fenton talks tactics

Back row: Malcolm Allison, George Wright, Derek Parker, Ernie Gregory, Terry Woodgate, Harry Kinsell


Front row: Jimmy Barrett, Gerry Gazzard, Jimmy Andrews, Frank O'Farrell, Ted Fenton

Gerry Gazzard, Harry Kinsell and Bert Hawkins help out with the ground work

Harry Kinsell is joined by Ex-Hammer Ken Bainbridge in the front row far right