Undoubtedly the greatest goals scorer of his era. Jimmy Greaves career record of 357 Football League goals and 44 for the England national team is proof of his unique goal scoring abilities.
After progressing through the youth ranks at Stamford Bridge to Chelsea's first XI he transferred to Italian giants AC Milan for a brief spell in 1961 before moving back to London with Tottenham Hotspur.
Nine seasons later in March 1970 he joined West Ham United as part-exchange in the British record transfer that took Martin Peters to Spurs.
His 14 months in east London started with a memorable debut as he maintained his record of always scoring on his first start for a club. Despite the euphoric start in a claret and blue shirt, Jimmy’s enthusiasm for the game was waning.
At the end of the 1970-71 season he retired from League football and became a football pundit, most notably with Liverpool's Ian St. John in the highly successful ITV show "Saint and Greavsie".
In 40 league and cup games for the Hammers he netted 13 goals.
Born: Manor Park, Essex February 20, 1940 Jimmy died September 19, 2021 Danbury, Essex aged 81.
Jimmy Greaves MBE (1948 - 2021)
by Roger Hillier
The Pensioners, Red & Blacks and Lilywhites
Greaves' career commenced with Chelsea where he quickly gained attention in scoring over 170 goals in two seasons (1955-56 & 1956-57) with the youth side. In August 1957 he justified his Football League debut by scoring Chelsea’s goal in their draw with Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane, the first of 124 goals in 157 league appearances.
A hat-trick in November 1959 included his century which made him the youngest player to reach the 100-goal mark, at the age of 20 years and 290 days. Despite the goals, for Jimmy they didn’t compensate the team’s failure to challenge for titles and cups, and Chelsea in need of cash agreed to sell him. His final match for the Stamford Bridge club was in April 1961. In four seasons of first team action Jimmy score a highly impressive 132 nets in 169 league and cup games.
(1957 - 1961)
(1961 - 1970)
Enticed by a three-year £140 a week contract and a large signing-on bonus, Jimmy joined the Italian club AC Milan for an £80,000 transfer fee in June 1961. Similar to his Chelsea debut four years earlier he scored in his first game against Botafogo at the San Siro. However, his stay was short and after nine goals in his 14 appearances he was on his way back to the Football League and another London club.
In December 1961 Tottenham Hotspur signed Greaves for £99,999. Manager Bill Nicholson spared him from being tagged the first footballer to cost six figures. Signed the season after Spurs had completed the league and cup double. On his debut at home to Blackpool, Jimmy scored a treble in Spurs 5-2 victory. His first domestic honour followed five months later as Tottenham beat Burnley in the 1962 FA Cup final. Greaves scoring the game’s opening goal. Following the FA Cup triumph Spurs participated in the following season’s European Cup Winners’ Cup tournament. Here they reached the final where they comfortably beat Athletico Madrid 5-1 with Jimmy contributing a brace. Another trophy followed four years later as Spurs beat Chelsea in an all-London FA Cup final.
In nine seasons Greaves established many scoring records with his 268 league and cup goals (381 games) setting a new benchmark for the north London club. This tally included a club record 15 hat-tricks. After seasons of invincibility Jimmy was dropped from the Spurs side in January 1970 and was never recalled. With a few more goals left in his scoring boots, he was keen for a move to a new club.
Greaves for Peters
British Record Transfer
Jimmy Greaves was the greatest British goalscorer at the time, and parted company from Tottenham Hotspur after nine years. The British record transfer was rushed through just four hours before the midnight deadline on March 16, 1970 as the Spurs bosses swooped for West Ham's 26-year-old Martin Peters.
Greaves was the make-weight in the transfer between the two clubs and valued at £56,000 and Peters at £200,000 which had amounted to a British record transfer, taking over from the £165,000 Leeds United paid Leicester City for Allan Clarke.
The move was probably welcomed by Peters, who had a transfer request rejected by West Ham just six months earlier. As this transfer wasn’t instigated by the player, Peters would now qualify for five per cent of the value West Ham placed upon him, his reward for moving across London, £10,000.
Meanwhile, 30-year-old Greaves, unable to regain his senior-team place at Spurs, would relish the opportunity to get back among the First Division scorers, and to link up with his personal friend, Bobby Moore, and his share of the levy, which amounted to £2,800.
West Ham United
(Minutes of Board meeting relating to Players)
March 23, 1970
Manager reported on transfer of M. Peters to Tottenham Hotspur in exchange for J. Greaves to West Ham United.
The transfer fee of M. Peters was fixed at £200,000 and the figure for J. Greaves was £56,000.
The financial arrangements were:
Tottenham Hotspur to pay us the balance £129,00 on the basis of £69,000 forthwith and £60,000 by 31 May 1970.
* £129,000 figure does not include the 10% levy figure of 25,600.
West Ham United Debut
With the Hammers only scoring a paltry five goals in the last previous eight league games, Greaves joined Geoff Hurst in the forward line for his West Ham debut away to Manchester City at Maine Road on Saturday March 21, 1970.
Greaves came to east London with a reputation of scoring on his debut for each of his previous three clubs, Chelsea, AC Milan, Tottenham Hotspur, a debut goal was also scored for the England national side. Fans' expectations were high but no one could have anticipated the final score. In a fairy tale start Jimmy and Geoff both netted a brace as the Hammers comfortably won 5-1.
Jimmy’s move to a new club and playing alongside his former England colleagues Bobby Moore and Geoff Hurst seemed to have revitalised his career.
His goal scoring spark had returned to help a revival in West Ham’s fortunes. In the last six games of the 1969-70 season the Hammers won three, drew two and only lost one. Jimmy’s presence was a significant factor in the revival as the side knocked in 12 goals and only conceded five. Four of the 12 delivered by Jimmy Greaves.
West Ham's side at Maine Road:
Peter Grotier, Billy Bonds, Frank Lampard, Ron Boyce, Alan Stephenson, Bobby Moore, Pat Holland, Peter Eustace (David Llewelyn), Geoff Hurst, Jimmy Greaves, Bobby Howe
Geoff Hurst and Jimmy Greaves
step out at Maine Road
Greaves scores his second goal of the afternoon
Goals v. Wolves and Arsenal
With only five games of the 1969-70 campaign left to play; Crystal Palace (A), Liverpool (H), Wolverhampton Wanderers (H), Leeds United (H) and Arsenal (A). Jimmy scored his third and fourth claret and blue goals, both with his head in his fourth and sixth matches against Wolverhampton Wanderers and Arsenal respectively, a ratio of four goals in six matches, a promising begining to his Upton Park career.
Greaves leaps high to head a second-minute goal at Upton Park, despite the close attention of Wolves defender Parkin and watched by teammate Pat Holland
Greaves meets Bonds' centre solidly to put West Ham ahead: teammate Sissons watches Storey struggle to cover
Back row: Peter Bennett, Billy Bonds, Trevor Brooking, Alan Stephenson, Paul Heffer, Clyde Best, Mordechai Spiegler, Bobby Moore
Middle row: John Charles, Harry Redknapp, Bobby Ferguson, John Cushley, Peter Grotier, Frank Lampard, Ron Boyce
Seated: Pat Holland, Jimmy Greaves, Geoff Hurst, Jimmy Lindsay, Bobby Howe
Did you know?
During Jimmy Greaves' short stay at Upton Park he played in the Football Combination game for the reserves. This was shortly after the Blckpool affair, when on January 23, 1971 he donned the number 11 shirt in a 2-0 win over Swansea City reserves. Brian Dear, also a participant in the infamous debacle at Blackpool, scored one of the goals.
Training session at Chadwell Heath ahead of the new season
Last Season in Football League
Jimmy’s last First Division game was Huddersfield Town’s visit to Upton Park on May 1, 1971 for the season’s final fixture. A solitary goal ensured the Terriers took both points and overtake the Hammers in the table. West Ham finished in 20th place one above relegation, and three lower than the Hammers’ position when he joined the club 14 months earlier.
The West Ham team: Bobby Ferguson, John McDowell, Frank Lampard, Alan Stephenson, Tommy Taylor, Bobby Moore, Harry Redknapp, Billy Bonds, Geoff Hurst, Bryan 'Pop' Robson, Jimmy Greaves.
Last Football League Match
The Hammers played a couple of notable friendlies with Jimmy in the side. The first of these was the New York visit to face Santos and Pele in an exhibition game (September 22, 1970) and the second Bobby Moore’s testimonial game against Glasgow Celtic (November 16, 1970).
Click the Picture Link above
to review the infamous debacle
After the euphoria of netting four goals in six games for his new club, hopes must have been high for Jimmy to continue his run of goal scoring in the new season. And the 1970-71 season did start well as Greaves netted West Ham’s first goal to help the Hammers share four goals at White Hart Lane and take a point against his former club, Tottenham Hotspur.
However, he had to wait for his 11th game of the season before his next goal arrived, in the October 10 away 2-1 defeat to Stoke City.
In his last 20 league games Jimmy struck another seven goals to bring his season’s total goal account to nine.
The most important of these was his sole net in a 1-0 win over Coventry City away at Highfield Road. A significant match as this was the match Bobby Moore and Jimmy Greaves were both recalled to West Ham’s starting line-up after January’s infamous debacle at Blackpool.
Greaves has scored more spectacular goals but the measure of this one – No.353 in his League haul – is that it could mean the difference between First Division life and death for West Ham. Greaves, recalled after five weeks in exile, struck the winning blow that ended a run of six successive defeats. A Geoff Hurst shot was pushed out by diving goalkeeper Bill Glazier, Greaves pounced with the speed of a poacher’s ferret to ram the loose ball firmly into the net.
The last match Jimmy pulled on a claret and blue shirt was against Orient in the Harper Testimonial Match on Monday May 10, 1971. Actually, it wasn’t the usual claret and blue shirt it was the second strip of blue with two claret hoops.
Last Match in a Claret & Blue Shirt
Date of Birth:
Manor Park, Essex
February 20, 1940
March 16, 1970
38 Football League
1 FA Cup
1 League Cup
13 Football League
Did you know?
Jimmy Greaves attended Mexico's 1970 World Cup tournament, not as a member of England's squad but as a participant in The 1970 London-Mexico World Cup Rally. As co-driver to professional rally driver Tony Fall, driving a Ford Escourt 1850 GTI Mark I they finished a very credible 6th out of 23 finishers.
Trevor Brooking’s reflection
Trevor Brooking summed up the Martin Peters / Jimmy Greaves transfer moves in his autobiography :
"When Martin Peters left West Ham in March 1970, the fee of £200,000, which included a valuation of £54,000 for Jimmy Greaves, was a British transfer record. Tottenham gained an international midfield player who was still in his prime whereas West Ham obtained the services of a once-great player who no longer had a zest for the game."
The Daily Telegraph : 20 September 2021
'theyflysohigh' would like to pass on our condolences to Jimmy’s wife Irene, his four children,
and their family and friends at this sad time.