Welcome to the Private memorabilia collection of 'theyflysohigh'
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1964 was a memorable year for West Ham United as the club won the FA Cup for the first time in the club’s history. But for one member of the first team squad it was a devastating year. After several thwarted comebacks, a persistent knee injury finally forced John Lyall into early retirement from playing.
Today a club would not contemplate fielding its strongest XI five days before a cup final. But West Ham’s determination to honour their testimonial commitment was steadfast. Monday April 27, 1964 marked the beginning of a momentous week for the club. The full FA Cup Final XI turned out in a game against an All Stars XI.
The All Stars XI
The All Stars XI comprised of a mix of Ex-Hammers and players from London based clubs. Ex-Hammers included Lawrie Leslie, Eddie Lewis, Phil Woosnam, Dave Dunmore, John Dick and Malcolm Musgrove.
The match report explained that the Hammers put in enough effort to ensure the match was highly entertaining. The most important aspect from a playing perspective was that the West Ham XI finished the match injury free and so ready for the big appointment at Wembley.
While the game was not as fiercely competitive as Bobby Moore’s testimonial match would turn out to be in six years’ time, it was not as frivolous as many testimonial games can be. The Hammers led at half time 1-0 thanks to Geoff Hurst’s first strike. In the second half they scored another four to make the final tally 5-0. It was a good warm up for the next Saturday especially for Geoff Hurst as he scored four of the five. The fifth goal was netted by Harry Redknapp. Harry and Trevor Dawkins came on as second half substitutes for Peter Brabrook and Eddie Bovington respectively. For Harry and Trevor this was probably their first outings with the first XI.
WEST HAM UNITED:
Jim Standen, John Bond, Jack Burkett, Eddie Bovington (Trevor Dawkins), Ken Brown, Bobby Moore (captain), Peter Brabrook (Harry Redknapp), Ron Boyce, Johnny Byrne, Geoff Hurst, John Sissons.
Boost to John’s Testimonial Fund
In John Lyall’s autobiography, “Just Like My Dreams” published in 1989, he refers to his testimonial game and his appreciation of the club’s gesture:
“West Ham won 5-0, Geoff Hurst scoring four of them, and a crowd of 18,000 paid gate receipts of £3,590 and £207 for match programmes. That was a lot of money in those days. Considering that my contribution as a player had not been very significant, the actions of the club and the fans that night underlined the strong sense of loyalty that existed at Upton Park. I was full of gratitude, but the club avoided portraying that evening as something unusual. It was the West Ham way of doing things.”
John Lyall’s testimonial game was the sixth such game granted by the club. The previous testimonials had been for Charlie Paynter (1950), Geoff Hallas / Brian Moore (1956), Dick Walker (1957), Malcolm Allison (1958), and Ernie Gregory (1960). Half of these testimonials had been for staff who had seen long service with the Hammers. While the other three were for players who could have served the Hammers for many more seasons but for cruel injuries. As John referred to in his autobiography
"West Ham recognised a sense of commitment to players and would not ignore players the minute their playing careers had been shattered."
John Lyall’s Next Career move
After retiring in January John stayed with the club in more than one capacity. In the lead up to May’s final he was kept busy organising the players’ FA Cup Final pool and not long after he took on a part time role in the club’s wages department. He also started to get involved in coaching part time at a local school and later that summer he became the club’s youth team manager.
The story of his subsequent coaching and managerial career is well known
and will be the subject of another “theyflysohigh” tribute feature.
Pounding the North Bank steps and gym weight training in the faint hope of regaining full fitness
The lonely road to recovery
A leg injury in the first Football Combination match of the 1963-64 season at home to Cardiff City Reserves sidelined John for six weeks. He returned for another three Metropolitan League games before the injury resurfaced. His last attempt for a comeback was on January 8, 1964 against the Metropolitan Police. Unfortunately, John’s knee injury returned and soon after he announced his retirement.
His last game in claret and blue at East Molesey was four days after the first team opened their successful FA Cup run with a home victory over Charlton Athletic.
Lyall's last-ever first team appearance was against Blackburn Rovers at The Boleyn Ground May 4th, 1963.
ALL STARS XI
Lawrie Leslie (Stoke City), Vic Groves (Arsenal), Eddie Lewis (Orient), Vic Crowe (Aston Villa), John Mortimore (Chelsea), Terry Venables (Chelsea), Phil Woosnam (Aston Villa), Bobby Tambling (Chelsea), Dave Dunmore (Orient), John Dick (captain), Malcolm Musgrove (Orient)
West Ham announce Lyall's soccer playing career was over
Stratford Express May 1, 1964
John Lyall at the kick-off with West Ham's Bobby Moore and John Dick captain for the All Stars XI team
So just before John’s 24th birthday his professional playing career had been cruelly curtailed. As a player’s welfare was a priority for the club, it was no surprise when the club granted John a testimonial match. But what was surprising, was the timing of this game. The occasion was arranged for Monday April 27 just five days before club was due to face Preston North End in Wembley’s FA Cup Final.
Lawrie Leslie Noel Cantwell Andy Malcolm Phil Woosnam John Dick Malcolm Musgrove
WEST HAM UNITED 5 v. ALL STARS XI 0
Geoff Hurst 4, Harry Redknapp 1
Match reports courtesy of Richard Miller