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There was speculation in the Stratford Express’ match report that the presence of club captain Malcolm Allison made a difference to the Hammers’ performance. After September 1957’s away fixture to Sheffield United Allison had been absent from the side due to serious illness.
Six months later, after a long recovery, Malcolm’s return to Upton Park coincided with the Yorkshire club’s visit. Just in time for a landmark performance.
Sixty years ago was a turning point in West Ham United’s fortunes. After languishing in Division Two for 19 seasons the Hammers finally clinched a return to England’s top tier of league football. And the return to Division One opened the door for the club’s golden sixties era.
Club’s Biggest Winning Margin for League Match
On Saturday March 8, 1958 West Ham United beat Rotherham United 8-0. This eight goal winning margin beat the previous best of two 7-0 home wins. The first of these two victories was against Arsenal on March 7, 1927 and three years later equalled in a win over Liverpool on September 1, 1930. Ten years after the Rotherham thrashing, the two club goal records were equalled when West Ham beat Sunderland by the same scoreline in a Division One fixture in October 1968. These two 8-0 victories still stand today as the club’s highest winning margins in a league game.
The eight goals conceded by Rotherham United was only the second time the Hammers had achieved eight in the Football League. Twenty nine years earlier West Ham had beaten Leeds United 8-2 on February 9, 1929. A match notable for the club’s record goalscorer, Vic Watson, putting six past the Leeds keeper.
As this week marks the 60th anniversary of the 8–0 home win over Rotherham United theyflysohigh digs into the archives for a review of this scintillating victory.
West Ham United 8 - 0 Rotherham (HT 4-0)
Saturday March 8, 1958
West Ham United:
Dick 4 (22, 44, 55 & 86 mins), Keeble 2 (13 & 42 mins), Smith 2 (69 & 82 mins)
West Ham United:
Ernie Gregory, John Bond (Capt.), George Wright, Andy Malcolm, Ken Brown, Bill Lansdowne, Mike Grice, John Smith, Vic Keeble, John Dick, Malcolm Musgrove
Quairney, Silman, Morgan, Williams, Noble, Keyworth, Webster, Kettleborough, Twidle, Jones, Broadbent
The scoreline suggests the game was one-sided but the Millers had their chances. Twice in the first 15 minutes the Millmoor side hit the Hammers' woodwork and also missed two open goals. But after those scoring opportunities the match reports stated Rotherham were never really in the hunt. West Ham’s three inside men, Smith, Dick and Keeble were perfect with Smith’s potential international promise as good as the experience of Dick and Keeble.
It was not only the local and national press reporting which sang West Ham’s praises. The match reporting in the Rotherham Advertiser was unbiased and complimentary to the Hammers: the bubble was burst by West Ham’s supremely virile football, tremendously powerful punch and sheer hard work.
John Dick’s Quartet
The match was a personal triumph for inside forward John Dick as he helped himself to half the match’s goals.The first and only quartet in his claret and blue career. Two goals either side of the half-time break made it a quartet in the space of 64 minutes. His hat-trick arrived in just 32 minutes. The quartet was the highest scoring performance in his 10 year claret and blue career.
A significant achievement as in his two previous seasons, 1955-56 & 1956-57, despite appearing in 35 and 36 league games in the respective seasons, he only managed eight league goals in each campaign.
The quadruple notched against the Yorkshire side complemented John Dick’s five trebles in his West Ham career: three in league matches and a couple in cup ties.
The following is a descriptions of the eight goals as recorded in the Stratford Express’ match report.
1st goal: 13th minute
After 13 minutes came a brilliant Keeble goal. Bond gained possession and made a good run before stumbling over a heavy tackle. Bond recovered sufficiently to push a pass to Keeble who hit the ball on the turn and beat Quairney (Rotherham’s goalkeeper) from an acute angle.
2nd goal: 22nd minute
Mike Grice’s corner was half cleared to Bill Lansdowne, who headed forward and Dick with his back to goal hooked the ball over his right shoulder with that deadly left foot to completely deceive Quairney and score in the far corner.
3rd goal: 42nd minute
Dick left the field for a few minutes soon after with an injured knee but on his return promptly engineered a move which saw Musgrove and Keeble race through and for the latter to slam home another well taken goal from close range.
4th goal: 44th minute
A minute later Dick was on hand to net a Musgrove centre after the left winger and Keeble had again romped through the defence at top speed.
HT 4 – 0
5th goal: 55th minute
Keeble out on the right nodded a superbly controlled header to John Smith who quickly spotted the open space and pushed through a pass for Dick to lope on to and squeeze past Quairney.
6th goal: 69th minute
Further neat work bought goal number six with the visiting defence completely bewildered. Andy Malcolm’s lob forward was headed back by Keeble to Dick, who nodded the ball over for the eager Smith to crash home from a few yard’s range.
7th goal: 82nd minute
Smith put Hammers further ahead when, receiving a poor ball from Lansdowne, he quickly made room and beat Quairney from all of 30 yards with a fine right-footer.
8th goal: 86th minute
Rotherham’s ill-fortune was climaxed when Keeble, Smith and Dick dashed through the middle for Dick to rush on to a through ball, outpace right half Williams, and loft home a high shot as Quairney came out.
John Bond - Man of the Match
Despite John Dick’s quartet it was full back and captain John Bond, who captured rave reviews in the post-match reports. His commanding performance in defence raised speculation that Bond should be included in England’s squad for 1958’s World Cup. While John never did get a call-up to the England squad he gained some consolation in being awarded two Football League caps.
In Noel Cantwell’s absence from the side, George Wright stepped into the right back spot and John Bond picked up the captain’s mantle. John was the third player to captain the Irons in this promotion winning season. Before Noel and John, Malcolm Allison had led the team in the season’s opening fixtures.
Record Heaviest Defeat for Rotherham United
As the Hammers recorded a record winning score, it was the reverse for Rotherham United. The Millers 8-0 trouncing was their club’s heaviest defeat in a Division Two fixture topping the previous worse a 6-1 defeat suffered only two weeks earlier to Sheffield United.
Four Consecutive League Wins & 17 Goals
After Christmas 1957 the Hammers had a fantastic run in the season’s remaining 17 league matches as they won 11, drew four and only lost on two occasions. The Rotherham United game was the last in a four match consecutive winning streak which was sharply ended the following week away to Huddersfield Town. A victorious sequence which saw 17 goals netted with only four leaked.
The Hammers had regained top spot of Division Two in February and there they stayed to the end of the campaign which culminated in the away victory at Middlesbrough on April 26, 1958. For Rotherham United despite the 8-0 drubbing, they avoided relegation and finished their season in 18th place. West Ham’s eight goals on March 8, 1958 contributed to the Hammers’ season’s league haul of 101 nets. Co-incidentally, Rotherham United conceded 101 goals in this same season.
John Dick rides a challenge by a Rotherham defender
Malcolm Allison Returns to Upton Park
West Ham United 8 – 0 Rotherham United March 8, 1958
WEST HAM UNITED
Second Division Champions
Back row: Ken Brown, Malcolm Allison, John Bond, Ernie Gregory, Noel Cantwell, Andy Malcolm
Front row: Mike Grice, John Smith, Billy Dare, John Dick, Malcolm Musgrove
inset: Vic Keeble
1957-58 Second Division League Table
Rotherham defender Morgan charges Vic Keeble - but too late - the ball is already past goalkeeper Quairney. This one, however, went wide of goal
Newspaper coverage courtesy of Richard Miller
Looking back on that momentous 1957-58 campaign there is one match which stands out in the club’s history books. This is the 33rd league game of that season when the Hammers established a club record
winning margin, and
equalled their record for the number of goals in a league game.