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Banner Hammers Logo theyflysohigh Iin Israel HEFFER Paul testimonial 73_04_04 WHU v. Israel National XI Billy Bonds Ron Greenwood

Two seasons later and the Israel connection was picked up again. Days after their FA Cup triumph at Wembley over Fulham, the Hammers travelled to Israel. This time for a friendly against a side billed as a Select XI. The fixture was originally intended to be an exhibition match against FA Cup finalists, Fulham. But late in the day Fulham withdrew from the fixture and a Select XI stepped in.


In front of an enthusiastic, capacity crowd of 22,000 West Ham repeated the score from the Jaffa friendly two years earlier. The claret and blue goals delivered by Alan Taylor and Kevin Lock.


The West Ham XI including just four from the 1973 match was:


West Ham: Mervyn Day, John McDowell, Frank Lampard, Pat Holland, Tommy Taylor, Kevin Lock, Alan Taylor, Graham Paddon, Billy Jennings, Trevor Brooking, Keith Robson.


The Jerusalem Post's match report states a couple of interesting snippets. The first that that the two teams were presented to Israel's Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, at half-time. And the second, how former West Ham United trialist, Mordecai Spiegler, captained the Israel side.

HEFFER Paul signature Heffer match report 03

Paul Heffer Testimonial ...

by Roger Hillier

Paul Heffer receives a presentation gift from Israel National Team captain Zvi Rozen

1973-ISRAEL-NATIONAL-X1 Poster 01 Heffer report 01 Heffer report 02 73_04_04 WHU v. Israel National XI Heffer Test HEFFER Paul 01 Hull City v. WHU Friendly HEFFER Paul 03 HEFFER Paul portrait HEFFER Paul 72-73

In December 2017 Essex County Cricket Club’s Chelmsford ground hosted a sportsman’s dinner with two West Ham United legends as guest speakers. Billy Bonds and Trevor Brooking, who between them played over 1,400 league and cup games for the Hammers, entertained the guests with stories from their long association in the claret and blue shirt.  


In playing careers which lasted 21 and 17 seasons respectively, they both received testimonial games to celebrate their long service. In Billy Bonds case, two testimonials.


One of their former team mates was also granted a testimonial but not in recognition of a long and successful playing career. His claret and blue tenure was considerably shorter as it was curtailed due to persistent knee injuries.


In 1972-73 season Upton Park staged the club’s 13th testimonial for this unfortunate former team mate of Bonds and Brooking. The recipient was central defender Paul Heffer, who at the age of 25 and after 17 competitive first team appearances found his West Ham playing days were over.


This was a time when the club demonstrated pastoral care and took some responsibility to look after players whose careers ended prematurely. Previously, Geoff Hallas and Brian Moore (1956), Malcolm Allison (1958) and John Lyall (1964) had been granted testimonial games in recognition of careers shortened by injury.

Paul Heffer’s Claret & Blue Career

Heffer's West Ham United career stretched from 1964 to 1973. As an amateur player his intial appearance in the claret and blue shirt was in John Lyall's South East Counties League side.


Paul made a scoring debut from an outside-right position in the 4-0 victory over Luton Town at Chadwell Heath on August 22, 1964. Team mates from his youth team days included Trevor Brooking, Harry Redknapp and Frank Lampard. Later in his first season he moved to his more familiar central defensive position, but not before scoring eight goals in 33 appearances. Paul signed professional forms for the Hammers in August 1965.

League Debut v. Nottingham Forest

March 1967

Eighteen months later on March 18, 1967 Paul Heffer made his Football League debut along with another debutant Bill Kitchener in the 1-0 defeat away to Nottingham Forest. This was a time when manager Ron Greenwood was experimenting with a few of the younger squad members to find a replacement for veteran Ken Brown, who's imminent retirement was just two months away at the end of 1966-67 season.


The raw centre-half must have made a favourable impression as he kept his first team place for nine of the next 10 Division One matches.

The Newham Recorder headlines seem to back this up with "Freak goal is hard on new boys" and goes on to say "The score alone shows just how well the pair fitted in to the cool marshalling of skipper Bobby Moore".


The freak goal was a shot by the Forest striker, Joe Baker, which deflected off Bobby Moore and looped over goalkeeper Jim Standen.


Prior to his league debut, Paul had made his initial first team appearances in a couple of friendlies both against Division Two opponents.


The first was away to Coventry City in the Sir Winston Churchill Trophy. The lifting of the trophy after a penalty shoot-out win on March 3, 1967 was followed a week later by another fixture list filler at Boothferry Park. This time the Hammers ran out comfortable 4-1 victors over Hull City.

Real Madrid Friendly

April 1967

In 1967 Real Madrid were the holders of the European Cup. The Irons were not shamed as Real won a close game, 3-2. Paul entered play as a second half substitute to face some of the game’s biggest names including Gento.


After the season ended Paul retained his first team place for another overseas trip. This time to Dublin as West Ham provided the testimonial opposition for a couple of Shamrock Rovers players. In front of a large Dalymount Park crowd the two sides shared 10 goals.


Despite the youngster filling the centre half spot for the last two months of the season, Greenwood continued his search for Ken Brown’s permanent replacement.  

First Team Swansong v. Huddersfield Town

February 1972

For Heffer the 1966-67 season proved memorable not just because of his graduation to a league debut, but also for an unforgettable friendly on the other side of the Atlantic. With just six league games under his belt, Paul retained his first team squad place for the visit to the USA, and an exhibition match against the Spanish giants Real Madrid. The April 17, 1967 game marked the opening of the Houston Astrodome, the world's first multi-purpose domed sports stadium.  


In the space of seven weeks he had rocketed from a Football Combination fixture against Tottenham Hotspur reserves to playing against arguably the world’s top club side.  

Paul would have been full of optimism as preparations for the 1972-73 season got underway which included appearing in the pre-season first team squad’s photo call.


But within a month of the season’s start it all turned sour in a reserve team fixture against Swansea City Reserves on August 21, 1972. Paul once again suffered an injury to his knee and had to be carried off.


A specialist later diagnosed Internal Derangement of the Knee (IDK), and advised him that if he continued playing he risked further problems and could end up in a wheelchair by the age of 40. Faced with this devastating news, Paul had no option but to retire from the game he loved.


Within weeks of announcing his retirement, he was informed by the club that they would grant the upcoming friendly against an Israeli National team, who happened to be touring Europe, as a testimonial game for him.

Israeli’s Visit Boleyn Ground Seven Months after 1972 Munich Olympics Massacre

In March 1973 reciprocal arrangements were in place for the Hammers to play two games against an Israeli National XI. The first set for April 4, 1973 at the Boleyn Ground, was dedicated as Paul’s testimonial match. The return fixture a month later in Jaffa’s Bloomfield Stadium, Israel, was billed as an 'Invitation Match'.


Looking back, it was amazing that the Israelis had ventured away from home. Remember, April 1973 was just seven months after the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre in September 1972.


Political and military tensions in the Middle east between the Israelis and the Arab world were high with tit for tat assassinations a regular occurrence. Five months after the Israel National XI visited east London these tensions escalated into October 1973’s Yom Kipper Six Day War against the Palestinians.

Autographed Nottingham Forest

debut programme

Paul Heffer and Bobby Moore

Hull City at Boothferry Park

Crossed Hammer 67_03_18 Nottingham Forest v. WHU signed

In June 1967 the search temporarily ended when he signed Scotsman John Cushley from Glasgow Celtic. In the following season Cushley took over the centre half’s mantle which limited Heffer’s league appearances to a solitary game in December 1967.  


Over the next four seasons Paul’s patient wait for first team recalls was limited to five league appearances, four of which were as substitute, plus two more in the FA Cup. Unusually, the two FA Cup games were both against Huddersfield Town in seasons 1968-69 and 1971-72.  

67_04_19 Real Madrid v. WHU Crossed Hammer

1970-71 Season Plagued by Injuries

The unlucky defender first picked up a knee injury in the First Division fixture against Ipswich Town at Portman Road on November 7, 1970.

HEFFER Paul Southend beach running

Over the following six weeks, it was a frustrating and lonely time as he struggled with his knee injury which was eventually diagnosed as a cartilage problem.


An operation to remove cartilage was followed by a lengthy period on the sidelines. His rehabilitation wasn't helped when he once again broke down in training only to be told he needed a second cartilage removed on the same knee.


Heffer's stop-start season was further interrupted in his comeback game for the reserves Football Combination match at Oxford United on March 8, 1971. He collapsed in such pain that he was unconscious for 20 minutes.


At the end of the season, while his teammates were in America on a month-long tour, Paul was putting in the hours each day pounding the Southend shingle with only the seagulls for company in an effort to regain his match fitness.

After a seven-month rehabilitation, Paul returned to the reserves starting line-up against Birmingham City in October 1971, and went on to record 19 second-string appearances that season.


The defender's final first team appearance came against Huddersfield Town in a FA Cup 5th round tie. Paul came on as substitute for the injured Geoff Hurst in the 4-2 defeat at Leeds Road on February 25, 1972. The previous Saturday he made his last league appearance again as 12th man in a 1-1 draw with Crystal Palace at Upton Park.  

Final Claret and Blue Season


1967-68 Team Group



Back row: Paul Heffer, Billy Bonds, Martin Peters, John Cushley, Bobby Ferguson, Eddie Bovington, Geoff Hurst, Bill Kitchener, Bobby Moore

Front row: Harry Redknapp, Peter Brabrook, Ron Boyce, Brian Dear, Peter Bennett, John Charles, John Sissons

Crossed Hammer

Prior to the announcement that the home friendly would be Heffer’s testimonial game, because of the security risks, the Hammers were unsure whether to play the home friendly in public or behind closed doors.


Late in the day a decision was made to play in public. It was a brave move by West Ham United as a home friendly against the Israeli’s posed significant security risks which the club and the Metropolitan Police had to manage. The Israeli’s even bought their own personal security guards.


In anticipation of demonstrations and protests outside the Boleyn Ground, the club employed significantly more security staff than usual for a home Upton Park fixture.


The expected crowds and protestors never materialised and with limited publicity and marketing of the game, it was no surprise that the 7,465 attendance was well below the season’s average of 30,174. And considerably lower than the number who had filed through the turnstiles for another testimonial earlier in the season. Five months previously in November 1972, Ron Boyce’s testimonial game attracted just over 19,000.

West Ham United 3 - 2 Israel National XI (HT 1-2)

Upton Park

Wednesday April 4, 1973

West Ham United:

Lock (42 mins), Lutton (50 mins), Robson (80 mins).


Israel National XI:

Farkash (9 & 13 mins).


Attendance: 7,465

West Ham United:

Bobby Ferguson, John McDowell, Frank Lampard, Pat Holland (Bertie Lutton 46 mins), Tommy Taylor, Bobby Moore (capt), Kevin Lock, Clyde Best (Dudley Tyler 46 mins), Ted MacDougall, Trevor Brooking, Bryan 'Pop' Robson.


Israel National XI: 

Wissoker (Michaeli 46 mins), Gindin, Borba, Primo, Rozen (capt), Oz, Shoum, Talbi, Faigenbaum, Farkash, Barad (Onana 55 mins).


Referee: B.H.Daniels (Brentwood)

Crossed Hammer

Excessive Security Precautions

Israelis train

Billy Bonds’ Evening Standard column drumming up support for the match

Personal Column Hammers wake up

Apart from in the local newspapers, there was some pre-match coverage in the Evening Standard. This included a snippet in their edition the day before the game which explained that the Israel team trained at Upton Park.  


And on the evening of the game, Billy Bonds’ Evening Standard weekly column plugged the game. Bonds’ column even mentioned former Hammer trialist from the summer of 1970, Israeli Mordecai Spiegler. Though he was not listed in the programme as a member of Israel’s squad.  

Strong West Ham Line-Up

West Ham treated the friendly seriously and fielded their strongest possible XI. The Hammers’ starting line-up was the same as which had finished the previous Saturday’s home Division One match against Everton on March 31, 1973.  In the 2-0 win over Everton, Pat Holland came on as an 86th minute substitute for an injured Billy Bonds, and retained his place against the Israelis.  


As it turned out the Hammers needed to be at their best to face a strong Israeli line-up. The Israel National XI included five players from their 1970 World Cup squad.

The Daily Mail’s match report, under the heading “Hammers Wake Up”, was the most comprehensive and included a rare action shot of Bryan Robson and the Israeli goalkeeper.  This is the only match action image 'theyflysohigh' has discovered. 


The Daily Mail summarised the game with “West Ham changed their leisurely approach in the second half and outplayed the Israel national team”. The report also commented on the “above average number of police on duty in case of demonstrations. But everything was peaceful”.

National Press Reports

A brief description of the game’s goals as reported in the East London Advertiser is as follows:


1st West Ham goal: 42 mins:

After Pop Robson had hit the bar with a strong drive, West Ham reduced the arrears. A Trevor Brooking corner was not cleared and Kevin Lock netted with a low volley. A notable evening for Kevin as he scored in consecutive first team games.


2nd West Ham goal: 50 mins:

Bertie Lutton, a second half substitute for Pat Holland, equalised when he headed home a Frank Lampard corner.


3rd West Ham goal: 80 mins:

West Ham dominated the second half and their pressure was rewarded with the winner 10 minutes from time. Brooking sold the perfect dummy on an Israeli defender before crossing for Robson to convert at the near post.

Robson action

Israel Keeper Wissoker leaps in to rob Bryan Roson who later scored the West Ham winner

Testimonial Game’s Proceeds

Shortly afterwards the Evening Standard reported that the match contributed about £4,000 to 25-year-old Paul Heffer’s testimonial fund.


What wasn’t widely reported was that not every penny of the £4,000 ended up in his bank account. Paul was not expecting to pick-up all of his big game’s expenses. After the deduction of the customary match expenses he was also presented with the bill for the higher than usual police and security related costs. After deduction of all the associated costs his bank balance swelled to just over £1,000.


This paltry reward for his loyal service seems a little unjust, and to put his net payment into perspective, for the return friendly in Israel, West Ham negotiated a £2,000 match fee plus £500 expenses in local currency to be paid by the Israeli FA.

Crossed Hammer

Hammers Finish 6th in Division One


By West Ham United’s standards, 1972-73 season’s league form was exceptional. This was the season Bryan 'Pop' Robson was on fire as he rattled in 28 league goals to top Division One’s goalscorer’s table.  


At the time of the Heffer Testimonial Match the Hammers were lying in 5th place in the old Division One league table and also on a nine match unbeaten run. Unfortunately, this undefeated run ended with a 2-1 defeat on the final Saturday of the season to Arsenal which meant they slipped a place to finish 6th. Though this 6th placing equaled the club’s record dating from 1958-59 for their highest placing in the Football League. Frustratingly, a draw would have been sufficient for a 5th position finish and a new highest ever which would have stood until 1985-86.    

Thirteen Friendlies

Unfortunately, the Hammers’ 1972-73 league form did not carry over to the domestic cups. Early exits in the League Cup and FA Cup to Stockport County and Hull City respectively left the first team with plenty of time for friendlies. These friendly affairs totalled 13, eight of which were testimonial matches.


Six days after the season’s final league match against the Gunners, the Hammers flew to Israel for the reciprocal friendly in Jaffa in the southern part of Tel-Aviv. The game doubled up as a celebration of the Israeli Football Association’s 25th anniversary and as part of Israel’s preparations for their 1974 World Cup play-off qualification games.

Return Friendly in Jaffa, Israel

Israel National XI 2 - 2 West Ham United

Bloomfield Stadium

Wednesday May 2, 1973

Israel National XI:

Damti, Schwager


West Ham United:

Best,  Robson.


Attendance: 22,000

Crossed Hammer

On Wednesday May 2, 1973 a 22,000 crowd enjoyed another close encounter as the two teams shared four goals. The Hammers’ scorers were Clyde Best and inevitably, Bryan “Pop” Robson.


West Ham’s team for the Jaffa friendly was: Bobby Ferguson, John McDowell, Frank Lampard, Billy Bonds, Kevin Lock, Bobby Moore (capt), Clyde Best, Bertie Lutton, Ted MacDougall, Trevor Brooking, Bryan 'Pop' Robson.


The Israel National XI line-up is unknown.

1975 Friendly in Tel Aviv

Bloomfield Stadium Match Poster

In these days of top tier club’s players on more modest incomes, Paul was forced to find a new career. He started out driving a lorry for a greengrocer which later led to opening three greengrocer shops in the Southend area. At the same time he also began coaching junior football sides, cumulating with him starting his own club when his two sons started to take an interest in the game. Paul's son, Steven went on to play for the Hammers in the South East Counties League and Reserves sides between 1988 and 1991.


Paul Heffer’s Coaching Career

Quote Quote

It was a long time ago, but I always remember the noise from the crowd was so different from what I had been used to playing in front of really small crowds for the 'A' team.

Benefit & Testimonial John Bond Testimonial Ray Stewart Testimonial

Paul Heffer

Daily Mail’s Match Photo & Report

Daily Telegraph

Daily Express

Despite a couple of Division One fixtures the same evening, the Daily Telegraph, Daily Express and Daily Mail all included short match reports in their following day’s editions.

1313A Israel National XI HEFFER Paul Little Heath Crossed Hammer

This introduction into coaching and his West Ham connections gave him a path back into the professional game. It started with Bobby Moore inviting Paul to help coach Southend United’s youth and first teams. After Moore left the Shrimpers, Paul continued in the same role with Moore's replacement, Dave Webb the former Chelsea defender.


In the Billy Bonds / Harry Redknapp management era of the 1990s, West Ham’s youth team coach Tony Carr was so impressed with Southend’s youth team performances against the Hammers’ sides, he invited Paul to re-join West Ham United. He accepted the offer and teamed up with his former playing colleagues Frank Lampard snr. and Roger Cross, to help coach the club's aspiring youngsters. To this day Paul continues to be part of the club’s coaching set up at Little Heath.

Bobby Moore, Frank Lampard, Bobby Ferguson and Ted MacDougall

Daily Mirror Photo

Crossed Hammer Israel National XI 2-2

The Jerusalem Post