Welcome to the Private memorabilia collection of 'theyflysohigh'
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Extra interest for the West Ham fans was the appearance of the Czechoslovakian triallist, Karel Kula. Kula, a former teammate of Ludo Miklosko, was a midfielder from Banik Ostrava & Czechoslovakian international. He must have made a favourable impression as he scored West Ham’s second goal before being replaced due to illness by Trevor Morley at half-time. Despite the favourable impression, it turned out that he didn’t sign for the Hammers.
Today testimonial matches are a rarity but in the pre-Bosman days before December 1995 these games were more frequently awarded. In the last 20 seasons, only three West Ham United club servants have been awarded such an honour.
Whereas in season 1990-91 alone, Upton Park hosted three testimonial matches. The first two of these were for Phil Parkes (August 1990) and Billy Bonds (November 1990), and the third, the 27th in the club’s history, was for central defender Paul Hilton on Monday May 13, 1991.
'Hilts' special game was awarded in recognition of his early retirement from playing due to a knee injury. But for the injury his claret and blue playing career would have been significantly longer.
A former England schoolboy international, the centre-half joined Bury FC in 1977 and made his league debut at Wrexham in August 1978. He went on to score 39 goals in 148 league appearances for the Lancashire side, although 27 of those goals were scored in season 1979-80 when he played as a forward.
A member of the squad which achieved the Hammers’ highest ever league placing of 3rd in 1985-86. Paul was in the starting line-ups for the March 1986 victories over Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur.
In 1984-85, scoring a crucial goal in a 5-1 home win over Stoke City on May 14 to help lift the Hammers out of the relegation zone.
In another relegation battle, scoring an important goal in the 4-1 win over fellow relegation candidates Chelsea, on May 2, 1988.
Longest run of 1st league games came in 1986-87 with 15 starts and one substitution appearance.
Paul Hilton’s Claret & Blue Career
After serving Bury FC for six seasons, manager John Lyall signed Hilton for £100,000 on February 2, 1984. The defender joined as cover for the Irons’ regular centre backs Alvin Martin and Tony Gale. The deal also included a provision that the Hammers would return to Gigg Lane for a pre-season friendly the following season as part of the Shakers' centenary year celebrations.
He caught Lyall’s eye playing for the Fourth Division side against West Ham in the October 1983 League Cup tie. After losing by the odd goal in three in the Gigg Lane home leg, Bury were trounced 10-0 in the 2nd leg of the 2nd round tie at Upton Park!
Paul’s claret and blue playing career stretched to six seasons before a persistent knee injury forced him to hang up his boots at the age of 31. Over six seasons he clocked 79 league and cup appearances, and for a central defender scored a healthy eight goals. His 79 appearances comprised of 60 in the league, seven, eight and four in the FA Cup, League Cup and Full Members Cup respectively. And his goals were spread with seven in the league and a solitary FA Cup net.
Having come to terms with his career ending injury he was appointed as the youth team coach at Upton Park after the previous incumbent Billy Bonds was elevated to manager at the Boleyn Ground. Bonds asked Paul to take over his former role at youth level.
Hilton later held similar coaching roles with Ipswich Town and Gillingham before returning to West Ham as Assistant Academy Director.
In 2011 he moved on to Stevenage Town as Head of Youth and in 2012 he became the assistant manager at Bishop’s Stortford.
Highlights of his West Ham tenure included:
West Ham United 3 - 2 Crystal Palace (HT 3-1)
Monday May 13, 1991
West Ham United:
Frank McAvennie (18 mins), Karel Kula (23 mins), Paul Hilton (30 mins)
Geoff Thomas (20 mins), Ian Wright (85 mins)
West Ham United:
West Ham: Ludo Miklosko, Tim Breacker, Steve Potts, Tony Gale, Paul Hilton (Ian Bishop), Chris Hughton (Martin Allen), Kevin Keen, Frank McAvennie, Leroy Rosenior (Ian Dowie), Karel Kula (Trevor Morley), Stuart Slater
Neil Martyn, John Humphrey, Paul Bodin, Andy Gray, Richard Shaw, Andy Thorn, John Salako, Geoff Thomas, Mark Bright, Ian Wright, Simon Osborn. Subs (all used): Gareth Southgate, Witter, Ricky Newman, Simon Rodger
Both West Ham United and Crystal Palace fielded strong XIs. The Hammers included 11 of the 13 players who 48 hours earlier had appeared in the season’s final league game against Notts County. Colin Foster and George Parris being the two exceptions.
The Eagles had two days earlier completed a fantastic season to achieve the club’s highest ever placing in the top tier of English football. By beating Manchester United 3-0 the Eagles finished 3rd in Division One. In Hilton’s Testimonial Palace fielded a very strong XI with all eleven starts having played in the earlier Manchester United match.
The match proceeds were reported to have boosted Paul’s testimonial fund by approximately £20,000.
Paul’s testimonial game was an attractive fixture as it was staged just two days after the Hammers had finished their successful league campaign.
Having secured promotion from Barclays Division Two to return to the top tier of English football, Hilton's chosen opposition was one of Division One’s best sides, Crystal Palace. Two days earlier, Steve Coppell's Eagles had won their final league match to finish 3rd in Division One.
Goals as reported in the Newham Recorder and Croydon Advertiser:
West Ham 1 - 0 Crystal Palace
Stuart Slater put Frank McAvennie in to net.
West Ham 1 - 1 Crystal Palace
Geoff Thomas tapped in following fine working by Salako.
West Ham 2 - 1 Crystal Palace
Kula raced into space to powerfully finish off a fluent build-up by Rosenior and Keen.
West Ham 3 - 1 Crystal Palace
Hilton made it 3-1 from Rosenior’s cross field pass, - all concerned politely ignoring possible off-side.
Half-time: 3 - 1
Just after the break Andy Gray of Palace missed a penalty
West Ham 3 - 2 Crystal Palace
Ian Wright touched in the visitor’s second after Mark Bright’s cross was nodded down by Salako.
FA Cup Semi-final & Promotion
To help time frame Paul’s testimonial, 1990-91 was memorable for a couple of claret and blue reasons. This was the season the Hammers reached the FA Cup semi-final for only the sixth time in the club’s history. And 27 days after being soundly beaten 4-0 by Nottingham Forest in the semi-final, West Ham achieved promotion to the top tier of English football, the Barclays Division One.
Promotion and a return to the First Division sounds like a big enough occasion for the Hammers to uncork the champagne bottles. But the achievement of promotion as Barclays Division Two runners-up was an anti-climax for Billy Bonds’ squad.
Expectations of clinching promotion as Second Division champions were dashed on the last day of the season. Going into the last match, at home to Notts County, West Ham topped the league table two points clear of Oldham Athletic. All that was required of the Hammers was to win their final game to become champions.
On paper not too difficult a task when you consider that West Ham were unbeaten in the season’s first 21 league games. Notts County ignored the script to beat West Ham 2-1, and as Oldham Athletic won their final match thanks to a last minute penalty, it was the Lactics who were promoted as champions.
To mark the special match, the West Ham United team donned claret and blue shirts with the match details embroidered under the club’s crest.
Prior to the evening’s main event, a 30 minute game between two sets of supporters was arranged.
Those supporters willing to pay the £200 for the privilege for playing on the hallowed Boleyn Ground pitch were also allowed to keep their embroidered shirts with the same match details.
Special Match Shirts