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The 1980 FA Cup winning XI included eight players who were recipients of a testimonial match in recognition of at least 10 years’ service with the club.
The eight to be honoured in order of being granted a special game by the club’s directors were: Frank Lampard, Trevor Brooking, Billy Bonds, Geoff Pike, Alvin Martin, Alan Devonshire, Phil Parkes and Ray Stewart. Perhaps it would have been quicker to name the three who didn’t have a testimonial game! For the record this was David Cross, Paul Allen and Stuart Pearson.
The last of the eight to receive a benefit game was full back Ray Stewart. Played on Wednesday May 6, 1992 the opposition for this 28th testimonial game in the club’s history was Ipswich Town.
The Tractor Boys providing the opposition was significant as their manager John Lyall, was returning to Upton Park for the first time since his acrimonious departure in 1989.
Distinguished Career Coincides with Club’s Most Successful Decade
West Ham United 1 - 2 Ipswich Town (HT 0-1)
Wednesday May 6, 1992
West Ham United:
Stewart [pen] (76 mins)
Goddard (5 mins), Whelan (46 mins)
West Ham United:
Ludek Miklosko (Phil Parkes 46 mins), Ray Stewart (John Padington 76 mins), Julian Dicks, Tony Gale (Paul Marquis 45 mins), Alvin Martin, Kenny Brown (Scott Canham 85 mins), Ian Bishop (Simon Clarke 76 mins), Kevin Keen (Kevin Horlock 45 mins), Dean Martin, Steve Potts, Stuart Slater.
Craig Forrest, Gary Yallop, Neil Thompson, Steve Palmer (D.Gregory 45 mins), Eddie Youlds, Glenn Whelan, Gavin Johnson, Paul Goddard (Steve Greaves 64 mins), Steve Whitton, Simon Milton (Glenn Pennyfather 45 mins), Chris Kiwomya.
Referee: J. Moules
Ray Stewart was born on September 7, 1959 in Stanley, Perthshire, Scotland. The youngster started on his footballing career with local side Errol Rovers in the Dundee Sunday Boys' League.
In May 1973, aged 14, he signed schoolboy forms for Scottish Premier League side Dundee United. The young defender's leadership qualities didn't go unnoticed as he went on to captain Scotland at schoolboy, youth and under-21 level.
He signed professional forms for the Tannadice Park club in 1976, and he made his first team debut just six days before his 17th birthday. Playing in a midfield position his debut was a baptism of fire when he faced Glasgow Celtic in a League Cup tie at Parkhead, marking Scotland's all-time great Kenny Dalglish. He was voted SPFA Young Player of the Year in 1979.
Britain's Most Expensive Teenager
On August 30, 1979 after three seasons and just 44 games under his belt for The Tangerines, he became Britain's most expensive teenager when West Ham's manager John Lyall paid £430,000 to bring him to the Boleyn Ground.
With the ink still wet on his new West Ham contract, Ray had to sit out the fixture against Watford at Vicarage Road two days later because the paperwork was not completed in time.
Five days after signing, Ray's claret and blue career got off to a winning start when he made his West Ham United debut on Monday, September 4th, at Oakwell against Barnsley in the League Cup second round, second leg tie. The 2-0 victory came courtesy of a brace from striker David Cross as the Hammers progressed to the next round winning 5-1 on aggregate.
Ray Stewart signs on the dotted line
The defender's total league and cup appearances reached 432 and for a full-back, a highly impressive 84 goals.
His goal tally is important as they include 76 penalty conversions which earned him the nickname 'Tonka' on account of his ability to strike the ball with such venom and accuracy from the twelve-yard spot.
'Tonka' tops the club’s all-time penalty-takers’ table with an 88.37% success rate, with only 10 missed strikes. In second place is Julian Dicks with 36 strikes from 43 attempts and ahead of current player Mark Noble sitting in third place with 29 successful conversions.
Ray’s Upton Park tenure stretched to a wonderful 12 seasons which included one of the most successful decades in the club’s history. His roll of honour included: 1980 FA Cup winner’s medal, 1981 League Cup runners-up medal, 1980-81 Division II Champions medal, 1985-86 member of the squad which achieved the club’s highest ever placing of 3rd in the Football League, 1981 European Cup Winners Cup quarter-final, and a Wembley Charity Shield appearance in 1981.
Plus we shouldn’t forget to mention the 10 full international caps he was awarded by Scotland. After gaining 12 Scotland U21 caps, nine with West Ham, he made his full international debut against Wales in the Home Championship at the Vetch Field, Swansea on May 16, 1981.
The opposition in Ray’s other nine full internationals were: 1981 (Home Championships) England and Northern Ireland, (World Cup Qualifiers) Portugal and Northern Ireland, 1982 (Home Champ) Wales, 1984 France (Friendly), 1986 (European Championship Qualifiers) Luxembourg and Republic of Ireland. His last cap was in the return tie against the Republic at Hampden Park, Glasgow.
In his second international Ray scored his solitary full international goal in the 2-0 win over Northern Ireland on May 19, 1981.
The latter years of his distinguished career were blighted by injury. Such that he missed the whole of 1989-90 and in the following season, his last, he was restricted to five league and a single FA Cup appearance. The single cup appearance was as a substitute in the 1991 FA Cup semi-final 4-0 defeat to Nottingham Forest at Villa Park.
Less than a month later on May 4, 1991 Ray pulled on a claret and blue shirt for the last time in the 1-1 draw away to Charlton Athletic in a Barclays League – Division Two fixture. Despite attempts at a comeback, a line was drawn on his Upton Park career when he was not offered a new contract at the end of the season.
Ray returned to Scotland on a free transfer and joined St. Johnstone. A year after leaving east London he returned to Upton Park on Wednesday May 6, 1992 for his testimonial game against Ipswich Town, a well-deserved reward for his contribution to the club’s successes in the 1980s. The gate receipts were reported as contributing around £30,000 to his testimonial fund.
Blighted by Injury
Typical penalty style and celebration by Tonka
John Lyall’s Return
At the end of the 1991-92 season, West Ham and Ipswich Town were like ships passing in the night. The Hammers finished in last place in the Barclays League Division One, as the Tractor Boys won the Division Two championship and promotion to the top tier.
Not only had the Hammers struggled in the League campaign which culminated in relegation, their playing performances were not helped by the club’s unsuccessful attempt to finance ground improvements with the introduction of the ill-fated bond scheme. Supporters’ dissatisfaction with the bond scheme resulted in many angry protests and created a rift between fans and the club. A rift which took many years to heal. 'theyflysohigh' will feature the bond scheme in a future feature.
The combination of a poor league campaign and off the pitch distractions must have impacted on the attendance for Ray’s benefit game. For a player who contributed so much in the 1980s, he deserved a better crowd than the 5,395.
1991-92 Disastrous Season
Image: Newham Recorder
Ray proudly shows off his
1980 FA Cup winner's medal
It was a night to remember for Stewart and for his former manager John Lyall, who was returning first time to the club he had served for 34 years before he was sacked. The evening also saw the return of a couple of players from Lyall’s successful 1985-86 claret and blue squad: striker Paul Goddard and midfielder Steve Whitton. Another name who would be familiar to Hammers' fans, was Ipswich Town’s goalkeeper, Craig Forrest who would later move from Suffolk to east London in July 1997.
A brief description of the evening's goals:
5 mins: West Ham 0 - 1 Ipswich Town
Paul Goddard’s opening goal for Town against the run of play…. after a pass by Kiwonya and a cross by Johnson, Goddard scored with a tap in.
Half-time: 0 - 1
46 mins: West Ham 0 - 2 Ipswich Town
A minute into the second half and skipper for the night Neil Thompson crossed and after Miklosko had failed to catch the cross cleanly, Whelan scored from close range.
76 mins: West Ham 1 - 2 Ipswich Town
Stewart, once a record breaking penalty taker with the Hammers, was given a chance to have a crack for the spot kick after Thompson had fouled Brown. Stewart thumped the ball to Forrest’s right and it appeared as if the amiable Canadian keeper dived the other way deliberately so as to provide a fitting climax for the one time penalty king of Upton Park.
Stewart was then substituted and left the field to take the applause of an appreciative crowd. The East Anglian Times reported that apart from Stewart, the Hammers were at full strength while the visitors were well below strength. Missing with minor injuries were Championship medal winners Stockwell, Dozzell, Zondervan and Wark.
Exeter City Testimonial
Two days earlier on Monday May 4, 1992 West Ham warmed up for Ray’s special game when they provided the opposition in another testimonial. This was for Exeter City’s Jim McNichol and the scoreline was the same as in Ray’s match, a 2-1 win for the away side. West Ham’s scorers in their 2-1 win over the Division Three side were Ian Bishop and Stuart Slater.
West Ham sent a strong first team squad to face the Grecians. Thirteen of the 17 players who appeared at St. James Park turned out two days later in the Ray Stewart Testimonial. With an eye on the future manager Billy Bonds, fielded several younger professionals including Dean Martin, Paul Marquis, Kevin Horlock, Simon Clarke and Scott Canham.
Newspaper coverage courtesy of Richard Miller
East Anglian Times
Stewart in action against
England at Wembley Stadium