As far as Goalkeepers go we have seen the good, the bad and the damn right ugly at West Ham United over the years. From legendary names such as Phil Parkes to the flamboyant Frenchman Bernard Lama, from Stephen Bywater to the likes of Pavel Srnicek and Sasa Ilic, Hammers fans have seen them all standing between the sticks.
I have compiled a list of my top 5 keepers who have worn the claret and blue with pride and will be forever remembered as quality irons number ones. A special mention to the likes of former England international’s Mervyn Day, Robert Green and David James as well as Tom McAllister and Harry Medhurst who all just fell short of making the top five.
5 – Shaka Hislop
In at 5 is the ever reliable Shaka Hislop. The Trinidad and Tobago international had two spells at the club and became very much a fan favourite throughout his time at Upton Park. His most successful stint was his first where he made 105 appearances for the club after signing from Newcastle. Hislop won the Hammer of the year award at the first time of asking and played a starring role in the clubs highest ever Premier League finish, 5th. After losing the number one jersey to David James three years on, Hislop left in 2002 to reunite with Harry Redknapp at Portsmouth.
The 6ft 6in stopper returned to the club in 2005 following West Ham’s return to the Premier League. Perhaps not agile as he once was, Hislop managed 16 games that season and was his ever reliable self, playing in every round and eventually being beaten by that Steven Gerrard thunderbolt to deny a famous FA Cup triumph.
He was a keeper who never let the club down, making very few mistakes and put in some exceptional man of the match performances also during his time at West Ham.
4 – Jim Standen
With his time at West Ham spanning over a six year period in the 1960’s, unfortunately I was not alive to have the pleasure of seeing Jim Standen wear the Hammers gloves. As far as trophies go, Standen was our most successful of modern time. The keeper who joined West Ham from Luton to replace Lawrie Leslie, who broke his leg in 1962, soon became first choice at the Boleyn ground, playing 178 games for the club, winning both the FA Cup and Cup Winners Cup.
As well as being an exceptional goalkeeper, Standen was a pretty handy cricketer, winning the County Championship with Worcestershire in 1964, taking 52 wickets in the process. Bowling Jim!
3 – Ernie Gregory
If there was one man who deserved the honour of being called Mr West Ham it would be Ernie Gregory. He was a one club man, playing a staggering 481 games for the Hammers spanning 21 years. However Gregory wasn’t finished there, he went on to coach firstly the reserves then the first team. When his coaching days were up, Gregory still hadn’t enough of the club and helped with team administration. When he eventually left the club in 1987, he ended an astonishing 51 year association with the club.
As a keeper, Gregory was perfect for the time. Tall, strong and able to withstand the tough challenges that were allowed in the 40’s and 50’s. He was brave, not afraid to go in where it hurt, and a keeper who was hard to beat.
Gregory sadly passed away in January 2012 at the age of 90. He will always be regarded as a true West Ham legend.
2 – Ludek Miklosko
‘Ludo’ has very much become a West Ham cult hero and one of the best goalkeepers the club has ever had. The giant Czech was signed for West Ham at the age of 29 by Lou Macari for just £300,000. He went on to make 374 appearances for the club between 1990-1998.
Miklosko was an excellent shot stopper and due to the sheer size of him, made the goal seem so much smaller for opposing attackers. He was brave and extremely reliable during a time where West Ham were often fighting a relegation battle.
Ludo is probably best remembered for his performance against Manchester United in the final game of the 1994-95 season. He withstood everything United threw at him, resulting in a 1-1 draw and effectively handing Blackburn Rovers the Premiership title.
Miklosko returned to West Ham following his retirement in 2001 to take on a goalkeeper coaching role and remained at the club until 2010. The famous ‘my name is Ludo Miklosko, I come from New Moscow’ song is still often heard being sung by the West Ham faithful.
1 – Phil Parkes
How on earth did he only get one England cap? This question is one of the greatest compliments that you could give to the incredibly talented Phil Parkes. Parkes was sold to West Ham from QPR in 1979 for £565,000. At the time this was a world record transfer fee for a goalkeeper but manager at the time John Lyall knew what he was getting, a world class goalkeeper.The Staffordshire born keeper went on to make over 300 appearances for West Ham playing a major part in their FA Cup success in 1980. He was also a key component in the clubs most successful ever league campaign, where they finished 3rd in the old first division, narrowly missing out on the title.
As a goalkeeper he had everything. A top shot stopper, exceptional handling and quality distribution. He was someone you could always rely on under pressure and his mistakes were very far and few between.
He played at an extremely successful and exciting time for West Ham and will always be regarded as one of, if not the best goalkeeper to ever wear the Hammers jersey. It’s just such a shame that a man of such great ability will not be recognised as an England great.