Bobby Moore 1958-1974 – 646 Apps
What can be said about Bobby Moore that hasn’t already been said?
West Ham and England Captain through both the clubs and the country’s most successful periods. Moore made his first team debut in 1958 and by the time he left for Fulham in 1974 he had amassed an amazing 646 appearances in the Claret and Blue, captaining the club for over a decade.
Immaculate in appearance and play, he is held in such esteem by those who saw him play, that he is the first name on any All Time XI selection for both West Ham and England.
Moore’s untimely death in 1993 led to a huge outpouring of emotion and only increased his influence over the club.
His widow has gone on to raise millions to help the fight against bowel cancer in his name and West Ham named a stand after him both at Upton Park and the London Stadium and the club retired the number 6 shirt in his honour.
I will borrow the words that are on Moore’s statue outside Wembley Stadium, written by journalist and friend Jeff Powell, to illustrate the esteem with which he is remembered
“Immaculate footballer. Imperial defender. Immortal hero of 1966. First Englishman to raise the World Cup aloft. Favourite son of London’s East End. Finest legend of West Ham United. National Treasure. Master of Wembley. Lord of the game. Captain extraordinary. Gentleman of all
Moore was criminally undervalued by both the club and England once he finished playing, but his name is being kept alive by the various honours he has received after his death. A true legend and one that people will speak about for many years to come yet.
Billy Bonds 1967 -1988 – 787 Apps
Signed from Charlton for £50,000 in 1967, Bonds would play for the Hammers for 21 Years before his retirement at the age of 41 in 1988.
A combative versatile player he joined as a fullback, but he also played in midfield and at centre-back over the course of his illustrious career.
Bonds twice led the club to FA Cup success in 1975 and 1980, as well as leading the club to the Finals of the 1976 Cup Winners Cup and 1981 League Cup.
Bonds remains a crowd favourite and is fondly remembered for his wholehearted full-blooded performances alongside perhaps more vaunted players.
He was voted Hammer of the year on less than 4 occasions in 1971, 1974, 1975 and finally in 1987, shortly before his retirement.
Sadly overlooked by England, he is widely quoted as being one of the best players never to receive an England Cap.
Once his playing career ended, Bonds remained on the staff at the club and eventually became manager in 1990 taking over after Lou Macari’s short-lived reign at the club.
Once more Bond applied his work ethic and led the club to two promotions and the FA Cup semi-final in 1991.
Bonds was eventually replaced by Harry Redknapp in 1994 and despite a brief spell as manager of Millwall, Bonds remained characteristically out of the spotlight.
As a reward for his service to the club West Ham awarded Bonds the clubs Life Time Achievement award in 2013.
An understated hero Bonds remains a popular figure amongst fans of all ages.
Alvin Martin 1976-1996 – 589 Apps
Born in Liverpool Martin was on Everton’s books as a youngster but moved to West Ham in the mid-seventies where he would go on to serve the club for 20 illustrious years before departing for Leyton Orient in 1996.
Martin was part of the 1980 FA Cup winning side and the legendary “boys of 86” team that secured the club its highest ever top-flight finish (3rd).
Strong and dominant in the air with a calm sense of authority, Martin received 17 England caps during his career and was perhaps unlucky not to receive more. Martin played against Paraguay in the Mexico World Cup in 1986 but was dropped for the infamous game against Argentina.
Martin also has the odd distinction of having scored a hat-trick against three goalkeepers in West Ham’s 8-1 mauling of Newcastle in 1986.
Martin remained at West Ham through the turbulent late eighties/early nineties part of the club’s history and eventually left for Leyton
Orient aged 37 in 1996.
Once retired, Martin did manage Southend for two years but moved into the media where he is a popular contributor to TALKSPORT radio and Sky.
A class operator on and off the pitch, Martin is rightly remembered for his loyalty and commitment to the club.
Rio Ferdinand 1996-2000 152 Apps
Rio Ferdinand is without a doubt, one of the best English centre-halves of the modern era, elegant on the ball with superb reading of the game, Ferdinand rose to the very top of the global game later in his career.
Rio made his debut in 1996 having come through the youth ranks at the club, and the fans quickly took to the tall elegant defender and named him Hammer of the Year in 1998 at the age of 19.
Ferdinand’s comfort on the ball marked him out from other centre-halves of his generation and as such Rio received his first call-up to the full England side in 1997 for a friendly against Cameroon, making him the youngest defender capped by England at that time.
Ferdinand was frequently linked with other clubs but West Ham managed to hold on to Ferdinand until 2000, when they eventually sold him to Leeds for £18 million which for many fans was the start of the clubs decline in the early 2000’s.
Once at Leeds, Ferdinand established himself as one of the best centre-halves in the country leading the club to a semi-final place in the Champions League in 2001.
Ferdinand’s outstanding performances in the 2002 World Cup earned him a £30 million move to Manchester United where he went on to win 6 League Titles and a Champions League title with the Manchester side.
Despite his comparatively short career with the club, Rio was, and is, always warmly received by the fans on his return and as a club West Ham can be rightly proud of his achievements after leaving the club.