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West Ham's Greatest Striker


John Simkin
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It is often been said that any football team is only as good at its strikers. The truth of this is illustrated by looking at the history of West Ham. I thought it might be worth debating West Ham’s best ever striker. My vote would go to Vic Watson.

Vic Watson was signed for a £50 transfer fee from Wellingborough Town in March, 1920. He replaced West Ham's star forward Sydney Puddefoot who had signed for Falkirk in 1922. That season, Watson's 22 league goals were largely responsible for West Ham's promotion to the First Division. His five goals in the FA Cup helped the club to get to the final that year. Watson was injured for most of the first season in the top flight and only scored 3 goals. However, this was followed by 23 in the next season. This included scoring in ten consecutive matches. This was followed by 20 (1925-26), 37 (1926-7), 15 (1927-28), 30 (1928-29), 50 (1929-30), 14 (1930-31), 25 (1931-32), 27 (1932-33) and 29 (1933-34). On 9th February, 1929, he scored six goals in West Ham's 8-2 victory over Leeds. Watson left in 1935 and was another ten years before they could find another 20 a season striker.

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/WHwatsonV.htm

http://www.westhamstats.info/westham.php?w...d=Victor_Watson

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I was always a big fan of Paulo Di Canio, great player and wasn't afriad to show the ref how he felt!

Not as good as Vic Watson. It is indeed difficult to compare strikers from different generations. Clearly, defenders are fitter today than they were in the past. However, this is balanced out by the fact that forwards are also fitter.

Lets us compare the records of Watson with that of other more modern strikers. When West Ham got promotion in the 1922-23 season they scored 63 goals in 42 games. West Ham finished runners-up to Notts County who only scored 46 goals. However, the champions had a better defence than the Hammers. Watson scored 22 goals in 41 league games and 5 in 9 cup games. Billy Moore also got 15 league goals that season. Therefore they got 37 out of the 63 scored by West Ham that season. As we know, when discussing strikers it is also necessary to consider their partners.

In interesting comparison is with the team that was promoted in 1957-58. I am not old enough to have seen Watson but I did see the exploits of Dave Dick and Vic Keeble that season. That year West Ham finished first in the Second Division and in the process scored 101 goals. It seems that scoring goals was easier in 1957-58 than in 1922-23. Dick scored 21 in 41 and Keeble 19 in 29. As far as goals per game is concerned, Keeble’s record in that season was better than that of Watson’s in 1922-23. Keeble went onto to score 20 in 32 the following season. Maybe, Keeble would have gone on to achieve a better record than Watson if it had not been for injuries. He was forced to retire after only managing to play 15 games in the 1959-60 season.

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/WHkeebleV.htm

http://www.westhamstats.info/westham.php?w...ited=Vic_Keeble

The reason why I consider Watson the club’s best striker is that he did it for nine consecutive seasons. In 1929-30, he scored 42 goals in only 40 league appearances and 8 in 4 cup games. They are amazing figures when you consider he did this in a team that was 17 points behind the champions. That season Watson scored over half of West Ham’s 98 league and cup goals. His striking partner, the great Jimmy Ruffell, only managed 13 that season.

http://www.westhamstats.info/westham.php?w...d=Victor_Watson

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Guest Gary Loughran

I'm a Cottee fan myself. I openly admit to not knowing much about Watson, Dick and the like, except admiration for their past feats which you've admirably covered.

Even at Everton, in a poor scoring team and despite much abuse for his then British record transfer tag, if memory serves he was their top scorer for nearly every season he played there.

Plus his book title was excellent.

If I recall from Lyalls book he had great admiration for Dave Cross as a pro. His goals against Tottenham alone made him a favourite of mine.

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