#ThrowbackThursday - West Ham United v Tottenham Hotspur: Part One - 1920 to 1950
The earliest meetings between Spurs and West Ham occurred outside of the Football League, when West Ham’s predecessor club – Thames Ironworks F.C. - entered the Southern League in 1899. The first meeting between the two sides occurred in November of that year at White Hart Lane, with Spurs running out 7-0 winners. These early meetings ended when Tottenham left the Southern League to join fellow London sides Arsenal and Chelsea in the Football League in 1908 (which at this point was a mainly Northern and Midlands League. Meetings resumed again when West Ham United entered the Football League in 1919/20 (after the First World War, the Football League undertook expansion in a bid to become a truly national league).
The first meeting between the two after the war however came in the FA Cup Third Round in February 1920 at White Hart Lane. At the time, Spurs topped the old Second Division. A mammoth crowd of 47,646 turned out for the occasion, as did newsreel company Gaumont News to capture the event on film (though unfortunately, they refer to the Hammers as ‘West Stanley’ for some weird reason) to witness a comprehensive 3-0 victory for Spurs. Tottenham lasted just one more round in the Cup before being eliminated at home to Aston Villa. The first Football League meeting came six weeks later at the Boleyn Ground, with fourteen games left to play.
At the time, Spurs were run away leaders of the old Second Division with an eleven point lead over second place Birmingham City. West Ham meanwhile stood eighth. A crowd of 25,691 headed to Upton Park for the occasion. Two goals for Sydney Puddefoot disrupted Tottenham’s title run in as the Hammers ran out 2-1 winners. Just nine days later, the return fixture occurred at White Hart Lane. The match was a rearranged Monday afternoon fixture, which saw a crowd of 26,000 turn out for the game. Spurs ran out 2-0 winners, a result which restored a ten point lead at the top of the table for Tottenham.
By the close of the 1919/20 season, Spurs finished the season as Second Division champions, while West Ham finished seventh. It would be another four years before the two sides met again, when West Ham after losing the first ever Wembley FA Cup Final to Bolton secured their first ever promotion to the top flight after finishing the 1922/23 season as runners up of the old Second Division. The first top flight meeting between the two sides occurred in early February 1924 at the Boleyn Ground. Two points separated the two sides in the table, as Spurs and West Ham stood tenth and eleventh respectively. The 30,000 crowd that turned out for the event however witnessed a goalless draw.
The return fixture at White Hart Lane occurred two months later. Spurs had dropped to sixteenth in the table, while West Ham were tenth. A 20,000 crowd witnessed a 1-0 win for the Hammers. By the close of the season however, three points separated thirteenth place West Ham and fifteenth place Spurs by the close of the season. The following November, the two sides met again at the Boleyn Ground. Sixteen games into the 1924/25 season, two points separated fifteenth place Spurs and seventeenth place West Ham. In front of a crowd of 26,000, England star Vic Watson was on target for the Hammers, as the two sides played out a 1-1 draw.
The return fixture at White Hart Lane came at the end of March. By this point, Spurs stood eighth in the table while West Ham were thirteenth. A crowd of 35,000 witnessed a 1-1 draw. At the close of the season, twelfth place Spurs finished above West Ham by virtue of goal average. In 1925/26, the two sides met at White Hart Lane in early November. Spurs were third in the table after thirteen games, three points behind leaders Sunderland with a game in hand. West Ham on the other hand were eleventh. A hat-trick for Frank Osbourne gave Spurs a 4-2 victory in front of a crowd of 35,259. The sides next met again in early January in the third round of the FA Cup at White Hart Lane with proceedings captured by the newsreel for posterity. A Jimmy Dimmock hat-trick gave Spurs a thumping 5-0 victory in front of 35,259 fans.
The return league fixture at the Boleyn Ground occurred in late March. Spurs stood eighth, while West Ham were five points behind in thirteenth. A crowd of 29,423 witnessed a 3-1 win for West Ham. The Hammers finished the season eighteenth, while were Spurs were fifteenth. In 1926/27, the two sides met again in the FA Cup at the Boleyn Ground. In front of a crowd of 44,417, a Vic Watson hat-trick earned the Hammers a 3-2 victory.
That season, both league games between the two sides occurred over the Easter weekend, with the first taking place at White Hart Lane on Good Friday. West Ham stood fourth in the table, seven points off of league leaders Newcastle United.
A crowd of 42,010 saw West Ham pull off a 3-1 away victory. On Easter Monday back at White Hart Lane, Spurs pulled off a 2-1 away win in front of a crowd of 21,354. The Hammers finished the season with what was at that point their highest ever league finish in sixth place (and top placed London club) Spurs however were tenth. In 1927/28, the two sides met again at White Hart Lane on the day of Guy Fawkes Night. West Ham stood tenth, while Spurs were fifteenth. The event went off with a bang in front of 35,099 with Spurs running out 5-3 winners. The return fixture took place the following March.
Spurs were tenth, while West Ham stood four points above the relegation zone in eighteenth place with eleven games left to go. A crowd of 33,908 witnessed a 1-1 draw. After the penultimate Saturday of the season, Spurs had completed their fixtures with a 0-2 defeat to Liverpool at Anfield. Tottenham were seventeenth in the table, however were one point above the relegation zone with all five teams beneath them having games in hand. West Ham stood twelfth and yet only two points off relegation. Four days on, Arsenal met bottom of the table Sheffield Wednesday at Highbury. The Gunners were sat in mid-table with nothing to play for and were held to a 1-1 draw by Wednesday. The Owls then went on to beat eighth place Aston Villa 2-0 on the last Saturday to overhaul Spurs.
Sunderland also managed a 3-0 away win over North East neighbours Middlesbrough, while Man United thumped Liverpool 6-1 at Old Trafford. These results conspired to relegate Spurs who finished the season second from bottom and relegated to the second tier. West Ham meanwhile last the final game of the season to Newcastle United to finish just one point off of relegation in sixteenth (in one of the tightest ever relegation battles, as many as eight clubs above Spurs in the table had finished within two points of the lilywhites!). There would be no quick return to the top flight for Spurs, who spent five seasons in the second tier as their neighbours Arsenal came to dominate English football.
The two sides however would meet in a benefit game at the Boleyn Ground in 1930 for ex-servicemen, which was attended by the reigning Queen’s father, who was then the Prince of Wales.
Competitive games against West Ham however resumed for Spurs when the Hammers also dropped into the second tier at the end of the 1931/32 season. The first Derby between the two sides for four and a half years took place eight days before Christmas 1932 at White Hart Lane. Spurs stood third in the table and just one point off of a promotion place. The Hammers meanwhile stood in eighteenth place and had suspended Syd King a month earlier for drunken insubordination at a board meeting, having been West Ham’s manager for the previous thirty years. A crowd of 45,129 saw the two sides played out a 2-2 draw. Within two weeks, a decision was made to sack Syd King as Hammers boss, which within weeks led to him committing suicide.
By the time of the return fixture in late April at the Boleyn Ground, the Hammers had appointed Charlie Paynter as permanent boss. With three games left to play, Spurs were second in the table with a three point lead over Fulham in third and one point behind leaders Stoke City with a game in hand. West Ham meanwhile were battling relegation to the third tier in twentieth place, with a three point cushion between them and second bottom place Chesterfield. In front of a 31,706 crowd in East London, the Hammers assured survival while dealing a potential blow to Tottenham’s promotion hopes with a 1-0 victory. Any Spurs fans picking up the Saturday evening Football Special newspaper on their way back to North London would have no doubt been cheered up by news across across town over at Craven Cottage.
A 0-1 home defeat for Fulham to Grimsby secured promotion to the top tier for Spurs after five seasons outside of the old First Division. This therefore meant another gap in league fixtures against the Hammers. The two sides however would be drawn together in the fourth round of the FA Cup in late January 1933 at White Hart Lane. The Hammers stood ninth in the second tier, while Spurs were fourth in the old First Division and five points behind their neighbours Arsenal at the top of the table who had suffered the death of their iconic boss Herbert Chapman earlier in the month. Proceedings were captured by British Movietone’s newsreel.
In front of a crowd of 51,747, two goals apiece for George Hunt and Thomas Evans meant a 4-1 victory for Spurs, after the Hammers first took the lead with a goal from Vic Watson. Spurs’s run in the Cup would last just one more round, after a 0-1 home defeat to Aston Villa.
After finishing a respectable third in 1933/34, Tottenham’s run in the top flight would last just one further year before dropping back into the second tier after finishing rock bottom in 1934/35. This meant a return to second tier football and that league fixtures with West Ham would again resume. The first meeting between the two after Tottenham’s relegation came in early November 1935. Spurs stood second in the table, one point behind leaders Leicester City. West Ham meanwhile were thirteenth. In front of 40,245 spectators, the two sides played out a 2-2 draw. The following March, West Ham came to White Hart Lane standing third in the table one point behind league leaders Sheffield United. Spurs were two points behind in fifth.
A crowd of 57,417 saw West Ham run out 3-1 winners. The Hammers however missed out on promotion in 1935/36 by three points, coming fourth. Spurs were three points behind in fifth. The two sides met for the opening fixture of the 1936/37 season at the Boleyn Ground. Two goals for Len Goulden meant a 2-1 victory for West Ham in front of 31,906 spectators. The return fixture at White Hart Lane came on Boxing Day. West Ham had won just six games all season and were languishing in nineteenth. Spurs on the other hand were eleventh. A crowd of 34,196 saw West Ham leave White Hart Lane with a 3-2 win.
For the Hammers, it was the start of four straight victories which took the Hammers up to twelfth. By the close of the season, West Ham managed to climb up to sixth, while Spurs finished six points behind in tenth. The first meeting between the two sides in 1937/38 came in late November at White Hart Lane. After fifteen games, West Ham stood fourth and three points behind leaders Coventry City. Spurs meanwhile stood eleventh. In front of 47,000 fans, Spurs won 2-0. The return fixture at the Boleyn Ground came at the start of April. Spurs were fifth but six points off of a promotion place with eight games left to play, while West Ham were two points behind in fifth. A crowd of 30,031 saw Spurs run out 3-1 winners.
Spurs finished 1937/38 in fifth, while West Ham were two points behind in ninth. In 1938/39, the first meeting between the two sides occurred in late October at White Hart Lane. After eleven games, Spurs stood eighth. West Ham meanwhile were thirteenth. Two goals for Colin Lyman gave Spurs a 2-1 win in front of a crowd of 51,170. The two sides were then drawn together in the fourth round of the FA Cup in late January at the Boleyn Ground. The game attracted a crowd of 42,716 as well as the Movietone News cameras. Spurs took a 3-1 lead at the Boleyn.
During half time, police wrestled an unemployed demonstrator who had got on to the Boleyn Ground pitch to protest against the chronic unemployment of what essentially was the Great Depression era. In the second half, two goals for Stanley Foxhall pulled West Ham back to 3-3 to force a replay at White Hart Lane. Interestingly, from this footage after both goals a spectator jumps onto the pitch to retrieve the ball from the goal and boot it in the direction of the half way line to restart proceedings.
Nine days later, the replay took place at White Hart Lane in front of 50,798 spectators. The two sides played out a 1-1 draw. After two draw games, the tie went to a second replay at a neutral venue which in this case was Highbury Stadium - the home of London rivals Arsenal. Another mammoth crowd of 50,468 turned out for the tie as West Ham ran out 2-1 winners. The Hammers’ cup run lasted until the next round after suffering a 0-2 defeat to eventual Cup winners Portsmouth. One month later came the last meeting between the two sides before the outbreak of the Second World War. By the time of the return fixture at the Boleyn Ground, Spurs and West Ham were eleventh and twelfth respectively with three points separating them. A crowd of 20,832 turned out at the Boleyn Ground for the event, to see a 2-0 away victory for Spurs.
At the close of the 1938/39 season, Spurs finished eighth while West Ham finished eleventh. The outbreak of the Second World War on 3rd September 1939 put a premature end to the 1939/40 season, with competitive football on hold until the start of the 1946/47 season. When football return, the first meeting between West Ham and Spurs occurred in late October 1946 at the Boleyn Ground. After ten games, Spurs were fifth while West Ham stood fifteenth. A 34,341 crowd saw a 2-2 draw. The harsh winter of 1946/47 meant that the return fixture at White Hart Lane occurred as late as mid-May. West Ham were tenth in the table and still had four games left to play, while Spurs were fifth with just two games left. A crowd of 37,503 saw a goalless draw. Spurs ended the season sixth, while West Ham finished 1946/47 twelfth.
In 1947/48, the two sides met six games into the season at the Boleyn Ground. A crowd of 25,732 witnesses a 1-1 draw. The return fixture at White Hart Lane happened exactly a week later. 33,415 spectators saw the points shared again with a 2-2 draw. West Ham finished 1947/48 in sixth place, two points ahead of Spurs in eighth. The next meeting between the two sides came exactly twelve months on, ten games into the 1948/49 at the Boleyn Ground. Spurs stood third and two points off of league leaders Bury. West Ham in contrast had won just two games and languished in seventeenth. The Hammers gave their ailing season a boost with a 1-0 win in front of 38,132 spectators.
The return fixture at White Hart Lane occurred in late February. Spurs were third in the table and three points behind leaders Southampton. West Ham meanwhile were tenth. A mammoth crowd of 62,980 turned up at the lane to witness a 1-1 draw. Spurs would miss out on promotion by six points, coming fifth. West Ham however were four points behind Spurs in seventh. Arthur Rowe took over as Spurs boss from former Arsenal star Joe Hulme and invented the ‘Push and Run’ style which Spurs were to become synonymous with. The final meeting between the two sides during the 1940s came on the day of Guy Fawkes Night at the Boleyn Ground. After fourteen games, Spurs topped the table with a four point lead over second place Sheffield Wednesday. West Ham however were ninth. A crowd of 31,734 saw Spurs leave East London with both points with a 1-0 win.
The return fixture at White Hart Lane came in late March 1950. With nine games left, Spurs held a nine point lead at the top of the table and just two wins away from securing promotion back to the top flight. The Hammers were still in ninth place. A crowd of 51,124 saw Spurs run out 4-1 winners with two goals for Sonny Walters. Spurs finished the season as second tier champions, nine points clear at the top of the table. West Ham meanwhile languished in nineteenth place and only avoided relegation by four points. Spurs therefore were heading back to the top flight and for a period of unprecedented success within the Football League, securing their first ever top tier title after their first season back in 1951/52.
West Ham meanwhile would take as long as eight season to join Spurs in the top tier. As will be seen tomorrow in Part Two, both Spurs and West Ham would go through a golden period of sorts during the 1960s. This would also coincide with the birth of the television era, with many encounters captured by new TV highlights shows such as the BBC’s ‘Match of the Day’ and London Weekend Television’s ‘The Big Match’.
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*Published 21st September 2017