Here then is the list of my all-time favourite West Ham keepers which doesn’t necessarily mean they were the best. Only those that I can remember seeing play have been considered. Maybe controversially there is no room for Robert Green or Shaka Hislop. Had he stayed longer then Bernard Lama may well have made the list.
5. Mervyn Day
When Merv came onto the scene as an 18 year old in the 1973/ 74 season we all believed that we were seeing a future England international in the making. Ron Greenwood hailed him as West Ham’s “keeper for the next 10 years”. The following year saw Mervyn become the youngest goalkeeper to win an FA Cup winners medal and he was also voted PFA Young Player of the Year. A year later he was to feature in the European Cup Winner’s Cup (ECWC) Final defeat against Anderlecht. Tall, agile and a good shot-stopper Day appeared destined for great things but, like that of the rest of the team, performances started to suffer coinciding with the end of the club’s 20 year stay in the top flight in 1978. A defining moment for Day was conceding a 40 year lob from Everton’s Ronnie Goodlass in a 2-2 draw at Upton Park. Some say that this event single-handedly ended Day’s career at Upton Park (Goodlass unfortunately only had one hand) but in reality it had been difficult for him, still a young player, to play through a dip in form in a struggling side.
4. Jim Standen
Jim Standen had been an understudy, first at Arsenal and then at Luton, when he was signed as an emergency replacement for the injured Lawrie Leslie in November 1962. Leslie was popular at Upton Park (and the 1962 Hammer of The Year) so maybe Jim expected to revert to Number 2, as he had when covering for the injured Jack Kelsey at Arsenal, once Leslie was back on his feet. In contrast he was a great success himself in the West Ham goal as the club embarked on their mini purple patch winning their first ever major trophies in the FA Cup and ECWC. As a young supporter at the time I believed that all our players were excellent but watching old footage of games Standen does look a little suspect and is often seen scrambling around his penalty box. Still he was an integral part of an historic team. A few seasons after the ECWC victory Greenwood was on the look out for a new keeper and we eventually signed Bobby Ferguson rather than the apparently available Gordon Banks. If it had gone the other way history and this article may well have been very different.
Jim Standen was also an accomplished First Class cricketer winning a Championship medal with Worcestershire, while topping their bowling averages, in the summer of 1964.
Adrian San Miguel del Castillo is of course the current first choice keeper having signed from Real Betis in June 2013. At first sighting there wasn’t a lot of confidence that Adrian was the appropriate upgrade for Jussi Jaaskelainen who was starting to become a little slow and indecisive. Nevertheless by early 2014 Adrian had become first choice; a position that he has held since despite the competing claims of Darren Randolph. It is difficult to know how to compare Adrian with other Premier League keepers. He is an excellent shot stopper, good in the air (where he wins over Randolph for me) but liable to the occasional blooper or lapse of concentration; nor does his confidence in his own ball dribbling and juggling abilities stand up to scrutiny. These odd weaknesses are compensated, at least in my mind, by his passion, commitment and character. He really does seem to be happy playing at West Ham and it was great to see him getting called up for the Spain national squad. I would be quite happy to see him remain as Number 1 for a few more seasons yet.
2. Ludek Miklosko
Ludek (Ludo) Miklosko was born in Prostejov which is 960 miles from Moscow and 770 miles from London. His name is Ludo Miklosko, he comes from near Plaistow! Ludo was signed for West Ham by Lou Macari in February 1990 although Macari had resigned before Ludo made his first appearance as the replacement for long serving Phil Parkes. Ludo went on to be first choice keeper for the best part of 8 seasons as West Ham entered the Premier League era. Miklosko was a very good all-round keeper; brave, commanding in the air, a good shot stopper and the owner of a phenomenal punt up-field. During his final 1997/98 season he shared goalkeeping duties with Craig Forest and the on loan Bernard Lama which culminated in the mishap of an own goal in his last ever appearance. His most famous performance as far as the wider football world is concerned was on the final day of the 1994/95 season where his man-of-the-match performance earned the point that denied opponents Manchester United the title; sending it to Blackburn Rovers instead. In terms of the number of shots saved, with every available part of the body, it may well have been one of the finest goalkeeping performances ever.
1. Phil Parkes
The idea of a second division side paying a world record transfer fee for a goalkeeper would be unthinkable now; the club wouldn’t be able to afford it and the player wouldn’t want to play his football in the second tier. But that is what happened when West Ham signed Phil Parkes from QPR in February 1979 for £565,000. Parkes remained at West Ham for almost 12 years making 440 appearances in all competitions – a record for a West Ham keeper. Although he made almost as many appearances for QPR he is now mainly remembered for his time at Upton Park. Two of my favourite West Ham teams were the ones from the opening years of the 80’s and then from 1985/86. Phil Parkes was an important part of both teams as an outstanding and commanding keeper. In the FA Cup run of 1979/80 we would have gone out at the first hurdle if Parkes had not performed miracles to earn a replay against West Brom. Parkes was playing in the golden age of English goalkeepers and he was very unlucky to only ever win a single Engalnd cap (during his time at QPR). There is no doubt in my mind that Phil Parkes is the greatest goalkeeper ever to play for West Ham.