If Aaron Cresswell earns his first international cap tonight he will become the 40th player to play for England as a West Ham player. The odds have improved for a Cresswell cap with an injury to Ryan Bertrand adding to Southgate’s intention to rest Danny Rose so that he is fresh to face us on Saturday.
It would be a tremendous achievement by Cresswell to represent his country and it always provides added incentive for following an England game when there is a Hammer in the team. Otherwise England matches have simply become a chore and an unwelcome interruption to the club season.
My first recollection of an England game was an international against Mexico in 1961. The game played on a Wednesday afternoon was being shown live on TV and can remember excitedly hurrying home from junior school to watch the closing stages as England romped to an 8-0 victory. I wouldn’t bother to cross the road and watch the game in Radio Rentals window nowadays. There were no West Ham players in the England team at that time but starting with the 1962 World Cup finals Bobby Moore became a fixture in an England shirt for the next decade. A fascinating newsreel report of the Mexico game below:
Of the 39 players winning England caps while at West Ham only 12 pre-dated Bobby Moore and, of these, Len Goulden was the only player to win more than 10 caps. Goulden had become established in the England team in the late 1930’s with 14 caps only for his career to be interrupted by the Second World War. Goulden featured in the infamous May 1938 friendly against Germany in Berlin in front of a watching Hermann Goering, Rudolf Hess and Joseph Goebbels (Hitler was due to attend but Ticketmaster messed up his booking!) Despite Germany invading Austria in order to strengthen their squad and sending their players off for an unprecedented two week training camp (as the England players marked the end of the season with a pint of mild and 10 Woodbines) the game ended in a 6-3 victory for England. Before the match the English players had been encouraged by the British Ambassador to give a Nazi salute during the German national anthem as a mark of respect. Goulden broke the net when scoring the last of the six English goals and is alleged to have remarked “Let ’em salute that one!” After the war Goulden moved to Chelsea and received no further international calls.
Moore (108), Hurst (49), Brooking (47) and Peters (33) are the only players to have earned more than 20 caps while at West Ham while a further 9 players have won 10 or more caps: Martin (17), James (17), Goulden (14), Upson (14), Sinclair (11), Green (11), Byrne (10), Ferdinand (10), J Cole (10). There have been 12 one-cap wonders and then there are the criminally overlooked Billy Bonds and Julian Dicks.
If Cresswell gets the deserved nod tonight in what is likely to be a fairly tame encounter I hope he gives a good account of himself and remains injury free.
It is looking increasingly like Gareth Southgate will be the uninspired choice as England manager heralding a golden era of mediocrity. It is a Roederesque appointment whereby those in charge appear to have no clue and so appoint the guy holding the parcel. At least England can’t get relegated.