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The Uncappables: The West Ham team that never played for England

England face Estonia tonight in their next qualification game for the European Championships to be held in France next year. With England already home and dry, many suspected this to be an opportunity for Roy Hodgson to tinker with his squad to allow his fringe players an opportunity at senior level in a competitive scenario.

Article by Tom Burford

Once again West Ham’s captain marvel Mark Noble was overlooked from the squad and despite memorable campaigns last season, Carl Jenkinson and Hammer of the Year Aaron Cresswell also miss out.

Hammers fans will question the selection of the likes of Dele Ali (Only 4 appearances in total for Tottenham) and Danny Ings (Only selected since his move to Liverpool) and come to a worrying conclusion, as will some other fans, that there is too much big club bias in the England selection process.

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But unfortunately since the glory days of 1966 when, West Ham won the World Cup, this has been an all too familiar problem.

I’ve put together what on paper is a very strong West Ham XI who all share the same statistic. They didn’t win or haven’t won a senior cap for England;

Formation: 4-4-2

Goalkeeper: Jim Standen

West Ham signed Jim Standen from Luton Town in 1962. He won 2 major honours with the Hammers; the 1964 F.A. Cup and the 1964/95 European Cup Winners Cup. This wasn’t enough to get him in front of George Banks though, and after 178 league appearances for West Ham, he joined American outfit Detroit Tigers.

The ‘big club bias’ crept into his cricket career aswell! He played 133 first class games for Worcestershire. But his 313 wickets and Championship Medal (won in the same year as his F.A. Cup medal with West Ham) weren’t enough to get him in the test side.

Left Back: Julian Dicks

He was one of the greatest full-backs to play for West Ham, but could he have been for England?

Dicks did play for the Under 21’s and the England B side impressing at both levels. But it wasn’t until the mid 90’s that Dicks began to be seriously considered for selection by then manager Terry Venables. It was Dicks’ indiscipline that forced pressure from the media and famously politician and Chelsea fan David Mellor after Dicks deliberately stamped on Chelsea midfielder John Spencer’s head in a game televised live on Sky. Dicks was given a three match ban for the incident and was then sent off weeks later for a challenge on Ian Wright.

What we’d give for some Julian Dicks grit in our national team now!

Right Back: John Bond

I’ve gone for John Bond over Steve Potts purely down to his success with West Ham. Both players made nearly 400 appearances for the club but Bond won an F.A. Cup in 1964 and played in the team that won the 1965 Cup Winners Cup, despite not playing in the final.

Although he was selected to play for England ‘A’ he never made a full-senior cap. He took to a career in management which stretched nearly 30 years.

John sadly passed away in 2012

Centre Half: Tony Gale

Keith Hackett’s best mate Tony Gale made 300 appearances for West Ham after joining from Fulham in 1984. He was part of ‘The Boys of ‘86’ who achieved West Ham’s highest ever league finish.

He might nearly have been an F.A. Cup winner too if Hackett had not sent him off for a perfectly timed tackle in an F.A. Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest in 1991. It was still 0-0 at that point.

But Gale only had to wait 4 years before he was a Premier League Champion with Blackburn Rovers. They won the title despite losing at Anfield. It was his old side West Ham holding Manchester United to a draw at Upton Park that crowned them league winners.

Centre Half: James Tomkins

The first of the current crop in this list and I really think he should have got an opportunity by now.

Although it’s safe to argue that a lot of these players were just unlucky to be behind someone better at the time, England play so many meaningless friendlies these days, that players like Tomkins should really have had a go.

There are some shockers who have received a cap; Gavin McCann, Dave Nugent…. Zat Knight! Zat Knight has played for England and Tomkins hasn’t!

Time is on his side though, surely his chance will come.

CM/CDM: Billy Bonds

Many fans of many clubs have told me Bonds was the best player never to play for England.

West Ham’s highest ever appearance maker and later manager did play twice for the England Under 23’s and was an unused sub for a senior game against Italy in a Wrold Cup qualifier v Italy in 1977. But a bad injury to his ribs caused, ironically, by Phil Parkes at the end of the 1980-81 put pay to Bonds’ hopes of a first cap v Brazil where he and team-mate Alvin Martin were rumoured to be selected.

Centre Midfield: Mark Noble

There are some supporters that don’t rate him as highly as I do. But I think Mark Noble has been one of our most consistent performers since his first team debut in 2004.

He’s played for England at every level except the senior side, and it’s an absolute disgrace!

It’s similar to the Tomkins situation, so many average players have played and these boys haven’t…… Seth Johnson played for England! Remember him?

I wonder how many caps Mark Noble would have won if he’d played for Liverpool? I put it to you that if Noble played for Liverpool and Jordan Henderson played for West Ham; Noble would have had more caps!

He’s not yet ruled out playing for Ireland though, maybe he ought to change his allegiance quick so he can play in France!

Left Midfield – Matt Etherington

This was a very difficult position to pick as there were a few candidates, the likes of Stuart Slater and Geoff Pike to name two. But I worshiped the ground Etherington walked on when he played for us and I didn’t get to see the other two play, which is probably why Roy hasn’t picked Tomkins and Noble yet!

His jet-propelled runs down the wing and dangerous low crosses and cut-backs from the by-line caused all sorts of problems for top class defenders over a number of seasons.

He should have got at least one game, especially as England really struggled for a left midfielder during his period at West Ham.

Right Midfield – Mark Ward

It was him or Kevin Keen for me.

He played 165 times for West Ham between 1985 and 1990 before departing for Everton. 

This one is a big mystery for me; usually a scouse accent only aids your chances of an England cap! Maybe it’s because he played for the blue half of Merseyside!

Centre Forward – Bryan ‘Pop’ Robson

Although the majority of his career was spent elsewhere, Robson spent six seasons in two spells with the Hammers making 227 league appearances and scoring 94 goals.

In the period he played under John Lyall, his former boss Ron Greenwood took over the national side! Even West Ham people don’t pick West Ham players!!

Centre Forward – David Cross

There were a few others I could have picked in this list; Alan Taylor, Paul Kitson, Trevor Morley……… Marlon Harewood…. No? Ok.

I’ve gone for Cross because of his impressive scoring record, and I liked his beard! He fell just 1 short of 100 goals in 234 appearances for West Ham. He also won an F.A. Cup with us in 1980 and the golden boot in the 1980/81 promotion year, scoring 34 goals!

A lot of people I speak to that saw Cross play draw a lot of similarities with him and Andy Carroll, but with a better injury record.

If Carroll can achieve what Cross did at Upton Park, he’ll be laughing!

A lot of these players were well before my era, so It would be great if you could let us know who you think should have been capped!

And remember, England don’t win major tournaments unless there are three of us starting and one is the captain!!

Come on you Irons!

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  1. Not a bad team apart from Noble. He is awful ... Why do you think he will get a game for the Irish ? he is not international class for any of top 100 countries in the rankings. Did Allan Devonshire play for England .. I don't think so ....... first name on team sheet...

    1. yes he played a few games in the early eighties

  2. We'll have to agree to disagree on Noble! :) - Devonshire played a few times for England


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