The 6th February 2019 can be marked a special day in the history of West Ham United football club. Over the course of David Sullivan and Gold’s reign, which started in 2009 following their purchase of the East London club, it’s not unfair to question the class and the mentality of the two.
Many great servants of the club have fallen victim to the current regime and have been cast aside. This includes announcer of 16 years at Upton Park, Jeremey Nicholas, club legend and youth academy director Tony Carr, responsible for producing Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard and Joe Cole, to name but a few, as well as the one and only Ginger Pele, former centre half of over 10 years, James Collins.
With that being said, the news that Hammers legend Billy Bonds will have the East Stand named after him is just fantastic and well merited. It is a wonderful day for the servants of West Ham United. In my article regarding Bobby Moore, I spoke about how Bobby was the greatest West Ham player of all time. When you take into account the Barking lads career and his footballing ability, there can be no disputing that World Cup winning captain is the greatest Iron of all time.
However, when it comes to West Ham United’s greatest ever servant, that honour befalls the man being celebrated today, William Arthur Bonds. Born in Woolwich, September 1946, Bonds began his career at Charlton before switching to West Ham in 1967 where he would spend the remainder of his career.
Bonds made an incredible 799 first team appearances for The Hammers over two spells for the club. The former Charlton man replaced the legendary Bobby Moore as captain of West Ham following the legends departure to West London’s Fulham in 1974.
Bonds would then go on and and oversee West Ham’s FA Cup victories in both 1975 and 1980. West Ham united were the last side outside of the top flight to beat a top tier side in the final of the FA Cup as they defeated the Gunners 1-0 thanks to headed goal from Sir Trevor Brooking. To this day Bonds remains the only man to captain the East London outfit in two FA Cup victories, currently the clubs last two triumphs in the world’s oldest cup competition.
Billy Bonds went on to surpass Bobby Moore’s club record of most appearances for West Ham United during the 1982-83 season. The great servant of the club then retired from football. What a great Hammers career that would have been. Two FA Cups, three Hammer of the Year Awards in the 70’s and more appearances than any other player after 16 years at a club. A fans favourite, Bonds always made sure to give his all for the club every single time he stepped onto the pitch. Upon the mans retirement, no one could say that the greatest servant had not given everything as he handed over the arm band to teammate and fellow West Ham legend, Alvin Martin .
However, Bonds’ time as a servant at West Ham United was not quite done. Following a huge plague of injuries at The Boleyn Ground, Bonds laced up his boots once again and donned the claret and blue of the Hammers once again, making 26 league and cup appearances for West Ham during the 1984-85 season.
Sadly, a toe injury would rob Billy Bonds of the chance to play at all during the 1985-86 season which saw West Ham finish in their highest ever position of third as strikers Tony Cottee and Frank McAvennie terrorised The First Division as they scored nearly 50 league goals between them. Had Bonds managed to recover from injury that season and play, who knows what might have been as the title race lasted until the final day of the season, which finally saw Merseyside clubs Liverpool and Everton finish ahead of the East London side in first and second respectively as The Reds won yet another First Division title.
In 1987 Bonds won his final Hammer of the Year award, matching the same haul as Bobby Moore, before retiring for a final time in 1988 – given West Ham’s injury list this season I would not say no to him pulling on the claret and blue shirt once again. As well as retirement, 1988 granted with an MBE, a fitting honour.
Though his playing days were over for good this time, Bonds would continue to serve West Ham United as manager from in 1990, achieving promotion back to the First Division twice before resigning in 1994 as former teammate, Harry Redknapp, took charge.
The greatest servant has been awarded the greatest of honours. A stand named after him at his clubs home. Bobby Moore and Sir Trevor Brooking have a new member in their club. Three stands, three legends. The greatest servant of East London gets his name on the East stand.
On behalf of every single West Ham United supporter, congratulations and thank you, Bonzo.