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A legend remembered

Filed: Friday, 13th November 2009
By: Staff Writer

A Cambridgeshire-based Hammers fan is campaigning for a memorial to be erected in honour of the club's greatest ever goalscorer, Vic Watson.

Chris Horton, the chair of Girton Colts Football Club is a lifelong Hammer and resident of Girton, a small Cambridgeshire village where Watson was born and spent much of his life.

Currently, there is no memorial in place to recognise the achievements of Watson - but that is all set to change should Horton's plans prove successful.

"There does not appear to be a road named after him, such as a 'Watson Way', and there is no bar, plaque, statue, or even a sign," Mr Horton told cambridge-news.co.uk. "This seems extremely unjust to me. How many other born and bred village people have played football for their country?

"Here we have had a very local sporting hero, someone that could inspire the kids and show them that anything is possible in sport. Vic's career shows it doesn't matter where you are from, you can still reach the top."

Watson was born in Girton in November 1897 and was signed by the Hammers in 1920 for just 50. Effectively replacing fans' favourite Syd Puddefoot, who was sold to Falkirk two years later, Watson went on to make 505 appearances for West Ham over the course of the next 15 years - a record that, to this day, has only been beaten by Billy Bonds (793), Frank Lampard (674), Bobby Moore (646), Trevor Brooking (635), Alvin Martin (601) and Watson's former team mate Jimmy Ruffell (548).

But it was for his incredible goalscoring record that he is best remembered; Watson, an old-fashioned centre forward scored an incredible 326 goals for United - some 74 goals more than his nearest rival, Geoff Hurst (252) - and holds the record for the most number of goals scored in a single game (six in an 8-2 win over Leeds in 1929, a record later equalled by the aforementioned Hurst against Sunderland in 1968). His best season came in the 1929/30 campaign in which he scored an incredible 50 goals in just 44 appearances.

Talking about his career some years prior to his death in 1988, Watson - who also won seven caps playing for England - recalled:

"I came home [from the First World War] and there wasn't any work about here, so I went to Peterborough. I lasted five weeks before I went to West Ham to play football - and they kept me.

"When I got into the game, I always felt I would like to top the First Division goalscorers. Well, I managed it, with 42. I scored six goals in a match for Cambridge City, Cambridge Town, West Ham Reserves and then West Ham in the First Division."

Victor Martin Watson, Hammers legend: playing stats

1920/21: Played 9, Gls 2 (all league). West Ham finish 5th in Division Two.
1921/22: P40, Gls 13 (12 league, 1 cup). West Ham finish 4th in Division Two.
1922/23: P50, Gls 27 (22 league, 5 cup). West Ham finish 2nd in Division Two and reach the FA Cup Final (Losing 2-0 to Division One Bolton).
1923/24: P11, Gls 3 (all league). West Ham finish 13th in Division One.
1924/25: P47, Gls 23 (22 league, 1 cup). West Ham finish 13th in Division One.
1925/26: P47, Gls 23 (22 league, 1 cup). West Ham finish 18th in Division One.
1926/27: P45, Gls 37 (34 league, 3 cup). West Ham finish 6th in Division One.
1927/28: P35, Gls 16 (all league). West Ham finish 17th in Division One.
1928/29: P39, Gls 30 (29 league, 1 cup). West Ham finish 17th in Division One and reach the FA Cup quarter finals (losing 3-2 to Portsmouth).
1929/30: P44, Gls 50 (42 league, 8 cup). West Ham finish 7th in Division One and reach the FA Cup quarter finals (losing 3-0 to Arsenal).
1930/31: P18, Gls 14 (all league). West Ham finish 18th in Division One.
1931/32: P40, Gls 25 (23 league, 2 cup). West Ham finish 22nd in Division One.
1932/33: P41, Gls 28 (24 league, 4 cup). West Ham finish 20th in Division Two and reach the FA Cup semi finals (losing 2-1 to Everton).
1933/34: P32, Gls 29 (26 league, 3 cup). West Ham finish 7th in Division Two.
1934/35: P15, Gls 9 (all league). West Ham finish 3rd in Division Two.

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