Filed: Tuesday, 2nd October 2012
By: Staff Writer
One of West Ham United's greatest servants, Sir Trevor Brooking, is 64 today.
The former England midfielder, who had the former North Bank stand at the Boleyn Ground named in his honour in 2009, made over 500 appearances for United in a career that spanned some 17 years.
Born in Barking three years after the end of World War II, Brooking - the son of a police footballer (a tough-tackling centre half) - was one of the most gifted pupils at his school. He left Ilford County High with 11 O-Levels (the pre-cursor to GCSE's) and two A-Levels before joining West Ham at the age of 16.
"I was at one of the old Grammar schools where the Academic side was quite important," he told KUMB.com in a 2001 interview. "West Ham understood the problems of leaving and not finishing your GCSE's as they are now.
"So I came to an agreement with West Ham that instead of signing in 1964 I said I'd join them in 1965 when I'd finished my GCEs. I signed a two year apprenticeship in the summer of 1965 which was a month after the Cup Winners Cup final."
It was to be another two years before the talented young Brooking finally made his debut, in a Division One fixture against Burnley at Turf Moor - and it was a day to remember, with all three World Cup heroes from the previous summer getting on the score sheet.
"I was really chuffed that we drew 3-3 and it was weird that they [Moore, Peters and Hurst] scored," he recalled. "I think that I did okay, and certainly enjoyed it - it was a decent performance. It was a fairly tough place to get a result, so 3-3 was excellent."
Brooking soon became a firm fixture in the first team and it wasn't long before he began to gain admirers - including former Derby manager Brian Clough who made an audacious bid to sign Brooking and team mate Bobby Moore in 1972.
"Bobby's agent did some work for me and I was part of the deal," said Brooking. "Bobby and I were going to go but it was agreed at board level and then referred to Ron [Greenwood] - and Ron said no.
"There was a spell in 1970/71 when I was on the [transfer] list. There were a couple of clubs - Luton and Millwall, both second division clubs at the time - who came in but Ron told them I wasn't for sale. So although I was on the list, the word came back to me that I wasn't being offered and they weren't accepting any bids."
That was good news for Hammers fans who saw the youngster blossom at the Boleyn Ground following the departure of one of West Ham's World Cup winning triumvirate, Martin Peters, to Tottenham.
Over the course of the next decade Brooking went on to star in all of West Ham's biggest games - including FA Cup Finals against Fulham and Arsenal, a Cup Winners' Cup Final against Anderlecht and a League Cup Final against Liverpool - and make in excess of 50 appearances for England, including a brief appearance at the 1982 World Cup Finals.
Of those games, the one he will be most remembered for by Hammers fans is the 1980 FA Cup Final, when he headed home the only goal of the game to bring the Cup back to east London.
"Bill [Bonds] and Alvin [Martin] never gave them a kick," he recalled. "The key tactic was Stuart Pearson playing in midfield - we had five in midfield. At half-time we were one-nil up and assumed that Arsenal would change it, but they never changed their tactics throughout the 90 minutes - which was a big mistake!"
It was that FA Cup-winning squad - and the subsequent promotion-winning team which ran away with the Division Two title the following season - that Brooking feels was the best West Ham team he was part of in his 17 years at the club.
"There's no question that the 1980-83 team was the best," he affirmed. "Parksie in goal; Ray Stewart, Alvin Martin, Bonzo and Frank [Lampard]; Pat, Pikey, myself and Alan Dev with Crossie and Paul Goddard [up front]. That was the best, most balanced team that I played in."
Brooking's final appearance for West Ham came on 14th May 1984 in a 1-0 home defeat to FA Cup Finalists Everton - two years before John Lyall led the Hammers to their best-ever top flight finish (third in 1985/86).
Since hanging up his boots Brooking has enjoyed spells as a TV pundit, as an ambassador for Sport England and as Director of Football Development at the FA. In 2004 he was knighted for his services to sport - a year after he made his only appearance as a manager when stepping in for Glenn Roeder at West Ham.
All of the team at KUMB.com would like to wish Sir Trev a very happy birthday.
*Read our 2001 Q&A with Sir Trevor Brooking in its entirety here.
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