Historic links worthy of cup final

By Patrick LowmanWHEN AFC Sudbury run out at Upton Park for the FA Vase final today, they will be able to boast some historic links with the Premiership club.

By Patrick Lowman

WHEN AFC Sudbury run out at Upton Park for the FA Vase final today, they will be able to boast some historic links with the Premiership club.

For not only did the father of legendary ex-England and West Ham striker Sir Geoff Hurst father play for the former Sudbury Town team, but ex-Hammers and England manager Ron Greenwood is now a resident in the town.

Sir Geoff achieved soccer immortality when his 1966 Wembley hat-trick against West Germany sealed England's one and only World Cup victory.

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But one of his earliest introductions to the sport came when he was supporting the former Sudbury Town team.

In the 1950s his father Charlie starred for the Suffolk side and decided to take his young son to watch him play.

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At the time the future West Ham star was aged just four and was taken to watch his father' s Sudbury side take on Crittall Athletic from Braintree in a Border League fixture.

It was one of Sir Geoff's first encounters with football, but one he is keen to forget – at the end of the game he wandered into the dressing room, fell into the team bath and had to be rescued by a Sudbury trainer.

Another connection between Sudbury and West Ham comes with Ron Greenwood, who moved to the area in recent years to be closer to his daughter.

Mr Greenwood, who spent 13 years managing West Ham before taking charge of England's 1982 World Cup campaign, lives with his wife in a quiet street just off Sudbury town centre.

He managed West Ham United for 13 seasons between 1961 and 1974 and his most famous team consisted of legends Bobby Moore, Martin Peters and Sir Geoff, all of whom starred in the 1966 World Cup winning team.

Mr Greenwood was appointed England manager in 1977 and led the national team to the 1980 European Championships and the 1982 World Cup in Spain.

England bowed out after the second round despite not losing a game as the first two stages of the competition were a league format.

Another link between West Ham and Sudbury is soccer star Stuart Slater, who was born and bred in the Suffolk town.

He started playing for the town's Woodhall United teams and later join renowned local youth side Langham Lions, playing in the same side as former Ipswich Town, Tottenham Hotspur and Colchester United star Jason Dozell.

Mr Slater went on the join West Ham, where he once described by Howard Kendall, after a dazzling performance against Everton, as a future England star. After leaving West Ham, he enjoyed spells at Celtic, Ipswich Town and Watford before retiring from professional football. He now lives in Australia.

AFC Sudbury's vice-chairman Peter Scott said: “We didn't know there were so many links between West Ham and Sudbury. It all helps to paint a picture and the omens are looking good.

“Hopefully it will help us bring back the trophy to what is now Mr Greenwood's home town.”


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