Recognising Billy Bonds
Author: Emily Pulham. Published: 16 February 2019 at 9:50am
Written by : ciaran_judge
Last week West Ham announced that they are going to name The East Stand after former Captain and Manager Billy Bonds – a long overdue accolade for one the club’s most cherished sons. Bonds played 793 games for the club, playing his final game at the age of 41. He led the club to two FA Cup final victors in 1975 and 1980, the latter being the last domestic trophy the club has won.
Bonds is an understated hero and he doesn’t bask in the limelight. The love the supporters have for him transcends generations.
Bonds started his career at Charlton and moved to West Ham in 1967 for £50,000, starting a 27 year stay with the club until his untimely departure in 1994. Initially signed as a right back, Bonds was moved into midfield alongside Trevor Brooking. Bonds’ hardworking, uncompromising, style was the perfect counter balance to the silk and guile of Brooking. He was part of most of the best West Ham side of recent times, although he did miss the 1985-1986 season due to a toe injury. Bonds played alongside many of the greatest players ever to play for the club and it is testament to him as a man that they cite him as an all time great. Following his retirement as a player in 1988 he coached the Youth team. He was promoted to first team Manager following the dismissal of Lou Macari in 1990. The late eighties and early nineties were a very difficult time for the club. Many of the heroes of the 85/86 season had moved on and their replacements were not to same calibre. Within four seasons West Ham were relegated, had sacked John Lyall and had widespread discontent amongst the fans due to the infamous Bond scheme.
Billy galvanised the club, and within a season the club had reached the FA Cup semi Final and within two seasons they were back in the Top League. Despite being relegated in their first season back, Bonds led the club to promotion for the second time in the 1992-93 season. Without Bonds’ steadying hand on the club at that time, the club would not be where we are today.
Bonds left the club somewhat acrimoniously in 1994 after a fall out with both the board and Harry Redknapp and those wounds took some time to heal. On the rare occasion Bonds spoke to media he would never talk about the reasons behind his departure and his subsequent fall out with Redknapp, he maintained a dignified silence, not wanting to tarnish the club.
Billy Bonds recognised that West Ham fans demand complete commitment to the shirt. His passion for the club can still be witnessed on the rare times he appears on TV. He is an understated and, for too long, under-appreciated legend of the club. He joins former team mates Sir Trevor Brooking and Bobby Moore in having a stand in his honour. Moore and Brooking both have greater profile than Bonds; both represented England something, criminally, Bonds never had the opportunity to do. As a result, it feels like they transcend the club and, particularly in the case of Moore, are national heroes.
Bonds belongs to West Ham, our understated hero; a humble man, who is at last receiving the reward his service to the club deserves.