From a chilling acid threat to Harry Redknapp's Morris Minor, West Ham idol Clyde Best shares his football tales

Former striker chats to Newstalk's Team 33 talks about a fascinating era at the club and his life and career

BY Raf Diallo 14:11 Wednesday 11 January 2017, 14:11 11 Jan 2017

(Right to left) West Ham United's Geoff Hurst, Harry Redknapp, Clyde Best, Trevor Brooking, Bryan (Pop) Robson line up on the terraces at Upton Park. Picture by Peter Robinson EMPICS Sport

When England won the World Cup in 1966, three of the key players in the final were West Ham youth graduates who formed part of the London club's first team during the 1960s and early '70s.

Geoff Hurst would famously score a hat trick against West Germany at Wembley, while Bobby Moore would lift the trophy and Martin Peters would also find the net in the 4-2 win.

And let's not forget, the likes of Trevor Brooking, Harry Redknapp, Frank Lampard Senior (three more players to come through the system at West Ham) and Billy Bonds all lined out for the Hammers during that era.

It was that environment that Clyde Best arrived at after coming to England from his native Bermuda in 1968.

Over the next eight years, the striker would become mutually appreciated by his team-mates and the West Ham fans alike.

He has now told his story in autobiography The Acid Test: A Life In Football and he shared those stories on Newstalk's Team 33 when he joined us on the line from Bermuda this week.

You can listen to the full interview on the podcast player or stream for free on iTunes:

During his time at West Ham, the now 65 year old MBE recipient, would score 58 goals in over 200 appearances in the old First Division, FA Cup and League Cup.

But all the while as one of English Football's first prominent black players, he had to contend with regular and sustained racist abuse from the terraces, which he did so with dignity, citing his own father's advice to him as well as the way in which his captain Moore dealt with the abuse directed at him by fans of West Ham's opponents.

Acid Test

However, as he discusses on the podcast, there was one incident from 1970 that took abuse up to the level of chilling threats.

"One Friday morning after receiving my fan mail [in the dressing room], I opened up a letter and came upon something where somebody said they were going to throw acid in my face. And obviously it wasn't a nice thing to happen," he said.

"But the manager [Ron Greenwood] and players like Moore, Hurst and the police played a big part in protecting and preventing something like that from happening because it wasn't a nice thing. Nobody would want that to have that happen to them today or at any time.

Clyde Best in 1972. Picture by Peter Robinson EMPICS Sport

"Whoever the person was [who sent the threat], I think if he's matured enough now and thinks about something like that, he would see what was bad about it."

Greenwood passed the letter on to the police and directors and Best speaks extremely fondly of the future England boss and his team-mates.

Harry's Morris Minor

One former team-mate with whom he has shared a 50 year friendship is former West Ham and Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp, who wrote the foreword to his book.

On the show, he chuckled at the memory of a story about Redknapp and his first car.

"[Harry] and his brother in law had a Morris Minor and myself and my room-mate Clive Charles, we had just started to learn to drive and we bought this car from Harry's brother in law and the moral of the story was that he got the car and the car cost us about £50-something. It was more money to insure the car than it was for the actual car! So Harry had done us up again," he joked.

In the full chat, Best talks about playing in a youth team called Ireland Rangers in Bermuda, his very cordial relationship with the other Best of the era (George of Man United fame) and what Bobby Moore was like to play with. We also talked about his strike partnership with Geoff Hurst, his adventure to get across London as soon as he landed there in 1968 in search of West Ham, his thoughts on the modern game and a downright scary World Cup qualifier against Guatemala in El Salvador.


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