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West Ham pay tribute to one of their greats

PUBLISHED: 10:30 16 February 2018

Banner for Vic Keeble, who died earlier this week prior to kick-off during the Premier League match at London Stadium.

Banner for Vic Keeble, who died earlier this week prior to kick-off during the Premier League match at London Stadium.

PA Wire/PA Images

Vic Keeble’s goalscoring record was magnificent for the Hammers before injury ended his career

Vic Keeble, West Ham UnitedVic Keeble, West Ham United

West Ham paid tribute to one of their greats at the last home game, with a minutes applause for striker Vic Keeble, who died at the age of 87.

But few in the stadium would have been aware of just how important the Colchester-born player was in turning the Hammers into the club they are today.

Had he not had a back injury that ended his career at the age of 29, he could well have been centre forward for West Ham when they won the FA Cup in 1964.

Keeble had already won the FA Cup for Newcastle United in 1955, scoring in the 3-1 win over Manchester City.

John dick of West Ham United formed a deadly duo with Vic Keeble which enabled the Hammers to return to the top flight.John dick of West Ham United formed a deadly duo with Vic Keeble which enabled the Hammers to return to the top flight.

Ted Fenton had originally signed him for Colchester for a tenner before he joined the Geordie boys, and in 1957 after a stuttering start to the campaign, Fenton signed him again – this time for £10,000.

And what a difference Keeble made. In partnership with John Dick, they scored the goals that hauled them to the title and promotion back to the top flight.

He scored two hat-tricks that season, in a 5-1 win over Stoke City and a 5-1 FA Cup win over First Division Blackpool and by the end of the season he had racked up 24 goals in just 29 games, to Dick’s 26 in 48 matches.

In the top flight, he grabbed four in a 6-3 victory over Blackburn Rovers on his way to 21 goals for the campaign as west Ham finished sixth, despite Keeble missing the last two months of the season through injury.

Victor Keeble, the West Ham centre forward, shoots for goal as Peter Sampson, the Rovers' left half, rushes in to intercept.Victor Keeble, the West Ham centre forward, shoots for goal as Peter Sampson, the Rovers' left half, rushes in to intercept.

Injury was to be the defining word for Keeble as his time at West Ham came to an end in 1960 because of a back injury.

He scored a remarkable 49 goals in 80 games for the Hammers and West Ham fan and veteran journalist Colin Benson remembers one of them in particular.

“It was a game at home to Preston North End at Upton Park in August. I was standing on the Chicken Run and I remember the ball coming across from the right,” said Colin.

“Their keeper Fred Else, who was not the biggest of blokes went up to collect it and Vic just bundled him and the ball into the net and the referee gave it.

West Ham boss Ted Fenton signed Vic Keebe for £10,000 from Newcastle United having signed him for the first time when he was manager of Colchester for a tenner.West Ham boss Ted Fenton signed Vic Keebe for £10,000 from Newcastle United having signed him for the first time when he was manager of Colchester for a tenner.

“It was the last time I ever saw someone score by bundling the keeper and the ball into the net.”

After retirement, Vic worked as a reporter and then as general manager of Chelmsford City.

He died in January at the age of 87 and despite only playing for two and a bit seasons, he will remain one of the most influential players in West Ham history.

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