Billy is still a West Ham hero as club pay fitting tribute to the great man
PUBLISHED: 15:30 05 March 2019
PA Wire/PA Images
Tearful Bonds opens stand in his name and West Ham do their bit by beating Newcastle United
‘Just a perfect day’, Lou Reed once samg. Perhaps he was having a premonition about Saturday evening at the London Stadium because it could not have gone any better.
So many former players were introduced to the crowd; David Cross, Ludek Miklosko, Sir Trevor Brooking and Pop Robson to name just four.
And then came Billy Bonds and his family. He stepped out nervously, tentatively, and as he waved to the crowd, there were tears in his eyes.
Across the pitch he made his way. Not his beloved Upton Park, but he still owned that turf.
He thumped his heart to tell everyone what it meant to him and then he cut the ribbon to officially name the East Stand in his honour.
It was a splendid, emotional tribute to the great man and thoroughly deserved to put him in the same bracket as Brooking and Bobby Moore in having a stand named after them.
In the past, West Ham have been condemned for ignoring their old players and their history. Not any more, they embrace them at every match and this was the icing on the cake.
Cross summed it up best on Twitter, posting: “You won’t find Bill on Twitter. You won’t find him on Facebook. You won’t get his number.
“He’s a very private man. That’s why the reception he got on Saturday meant so much to him. Proud to have been part of his day.”
All it needed was for West Ham to play in the style of the great man and take the points – they did and comfortably won the game.
“I’m very happy because I think we played a good game,” said manager Manuel Pellegrini.
“We were a solid team from the first minute until the end. We scored two goals and we won the points at home, and we kept the clean sheet.
“Billy Bonds was such an important player for this club. First of all, I think it was a very good idea to put his name on the East Stand. After that, with the team winning, you support all the celebrations of a player that deserved the support he received today.
“It was a complete day.”
It was and one man stood out, following in the footsteps of Bonds.
It would be madness to compare Declan Rice to the great man, but if he carries on like he is, then he can have a magnificent carrer with the Hammers.
He nodded in his second West Ham goal on Saturday from another expert corner from Robert Snodgrass.
And it was also fitting that Mark Noble, the current longest serving player, made it 2-0 from the spot after Javier Hernandez had been upended in the penalty area.
The second half was a quieter affair with Newcastle having more of the play, but they rarely looked like scoring and it was the Hammers who went closest to adding to their tally.
Lukasz Fabianski did make a save from Salomon Rondon’s free kick, pushing it on to the post, but the game was already decided by that point.
It was a display that Bonds, watching from the opposite stand, would have been proud of; a comfortable win built on an ethic of hard work and solid defence.
This was a tribute to Bonds both on and off the field. The amount of former players who turned up for him shows just how much he is held in high esteem by his team-mates.
It really was a perfect day.