Meeting one of the key 1960’s Hammers’ B’s – West Ham United’s Jack Burkett attends Stacey’s football auction

Posted: 1st August 2013

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Anyone following football and anything to do with West Ham United in the 1960’s knew about the B’s.

It seemed that managers Benny Fenton and then Ron Greenwood were only signing players whose surname began with the second letter of the alphabet.

Fans at the Boleyn cheered on Brown, Bond, Bradbrook, Boyce, Bovington, Burnett and then Bonds and Brooking.

They also cheered on one more ‘B’, Jack Burkett, a talented left back who formed a solid understanding with Bobby Moore on the left side of the Hammers’ defence through the early and mid 1960’s.

Jack played 142 games for West Ham United before injury lead to him moving on.

In the last few years, Jack has been ill with skin cancer and the diagnosis of this illness lead him to review his life and get involved with Terry Roper to put together his life story.

The book, ‘West Ham in the Sixties’ (see above)  is about Jack’s  life in football but especially the 10 years he spent at West Ham from 1958 to 1968

Jack was at the Stacey’s football auction in Rayleigh, Essex a few days ago where many of his medals and other football ephemera were up for sale along with his new book which he was also happy to autograph.

I spent a few minutes with Jack getting a copy signed for my Hammers supporting friend Phil Stevens who has written a number of books about West Ham United including a soon to be published biography of John Lyall.

Looking through the book, what really came across was the special atmosphere that pervaded the club at the time Jack was a player there. Indeed, one of the chapters looks at the issue of how the Hammers did not really kick on from the successes of the early and mid years of the 1960’s.

The book is full of marvellous photographs and I almost wanted to go back and be part of what looked like an exciting and vibrant place where new ideas on how to coach and play football were being developed by the likes of Malcolm Allison, Noel Cantwell, John Lyall with young talented players one of which, Tony Carr is still at the club and responsible for developing a stream of talented players of recent times.

I actually found myself welling up with emotion when looking at one photograph of the players walking out for the 1964 F.A. Cup final between West Ham United and Preston North End. It was something about the details (the thickness of the socks, for example) that got to me because it transported me back to the feelings and excitement of when I was a kid who had just discovered football in the days when it seemed like the world stood still for Cup Final day.

As ever, the staff of Stacey’s were welcoming and pleasant and the auction, put on by Dave Alexander (footballwanted.com) had some interesting lots.

The catalogue had a nice image of the programme for the 1927 F. A. Cup Final between Arsenal and Cardiff City;

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As well as winning some Tottenham Hotspur programmes which were to replace a huge order I’d received from an overseas customer just days before, I also managed to win what could be described as an almost mint set of Hammers programmes from 1967/68 through to 1971/72 to add to a master collection I am putting together.

This job lot also contained some editions of ‘Bubbling Under’, the programme issued for the Hammers’ Youth team. These were more recent, for the late 1990’s and the team line-up’s included a few stars of the future, like Michael Carrick.

I met up again with Dave Brabbington who told me some interesting stories about some of the lesser known players whose photographs were in Jack’s book.

I also met up again with my friend Phil Stevens’ Hammers’ contacts, John, Stuart and Steve whose website ( see below) is an interesting record of all West Ham memorabilia and a must for all Hammers’ fans.

As I left Stacey’s for the long drive back to Oldham, the last person I saw in the car park was, appropriately, Jack Burkett who was in his car waiting to leave also. He gave me a friendly wave.

It was clear from the attention Jack received from the collectors and dealers attending the auction that he is remembered in a very special way and and I wish him the very best with his health.

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Here is a link to the magazine / website for Hammers fans who love nostalgia which features details of Terry Roper’s book on Jack mentioned above; http://www.ex-hammers.com/page.php?81

Here is Steve Marsh’s website with scans of a huge amount of West Ham memorabilia covering the club’s history; http://theyflysohigh.co.uk/

A link directly to the West Ham United football programmes available in the Goals and Wickets eBay shop; http://stores.ebay.co.uk/GoalsandWickets/West-Ham-/_i.html?_fsub=4749235015&_sid=680272245&_trksid=p4634.c0.m322

Category: Football Programmes

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