Captured On Canvas
Wolves’ Fleeting Misery Portrayed In Oils
Adama Traore’s late goal at West Ham last season is one Wolves fans have only happy memories of – and not just because it is the only one their club have scored in their last three trips to take on tomorrow’s opponents.
The Spaniard’s venomous strike secured the first Premier League win of Nuno Espirito Santo’s reign and also provided an appetising glimpse of the potential of a player supporters can’t wait to see in action again as we emerge from lockdown.
For Hammers supporters, though, another goal from past meetings between these two clubs has proved a talking point over the decades.
And that’s mainly because a painting from a 1958 clash at Upton Park was exhibited for many years and has since been donated for display at the Olympic Stadium.
Patrick Knight was so thrilled by the moment John Dick escaped the attentions of Billy Wright and co to score West Ham’s first goal in Division One for more than a quarter of a century that he decided to commemorate it in oil.
The Hammers were newly promoted and playing their first home game of the season after an opening-day win at Portsmouth, so the sight of the reigning League champions on the ropes was memorable indeed for a fever-pitch crowd approaching 38,000.
The painting was completed over three months at Barclay Hall, a local meeting place for budding artists close to Upton Park. It subsequently went on show for several years in the players’ lounge for the likes of Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters to look at.
But it was removed during a mid-1960s refurbishment and was carelessly thrown into a bin, where an eagle-eyed catering manager thankfully spotted it and salvaged it.
He handed it to a young supporter, who cherished it for decades before deciding to donate it to the club to hang somewhere in their new home.
Knight was watching 62 years ago from the West Stand – the one shown in the painting – and, of his four decades of support, said in a newspaper interview some time later: “I have seen nearly all Hammers’ big matches in that time and was certain the club would never get out of the Second Division. When they did and then defeated Wolves so brilliantly, I was inspired to paint the picture.
“I was sitting in the stand and had a clear idea of how the goal came about and painted it from my memory of the movement.”
No doubt he also loved the goal description that appeared in the match programme soon afterwards: “On the stroke of half-time, Johnny Dick right-footed the ball past goalkeeper Finlayson after Malcolm Musgrove had hared down the wing and put it through for Vic Keeble to find his colleague in the open.”
West Ham spirits went through the roof as they followed up this 2-0 victory – secured by a goal from John Smith – with another win on their way to going top of the table.
But it was Wolves who again occupied that position at the end of the season, although they first had the pain of returning to London four days after losing at Upton Park and crashing to a 6-2 defeat at Chelsea.
The return with the Hammers was played at Molineux in the following midweek and resulted in a 1-1 draw containing a Peter Broadbent goal. West Ham finished in sixth place.
Knight, from Canning Town in the East End, had briefly worked in a hospital early in his career but showed he was adept at handling brushes of all shapes and sizes by spending much of his professional life as a painter and decorator.
He died in 2014 aged 95 but claret and blue blood runs through his family, with subsequent generations having season tickets at the club.
They were proud that the painting made a brief appearance on TV just before the 1964 FA Cup final between West Ham and Preston.
The players’ wives and girlfriends were featured and the filming was done in the players’ lounge, with the keepsake in the background.
The teams at the 1958 meeting with Wolves were:
West Ham: Ernie GREGORY, John BOND, Noel CANTWELL, Andy MALCOLM, Ken BROWN, Bill LANSDOWNE, Mike GRICE, John SMITH, Vic KEEBLE, John DICK, Malcolm MUSGROVE.
Wolves: Malcolm FINLAYSON, Eddie STUART, Gerry HARRIS, Bill Slater, Billy WRIGHT, Ron FLOWERS, Norman DEELEY, Peter BROADBENT, Jackie HENDERSON, Bobby MASON, Des HORNE.