A-Z of West Ham United – X, Y, Z is for…

Kacper Wilkins
Kacper Wilkins
12 Min Read

We conclude our look at West Ham United’s history though letters with the final three of the alphabet…


Tommy YewsOne of a succession of players born in the North East of England before impressing in a West Ham United shirt, winger Tommy Yews was arguably one of the finest Hammers players never to wear an England shirt.

Raised in the village of Wingate in County Durham, Yews kicked-off his career with local side NER Durham before joining Hartlepool United in 1920 and helping the club win election to the Football League the following year.

The summer of 1923 saw Yews, still just 21, move to east London for a reported fee of just £150 – it proved to be money very well spent.

Over the next decade, the outside right would make 361 appearances, hardly missing a game, and score 51 goals, combining to devastating effect with outside left Jimmy Ruffell and centre-forward Vic Watson.

He remained with the Club following relegation in 1932, but departed at the end of the 1932/33 season, aged 31, before retiring after three appearances for fellow Second Division side Clapton Orient.

Yews later worked as an engineer at Briggs Motor Bodies and the Ford Motor Company before passing away in August 1966, aged 64.




Three players with the surname ‘Young’ have played first-team football for West Ham United – Robert, Jack and Len.

The first, Robert, was a Scot who was born in the village of Swinhill in Lanarkshire, 20 miles south west of Glasgow, played for local sides Swinhill Hearts and Larkhill Thistle and joined the Hammers from St Mirren in the summer of 1907.

Centre-half Young debuted in a 1-1 Southern League draw with Tottenham Hotspur at the Boleyn Ground in September 1907 and netted his only goal in 44 appearances for the Club in a 3-0 home win over Norwich City in April 1908.

He departed for Football League First Division Middlesbrough in December 1908 and went on to play for Everton and Wolverhampton Wanderers. He passed away in March 1955, aged 68.

The second Young to represent the Club was Jack, who signed from Southend United for a £600 fee near to the end of West Ham’s inaugural Football League season in the spring of 1920.

A versatile player able to play as a left-back or outside left, Young had been born in the village of Whitburn, Tyne and Wear, in 1895, and started out with local clubs Whitburn Villa and South Shields before moving to Essex.

On arrival at the Boleyn Ground, he quickly established himself, making 35 appearances during the 1920/21 season.

He was also a regular two years later as West Ham won promotion from the Second Division for the first time and reached their first FA Cup final, which also happened to be the first to be played at the newly completed Wembley Stadium.

Young wore the No3 shirt and played at left-back as the Irons were beaten 2-0 by Bolton Wanderers in front of an official attendance of 126,047 that was, in reality, at least twice as big.

After failing to score in any of his first 103 appearances for the Club, Young opened his account by scoring twice in a 3-2 First Division defeat by Huddersfield Town at the Boleyn Ground in February 1924, and he would add his third and final goal in Claret and Blue in a 1-1 home draw with Bury in October of the same year.

Jack Young departed to Queens Park Rangers in 1925, having scored three goals in 138 matches, before finishing his career at Accrington Stanley. He died in 1952.

Len had the shortest West Ham career of the three Youngs to represent the Club, joining from Ilford and playing 12 times in the Second Division between April 1934 and October 1937.

The West Ham-born half-back debuted at Bradford City and was part of the teams which secured notable home Second Division wins over Leicester City in September 1936 and Newcastle United in his final appearance.

Len Young joined Reading in November 1937 and continued playing for the Royals after the Second World War before ending his playing career with Brighton & Hove Albion. He later coached in both England and Australia.



Reece OxfordThe youngster player to appear for West Ham United is Reece Oxford, who was just 16 years and 198 days old when he started the UEFA Europa League first qualifying round first leg win over Andorran side Lusitanos at the Boleyn Ground on 2 July 2015.

Born in Edmonton in north London, in December 1998, Oxford joined the Academy of Football as a schoolboy and had already won the Dylan Tombides Award and captained England at U17 level before making his eagerly anticipated West Ham debut in a 3-0 win.

The teenager broke a record that had stood for nearly 93 years previously held by Billy Williams, who was 16 years and 221 days old when he scored on his debut in a 3-1 Second Division defeat at Blackpool on 6 May 1922.

A ball-playing centre-back or defensive midfielder, Oxford then became the Hammers’ youngest Premier League player when he started the 2-0 win at Arsenal on 9 August 2015, wearing the No35 shirt.

Oxford went on to make 17 first-team appearances for the Club, while also being loaned to Reading and German clubs Borussia Mönchengladbach and Augsburg.

He joined the latter on a permanent basis in August 2019 and, now 22, has made 35 appearances for the Bundesliga outfit.

In this case, Oxford broke a record set by goalkeeper Neil Finn, who was three days past his 17th birthday when he made his one and only first-team appearance in a 2-1 Premier League defeat at Manchester City on New Year’s Day 1996.



Bobby Zamora scores against Preston in the play-off final

Boyhood West Ham United fan Bobby Zamora grew up to become the striker whose goal fired the Irons back to the Premier League in 2005.

Born in Barking in January 1981, Zamora spent time with the famous junior club Senrab, playing alongside the likes of John Terry, Ledley King, fellow future Hammer Paul Konchesky and Jlloyd Samuel.

After a spell with the Academy of Football, the striker joined Bristol Rovers as a trainee at the age of 18 in 1999 before making his senior breakthrough with Brighton & Hove Albion, for whom he scored 83 goals in just 136 appearances and won back-to-back promotions to the old First Division.

That form earned Zamora a move to Premier League in the summer of 2003 but, after scoring just one goal in 18 appearances, he joined West Ham in a deal that saw Jermain Defoe move in the opposite direction in January 2004.

The 2004/05 season saw the Londoner establish himself in Claret and Blue, although he saved his best goalscoring for the Play-Offs, scoring in both legs of the semi-final win over Ipswich Town before netting a priceless winner against Preston North End at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

Zamora hit double figures in each of the next two seasons, helping the Hammers reach the 2006 FA Cup final and stave off relegation in the spring of 2007, when he netted vital winners against Arsenal and Everton.

The forward departed West Ham at the end of the 2007/08 season to join Fulham, who he inspired to UEFA Cup final in 2010.

After scoring yet another Championship Play-Off final winner for Queens Park Rangers in 2014, he returned to Brighton, retiring at the end of the 2015/16 season, and now splits his time between private coaching, media work and building social housing and fishing with his old West Ham teammate and friend Mark Noble!



Simone Zaza

Italian centre-forward Simone Zaza famously scored more goals at London Stadium for Juventus than West Ham United during the 2016/17 season, despite spending the first half of it on loan with the Irons from the Serie A champions!

Born in the town of Policoro on the sole of Italy’s boot, The shaven-headed striker was something of a late bloomer, playing lower-league football in his homeland with Juve Stabia, Viareggio and Ascoli, scoring 18 Serie B goals for the latter in 2012/13 to earn a move to Serie A club Sassuolo.

There, he netted 20 top-flight goals across two seasons, earned his Italy debut against the Netherlands in 2014 and caught the eye of Juventus.

Zaza netted eight goals in all competitions for the ‘Old Lady’, but was deemed surplus to requirements after missing a vital penalty for his country in a UEFA Euro 2016 shootout defeat by Germany in the quarter-finals.

However, before completing his loan to West Ham, he scored a late winner as Juventus scored a thrilling 3-2 victory in the official opening Betway Cup match at London Stadium in August 2016.

Zaza failed to score in 12 appearances in Claret and Blue, despite working hard for the team every time he turned out, and he was allowed to return to Juventus in January 2017.

Since then, he has rebuilt his reputation, scoring regularly for Spanish club Valencia before spending the last three seasons back in Serie A with Torino. 

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