The Day I Met … Ernie Gregory

I am now 71 and my dad started taking me to watch the Hammers in about 1947/48. I lived in Forest Gate and from 48 onwards was a pupil at Plaistow Grammar School.

It was at about that time, during the summer holidays, that I looked out of my bedroom window and saw a group of 5 or 6 men in the garden next door. They were digging out a second world war air raid shelter, dug deep below the surface. When I took a closer look I suddenly began to recognise some of the men as regular first team players from WHU. I rushed down into the garden, jumped up on a box and had a close up view. The group included Dickie Walker, the then captain, Ernie Gregory, our long serving goalie and Ernie Devlin, who played as a full back. I can no longer remember who the others were, but they were all very friendly and enjoyed chatting with this very young supporter. This was an era when players wages were very low and almost non existent during the summer months, so they had to take on labouring work to keep the wolf from the door. How times have changed!

Whilst at Plaistow Grammar School, we often used to walk down to the chippie at the end of Prince Regent Lane and would bump into Terry Woodgate and Ken Tucker, both of whom were wingers playing in the first team at that time and who lived nearby. These men were all my heroes and any time they nodded a glance of recognition in our direction it was considered a red letter day.

I was a season ticket holder for many years. I saw the 66 World Cup trio grow through the youth team and reserves into the very fine players they ultimately became. Sadly I no longer visit regularly, but follow them with great passion via the internet and web sites such as your own. Keep up the good work.

Michael Morton


11 Responses to The Day I Met … Ernie Gregory

  1. lotf says:

    hooray for the silver surfers! great story, thanks for sharing. how times have changed indeed.

  2. Brisbane 'ammer says:

    Great letter

    and the players used to live in the same area as the fans………….these days they live on a different planet.

    Thankyou Michael, to be able to see Moore, Hurst and Peters from youth level, and to follow West Ham through a golden era of the 60’s must be a treasured memory.

  3. RunningHammer says:

    nice one mate, great story!

  4. stonecracker says:

    Nice little story. I was a school boy in Oxford in the same era, playing in goals for the school team. It was a photo in a Sunday paper of an airborn Ernie Gregory (complete with flat cap I seem to recall!) tipping a shot round the post, which started my now 50 year plus term as a Hammers fan.

  5. Danhammer says:

    from 48 onwards was a pupil at Plaistow Grammar School.
    I was a slow learner too mate 🙂

  6. John Cooper says:


    Great story. I was at Plaistow Grammar School from 1952/57. I started to go to see West Ham at the same time as you. I can remember chasing Terry Woodgate along Prince Regent Lane to get his autograph…..I used to collect them and had hundreds from all different clubs. The players at that time used to make approx 7 pounds a week during the season and 6 pounds during the off season…hard to imagine!!!

    Best wishes,

    John Cooper

  7. Bernie says:

    Thanks for that Michael. Great stuff! It makes you wish for more innocent times.

  8. daniel says:

    ww2 was long over by 47/48

  9. Frankie Farrant says:

    Where is Ernie gregory now?

  10. Leslie J Baldock says:

    Yes, where is Ernie, a great goalie , I first saw him when a boy. Perhaps he, like others have left us, Who remembers Steve Ford against Stan Mattews? How about Bunny Rabbit Parsons. A great player , uncapped was inside left from west country. I do apolgise for name, was it Gerry something. He left West Ham, but where is He now? A west Ham fan from 1947. Average age for team those days was over forty. Billy Robinson, Yeomanson Dicky Walker. I often remember being in the ground before they left Bolyen Pub. TWTD’s.

  11. claire leadley says:

    What a great story to read, I am Ernie Devlin’s grand daughter and nice to hear his name still out there all these years later. My grandad passed away in 1976 in his 50’s, but lovely to see he is still in some fans memories. Thank you.

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