Jarrod Bowen’s debut England call-up has got the East End of London buzzing.
West Ham’s manor is a place awash with colourful football history. Famous tear-ups with Millwall, relegations and dodgy transfer deals, mingled with the odd cup every few decades.
Bowen’s promotion to the squad to face Hungary, Germany and Italy is long overdue and marks a significant turning point in the club’s recent past.
The tenacious forward joins team-mate Declan Rice as part of England boss Gareth Southgate’s build-up to the World Cup in November. It is the first time since 2010 that West Ham could have two permanent players in the same England team. The last was keeper Rob Green and striker Carlton Cole versus Egypt - for four minutes.
Rice and Bowen are the two dominant figures playing out of the London Stadium this season. Bowen finished the season as top scorer, Rice is now the deserved captain following Mark Noble’s retirement.
Cockney Land has not been in the grip of two men in such a way since 1960s villains Ronnie and Reggie Kray spread fear while still loving their dear ol’ mum.
The old days are a big part of life for Hammers fans and understandably so, for despite their current renaissance, they have not won anything significant since the 1980 FA Cup. But there is a sense that something is brewing in a part of the country that is football-obsessed yet ironically unsuccessful.
Boss David Moyes has grand plans to change all that and remould West Ham into a fighting force that is awkward to play against whilst entertaining. His team scored at least one goal in every Premier League home match this season. Bowen scored a dozen.
Moyes is now plotting his summer transfer business, which includes a fresh move for Jesse Lingard, who came out of suspended animation with a six-month loan in Stratford last year that climaxed with a return to the England squad.
Lingard is now a free agent after leaving Manchester United and there is huge clamour for him to become the final part of a West Ham triumvirate that could rewrite a cherished story.
If Moyes can get Lingard back into favour with Southgate again, that would see three West Ham players in the England squad just months before the World Cup. It was exactly the same case in 1966 when Geoff Hurst, Martin Peters and Bobby Moore formed the spine of the team which ultimately lifted England’s only major international trophy to date.
West Ham fans will gladly inform you it was their team that actually won the Jules Rimet trophy and they will ferociously hang onto that misguided belief.
They will also point out that when it was left to Tottenham to do the job in Russia four years ago, it went to pot and they had FIVE players in the squad: Harry Kane, Eric Dier, Danny Rose, Kieran Trippier and Dele Alli.
But West Ham and England do have a shared past. One which has faded lately. Bowen’s maiden international call-up is reminiscent of the way Geoff Hurst was given the nod by then-England manager Alf Ramsey. Hurst made his England bow in February 1966. Five months later he scored a hat-trick in the final and a statue was erected near West Ham’s old ground in his honour.
Peters got the nod even closer to the finals - just seven weeks before England opened the tournament on July 11 at Wembley against Uruguay. Midfielder Peters ended up scoring England’s other goal in the final.
Moore was England skipper on the most famous day in our international football history and all three have been cast in stone as recognition for their achievement.
Rice, Bowen and Lingard are a way off that yet but it doesn’t take much for West Ham supporters to start getting excited.
The fact the whole area was whipped into a frenzy by the club’s progress to the Europa League semi-finals this year underlines the supporters have not had much to shout about until recently.
Even if it just shuts them up for one minute from banging on about the Kray twins it’ll be worth it.