Joey Beauchamp’s move to West Ham saved Oxford United from going out of business in 1994 – the Oxford Mail can reveal.
The former U’s winger, who yesterday revealed that he has spent 20 months battling drink and depression, never wanted to join the Premier League outfit, but felt he had no option.
“I was walking around the pitch at the Manor Ground and Keith Cox told me that if I didn’t join West Ham then Oxford would fold,” he said.
“What was I supposed to do?
“I could never have lived with myself if I refused to join West Ham and then Oxford did go under.
“So I had to go.”
Beauchamp moved to West Ham for £1m on June 22, 1994, but lasted just two months before being sold to Swindon.
“I put the money I made from joining West Ham towards buying my house in Oxford that I am still in today,” he said.
“I was going to commute every day, and didn’t think it would be a problem.
“But after two or three weeks of training, I realised that it was.
“The club wanted me to move closer, I didn’t, so the only way out was to either rot in the reserves or go somewhere else.”
Beauchamp made a handful of appearances for the Hammers in pre-season – including one at Oxford City.
“I scored a stunning goal that day,” he said.
“The ball dropped over the head of City defender Jon Muttock and I volleyed it, first time, from about 40 yards.
“It flew over the keeper and into the net – then bizarrely the referee disallowed it for offside.”
Being an Oxford fan, moving to Swindon was a move Beauchamp never considered would be an option.
“I didn’t want to go there either,” he said.
“But I had to get out of West Ham and Swindon were the only team at that moment who were interested.
“I don’t blame West Ham for getting rid of me, but I still get abused by Oxford fans to this day about playing at Swindon.”