On 22 March 1991, with Luton still in the First Division and Dowie still a first team regular with seven goals from 29 games that season, Iain Dowie agreed to join West Ham for a fee of £480,000. He proved himself to be a competent deputy for the injured Trevor Morley as his four goals in the final 12 league games of the season secured the team’s promotion as Second Division runners-up.
However, while he may have played his part in securing promotion, his dream move soon turned sour, he found himself on the sidelines until his £500,000 move to Southampton on 3 September 1991 after less than six months at Upton Park..
“I loved Billy Bonds and he had some good people under him: Harry and Frank Lampard, stalwarts of the game,” he says. “You walk in there and you’ve got amazing young players in and around you. You want to be there.
“I did okay, and then in the summer: armageddon. I think we had a friendly at Southend, I’d hurt my ankle and Billy Bonds just said, ‘I’ve sold you.’
“We’d got promoted. I was absolutely devastated. I understand it now, in them days they had money issues. They went down the following year actually. “He just said, ‘You’ll never play again.’ I don’t blame him for it. You just had to go. West Ham went down the following year and he came up to me at Southampton and said, ‘Listen, we had to do it because there was no money.’
“Looking back I’ve got the ultimate respect because he told me exactly why he had to do it. He couldn’t tell me at the time.”
During his time back at West Ham, he came under fire from the supporters for going long periods without scoring at a time when the team were struggling for goals and had a crisis in attack. In fact, Dowie is probably best remembered by West Ham fans for scoring a bizarre headed own goal in an infamous defeat to Stockport in the League Cup..