Filed: Wednesday, 4th January 2012
By: Staff Writer
Back in 2004, readers of KUMB.com voted for their greatest West Ham moments. With seven years having passed since - during which time we've witnessed a number of new memorable occasions, matches and goals - we decided to revisit the list in order to include some of the more recent events.
Back in 2004, readers of KUMB.com voted for their greatest West Ham moments. With seven years having passed since - during which we've witnessed a number of new memorable occasions, matches and goals - we decided to revisit the list in order to include some of the more recent events.
With just one more part to go now, we'll be bringing you the final 10 of our top 100 later this week. For now, here's the penultimate part of our countdown - entries 20 to 11...
According to a quote from the BBC's website, when Ron Atkinson featured Cyrille Regis, Brendan Batson and Laurie Cunningham in the same West Bromwich Albion team during the 1977/78 season they were "the first club to field three black players" and thusly credited with "changing the colour of the beautiful game". But they couldn't have been more wrong.
More than five years earlier - on April Fools' Day 1972 - Ron Greenwood's West Ham United beat local rivals Tottenham 2-0 at the Boleyn Ground with a team that included Clyde Best, Clive Charles and (scorer of the second, decisive goal) Ade Coker. Although all three had made their debuts previously - Best had been at the club since 1969 whilst Coker debuted against Crystal Palace and Charles against Coventry earlier in the 1971/72 campaign - never before had three black players featured for the same starting XI in the nation's top tier, Division One.
Best, a big, burly centre-forward from Bermuda was the only one of the three to enjoy extended success at the club; he went on to make more than 200 appearances and score 58 goals for West Ham before joining Tampa Bay Rowdies and the first North American soccer revolution in 1975. Charles, who hailed from Barking went on to make just 15 appearances for United whilst the Nigerian-born Coker - who came to England at the age of 11 and was discovered playing for his local school by legendary talent-spotter Wally St.Pier - made only 11 appearances. Both eventually joined Best in the USA.
With just six games of the 1985/86 season remaining, John Lyall's West Ham were sitting third in the Canon League Division One (on 72 points) behind just Everton and Liverpool (79 points). Despite being seven points adrift of the front two - and in the days of two points for a win - the Hammers went into the Newcastle match in great form having won six of their last eight league games, a string of results that had made them serious contenders for the league title. The Geordies were having a fairly decent campaign themselves, being firmly entrenched in mid-table in 10th place (in a 22-team top flight) - so there were few signs of the annihilation that was to follow as West Ham equalled their record number of goals scored in the top flight with a complete destruction of their northern rivals. However what was even more notable was the fact that centre half Alvin Martin scored not only a hat-trick, but a hat-trick against three different goalkeepers.
Martin opened the scoring after just three minutes when he converted Alan Devonshire's free kick from close range. Further goals were added ahead of the break by Ray Stewart, Neil Orr and Newcastle's Glenn Roeder, who was left red faced when scoring a peach of an own goal. Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Thomas, who had carried an injury into the game, was replaced at half time by midfielder Chris Hedworth as reserve 'keeper David McKellar was also injured. There was little Hedworth could do to stop Martin's crashing header hitting the back of the net on 64 minutes; minutes later he returned to play on field with Peter Beardsley now having a go between the sticks. The England striker fared little better than either of his predecessors and after Paul Goddard and Frank McAvennie had added goals six (81 mins) and seven (83 mins), Beardsley was left to face Martin from the penalty spot (84 mins). Martin stepped up confidently before sending his international team mate the wrong way to complete yet another unique West Ham United achievement.
"An incredible sound of the massed ranks of Irons super-charged and up for it in a way which has not been experienced for a very long time," is how KUMB.com match reporter East Stand Martin described the Boleyn Ground as West Ham prepared to face Ipswich in the 2003/04 Nationwide Division One play-off semi final, second leg. Trailing 1-0 from Darren Bent's effort in the first leg at Portman Road, Alan Pardew's side were right up against it. Never one to miss a trick, Pards had decreed that the two teams should be led out by a huntsman, in full regalia, playing a rendition of 'The Last Post' (an old tradition of West Ham United) - but only after Scottish operatic tenor John Innes had belted out 'Nessun Dorma' to help whip the east End faithful into a pre-match frenzy.
To Pardew's great credit his plans worked a treat, for by the time referee Neale Barry blew for kick-off the Boleyn Ground was rocking like it hadn't done for many a year. However had Darren Bent shown a little more composure with only five minutes played - when he screwed a shot wide having gone through one-on-one with Steve Bywater - the party could have been over before it had begun. As it was, the home fans had to wait until the second minute of the second half before the roof was raised as Matthew Etherington picked up a short corner before blasting an unstoppable drive beyond Kelvin Davis. Christian Dailly's crucial second - scored with the aid of his other short and curlies (which left him writhing on the floor in agony) with just 19 minutes of time remaining - booked a place in Cardiff for West Ham where they would face underdogs Crystal Palace. It was, as KUMB.com's Gordon Thrower wrote the following morning "one of the finest nights the Boleyn has ever seen" - and, as far as we're aware, the last time 'Knees up Mother Brown' was belted out over the public address system at the Boleyn!
On 19th October 1968, West Ham United's smallest crowd of the season - just 24,718 - gathered inside the Boleyn Ground to witness what became a record-breaking First Division match for a number of reasons. Firstly, West Ham's 8-0 win equalled the club's record win which had been set ten years earlier against Rotherham (albeit in Division Two). Secondly goalscorer Geoff Hurst achieved a feat that hasn't been matched in the ensuing 43 years by scoring six of them - and thirdly, he also achieved the rare feat of scoring a hat-trick in each half (which is also unlikely to have been repeated).
Hurst - who has since said he was aiming for double figures in the game - admitted post-match that the first of his record haul (on 18 minutes) was deliberate handball - he clearly pushed the ball into the Sunderland net (which is said to have caused a post-match problem or two between the two clubs). However there was nothing dubious about any of the remaining five, which arrived in the 34th, 44th, 48th, 61st and 71st minute. For the record West Ham's other goalscorers on the day were Bobby Moore and Trevor Brooking; the latter was part of the team that usurped the record 15 years later when West Ham destroyed Bury 10-0 in the Milk Cup - although this victory over Sunderland remains the club's biggest in the top flight.
West Ham's 4-3 defeat at home to Tottenham on 4th March 2007 had left Alan Curbishley and his side facing the very real prospect of relegation. With just nine games of the season remaining United were sitting bottom of the Barclays Premiership and ten points from safety, with just 20 points from 29 games. Eggert Magnusson's decision to fire Alan Pardew and replace him with Curbs after a record run of consecutive defeats appeared to have backfired; that was until a massive slice of luck - and a referee's assistant called Jim Devine - provided the inspiration to change the course of United's season.
With West Ham trailing 1-0 at Blackburn in game 30, Divine flagged for a controversial penalty after Carlos Tevez had been felled in the box. If Blackburn were cross at that decision they were apoplectic when Divine decreed that Bobby Zamora's effort had crossed the goal line (it had been prevented from doing so by Tevez). Wins in games 31 and 32 - against Middlesbrough and in spectacular style at Arsenal (thanks to Rob Green) - gave the Hammers renewed hope but a crushing 3-0 defeat at Sheffield United in match 33 followed by a 4-1 loss at home to Chelsea left West Ham still five points behind Sheffield United in 17th and with just four games to play.
But West Ham were to survive by virtue of winning all of their final four fixtures of the season. Bobby Zamora's pearler gave the Irons a 1-0 win over Everton before Luis Boa Morte inspired a 3-0 win at fellow strugglers Wigan. The final home game of the season saw Bolton sent packing on the wrong end of a 3-1 hammering before Carlos Tevez's only goal of the game gave West Ham a 1-0 win at league champions Manchester United - despite calls of "send them down" from the home fans. That - combined with Sheffield's defeat at home to Wigan saw West Ham stay up (in the end a draw would have been enough) and the Blades relegated. Carlos Tevez's involvement was to eventually cost West Ham in excess of £40million due to a scandalous decision by Lord Griffiths but that will never detract from what was, quite possibly, THE greatest escape of them all.
Prior to the meeting between Division 2 West Ham United and Division 1 Bolton at the Empire Stadium (aka Wembley Stadium) in 1923 the FA had staged the Cup Final at a series of venues, mostly in the capital - although Manchester's Fallowfield Stadium and Derby's Racecourse Ground were just two of a number of grounds that had also been used. Chelsea's Stamford Bridge had hosted the last finals before Wembley took over in 1923, being the venue for the matches between 1920 and 1922. Sir Robert McAlpine had initially been charged with building a stadium for the 1924 British Empire Exhibition; like the new Olympic Stadium in Stratford, the Empire Stadium was originally scheduled for demolition after the Exhibition but eventually saved by civil servant James Stevenson - a Scot.
Completed just four days before the final was due to be played, the new stadium's capacity was 127,000 - but even then, the organisers had grossly underestimated interest in the match. The FA, who had chosen not to implement ticket sales, were totally unprepared for the 200,000 to 300,000 people who congregated in north west London for the game - the vast majority of whom were Londoners, with many having walked the 26 miles or so from the East End. With the match under serious threat due to the swollen crowds, Police horses were called in to restore order - and it was one of those horses, PC George Scorey's mount 'Billy' that stole the headlines as his white coat stood out (in the following day's black and white photos) amongst the mass of overcoats and flat caps.
West Ham had reached the final by virtue of wins against Hull (3-2), Brighton (1-1, 1-0), Plymouth (2-0), Southampton (1-1, 1-1, 1-0) and, in the semi-final, Derby (5-2). Sadly the final itself was to prove a major disappointment for Hammers' supporters who saw their side go down 2-0 on the day - once the playing area had been cleared - as Bolton won through goals from David Jack and Jack Smith. The match - for which the official attendance remains 126,047 - is widely recognised as having the biggest crowd for a sporting event in history (outside of a racing event) - a record that is unlikely to ever be beaten.
"Some people are on the pitch; they think it's all over. It is now..." So said commentator Kenneth Wolstenholme as West Ham United's Geoff Hurst's 119th-minute shot tore into the back of Germany 'keeper Hans Tilkowski's net. It was a goal that secured the World Cup for England for the first and only occasion and for Hurst, the accolade of (still) being the only player to have scored a hat-trick in a World Cup Final.
Yet had Tottenham's Jimmy Greaves, one of the most feared strikers in Europe at the time not sustained a leg injury during the Group 1 game against France, Hurst would almost certainly never have been on the field to score any of his three goals - let alone later receive an MBE and a knighthood. For Greaves had started the tournament as manager Alf Ramsay's first choice striker until suffering the injury - and once Hurst had played and scored against Argentina in an ill-tempered quarter final, there was no looking back for West Ham's centre forward. Although he failed to score against Portugal in the semi final, Hurst's three goals in the Final remains the most famous hat-trick - as far as English football is concerned, at least - of all time. The first was straight out of Upton Park; a quick free-kick by Bobby Moore to the near post where Hurst ghosted in to cancel out Helmut Haller's opener. Possibly the most controversial World Cup Final goal ever came next; 45 years on and the 'did it/didn't it cross the line' debate still rages on. The third, in the very last minute of extra time was once again made in East London as Bobby Moore's long ball found Hurst, who raced towards goal before firing home the goal that brought the World Cup to England - and much prestige to West Ham United FC.
It had been 83 years since West Ham had lost an FA Cup Final. Since losing 2-0 to Bolton in 1923 the Hammers had overcome Blackburn, Preston, Fulham and Arsenal to lift the Cup under the Twin Towers. However all those games had taken place at Wembley - unlike the 2006 Final between West Ham and Liverpool which was being held at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium as the old Empire Stadium was reduced to rubble in order to be replaced by a new, state-of-the-art venue. West Ham, only promoted from the Championship via the play-offs the season before had beaten Norwich, Blackburn, Bolton, Manchester City and Middlesbrough en route to Cardiff, where they would play for the third season in succession.
West Ham, massive underdogs on the day were 2-0 up within half-an-hour; A Jamie Carragher own goal and another from Dean Ashton after Reina fumbled had put Alan Pardew's side in total command. However the two-goal cushion was to last for just four minutes as Djibril Cisse pulled one back for Liverpool, which is how it remained until the break. When Steven Gerrard equalised for the favourites on 54 minutes most of the attending Hammers faithful agreed that we'd blown our chance - that was until Paul Konchesky's cross sailed over a shocked Pepe Reina's head into the back of the net to put United back in front with 64 minutes on the clock. West Ham were less than a minute away from winning the Cup when Gerrard fired home his second from some 30 yards; many still blame Lionel Scaloni for his poor clearance that led to the goal. That's how it stayed throughout extra time - the injured Marlon Harewood may have won it for the Hammers had he been able to meet Yossi Benayoun's cross - and Liverpool breezed the ensuing penalty shootout. The game is widely considered to be the best FA Cup Final since the competition's heyday of the 1970s and '80s.
Seven months prior to the 1981 League Cup Final, John Lyall's FA Cup winners had been beaten 1-0 by league champions Liverpool in the Charity Shield; the defeat had been far more comprehensive than the scoreline suggested. A similar outcome was therefore expected when West Ham, flying high at the top of Division 2 met the soon-to-be European Cup winners on a sunny day at Wembley in mid-March.
Following a deeply disappointing 90 minutes in which both teams mostly cancelled each other out, the game finally erupted into life with just three minutes of extra time remaining. Alan Kennedy's shot beat Phil Parkes but despite an offside Sammy Lee clearly obstructing the goalkeeper's view, referee Clive Thomas allowed the goal to stand (much to the fury of John Lyall who was later sanctioned for a post-match outburst criticising the Welsh official). Most inside Wembley thought that was game over - but West Ham had other ideas. With seconds remaining, Alvin Martin's header was on its way in before Terry McDermott produced the save of the season - not bad for an outfield player. Thomas had no choice but to point to the spot as Wembley held its breath. 21-year-old Ray Stewart strode forward before placing his spot kick to Ray Clemence's right to earn Lyall's second division Hammers a replay at Villa Park (which Liverpool sadly won 2-1 despite West Ham taking an early lead through Paul Goddard).
Replay Highlights: http://youtu.be/WZnb4Ashc_A
Back in 34th place in our countdown was Alan Taylor's 1975 FA Cup run in which he scored a brace in each of the final three rounds to see John Lyall's team to glory. His goals against Arsenal at Highbury saw West Ham through to a semi final against a much-fancied Ipswich Town team, led by Bobby Robson, that would go on to enjoy success on both the domestic and European stage within five years. After a goalless draw in the first encounter, 'Sparrow' grabbed another pair as West Ham triumphed 2-1 in the replay to send United through to the final for the first time since 1964.
Awaiting them at Wembley were second division Fulham, who had already knocked West Ham out of the League Cup earlier that season. Adding a unique twist to the game was the inclusion of West Ham legend Bobby Moore in the Fulham side. Moore had moved across London 14 months earlier having lost his place at West Ham to Mick McGiven; a planned move to Brian Clough's Derby in late 1973 has been curtailed by Ron Greenwood who told Moore he could have a free transfer should he remain at West Ham until they were safe that season. It was a strange sight for Hammers fans to see their greatest player ever preparing to pit his wits against the club he had previously spent his entire footballing life with; Moore, even though he had gained a few pounds since his heyday gave an exemplary performance but couldn't prevent his side from falling to defeat. Taylor, who less than a year before the Final had been plying his trade at Rochdale opened the scoring against the run of play with an hour played after Peter Mellor spilled Billy Jennings' shot. Three minutes later Mellor gaffed again, this time failing to hold Graham Paddon's drive and Taylor was on hand to bundle it home. Billy Bonds made a beeline for Moore before accepting the coveted trophy.
Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.
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