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Wanted: the spirit of '75


Filed: Friday, 13th February 2004
By: Graeme Howlett


Wembley Stadium, 3rd May 1975: West Ham were in the top-flight, Fulham in the league below - and Alan Taylor was the toast of East London after scoring a brace to bring the Cup home to East London for the first time in 11 years.

The last time West Ham met Fulham in the FA Cup was on that memorable day 29 years ago - but on this occasion, the roles are very much reversed.

For this time it's Nationwide first division outfit West Ham United who travel to Premiership Fulham, for a tie that has stoked up many old lingering memories of glorious cup days of old.

And for many a Hammer, tomorrow's East meets West London derby will be just the latest chapter in a competition that holds many cherished memories for supporters both young and old.

Whilst the more mature amongst us can recall the Final victory of '64, others may be just old enough to recall the Final win over Arsenal in 1980 - whilst even younger fans have recent triumphs such as the 1-0 win at Old Trafford four years ago to recall.

Unfortunately it doesn't appear that the Cup bug has quite found its way down the Thames to West London; according to Fulham's ticket office thousands of seats still remain unsold - a ridiculous situation bearing in mind the many thousands of disappointed Hammers fans who wanted to attend the game but were not lucky enough to qualify for one of the (paltry allocation of) 3,000 tickets.

However it is still unlikely that West Ham's support will number just 3,000 inside Loftus Road tomorrow - for whilst some fans have been stealthily snapping up tickets in the home stands many more will travel to the ground tomorrow in hope of obtaining a ticket by other means. It certainly looks like being a very lucrative day for the touts.

And it's a situation that hasn't gone unnoticed by manager Alan Pardew, a man always keen to stress the importance of West Ham's fan base; speaking on whufc.co.uk earlier he said:

"We would have liked to have seen more of our fans there but obviously they [Fulham] were wary of letting our boys in because of the noise they would have made.

"Let's be honest, it would probably have felt like a home game - but 3,000 can still do the job, and I am sure they will."

West Ham, of course, go into the game without the likes of Jon Harley, Nigel Reo-Coker and Bobby Zamora - all cup-tied as a result of having played for their previous clubs in earlier rounds of the competition.

That means a likely recall for out of favour full-back Wayne Quinn, who has been frozen out of the picture since the arrival of Jon Harley on loan from tomorrow's opponents Fulham.

Also likely to return is Kevin Horlock, a player who has played little more than a few minutes since starring in the 3-1 win at Wolves in the previous round of the competition - whilst French midfielder Seb Carole could make his first appearance for the club since moving to East London on loan last month.

And a further boost for Pardew is that he has been able to include Steve Lomas in his first team squad for the first time; Lomas finally considered fit enough to return from his long spell on the sidelines.

Despite having six first team regulars unavailable for the game, Pardew's number two Peter Grant remains optimistic that his side can pull off something of an FA Cup shock.

"You would like to have everyone available. But there is no reason whatsoever we can't go there and get a result - no excuses to be made.

"The boys that went to Wolves, the same squad that is going to be involved at Fulham - and we fully deserved to win the game at Molineux.

"We will probably have to produce something better to win at Fulham - but we feel we have a squad capable of winning the game.

"We are in the FA cup and we want to go as far as we can possibly go - we are in it to win it. We know it is going to be very difficult but there is no fear, and if we win this there is a possibility of getting someone like Manchester United which gives players the chance to improve in stature and become better footballers."

Bearing in mind what happened the last time West Ham met Alex Ferguson's lot in the FA Cup it's unlikely that too many supporters would agree with 'Granty' on that - but nevertheless, passage through to the quarter-finals of the competition - regardless of who awaits - would be a huge boost both financially for the club and for the morale of the supporters, who, it must be said, have had little to cheer about in recent seasons.

West Ham United squad: Bywater, Shaaban, Deane, Carrick, Connolly, Horlock, Dailly, Repka, Lomas, Carole, Harewood, Mullins, Etherington, Quinn, Lee, Mellor, Ferdinand, Cohen, Noble M





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