West Ham United's 100 Greatest Moments: Part Eight (30-21)

Back in 2004, readers of KUMB.com voted for their greatest West Ham moments.

With several years having passed since - during which we've witnessed a number of memorable occasions, matches and goals - we decided to revisit the list - for a second time (the first being in 2011) - in order to include some more recent events.

Due to the vast size, we'll be breaking our countdown down into ten parts; here follows part eight - that's entries 30 to 21. Please note the number in brackets represents the entry's previous position in our list.

Tony Carr had been working with West Ham's youth players since 1973 with varying degrees of success. A number of top flight players - such as Alan Curbishley, Ray Houghton, Tony Cottee and Paul Ince had started their footballing careers under Carr's watchful wing - but it wasn't until Harry Redknapp returned to the club as manager that the Academy hit the heights for which it ultimately became world famous.

During the mid 1990s, as a result of an aggressive recruitment policy instigated primarily by Redknapp, Carr unearthed what he calls his "golden nuggets" - a once-in-a-lifetime string of players who would go on to feature at the very highest level.

Rio Ferdinand, a striker at the time had been playing for a team in Blackheath whilst Frank Lampard was only going to play for one club. Michael Carrick came from Wallsend Boys Club and Joe Cole from Camden. Together they earned West Ham nearly £40million in transfer fees during the next few years with Ferdinand eventually going to Manchester United via Leeds for some £30million.

All four played for England - as did fellow Academy players Glenn Johnson and Jermain Defoe (another £13million in the bank). Sadly, West Ham sold each and every one before they reached their peak.

It was billed as the most valuable club game in World football. For the winners, a crack at the Premiership and around £40million in additional revenue awaited. For the losers, another season in the Championship and trips to Barnsley and Coventry.

West Ham, still sore from having been beaten by Crystal Palace at the Millennium Stadium the season before were set to meet Billy Davis' Preston, who went into the play-offs in sparkling form. West Ham had deposed of Ipswich - again - to reach Cardiff (Wembley being temporarily closed due to reconstruction) whilst North End - who finished above the Hammers and beat Alan Pardew's side both home and away in the league - had seen off the challenge of Derby.

A tense game, played in front of a capacity crowd remained at 0-0 as it entered the closing stages. Whilst West Ham had perhaps enjoyed the lions' share of possession and chances, North End always looked threatening on the break.

With 14 minutes left to play Matthew Etherington burst down the left and centred a hopeful looking cross. Claude Davis looked set to cut it out before slipping on the damp surface leaving Bobby Zamora to meet it with his left foot and send the watching Hammers into ecstasy. Jimmy Walker's hand ball outside the box - and subsequent cruciate injury that probably saved him from a red card - mattered not, and West Ham were back in the big time after two years in exile.

It is often cited that when Ron Atkinson featured Cyrille Regis, Brendan Batson and Laurie Cunningham in the same West Bromwich Albion team during the 1977/78 season the

e 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 while 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.

Paolo Di Canio was a footballing genius - and like most geniuses, flawed. Had he not shoved referee Paul Alcock to the ground following a petulant outburst whilst a Sheffield Wednesday player he would never have graced the Boleyn Ground turf, but Harry Redknapp's wheeler-dealing ways couldn't refuse the gamble. It proved to be a wise one, for Di Canio was to become the last real West Ham legend in his short-but-sweet four-year stint at the club.

Whilst the Italian scored a number of memorable goals in the claret and blue shirt, it was for the opening goal in an otherwise mundane 2-1 win against Wimbledon in 2000 for which he is best known to the footballing public at large - and rightly so. Trevor Sinclair's cross-field pass was beautifully timed for Di Canio to meet on the volley - that he did so with both feet off the ground simply added to the beauty of a strike that flew beyond a static Neil Sullivan into the far corner. An audible gasp rang out from the crowd before the usual cheers kicked in.

"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 'Post Horn Gallop' (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!

Alan Taylor cost West Ham just £40,000 when John Lyall signed the centre forward from Rochdale on his 21st birthday in November 1974. Having been rejected by Preston as a youngster, the Hinckley-born Taylor had found his way back into professional football by way of non-league Morecombe and Lancaster City. By the time the FA Cup quarter final came around in March 1975, Taylor was yet to complete a full 90 minutes for his new club - but was a surprise inclusion in the side to face Arsenal at Highbury.

Said to have been included to take advantage of the ageing Terry Mancini's lack of pace, Taylor put the Hammers 1-0 up after just 15 minutes when he converted Paddon's cross (the striker celebrating in iconic fashion by hanging from the goal net). The game was won in the first minute of the second half when Taylor pounced on a Brooking pass to fire through the mud.

After a goalless semi-final with Ipswich, he scored both of West Ham's goals in the replay to book a date at Wembley against Bobby Moore's Fulham - where he hit a third successive brace in the competition to secure West Ham's first Cup win since beating Munich at the same venue ten years earlier. Sadly Taylor failed to match that high after and was eventually sold to Norwich in 1979.

The late 1970s are famous for being the decade when the first million-pound footballers changed hands (Trevor Francis, Steve Daly and Andy Gray all moved for fees in excess of a million within seven months during 1979). Whilst West Ham were never going to be invited to that particular party (Syd Puddefoot's £5,000 switch from Falkirk to West Ham in 1922 being the only occasion on which the club have held the British record), one transfer that took place in the same year did indeed make the World sit up and take notice of east London once again.

Philip Benjamin Neil Frederick Parkes - 'Phil' to his pals - began his professional career at Walsall, close to Sedgley where he was born in 1950. After a couple of years learning his trade the goalkeeper moved to the bright lights of London with QPR, with whom he finished runners-up in the league in 1975/76 (as part of a team considered by some to be the best never to have won the First Division). His sole international cap also came during his spell at Loftus Road.

In 1979 he became the centre of a two-way tussle between Uniteds Manchester and West Ham for his services; the Mancunians, managed by former QPR boss Dave Sexton are said to have had as many as six offers rejected by Rangers before they were made an offer they couldn't refuse by West Ham. The fee was an astonishing ?565,000, a world record at the time for a goalkeeper. Parkes, 29 at the time moved from west to east London and despite concerns over his dodgy knees repaid the fee in full by becoming West Ham's number one for the next decade.

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.

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.

Relegated the season before and now managed by 'Big' Sam Allardyce, West Ham had ended the 2011/12 Championship campaign just two points adrift of an automatic promotion spot and just three behind Champions Reading. So it was that the Hammers were forced to secure promotion to the Premier League via the play-offs, in which they were participating for the third time in just eight years.

Unlike in 2004 and 2005, passage to the final couldn't have proved any more straightforward; West Ham's place in Wembley had been all but won courtesy of a 2-0 win at Cardiff in the first leg, before a 3-0 win in the second at The Boleyn gave Big Sam's team a crushing 5-0 aggregate win.

The opponents in the Wembley showcase on this occasion would be Blackpool, who West Ham had beaten 4-0 and 4-1 during the regular season. But the final was by no means a cakewalk with the Hammers pushed all the way by Ian Holloway's enterprising side, who featured Tom Ince - the son of former Hammer Paul - amongst their ranks.

Having taken a 35th minute lead through Carlton Cole, it was looking good at the break for West Ham. But Ince's equaliser just three minutes after the restart had the Irons reeling and Blackpool looked by far the better team as the game wore on. But with 87 minutes on the clock a tired West Ham broke and after a Carlton Cole effort was saved the ball fell to Ricardo Vaz Te, who slammed the ball into the roof of the net to send West Ham back to the Premier League at the first attempt.

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