Filed: Thursday, 15th December 2011
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 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.
Now halfway through our list, we'll be bringing you the remainder of our top 100 over the course of the next few weeks. For now, here's part six of our countdown - entries 50 to 41...
The 1992/93 season had been a long and arduous one for Billy Bonds' West Ham. Relegated the previous season after finishing bottom of the old Barclays Division One - and therefore missing out on membership of the inaugural FA Carling Premiership - Bonds' side went into the final game of the season in a straight fight with Portsmouth, who had won 11 of their 12 games leading to the final day, for the second promotion slot behind runaway leaders Newcastle. The premise was simple - Pompey, on the same points but with an inferior 'goals scored' tally (79-78 in West Ham's favour) needed to better United's result to claim automatic promotion. Just to add a little extra spice, West Ham's opponents at the Boleyn that day, Cambridge, needed to win to avoid relegation.
With West Ham 1-0 up through the on-loan David Speedie's 47th minute opener, news filtered through from Fratton Park that Grimsby were being beaten 2-1. The Hammers had already survived one scare when Cambridge's Chris Leadbitter had an effort chalked off for offside and as the game entered added-on time, West Ham were clinging on to the one-goal lead that would see them promoted on goal difference. That was until Clive Allen banged in a second in the first minute of injury time, a goal that confirmed United's place in the Premiership for the first time and one that saw Allen carried around the Boleyn Ground shoulder high by the subsequent pitch invaders.
England were the defending champions of the World when they faced favourites Brazil in the group stages of the 1970 Mexico tournament. Whilst the South American's had the World's best striker, Pele, in their team England would have to rely heavily on West Ham United's Bobby Moore, the World's best defender. The game itself was no disappointment as the two greats went head to head, with both excelling. In the end, the game - later described by the 108-times capped Moore as the greatest international match he ever featured in - was won by a goal from Jairzinho when he finally managed to get behind Moore and England's defence.
However the abiding memory of the game is not one of Moore's plethora of inch-perfect tackles, nor Gordon Banks' 'greatest save ever' from Pele's header - but the warm embrace shared between Moore and Pele at the game's climax. Two footballing superstars, one of sports most enduring and iconic images of all time.
It's March 1991 and Billy Bonds' West Ham, going well in League Division 2 and looking good for promotion are drawn at home to Division 1 high-flyers Everton in the quarter finals of the FA Cup. Unusually for the competition (at that time anyway) the tie was played on a Monday night - good news for the Hammers who had a long and illustrious history of over-performing under the Boleyn lights. To beat a good Everton side, they would have to once again.
But cometh the hour, cometh the man - and little Stuart Slater tore Howard Kendall's side apart with a virtuoso performance that was capped by a wonderful goal to win the game. With an hour gone, the little winger teased and tormented the Everton defence before firing beyond Neville Southall to put West Ham two-up, after Colin Foster had opened the scoring with a screamer in the first half. A late strike from Dave Watson couldn't prevent the ailing Toffees from spiralling out of the competition; for West Ham, a semi-final with Nottingham Forest awaited. For Slater, whose career was to be cruelly curtailed by injury, the game probably represented his peak at West Ham.
West Ham were in a period of transition in March 1970 having sold Martin Peters to Tottenham in exchange for an aging Jimmy Greaves and the princely sum of £200,000. In their first game without the World Cup winner, Ron Greenwood's team faced a daunting trip to Maine Road where they would face a Manchester City side including luminaries such as Tony Book, Colin Booth and Franny Lee - but not Colin Bell or Mike Summerbee who were both sidelined through injury.
However Hammer fans worried at the prospect of life without Peters needn't have worried for the visitors turned in a five-star performance, thrashing City in the mud with a brace each from debutant Greaves and Geoff Hurst - and, most notably, Ronnie Boyce. Picking the ball out of the mud from a goal kick, 'Ticker' noticed that big Joe Corrigan had taken his eye off the ball and thumped it straight back into the surprised 'keeper's net. Pick that one out of the onion bag...
It was the gale to end all gales - and quite ridiculous conditions for a Premiership football match to be played in. But played it was and the two out-of-form London rivals served up a seven-goal thriller for those brave enough to face the wrath of Mother Nature. West Ham - looking dead certs for relegation - gave home debuts to new arrivals John Hartson and Paul Kitson - both of whom got on the score sheet along with the inspirational Julian Dicks. However it was Teddy Sheringham who opened the scoring after eight minutes for Spurs before goals from Dicks and Kitson put the troubled Hammers ahead.
Tottenham were behind for just a few minutes when Darren Anderton made it 2-2 on the half hour mark, but there was still time for a fifth goal ahead of the half time whistle - John Hartson climbing highest to nod home a Dicks free kick. David Howells - playing less than 24 hours after the death of his father - brought the visitors level again eight minutes into the second half which is how it stayed until the 72nd minute, when John Hartson was felled in the area and captain Dicks stepped up to take the penalty. Fortunately for Spurs 'keeper Ian Walker, he moved aside from the trajectory of Dicks' spot kick which would quite possibly have taken his head off had he remained where he was originally stationed. West Ham won 4-3, the fans had bragging rights and Harry Redknapp's boys had secured a result that eventually went some considerable way to avoiding relegation.
2-0 up at the break through a Woollett own goal and a typical Brian Dear effort, the Hammers were going for the jugular with a young Peter Shilton looking decidedly uneasy between the City sticks. However there was little the future England stalwart could do about a strike later described by commentator Brian Moore as 'the goal of the season' (Match of the Day's 'official' vote didn't start until two years later in 1970).
World Cup-winning duo Peters and Hurst burst through the centre as West Ham hit Leicester on the counter; a deep, hanging cross from the left was met by a ferocious volley from Peters that nearly tore the net from its foundations. It was one of those occasions that drew an audible 'wow' from the crowd, much like Paolo Di Canio's goal against Wimbledon many years later - and an example of exquisite skill from a player described by then-England manager Alf Ramsey as '10 years ahead of his time'.
There'll be a few occasions through this list where'll you'll find yourself muttering "only at West Ham" to yourself - and here's another, courtesy of the left boot of hot-headed Welsh striker John Hartson. Harry Redknapp had allowed the media into Chadwell Heath to watch a mid-season training session; Eyal Berkovic took exception to one particularly strong challenge by Hartson and having shrugged off the forward's attempts to lift him back to his feet, swung a punch at the big redhead - whilst still on his knees. Hartson clearly took great umbrage to the Israeli's pitiful attempt at retribution and fashioned a drop kick straight at Berko's boat race. The papers lapped it up the next day and for some strange reason, TV cameras were banned at Chadwell Heath thereafter.
Already doomed to relegation with three games still to play, the pressure was off Billy Bonds' team as they prepared to face title-chasers Manchester United at the Boleyn in April 1992. The Red Devils went into the game knowing that only a win would be enough to keep them in the title race having lost at home to Nottingham Forest earlier in the week. However Kenny Brown, for one, was to have other ideas. With 66 minutes on the clock and the game still goalless Stuart Slater set off down the left. His cross was inadvertently diverted into the path of the full back who slammed home the game's only goal in front of his father, former Hammers great Ken, watching in the stands. The goal gave West Ham three pointless points as they finished bottom of the table; Manchester United had to suffer in silence as the title went to rivals Leeds United.
It had been 36 years since West Ham's youth team had stunned Liverpool by coming back from 5-2 down to win a two-legged Youth Cup Final. With a 3-0 advantage from the first leg at Highfield Road this particular task was never going to prove as difficult but the manner in which Tony Carr's young charges set about demolishing the Sky Blues in the second leg at a packed Boleyn Ground was the stuff of legend.
Bertie Brayley opened the scoring with a deft flick over future England 'keeper Chris Kirkland after just three minutes before Adam Newton added a second on 28. Five minutes later Richard Garcia was felled by Davenport and the resulting penalty was slammed home by Garcia. 6-0 on aggregate at half time and it was just a question of how many United were to score. A fourth goal on the night arrived when Brayley's persistence paid off with a close-range effort and then a fifth from the outstanding Michael Carrick, with quarter-of-an-hour remaining. The sixth and final goal arrived moments later to give the young Hammers a crushing 9-0 aggregate win.
Victor Martin Watson's tally of 326 goals for West Ham United is unlikely to ever be beaten - and it's therefore a crying shame that so few of them were recorded for posterity. Possibly the steal of the century - Watson was signed from Wellingborough in 1920 for just £50 as cover for club favourite Syd Puddefoot - the Girton-born goal-getter scored 13 hat-tricks and one double hat-trick (against Leeds in 1929) during his 16 years as a Hammer.
Although he remained at the club until three years prior to the outbreak of war, the very last of Watson's 326 goals in claret and blue came in a Division 2 fixture against Bury at the Boleyn Ground on Boxing Day 1934. Some 40,000 supporters packed the BG to its rafters to see Watson score the first of United's three goals, with Jimmy Ruffell grabbing the other two. A succession of injuries saw Watson miss much of the remainder of the 1934/35 season - and West Ham missed out on promotion to Division 1 by goal difference. There's little doubt that had Watson been available more often that season, United wouldn't have had to wait another 24 years before finally achieving promotion to the top flight.
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.
09:19AM 16th Dec 2011
''Since 58/59. Coyi.''
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