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In Review: West Ham's 30 Memorable Matches

Filed: Tuesday, 18th October 2011
By: Staff Writer

Philip Stevens
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"We just popped in to see an old friend for a social drink - it was New Year, for goodness sake..."

The author's first book based on the Hammers, 30 Memorable Matches seeks to uncover those fixtures that define the very essence of West Ham United FC. Starting way back at the tail end of the nineteenth century, the book ends in 2008 with the club back in the promised land of the Premier League.

Overall, the book does a fair job of picking what most supporters would consider the 'right' matches to include. All the major finals in which the club have played are given a spot - and the author earns a bonus point for including the oft-forgotten 1940 FA War Cup Final, which saw West Ham triumph 1-0 against Blackburn Rovers.

However it's disappointing to see certain matches omitted; the club's first League Cup Final (1965/66) doesn't even warrant a mention according to the author, who instead includes games such as the European Cup Winners Cup semi-final against Zaragoza (a year later in 1967).

Another contentious inclusion is the 4-1 1970 FA Cup defeat at Blackpool. FA Cup defeats against lower-league opposition are hardly a rarity - and this was memorable as a date for the simple reason that four of Ron Greenwood's players - including captain Bobby Moore - spent the previous night on the piss in former boxer Brian London's Blackpool nightclub.

Further, there is no obvious reason why a league win against Nottingham Forest in the 1986/87 relegation season is included when the semi-final against the same opponents two years later, a match almost legendary in West Ham circles for the response Tony Gale's sending off generated amongst the fans is mysteriously ignored.

Yet what lets 30 Memorable Matches down most of all are the inexplicable factual errors that crop up on an alarmingly regular basis.

Take the final match of the 30 included, for example - the 4-1 league win against Blackburn Rovers (included as it was the day on which the number six shirt was officially retired, by the way) in August 2008 in which, according to the book, Freddie Sears made his first team debut and scored.

That will come as a surprise to those present at the Boleyn on that sunny August afternoon, as the youngster was an unused substitute that day - and had made his first team debut five months earlier (March 2008) against the same opposition.

That - and a series of similar basic errors - such as West Ham apparently playing Liverpool in the 2005 FA Cup Final and the great Ian Dury being unforgivably referred to as 'Ian Drury' (who sang 'Profundly In Love With Pandora, not 'Madly In Love With Pandora' as cited) - spoil what is otherwise a well-written book that has clearly been penned with a lot of love by a life-long supporter.

Little more than a decent proof-read away from being an immersive read, 30 Memorable Matches is sadly impossible to recommend due to the numerous factual inaccuracies that render reading it a pointless exercise at present.

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