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Stewart: '80 over '86

Filed: Monday, 2nd October 2017
By: Staff Writer

Former Hammer Ray Stewart has described West Ham's 1980 FA Cup Final win against Arsenal as "incredible".

Recalling the best moments of his career with smallcitybigpersonality.co.uk, Stewart - who was affectionately known by United fans during his 12 years at the club as 'Tonka' - revealed that he played five times at Wembley at both club and international level without suffering defeat.

However he ranks West Ham's shock 1980 defeat of clear favourites Arsenal under the twin towers as the outstanding moment of his long and successful spell as a pro.

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"It was always a great feeling going there," said Stewart - aka 'Dundee United's Franz Beckenbauer'! "I can still remember the time I roomed with Frank Lampard Snr; I kept on singing to him, 'Wembley, Wembley, were on our way to Wembley!'

"I was always excited to play there and the other boys used to have a laugh about it. It's nice to say Im undefeated there. That day in 1980 was something else though.

"Winning the FA Cup was just incredible - the best feeling in the world! I can remember it from start to finish; the lead up to the game, travelling to Wembley, the game itself and the aftermath which included the most amazing celebrations with the fans in East London.

"These are the moments in life that just never leave you."

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Stewart, who played under John Lyall from 1979 to 1991, when he returned to Scotland added that the 1980 Cup-winning side was the best he featured in at West Ham - despite also being part of the squad that was within a whisker of winning the (old) Division One title in 1985/86.

"They were both great sides but the 1980 team - as a young lad playing alongside the likes of Trevor Brooking, Billy Bonds and Frank Lampard - was just incredible," he recalled. "And of course we won the FA Cup, so Id have to say that team was the best.

"In terms of the best player I've played with, Id probably go for Alan Devonshire. There were so many tremendous footballers I was lucky to play with, but Id say he was the best. He was a fine player; him and Brooking used to win me most of my penalties!"

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Often included in fans' greatest XI selections at right back, Stewart - who scored a record 78 penalties for West Ham (and only six from 'regular' play) - confesses that he still takes enormous pride in being associated with the club.

"A wee boy from Stanley going to London to such a big club, a great club, and being considered as one of their greatest ever players is an amazing feeling," he added. "It means a hell of a lot to me, it really does."

To read the full interview with Stewart, visit smallcitybigpersonality.co.uk.

* Which team do you think was the best - the FA Cup-winning side of 1980 or the 1985/86 team that finished third in Division One? Let us know in the comments section below or on the KUMB Forum.

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