At the weekend a TV commentator was holding forth about a certain player’s return from injury which was another 4 weeks away “or so I’m told” he added pretending to be well connected. What he really meant was that he had read it on it the internet, or perhaps it was a researcher who had read it and then told him so. Anyway, here is what I’m told happened this week in Hammer’s history.
Despite having embarked on the occasional continental tour in the past, the 23 September 1964 saw West Ham’s first ever competitive European match with a visit to Ghent in Belgium to play a European Cup Winner’s Cup first round first leg tie with La Gantoise. The match ended in a slim 1-0 victory for the Hammers with Ron Boyce heading the winner in the 52nd minute from an Alan Sealey corner. The goal made all the difference in the Hammer’s march across Europe as a result of a stuttering 1-1 draw in the return leg at Upton Park two weeks later. As a side-note, La Gantoise subsequently changed their name in 1971 to KAA Gent and in 2015 won their first ever Belgian League title; making it through to the knockout stages of the Champion’s League the following year before being beaten by Wolfsburg.
in 1981 (22 September) a Paul Goddard hat-trick in a 4-2 win against Southampton saw West Ham retain top spot in the (old) First Division. A 1-1 home draw against eventual champions Liverpool, just four days later, saw us slip down to second place never to return to such dizzy heights again that season.
The week naturally has had its setbacks including a routine League Cup defeat against lower league opposition in 1994 with a 2-1 defeat to 3rd Division Walsall (although we did rescue this one in the second leg) and in 1997 we were on the wrong end of a 4-0 drubbing at Highbury against a Denis Bergkamp inspired Arsenal.
Notable successes were a 6-2 home victory over Leicester in 1974 where we had started the day at the very bottom of the table and a 3-1 win against Brendan Rodger’s Lverpool in 2014. You can see the goals from this game below (avec un commentaire formidable francais).
Today’s featured game, however, is one of few bright spots from the 2010/11 Avram Grant season when on 25 September 2010 West Ham recorded their first Premier League victory of the season at home to Tottenham. I can remember listening to this game on the radio as I was taking my son to University in Exeter for the first time on that day. A gritty and determined West Ham managed to inflict a 1-0 defeat on visiting manager Harry Redknapp. It was an unusually exuberant West Ham performance who scorned many chances to score before Frederic Piquionne headed the only goal of the game from a Mark Noble corner.
Robert Green had a fine game in goal including a spectacular save to keep out a goal bound Luka Modric strike. Green was fresh from his embarrassment at the 2010 World Cup and this match went some way to rebuilding his confidence.
No surprise that Keiron Dyer left the field injured during the course of the game but it was an impressive and sweet victory that had us all (momentarily) confident that good times were just around the corner.
Green, Jacobsen, da Costa, Upson, Gabbidon, Dyer (Barrera), Parker, Noble, Boa Morte, Obinna (Kovac), Piquionne (Cole)
This week’s West Ham birthdays:
20 September John Charles (d 2002)
20 September Frank Lampard Snr (68)
22 September John Moncur (50)
23 September Jonathan Calleri (23)
26 September Alan Stephenson (72)
26 September Tommy Taylor (65)