Scanning through the list of results over the years for the week 5 – 11 December the one thing that stood out was the number of times that West Ham have conceded 4 goals; let’s hope it is not an omen for the week ahead.
There were 4-0 defeats to Manchester City (1969), Leeds United (1998), Everton (1991), Bolton (2006) and Manchester United (2009). The Hammers fared marginally better losing only 4-1 to Liverpool (2013), 4-2 to Burnley (1966) and 4-3 to Wrexham (1978). I couldn’t find a 4-4 game but there was a 5 all against Newcastle in 1960. So leaky defences and heavy defeats are nothing new and it seems that it was not unusual for the Hammers to go down even before the Christmas decorations went up (or Noddy Holder started wishing Everybody Happy Christmas through the public address in Tescos).
You may remember a few weeks ago we featured an impressive and memorable 7-0 League Cup thrashing of Don Revie’s Dirty Leeds side. The next round of that tournament took place in December 1966 with a visit to Bloomfield Road to take on Blackpool, also in the first division at the time. A midweek evening kick-off meant no night out on the Golden Mile the night before and ended with West Ham winning 3-1, with goals from Hurst (2) and Byrne, to set up a semi-final appearance against West Bromwich Albion.
Standen, Burnett, Charles, Bovington, Brown, Moore, Boyce, Hurst, Byrne, Peters, Sissons
Five years later West Ham had already reached the semi-final of the same competition and embarked on what would become an epic series of games against Stoke City. The first of the scheduled two legged tie saw the Hammers travel to the Victoria Ground for a very cold Wednesday evening kick-off.
I was in the 6th form at school in Barking at the time and all through December we would spend the evening carol singing in aid of Cancer Research (or the Imperial Cancer Fund (ICF?)as it was then known). I can remember ending the evening at someone’s house to watch the TV highlights and with no internet back then we were unaware of the score as we watched the game.
What we saw was Stoke race into an early lead through a Peter Dobing goal and for a period there was only one team in it and it wasn’t West Ham. However, around the half hour mark Trevor Brooking sent a cross high into the Stoke area which left Clyde Best flat on his face. Penalty said referee Morrisey and up stepped Geoff Hurst to blast past Gordon Banks in the Stoke goal. It got better for West Ham after 62 minutes when Best rifled in a stunning winner from a Harry Redknapp cross. It ended 2-1 to West Ham on the night and we went hoping confident that another Wembley trip was on the cards.
Ferguson, McDowell, Lampard, Bonds, Taylor, Moore, Redknapp, Best, Hurst, Brooking, Robson
Birthdays this week:
5 December Danny Williamson (43)
8 December David Cross (66)
8 December Geoff Hurst (75)
9 December Ludek Miklosko (55)