This Week in Hammer’s History has already taken a look at some of the memorable Boxing Day games over the years and now, as promised, we will cast an eye over other matches that have taken place between 26 December and 1 January.
In the days where games really did come thick and fast, rather than being a figment of manager and commentator imagination, high scoring matches were quite common; possibly due to players being more liberal in their festive celebrations at a time away when the possibility of twitter and facebook exposure was not a threat.
Fixtures on New Year’s Day are common nowadays but prior to 1974 it was just an ordinary working day and not a public holiday in England. Still time, however, for the first day of the year to feature a number of high scoring encounters of which, the low point, was a 6-0 away drubbing for Alan Curbishley’s struggling side (Tevez an unused substitute) by the mighty Reading.
In 1974, the new holiday brought the Hammers a 4-2 home win (Paddon 2, Gould, Brooking) at home to Norwich while we returned the favour in 1988 going down 1-4 (Cottee) at Carrow Road.
Other New Year’s Day successes came with: a 4-0 away win at Orient in 1980 (Pearson 2, Devonshire, Pike); a 4-1 home victory over Leicester in 1987 (Cottee 2, McAvennie, Dickens) and a 4-2 win at Upton Park against Barnsley in 1990 (Keen 2, Dicks, M Allen).
West Ham also racked up four goals during the course of the week with 4-0 home wins against Blackpool in 1966 (Peters, Moore, Byrne, Hurst) and Blackburn in 1978 (Taylor, Cross, Robson, Own Goal). Noteworthy successes on the road included a 4-3 win at Nottingham Forest in 1962 (Brabrook 2, Byrne. Own Goal) and another victory in 1967 against Leicester by the same 4-2 score-line as in the home fixture on Boxing Day, four days earlier (Dear 2, Brooking, Sissons).
On the last day of 1983 West Ham entertained pantomime villains Tottenham Hotspur at Upton Park. The Hammers were riding high in the top division that season having won their opening 5 games and had already beaten Spurs 2-0 at White Hart Lane in September. Hopes were high that season (at least mine were). We had been in the top 3 or 4 for almost all of the season and the team had a firm foundation built around Parkes, Stewart, Martin, Bonds, Brooking and Devonshire plus a young Tony Cottee knocking them in regularly. This was to be Trevor Brooking’s last season before retirement and there was a feeling that it could end with something special.
On the day Spurs were blown away, 4-1, with goals from Stewart, Martin, Cottee and Brooking. At the end of the year and with exactly half of the games played we stood in 3rd spot, two points behind Manchester United and five behind leaders Liverpool. Sadly this was to be one of the years where we faltered in the second half and despite keeping in touches with leaders until the middle of March West Ham then faded badly to end the season in 9th place – one point and one place below Tottenham.
Parkes, Stewart, Brush, Walford, Martin, Devonshire, Whitton, Cottee, Swindlehurst, Brooking, Orr