Festive spirit, the season of goodwill and games on Christmas Day in the week 19 – 25 December in Hammer’s History.
In the mid 1960’s West Ham had featured in two successive cup finals by winning the FA European Cup Winners Cups. On 21 December 1965 they were set firmly on course for a third consecutive final appearance thanks to a 5-2 League Cup semi-final first leg victory against Cardiff at Upton Park. Goals from Bovington, Brabrook, Byrne, Hurst and Sissons effectively wrapped up the tie which was sealed just over a month later with a 5-1 second leg win at Ninian Park.
In the deep mid-winter of 1979 West Ham had scheduled their pre-Christmas fixture against Cambridge United for a Friday night to avoid clashing with the last Saturday, last minute shopping frenzy (it was not possible to buy West Ham underwear for your wife in the club shop at the time). This is often cited as one of the most memorable Boleyn experiences by many of the 11,000 or so hardy souls (of which I was one) who battled along on that bitterly cold December evening. The match started in light snow and after 45 minutes West Ham were a goal down and it was time for a hot, half-time cup of Bovril. During the interval Bill Remfry played Mike Oldfield’s ‘In Dulchi Jubilo’ and encouraged the crowd to dance just to keep warm; an invitation taken to extreme by one supporter who streaked onto the pitch. In the second half the snow turned into a full-on blizzard but goals from Stewart, Pearson and Neighbour turned the game around to give the Hammers a 3-1 victory.
Parkes, Stewart, Lampard, Bonds, Martin, Devonshire, Allen, Pearson, Cross (Pike), Brooking, Neighbour
The season of goodwill has frequently paired West Ham with close neighbours Tottenham Hotspur in the run up to Christmas and they were also the opponents on West Ham’s last ever Christmas Day fixture.
Defeat at White Hart Lane on Christmas Eve 1960 was offset by victories both home and away in the following years. In 1967 West Ham won 2-1 at Upton Park on 23 December (Bonds, Dear) and on 20 December 1969 they were also victorious by a 2-0 scoreline at White Hart Lane (Peters, Hurst). The points were shared in a thrilling topsy-turvy 4-4 away draw on 22 December 1962. West Ham were behind 2-0 and 3-2 before leading 4-3 and conceding an injury time leveller. West Ham’s goals were shared between Peters, Kirkup, Boyce and Scott and the match was also notable for an unexpected hat-trick by Dave Mackay for Spurs.
The Christmas Day fixture was in 1958 at the Boleyn Ground in front of 26,178 spectators. After a goalless first half West Ham, inspired by Phil Woosnam, raced into a 2 – 0 lead with goals from John Dick and Vic Keeble; both of whom worked like Trojans according to the news report at the time. Woosnam was then badly crocked by Spurs defender Maurice Norman and with no substitutes at the time spent the remainder of the game limping along the left wing. This allowed Tottenham to pull one back but the Hammers held on to win 2-1. In the return fixture at White Hart Lane on the following day (Boxing Day) West Ham completed the double with a resounding 4-1 victory with goals from Bond, Keeble, Dick and Own Goal.
Gregory, Bond, Cantwell, Malcolm, Brown, Smith, Grice, Woosnam, Keeble, Dick, Musgrove
Andy Smillie replaced the injured Woosnam for the Boxing Day fixture otherwise it was the same team.
21 December Paul Heffer 69
21 December Cheikhou Kouyate 27
22 December Phil Woosnam d. 2013
22 December Bill Green 66
24 December Diafro Sakho 27