The final week in January is another that is largely dominated by cup action being generally reserved for FA Cup 4th round matches; at least for those occasions where we progress that far. In each of three successful FA Cup campaigns, plus the ultimately unsuccessful 2006 one, West Ham advanced on their journey towards Wembley during the week 23-29 January.
In 1964 we were drawn away against second division Leyton Orient. A record attendance of over 34,000 packed into Brisbane Road for the game where Orient, with three former Hammers in their team, raced into a 2nd minute lead. Following the goal the game was one-way traffic in the Hammer’s favour but a Peter Brabrook goal just before the interval was the only reward and the tie went to a replay. The second game at Upton Park four days later was more of a formality and three goals in the first 15 minutes (Hurst 2, Byrne) wrapped up the tie for West Ham.
The 1975 4th round opponents were 3rd division Swindon Town in the mud at Upton Park. West Ham got away with a cynical flying rugby tackle by Tommy Taylor (no automatic red card in those days) to prevent Swindon taking the lead before a Billy Jennings strike made it one-nil. However, the visitors were not to be denied and Peter Eastoe grabbed a deserved equaliser with just over 5 minutes left. A midweek replay at the County Ground was a tight affair with goals from Trevor Brooking and Pat Holland enough to steer West Ham to a 2-1 victory.
In 1980 West Ham again faced near neighbours Orient in the 4th round, this time at Brisbane Road. Both teams were competing in the second division at the time but West Ham had recently seen off their opponents 4-0 in a league match at Upton Park. Orient went a goal up when Billy Bonds gave away a penalty which was then converted by ex-Hammer Tommy Taylor. However, an own goal and a Ray Stewart penalty put West Ham ahead only for Chiedozie to even things up again. A second Ray Stewart goal as the match entered the last 10 minutes was enough to put the Hammer’s through.
In the 2006 4th round tie, at home to Blackburn, West Ham were a goal down after 28 seconds. A Teddy Sheringham penalty, a Matthew Etherington strike and an own goal (from someone called Zurab Khizanishvili) put the Hammers in command before a Lucas Neil curler reduced the deficit. Any hopes of a Blackburn come-back were ended when Bobby Zamora poked home to secure a 4-2 victory.
A game that we shouldn’t let pass without a mention is the tie against Manchester United at Old Trafford in 2001. This was the match of the famous Paolo Di Canio/ Fabio Barthez offside appeal incident, of which, one can never get tired of watching.
In League Cup action the epic 1972 semi-final series against Stoke City finally ended with defeat in an Old Trafford mud-bath. An incident packed match saw Bobby Ferguson get concussion, Bobby Moore save a penalty, West Ham go a goal down and then take a 2-1 lead before conceding another two and losing 3-2 on the night.
Semi-final disappointment also in 2011 where, a goal up from the first leg against Birmingham, West Ham took a first half lead only then to throw away the advantage by conceding three times without further reply. There was also defeat in the 1981 semi-final first leg away to Coventry City where an early 2 goal lead was surrendered to end the game with a 3-2 defeat.
There is a hypothesis called nominative determinism which suggests a causal relationship based on the idea that people tend to be attracted to areas of work that fit their name. Born this week in 1854 was former Upton Park FC player and referee Segar Richard Bastard. Bastard refereed the 1878 FA Cup Final between Wanderers and Royal Engineers although there is no record as to whether he wore black.