A first read through of the results from the week 30 January to 5 February in Hammer’s history was similar to watching a late night horror movie, best viewed through the gaps between your fingers. There was an embarrassing 3-1 cup exit at the hands of 3rd division Swindon Town (1967), FA cup capitulation at Loftus Road with a 6-1 hammering by QPR (1978) and League cup humiliation of the worst kind in a 5-0 defeat at White Hart Lane (1987). In the league, 5 goals were shipped without reply to dirty Leeds (1966) and more recently top of the (Championship) table West Ham were brushed aside in a 5-1 demolition by lowly Ipswich Town at Portman Road (2012).
Such misfortunes are wildly out of step with the current sense of togetherness and optimism surrounding the club that has been fostered by a couple of encouraging wins and the atmosphere of unity against the common enemy; the now departed two-faced Frenchman. So it is in that spirit that I have singled out some of the rarer triumphs as a way to develop that mood. In the middle years of the 1960’s West Ham were on a run of winning trophies and at the end of January 1966 were still competing in that season’s ECWC, FA and League Cups. A 5-1 second leg League Cup victory away to Cardiff City, courtesy of goals from Hurst (2), Sissons (2) and Burnett, secured an impressive 10-3 aggregate win and set up the Hammers for a final tie against West Bromwich Albion. We had recently seen off Albion by four goals to nil in a league encounter so surely more silverware was on its way to Upton Park!
In the calendar year of 1968 West Ham scored 7 or more goals on three occasions. The first of these was in January 1968 when the visitors to Upton Park were west London rivals Fulham. The Cottagers raced into the lead with a goal from Steve Earle (not the American country rock singer I believe) but that early set-back only served to galvanise the Hammers into action and a goal blitz involving Hurst (2), Brooking (2), Peters, Moore and Dear saw the game finish in a 7-2 romp.
Ferguson, Bonds, Lampard, Peters, Cushley, Moore, Dear, Boyce, Brooking, Hurst, Sissons
The stand-out game of the week, however, has to be the 2006 clash with Arsenal in their final season at Highbury. It was the Gunners 2,000 match at their old stadium and they started out in dominant form pinning the Hammers back with typical high-tempo football. However, after 25 minutes Nigel Reo-Coker beat Sol Campbell to a Hayden Mullins pass and ran on to give West Ham the lead very much against the run of play. It got better still 7 minutes later when Bobby Zamora out-muscled Campbell, checked and placed a delightful shot into the far corner of the net to double the lead. There was a wobble just before the break when Terry Henry scored to become Arsenal’s all-time leading league scorer and set up a nail biting second period.
Arsenal started the second half without Campbell (who had gone home) but once again dominated the play. Midway through the half West Ham introduced new signing Dean Ashton for his club debut (probably our best ever January signing and the last great striker we never got the opportunity to properly enjoy). After 80 minutes the unexpected happened and Matthew Etherington scored another to make it 3-1 to West Ham. There was still time for Pires to score for Arsenal but despite a frantic finale it turned out to be merely a consolation. As it turned out West Ham were the last away team to win at Highbury and the game was the Hammers fifth consecutive win in all competitions (a run that ultimately extended to seven).
Hislop, Clarke (Fletcher), A Ferdinand, Gabbidon, Konchesky, Mullins, Benayoun (Newton), Etherington, Reo-Coker, Harewood, Zamora (Ashton)
2 February Ravel Morrison 24
5 February Carlos Tevez 33
5 February Richard Bennett 63