The European Cup Winners Cup is at the forefront of the action in this week’s Hammer’s History. Having won the competition at the first attempt in 1965 the Hammers were in the following year’s competition as holders. In the 3rd round (Quarter Final) stage in 1966 the opponents were FC Magdeburg from East Germany, a country not recognised by the UK at the time. In a closely fought game in the first leg at Upton Park Magdeburg came close to causing an upset but the tie was settled in the first minute of the second half when Geoff Hurst nodded down a Martin Peters cross for Johnny Byrne to score from close range.
Ten years later at the same stage of the competition it was Dutch opponents in the form of FC Den Haag (now ADO Den Haag). The first leg was away in The Hague and with manager John Lyall incapacitated through illness there was a brief return to the manager’s chair for Ron Greenwood. The Hammers found themselves 4-0 by half time which included two very soft penalty decisions and another that was scored from a breakaway amid confusion after the (East German) referee awarded a drop ball. Tactical changes at half-time altered the shape of the game and two goals by Billy Jennings put some respectability on the scoreline and gave the Hammers hope for the return leg.
It is not often that you will find supporters including a 4-1 home defeat among the list of their favourite games yet the first leg 3rd round ECWC defeat by Dynamo Tiblisi is often cited among the most memorable games at Upton Park. In 1981 West Ham were flying high as runaway leaders in Division 2 as well as having already booked a League Cup final appointment against Liverpool. Dynamo Tiblisi from Georgia were, at the time, representing the Soviet Union and their performance at Upton Park was a masterclass, with spectacular performances particularly from Chivadze, Kipiani and Shengelia. The Hammers were 2-0 down at half time and although they momentarily offered a glimmer of hope when David Cross pulled one back early in the second half, the Georgians restored their two goal advantage a minute later and added another to make it 4-1 with twenty minutes to play. To their credit West Ham won the second leg in Georgia by the only goal, just a few days after the League Cup final, but it was not enough to prevent Tiblisi going on to win the tournament.
In domestic competition there was a 6th round tie in the 1963/64 FA Cup as West Ham saw off the challenge of Burnley to set up a semi-final clash with Manchester United. A more detailed review of this game will appear shortly in Richard Bennett’s series of Favourite Games. In the same week West Ham also faced Burnley in the league, losing 3-1 at Turf Moor.
In League action two home games against local rivals Tottenham stand out in relegation threatened seasons where the outcomes of the games and the seasons brought very different emotions. In 2003, transfer-window signing Les Ferdinand scored his first goal for West Ham against his former club to put the Hammers en route to a well deserved 2-0 victory, the second goal converted by Michael Carrick. The victory left West Ham level on points with Bolton Wanderers in the fight to avoid the third relegation spot which was ultimately beyond them.
A thrilling encounter between the two teams in 2007 produced a first West Ham goal for Carlos Tevez as the Hammers took a 2-0 lead, were pegged back to 2-2, went ahead again with just 5 minutes remaining only to concede two late goals to lose the game 4-3. Defeat left West Ham bottom of the table and seven points behind fourth from bottom Wigan Athletic. Despite the set-back the performance signalled the start of the great escape that would then trigger the Tevezgate saga.
28 February Noel Cantwell d. 2005
1 March Bobby Ferguson 72
2 March Harry Redknapp 70
2 March Trevor Sinclair 44